Standing Together: Practiced solidarity in extraordinary times

Getting to know new areas, finally going back to practical work, giving something back to the employer - there are various motives for taking part in the Roche internal 'Standing Together' initiative. What unites all volunteers, however, is the desire to help out where support is needed the most during the corona pandemic. We have talked to three volunteers.

"I come from an extended family, so helping is simply a matter of course," says Gerlinde Franz, a laboratory technician in early pharmaceutical research at Roche's Penzberg site, about her personal motivation for participating in "Standing Together". She is one of more than 160 colleagues who have signalled their willingness to support business-critical functions at the Mannheim and Penzberg sites since the initiative was founded.

When Gerlinde heard about the initiative, she got in touch directly: "I have been with the company since 1993. Roche offers us so many opportunities and I just wanted to give something back.” And she does this as part of "Standing Together" with her support in diagnostics production Penzberg. The division produces ingredients for diagnostic tests - including tests for coronavirus. Accordingly, the facilities there are currently running at full speed and the need for support is high. Gerlinde helps the laboratory service team by collecting dishes, equipping the dishwashing machine and replenishing consumables. "The work is fun, the colleagues are very nice and grateful. You get a small glimpse of how important the work of the colleagues here is," says Gerlinde. 

A perfect match

Due to the home office regulation, among other things, there are currently employees with free capacities - either for a few hours or full-time. At the same time, business critical areas have an acute need for support. The "Standing Together" initiative was launched at the Mannheim and Penzberg locations to bring these areas together. And it works very simply: employees can apply and are then matched for a job based on various criteria, just like a dating service.

From home office back to the laboratory

Like the entire department, volunteer Gabriele Günthner is currently working within separate teams in shifts to minimize the risk of infection. The trained chemical laboratory assistant has swapped research and keeping records in the home office for quality control of magnetic glass particles in the Penzberg diagnostics production facility. These glass particles are required in clinical laboratories where they play an important role in the extraction of viral RNA during the automated process of sample preparation and are therefore also an important part of the test for coronavirus. For Gabriele, the new task represents a certain shift from her actual work. "The work here in diagnostics production is very similar to what I learned during my vocational training," she says. But Gabriele is grateful for the opportunity to help out in the bottleneck and at the same time to be able to work practically again: "I am happy to be able to support and at the same time also get a taste of a new world myself". 

From "brain worker" to "manual worker"

"Standing Together" - with a wow-effect: "I got to know an area I didn't even know existed before!" Péter Brantzen has swapped his usual desk environment as an employee in organisational development for work on the assembly line. He wants to help where diligent hands are urgently needed - and literally finds his "perfect match": As a helper in the Mannheim diagnostics production facility, he packs products by hand, thus supporting the last two hand packaging lines in Mannheim. Péter goes from being a "brain worker" to a real "manual worker". What does he take with him? "I have seen 'agility in action'," he explains. "Before the shift starts, you don't know what product you're packaging today. We once even packed four different products in one shift. Sometimes it's only during the packing process that you find out how best to fold the box. Someone then discovers a trick and everyone benefits - simply cool. 

Péter felt the "Standing Together" spirit: with helping hands he supported a team that welcomed him warmly and said thank you in a delicious way: "Every day someone brought a cake", he reveals.

Solidarity is especially important in turbulent times, because challenges are easier to overcome when everyone pulls together. The many volunteers who are "Standing Together" to help people all over the world and to live up to our mission statement "Doing now what patients need next" show what solidarity is all about.

Tags: Germany, Europe, Career Blog, Human Resources