Spielende Kinder im  Gira Betriebskindergarten

The Gira Childcare Centre: Sustainable and forward-thinking

The Gira Childcare Centre: Sustainable and forward-thinking

Sustainable and forward-thinking: The Gira childcare centre.

Gira’s own in-house childcare centre helps employees to combine a career with a family life. To mark the two-year anniversary of the centre, we spoke to our employees about the benefits of the company childcare centre and what makes it so special. In this interview, Marco Wieser (Centre Manager), Lisa Kotthaus (Careers and Family Officer at Gira) and Laura Pusole (a Complaints Manager in the Gira Service Centre, whose son attends the centre) share their experiences and views.

Editor: How long has the Gira childcare centre been open?

Wieser: Our childcare centre opened in October 2014. Since then, the number of children attending has been growing steadily, and we started a second group in the year after the centre opened. We currently have 15 children attending across two groups.

Außenansicht der gläsernen Gira Kindertagesstätte
The Gira childcare centre, a visual highlight next to the main Gira building. Source: Gira

Editor: You’re obviously very proud of the centre. Will you be marking the anniversary with some celebrations?

Wieser: After celebrating the centre’s first anniversary, we decided that we’d celebrate major milestones in subsequent years too. So the next big round of celebrations will be the centre’s fifth anniversary.

Kotthaus: This year we held our first summer festival for kids, parents, grandparents and friends, to give them the opportunity to see where the kids get to spend their days and to use the great outdoor space around the centre for a celebration.

Editor: Why did the company open its own childcare centre?

Kotthaus: An employee survey highlighted some severe bottlenecks in childcare provision, particularly in children under three years of age. The Gira childcare centre was founded to make it easier for new parents to return to work after parental leave and to help them combine a career with their family lives.

Kind steht vor Glaskasten in der Gira Kita
Childcare during working hours: Enabling parents to combine a career and a family. Source: Gira

Editor: How was the idea received by employees?

Wieser: The childcare offering was very well received by Gira employees and demand is high. We expect to reach full capacity for the first time in spring 2017. We’re already looking forward to reaching that milestone and to meeting all the lovely kids who will join us.

Editor: How do you feel about the idea of combining a career with a family?

Kotthaus: From my own experience, I know that it isn’t always easy to reconcile family interests with the demands of a career. As an employer, Gira is supportive and understanding, with benefits such as flexible working hours, the Gira childcare centre, advice and a mentoring scheme on parental leave, and individual solutions for any “conflicts of interest” that do arise.

The creation of my role as a Careers and Family Officer also shows how important it is for Gira to support employees in this area, which I think is fantastic.

Wieser: I have similar views. I think that enabling employees to combine work and a family life is an essential chapter in the development of a modern company like Gira, particularly in this day and age. From my experience as a teacher, I know how important this aspect is to parents. Gira has created a great concept to make this possible, and the childcare centre in particular provides a great deal of flexibility.

Kind malt ein Bild
Flexible childcare. Source: Gira

Editor: Ms Pusole, how satisfied are you with the childcare service?

Pusole: We’re very happy with it; our son loves going to the Gira childcare centre every morning, and he often runs straight in and forgets to kiss us goodbye. The fact that the centre is open all year and offers flexible hours gives parents the chance to plan their days and year to suit their family’s individual needs. The centre is spacious and gives kids lots of opportunities to learn and develop – whether they’re in the group rooms, the child-friendly kitchen or the garden, which is complete with a tunnel and nest swing. The staff tell parents all about what the kids have been up to, and we trust that our child is in safe hands.

Editor: When the Gira childcare centre was built, a great deal of importance was placed on sustainability and natural building materials. Can you see the positive effects of these choices?

Wieser: The natural materials add to the visual appeal and atmosphere of the centre, and there’s a lot of evidence for the use of these materials in educational settings from a developmental perspective too. A good example is the wooden flooring: This surface provides good grip for toddlers and small children exploring the environment, and it’s a naturally resonant material, which adds an important layer of acoustic experience for children learning about objects and their properties. This is not the case with carpet or plastic flooring.

Spielende Kinder im  Gira Betriebskindergarten
Ample space to run around: The sustainable wooden flooring is a great place for kids to play. Source: Gira

Redaktion: The centre also benefits from intelligent Gira building technology. How does this technology make your work easier?

Wieser: The modern and user-friendly controls for the various smart solutions installed in the Gira childcare centre have made life easier for us as employees in many ways. When the doorbell rings, all we need to do is look at the display, rather than waste time running to the door. The light only switches on in areas where we’re currently working with the kids – which is not only convenient, but also boosts energy efficiency and sustainability. These are just some of the advantages of using Gira’s intelligent building technology.

Editor: What are the differences between this kind of childcare centre and government-operated daycare?

Kotthaus: A company childcare centre has the primary advantage of keeping children physically close to their parents. In the event of an emergency, parents can get to their kids quickly, which is very reassuring, particularly for smaller children.

We also offer more flexible opening hours than most publicly run centres (we’re open from 6:00 to 18:00), and we don’t have set holidays, except Christmas and New Year. We also have more generous staffing allocations than most government centres.

Pusole: We were lucky that our son got a place at the Gira childcare centre immediately, so we can’t personally comment on the differences between this centre and a government-owned alternative. But our friends and relatives have told us that the flexible hours and full-year opening that we benefit from in the company childcare centre are sometimes not available at government centres.

Editor: Thank you for talking to us.