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  #21  
Old 13.01.2011, 21:55
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Re: Swiss working culture

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Americans don't like to have drink after work? Guess I came from a different part of the States.
Indeed. We used to go the strip bars on for lunch on Thursdays for the $0.25 beers!

Tom
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Old 13.01.2011, 21:55
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Re: Swiss working culture

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Being from New England, I find the Swiss refreshingly open!

Tom

P.S. If you don't understand this, you are NOT from New England!
I spent a lot of time in Minnesota and can absolutely relate to that :-)
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  #23  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:01
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Re: Swiss working culture

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Americans don't like to have drink after work? Guess I came from a different part of the States.
I don't know. My experience was pretty much the same as dawiz's though I worked in New York and things might be different there. Once they'd finished work everybody headed home, though commuting times were a big factor in that. I think if you work in an environment where there's a higher percentage of expats then things might be different.

I'm not surprised by your experiences giang, though as other have pointed out, things will vary from company to company and region to region.

There's no question that in general, the Swiss start work early and see the workplace as, well, a place of work, not a place to socialize and have fun. Relationships in the workplace can be formal, and yes, after working hours, they prefer to head for home and spend their time with family and friends. If you come from a culture where things are different or more relaxed then as an expat in a 97% local workforce, that's bound to cause frustrations. It's only natural.
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  #24  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:13
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Re: Swiss working culture

As Odile says, there is a regional difference.

The Swiss Germans will usually arrive at 7:30, take coffee breaks at the desk, take 30 minutes for lunch, no tea break, and leave around 4:30. We actually received a memo from my Zurich manager stating that we must leave the building for the 30 minute lunch break. Most of them speak only one language badly.

In the French part we would arrive at 8:00 & spend 30 to 60 minutes socializing. They take at least an hour for lunch and leave between 5:30 and 6:00 . It took me a while to understand why nobody answered the phone between 12:00 and 14:00

I agree with the OP. I worked twice for big companies in Bern each for two years. The Swiss like to be in control, do not like change, do not like advice & hate it when proved wrong, they document everything. Meetings are there for the management to explain and enforce their authority. I didn't enjoy these jobs at all. And never met them spontaneously after work. I only stayed for the money, as changing jobs when you are over 50 years old is impossible.
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Old 13.01.2011, 22:16
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Re: Swiss working culture

I don't like the short sleeves with tie.
I miss agility and bottom line focus.
The rest is fine.
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  #26  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:18
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Re: Swiss working culture

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I don't know. My experience was pretty much the same as dawiz's though I worked in New York and things might be different there. Once they'd finished work everybody headed home, though commuting times were a big factor in that. I think if you work in an environment where there's a higher percentage of expats then things might be different.

I'm not surprised by your experiences giang, though as other have pointed out, things will vary from company to company and region to region.

There's no question that in general, the Swiss start work early and see the workplace as, well, a place of work, not a place to socialize and have fun. Relationships in the workplace can be formal, and yes, after working hours, they prefer to head for home and spend their time with family and friends. If you come from a culture where things are different or more relaxed then as an expat in a 97% local workforce, that's bound to cause frustrations. It's only natural.
Must be upstate as the City is nothing like that
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Old 13.01.2011, 22:21
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Re: Swiss working culture

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As Odile says, there is a regional difference.

The Swiss Germans will usually arrive at 7:30, take coffee breaks at the desk, take 30 minutes for lunch, no tea break, and leave around 4:30. We actually received a memo from my Zurich manager stating that we must leave the building for the 30 minute lunch break. Most of them speak only one language badly.

In the French part we would arrive at 8:00 & spend 30 to 60 minutes socializing. They take at least an hour for lunch and leave between 5:30 and 6:00 . It took me a while to understand why nobody answered the phone between 12:00 and 14:00

I agree with the OP. I worked twice for big companies in Bern each for two years. The Swiss like to be in control, do not like change, do not like advice & hate it when proved wrong, they document everything. Meetings are there for the management to explain and enforce their authority. I didn't enjoy these jobs at all. And never met them spontaneously after work. I only stayed for the money, as changing jobs when you are over 50 years old is impossible.
The breaks are mandated in the labor law. Managers can actually end up being fined.
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  #28  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:24
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Re: Swiss working culture

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honestly, that really depends on the company you work for and on their rules in terms of flexible work hours. I'm Swiss. I work for a Swiss institution with about 60-70% Swiss staff. I actually like to work early (but I also leave early in the evening) and it drives me nuts that literally everybody else doesn't show up for work until 9:30.
Out of interest, why does it bother you? They end up working the same amount of time just start later and finish later.
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  #29  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:38
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Re: Swiss working culture

In this sense, the US and Switzerland are very similar it seems. Long hours are expected come what may - whereas in the UK more emphasis is on the quality/productivity of the work done, irrespective of the time, to some extent. The US is possibly worse, as holidays/vacations are SO short.
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Old 13.01.2011, 22:56
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Re: Swiss working culture

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Out of interest, why does it bother you? They end up working the same amount of time just start later and finish later.
It means when he epxects to be able to start work and call on colleagues at early hours 40-60% arent there.

