Work shadowing at empiriecom - A week in beautiful Weismain

17. Jan 2019
Johannes Haaf

In December 2018 we welcomed Christine, an employee at Heine Versand, to sit in on our everyday operation at empiriecom for one week. She supported the UCD team and in return had been able to gather lots of knowledge. Following, read her experience report:

In the middle of December I had the chance to visit empiriecom in the idyllic Weismain. For one week I had been a part of the User Centered Design (UCD) team and had been able to experience all of their processes and topics at close quarters.

Why I decided to do work shadowing:

I became interested in taking this short internship in the UCD department at empiriecom because I recently moved on to hold a new role as "UX Manager" at Heine. Since we have not had a user experience team in the past, I hoped to gain insights into an already existing "UX/UCD" team and learn from its processes, structures and contents in order to gather some ideas about the new roles assigned to me and my colleagues.

My previous position at Heine had been that of a "product manager in e-commerce", which means I already have some know-how, but the topic “User Experience” as a whole is a little more specific and comprehensive.

Fokusgruppe Probandenraum
What did I learn?

During the week, I gained comprehensive insights into all processes and contents of the UCD-team. The tasks of each team member had been explained to me in detail and I had even been able to experience a focus group in Nuremberg, which investigated the integration of the shipping flat rate at I also got the chance to catch a glimpse of the procedures of other teams; for instance of those the colleagues of the App-Unit are dealing with.

Moreover, I also gained insight into the processes between the individual teams/departments and had been able to participate in many appointments and professional meetings such as the conference where all of the Scrum Masters and Product Owners exchange their ideas.

It has been very exciting to see that it is possible to synchronise these meetings even though there are many teams working independently on their own product. Relevant topics had been addressed, shared obstacles and problems had been identified through team work and following that, a discussion had been started about how to deal with these issues in order to work as efficiently and constructively as possible.

A central point to me has been the integration of UX in e-commerce as well as in the Scrum Process and how the user voice is going to be integrated into the company. Therein, the importance of bringing the user voice directly into the teams represents one of the key-learnings I had been able to take home with me.

As to that, the UCD team conducts training courses on the principles of dialogue (according to ISO 9241-110, which facilitates the assessment of Usability). These enable the teams to recognise and evaluate Usability Problems. Thus, they are working independently through the eyes of the users from the very beginning and obtain additional support from the UCD-team if a project requires a more specific insight into the customer’s perspective (Focus Groups, Usability Tests, Expert Reviews, comprehensive A/B testing…).

In this regard, I found the poster made by the UCD-team, on which they have visualised their mission and goal, very helpful.


Ausflug auf den Christkindlesmarkt
Die Unterkunft in Weismain

I had been very well received and integrated by the team and am now trying to incorporate the learnings into my new position.

How did the work shadowing go?

A work shadowing is an important part regarding the exchange of knowledge within the Otto Group and is offered by the majority of the more than 120 Otto Group companies via a central platform. I came to the decision to apply for a work shadowing quite spontaneously: it took about 4 weeks from the idea to its beginning. It had been very easy: a short inquiry by e-mail and then everything else took its course by phone. Prior to the actual work shadowing, I had spoken to Natalie, who is the team leader of UCD about my expectations and goals for the week at empiriecom. Following that, she sent me all the important information and dates. An all-round carefree package, so to say.

Willkommensnachricht am Arbeitsplatz

Retrospectively, I can say that the work shadowing has been absolutely worthwhile. I had not only been warmly welcomed but also very well integrated into the team and directly introduced to all the different departments at empiriecom. Everyone had a sympathetic ear for my questions, I have met lots of nice people and had many interesting conversations.
Being a guest at empiriecom the week before Christmas has offered another nice side effect: I had been able to take part in certain Christmas-activities such as ‘Crappy Secret Santa’ while having some delicious biscuits or the company’s Christmas-Party at the Fränkischer Hof in Altenkunstadt. 

Thanks again, it has been an awesome week for me!
Warm regards,

Schrottwichteln bei UCD

And here it comes, the "Thought for the Day” from the “HOW-page” (Hospitation Otto Group Weit - Auditing throughout the Otto Group), which seems to be quite fitting:

Doing or offering a "Work Shadowing" is our way of exchanging knowledge with each other, improving processes and create transparency while improving our network of peers

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