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  #21  
Old 20.03.2016, 19:01
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Re: Office Culture

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Many people like going to the gym or jogging during lunch break. It's perceived as a very positive aspect because wellbeing and relieving stress is taken seriously by the HR and management. I know of people taking 1.5-2h and nobody would say a word against it. Even after lunch, people like taking 30-45min walk in nature to clear their heads. If you come to think of it, the regular productive day in moderately fast paced department looks like this.

- arrive at work around 8h30 or 9h00 and have a coffee with quick chat about stuff,

- actual work phase stars at 9h00 or 10h00 for 2-3h (at desk or meetings),

- lunch break 12h00-13h30,

- coffee break or gipfeli for somebody's birthday 14h00-14h30 and go to restroom afterwards,

- start second phase of actual work at 15h00 for 2h-3h.

As you can see, given all those interruptions, if you are able to work productively 4-6h a day in corporate, you are a hero.

Companies have seminars, presentations, lunch-and-learn events, department meetings, open days for family members, department trips, social events, end-of-year functions, Xmas parties, farewell parties for colleagues and multiple aperos for only-God-knows-what-occasions.

Epic overview - thanks! Doesn't sound so bad this Switzerland...
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  #22  
Old 20.03.2016, 19:41
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Re: Office Culture

My 2 cents:

Don't listen to anyone.

Even in the same department within a company, you will have variations, sometimes even huge ones. One manager doesn't do lunches and the next manager goes home for lunch. One guy comes in at 9+ since he's consistently leaving after 19.30 with all the crap he has on him, and the rest of the management team is out the door at 17.20 sharp to get the good train regardless of function, ethnicity, or whatever.

Some managers are pretty awesome with flex hours and home-officing (I've been lucky so far), and others not so much, either due to the nature of the work or just because they like having the team in the office early or specific hours.

Some people are getting screamed by their managers at for registering overtime to get it back later and the screaming managers demand other managers' teams to put in all the hours so there is "cost transparency".


So, by my limited experience, it's a freaking mess. Maybe in less international companies or differerent industries, there is more consistency, but if something cannot be "dictated" by the nature of the work*, then you'll just have to wait and see how it goes.


*e.g. IBs calibrate with market hours, international teams have to manage time zones, etc.
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  #23  
Old 20.03.2016, 19:55
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Re: Office Culture

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Are air kisses a thing in Zürich too? I'm used to it with my friends here but I think I would be quite awkward about it at work
It's in place, only if you join the local girls outings society and make good friends ...
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  #24  
Old 20.03.2016, 20:06
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Re: Office Culture

7:30 start, 17:30 finish, 90 minute lunch, no after work socialising.

But I've only worked for Swiss companies for the past 30 years.

Tom
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  #25  
Old 20.03.2016, 20:23
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Re: Office Culture

There are more similarities than differences between CH and UK office life. It's pretty common to provide birthday cakes or donuts in the UK for instance.

The main differences are as you've said -- earlier start and longer lunch breaks. Personally though, I start late and finish late (about 0930 to 1830) and no one seems to mind.

Other things? Very low regard for health and safety, but that's CH at large and not just office life.

And no air conditioning.
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Old 20.03.2016, 20:24
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Re: Office Culture

Might I be permitted to offer my meagre jottings?


Everyone has to bring cake or gipfeli on their birthdays


In our establishment, it is customary for a colleague to bring a large piece of sober wood upon the occasion of his dissolution day. This is shared between the members of the team who lightly toast their pieces over the small while-powered stoves we use to rotate the seasons. Many hilarities are enjoyed and little work achieved upon these juhlat days.

Swiss people like to start work early, like 8am or so

We start before the hours, so it is difficult to explain when we begin according to the clock.

Long (1-2 hour) lunch breaks are normal


Again, for the seeking of sustenance, we enjoy time irrelevant to the clock. For some, perhaps, when sucking upon the meer, a time comparable to many centuries of yours might be taken, whereas for others, quickly nibbling on a humbert or biting into a cheese and pickle sandwich, it would be as seconds or minutes. To generalise would be inapt.

Seems as if (based on what my future line manager has said) overtime hours get written down and time taken in lieu

Overtime! Now this is a subject upon which I might expand, given the opportunity and the goodwill. There is little of the undertime in our establishment, as not much good can be done with the weak, tepid stuff. The rich, fat overtime, on the other hand, can be fashioned into all kinds of useful and delicious artefacts. The more crafty of our colleagues can build entire seasons from a small tub of overtime. Even an apprentice is able to construct a week or two, with support from a master. The curly tubs are the best, of course, as you might expect. Less torp and prettier on the ear.

Hubby mentioned they always took regular, long coffee breaks at Credit Suisse

There is no coffee in our establishment, but sündisznó can be procured from the wheel-ladies at small cost (a pair of rials or a livre or six). It keeps one awake for as many yards as necessary, and makes little effect upon the liver. No break is necessary as work gives all the desired rest.

