The process of returning to work can be quite an ordeal for young parents. Ana Bodelo, who has a daughter and is a member of the Driver Support team, decided she didn’t want to deal with the stress of working at LeasePlan on a daily basis, so she reduced her hours – for a second time.

What’s changed for you since your first day at LeasePlan 14 years ago? The location, for a start. When I started working at LeasePlan, we were still based in Neuss. At that time I was an Executive Assistant and we all had smaller offices. Most of us shared our office with somebody else. The management also had their own separate offices.

When we relocated to Dusseldorf’s Media Harbour a few years ago many things changed. The open-plan offices were a completely new concept for many people. But it didn’t take me long to get used to it. Now our managers work in the same room as we do and we can talk to them directly. I don’t have my own desk any more, so I can choose which desk I want to work at. When I’m in the office I often sit opposite other team members. Two days a week I work from home.

Apart from the different location many things have changed enormously over recent years in the car business, both work-related and in general. People who are willing to try new things are the perfect match for LeasePlan.

What’s the new headquarters like? It’s definitely much better than the old one. Being based here at the Media Harbour, we have all kinds of amenities: we can go for a riverside walk along the Rhine, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from for lunch and, in summer, we can just pop out and buy an ice-cream.

You’ve been part of the Driver Support team for six years now. What does your job involve? Driver Support has really evolved at LeasePlan. We perform new functions and the team has almost doubled in size to more than 30 people. Typically, we arrange appointments with repair facilities for lease car drivers and organise hire cars for them until their own vehicles are ready. We handle the entire process. Accident management is another thing we now also take care of. I mainly arrange repair facility appointments and handle any customer complaints that come in.

What do you like most about it? Basically, the fact that it’s varied. Obviously, I have things that I do on a daily basis, but there are regular projects that I can get involved in. When we are asked if anybody is interested in working on a specific project I can just volunteer, or we can suggest projects like the development of new guidelines ourselves. Our input is always welcome. I was involved in a project with several of my colleagues to optimise our automatic mail distribution concept.

How do you manage to achieve a good work-life balance? After my daughter was born a few years ago I initially went back to work on a 30-hour contract. But that was definitely too many hours. So I reduced the hours to 25, which gave me one free day a week. When I asked to reduce my hours everyone was very understanding. They take our concerns very seriously.

How do you benefit from a part-time position? It was important to me to have one free day a week so that I could organise my home life more effectively. When I was working every day I had to arrange personal appointments for the afternoons when I finished work or the weekend. The problem was, my afternoons are already full with my daughter’s activities and play dates. Now I have at least one morning all to myself when my daughter’s at school. Working part-time makes a lot of things easier for me.

What are the things that make LeasePlan a family-friendly employer? LeasePlan is generally a very committed employer and it supports us in any way it can. That was very clear during the COVID-19 pandemic. When the pandemic broke out we were able to take an office chair home with us.

And when our schools switched over to online lessons, LeasePlan offered the affected parents the chance to buy phased-out laptops at discount prices for the children to do their school work with. The management realised that there were suddenly a lot of children at home being schooled online without the proper equipment. LeasePlan donated the proceeds from the sale of the laptops to charity. When I compare my employer to my friends’ employers, LeasePlan made an incredible number of things possible for us and it also made sure we were always involved and consulted.

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