Textilia acquired new talent from an unexpected source

Laundry company Textilia has hired computer scientist Magnus Berger for its IT department. With a diagnosis of autism, he has slightly different needs than his colleagues, but it is by no means something that dominates his daily life. Textilia recommends looking in this direction when recruiting. Magnus Berger has found himself a window seat at Textilia, where, as a developer, he is part of a small team. This way, he has the best conditions for his daily work. When talking about Textilia - most people naturally think of laundry and textile services, which are indeed the company's core business. However, Textilia is also a highly IT-oriented company with a substantial department of experts handling and, above all, developing the extensive digital logistics that comes with handling hundreds of thousands of textiles daily.

Berger2One of the employees in Textilia's IT department in Smørum, Denmark is 25-year-old Magnus Berger. Since he started back in March 2022, he has worked as a developer, dealing, among other things, with the security surrounding the enormous amounts of data Textilia receives through the chips sewn into the garments the company sends to and from hospitals, restaurants, cafes, and other facilities, as well as its laundries. Before his employment, Magnus spent 10 weeks as an intern at Textilia as part of his education in computer science at Zealand in Roskilde. During this time, he was on the site's dedicated line for autistic individuals, called the A-team, which is the diagnosis he received shortly before starting.

"Everything has gone quite smoothly, both with the internship and the job. They wanted to hire me, and I wanted to work here, so I got the job. And I've been very well received," he explains.For Textilia, it was not a difficult decision to hire Magnus Berger after he submitted his final project. Both parties got to know each other during the internship, and for IT Administrator Jesper Egholm Nielsen, there was no doubt about Magnus' professional qualities.

"There is a bright mind on that guy, so it was also a win for us that he wanted to work here," he says. Jesper Egholm Nielsen was Magnus Berger's sole contact in the early days at Textilia. Since then, he has become an integral part of the company's community.

No problem accommodating his needs

Magnus Berger is employed full-time on the same terms as the other 70+ employees at Textilia in Kongebakken, but due to his diagnosis, his entry into the company was slightly different from his colleagues', and he had some different needs. "I have discussed with them that, for example, I would like to have a desk by the window and preferably sit somewhere with not too many people around, and I have been given a pair of sound-isolating headphones," he says.

Berger"It has not been a problem at all for us to accommodate these small things. We all come with certain demands for our workplace, and we consider ourselves quite flexible, so we could easily meet Magnus' very few requirements," adds Jesper Egholm Nielsen. For Magnus, it is about being able to take things at his own pace and have some peace and structure around him. For new Textilia employees, part of the onboarding process involves spending a week or two in a laundry, folding textiles to get to know the core business before starting for real. In Magnus' case, this step was taken after a few months instead. "Otherwise, it would have been overwhelming. Instead, we have established some fixed frameworks for those who need it, and it works fine. People are aware of Magnus' diagnosis, but it is not something that dominates daily life. It is not a taboo for anyone to talk about it. Magnus is employed based on his qualifications from his education; the rest is just a detail," says Jesper Egholm Nielsen. As a trained computer scientist, Magnus Berger works as a developer in Textilia's IT department and is involved in security projects and data utilization, and he has also tried his hand at the company's 3D printers.

The beginning is crucial

Based on the internship and subsequent employment of Magnus Berger, Jesper Egholm Nielsen does not hesitate in recommending other companies to consider alternative directions when hiring new employees, especially for IT positions. "Just throw away any reluctance and go for it; we certainly haven't regretted it," he says. "The beginning is probably the most important part. On the A-team, the first two semesters are specially tailored to suit people with the diagnosis, and you learn what it means to pursue an education and have this support network," says Magnus Berger.

Textilia has been inspired by this approach, so both Magnus and his predecessor, who was the company's first intern from Zealand, were gently introduced to their tasks and, above all, the social relationships in the office. This way, the challenges associated with starting a new job as an autistic individual are spread out over a slightly longer period so that they do not become overwhelming. Throughout the onboarding process, Jesper Egholm Nielsen was the only point of contact for Magnus, in addition to a professional sparring partner, and the various onboarding activities were scheduled at a pace allowing him to settle into his role and have some stability. "That kind of onboarding, where you meet a lot of people right from the start, would never work for someone with my diagnosis. So, you have to turn it all around, so that everything becomes as normal and structured as possible in the beginning. It's very necessary, but Textilia was really good at it," concludes Magnus Berger.

ETSA, the European Textile Service Association is proud to include both Textilia and the Confederation of Danish Industry amongst its membership. The textile service industry is an industry which is committed to diversity and inclusion and giving opportunities to people of all backgrounds to grow and thrive. This article has been translated from the original Danish with all credit to Anders Kampmann from JJ Kommunikation for writing the original and all credit with regard to  pictures to Michael Vienø, with submission to ETSA by Lasse Rafiq Hangaard.

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