I hope this explanation makes the diverse nature of the work place environment more palatable for the "people tongue", as it might be. Generalisation is hard, platinum harder. So goes the table, in the words of my mistress.

Come and enjoy! The process is relatively painless.
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Old 20.03.2016, 23:56
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Re: Office Culture

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Here are my unflattering observations:

(I have flattering ones as well but will save those for later. Also note that when I say "many" Swiss, etc., i mean in relation to Americans/British/Irish, so I'm speaking relatively and generally. By no means am I saying that these observations are necessarily unique to Switzerland - just that their prevalence seems greater.)

It seems to me that many Swiss give an impression of being (superficially) direct but in actuality, (substantive) directness makes them very, very uncomfortable. ["Superficially" direct = discussions/lectures on process; "Substantively" direct = discussions/critiques on the point/lack of point of the whole exercise: What is the strategic purpose? Are we achieving our goals or not? If not, then we need to change our approach.]

I also observe that many Swiss seem to treat each other like children. There's generally low levels of trust that someone can be given a mandate and told to get on with it. Updates must be constant even if the issue discussed is Greek to everyone else. (Maybe they don't associate a lack of delegation with a lack of trust, but that's what it looks like to me, as an outsider.)

Finally, many seem to be very poor at prioritizing. All deviations are treated equally as being Red Alerts that must be dealt with ASAP, e.g., Red Alert A may be doing something to ensure that the firm doesn't violating the law. Red Alert Z may be making sure to change the format of the cover letter of your TPS Report (movie reference). Both Red Alerts get equal emphasis.
Thanks for writing this on superficial/substantive directness. In my short year of experience in an all-Swiss department I have encountered this often and felt like I was going crazy.
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  #28  
Old 22.03.2016, 20:41
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Re: Office Culture

Some firms are flexible. As long as you put in your 8 or so hours in the day then you come when you like and leave when you want.
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Old 22.03.2016, 22:17
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Re: Office Culture

@all: please stop bringing gipfeli at all!
if you insist, pahleeeeeeeese provide butter n jam, raspberry preferred. at least some with chocolate filling. awesome, you'd make my life so much more enjoyable then!
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  #30  
Old 22.03.2016, 23:04
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Re: Office Culture

In my office people tend to not count your time spent on coffee breaks, lunch break or gym provided that you appear to be busy, that is, try to rush through the corridors if you might be seen by your superiors, try to spam a little constantly through the day so they can "hear" you. Just keep appearances
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Old 22.03.2016, 23:06
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Re: Office Culture

Forgot to add, that if you work hard, keep breaks to minimum but don't keep the appearances you will be treated as lazy anyway
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  #32  
Old 22.03.2016, 23:18
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Re: Office Culture

Hi!

Quick summary of my experience;

1. Big yes!
2. All depends of what type of industry you are in. I start already at 07:15 / 07:30.
3. Not sure who the lucky one is who gets two hours, but one hour is more likely like it! Most people gets one hour, including my spouse who work in the banking industry.
4. Lucky you! Every day is an overtime day, but no such thing as writing it down. I think if you work in a more senior position, it becomes part of your role.
5. No regular coffee breaks, I'm afraid!
6. All depends on how you approach it. I have just as much Swiss friends than International friends. In my experience the Swiss nationals are more private, but I won't necessarily say less social.

Good luck with your new job!!

Bruno


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Hi all,

it looks as if it's fairly certain we will be starting work in Zürich in May/June . I've been trying to figure out what to expect and searched the forums but I would love to get your thoughts on what "office culture" is like in Switzerland (particularly the German speaking part, particularly the more corporate environments as opposed to SMEs or startups)

What I've gathered so far...
  1. Everyone has to bring cake or gipfeli on their birthdays
  2. Swiss people like to start work early, like 8am or so
  3. Long (1-2 hour) lunch breaks are normal
  4. Seems as if (based on what my future line manager has said) overtime hours get written down and time taken in lieu
  5. Hubby mentioned they always took regular, long coffee breaks at Credit Suisse

I have read/heard mixed responses on the socialising aspect...seems as if expats do a lot of after work stuff together but Swiss people are less into after work socialising?

Would be really interested to hear everyone's thoughts on office culture. Which characteristics are unique to Switzerland?

Thanks in advance
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  #33  
Old 23.03.2016, 22:49
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Re: Office Culture

1. Indeed. It's a nice thing to do. I've even seen people take their department (and pay) for lunch.

2. I would say the office is around 30% full at 8am.

3. Not necessarily, although if you are doing sports, no-one bats an eyelid. It's great being able to go for a 10k run at lunch.

4. Agree

5. Disagree

6. Six
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