Then again 11pm finishes are unknown in the one Swiss pharma co I have worked for. (Soon to be second Swiss company not pharma. I might add)

11pm knockoffs or personal record 32hrs straight (illegal I know and my choice) can be common in UK IT with high profile projects. V rare in Europe.

If your company has exposure to the US it should allow workers to come in later for obvious reasons, or vice versa for asian markets.

Not as bad as a snr manager in NL where I've just finished I used to hum 9-5 as he walked out of the door, could have set my watch by him. Used to play spreadsheets all day. Tough life making up those hours in MS Excel
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  #31  
Old 13.01.2011, 22:59
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Re: Swiss working culture

I work for a Swiss company that is quite international. However, most of the employees here are Swiss.

I like how in our HR documentation, they highly recommend that we take at least 2 weeks of consecutive time off for vacation. (Unheard of when I worked in the U.S.) Unfortunately, my boss is not Swiss, and he discourages any time off over one week. In fact, last year, he first approved 1.5 weeks of vacation for me, but then called me back into the office midway through my vacation!

It seems that the Swiss in my department generally all break for lunch and coffee breaks, where the non-Swiss might work through lunch or grab something to eat whilst working.

I don't usually meet up with colleagues after work to socialize, but it may be due to long commutes home. It was the same way when I worked in L.A.--everyone was rushing home after work to beat the traffic. Or in some cases here--we're rushing out of work so we can go grocery shopping and run errands before all the shops close!
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  #32  
Old 13.01.2011, 23:03
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Re: Swiss working culture

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In this sense, the US and Switzerland are very similar it seems. Long hours are expected come what may - whereas in the UK more emphasis is on the quality/productivity of the work done, irrespective of the time, to some extent. The US is possibly worse, as holidays/vacations are SO short.
Cultural differences for me were minimal. Helps to be a structured thinker and planner . I will say I am looking forward to my first two week vacation ever after 25+ years working.
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  #33  
Old 13.01.2011, 23:08
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Re: Swiss working culture

I find it ridiculous that there are so many rantings, comparisons and fuss about what may or may not be the norms here. You can't simply change the basic foundations/principles/behaviour patterns of a nation overnight so you just gotta adapt to it. Which is why it is called the host country and we, the foreigners. If not, one should just rather stay back in one's country. Having come this far and travelled across borders, one should at least be a bit open minded. And honestly, it is so easy to pass on the negative vibes. I've lived in different countries and everywhere this is a common feature of the expats. I have learned long ago that to enjoy my host country, I need to be open, grateful and tolerant. I'd expect them to do the same in my country. So folks, enjoy all the positive aspects of Switzerland
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  #34  
Old 13.01.2011, 23:31
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Re: Swiss working culture

I have a lovely Swiss friend in her 70s whom I recently visited with. In her past she has lived and worked internationally on an extensive basis and so knows a thing or two on this subject.

What touched me during our talk was when she got upset about why it is, in her view, so many foreigners expect the Swiss to do all the changing, adapting, tolerating and adjusting to accommodate them when this is, after all, their host country. She was adamant that they would not like it if it was the other way around.

Nowhere is perfect but after reading some of the comments on this thread, on balance I was glad I did not disagree with her.
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  #35  
Old 13.01.2011, 23:44
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Re: Swiss working culture

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honestly, that really depends on the company you work for and on their rules in terms of flexible work hours. I'm Swiss. I work for a Swiss institution with about 60-70% Swiss staff. I actually like to work early (but I also leave early in the evening) and it drives me nuts that literally everybody else doesn't show up for work until 9:30.

It's very true, though, that the Swiss, me included, don't like to mix work and private life. That's the main reason why most people don't want to go for drinks after work. Strictly separating work and private life helps me to stay sane. I just absolutely don't understand how people can keep their sanity when they constantly see their work colleagues after work as well - work just continues in the pub. My advice: if you like to get to know some of your colleagues better, take them out to lunch. Most Swiss will gladly extend their lunch breaks.

The length of the lunch breaks, btw., also depends on the work rules. We don't have any lunch breaks included in our work-time but we're required to take 30 minutes (meaning our work-day simply is 9 hours instead of 8:30). If we take more, we just have to work longer. That's why most people only take 30 minutes here.

Peter
i think it's just very different working cultures. i find the swiss get into the office at an crazy early hours. i tried it for a while and was first in the office a few times, but i'm not really a morning person.

on the other hand they leave earlier too. which i guess is kinda good since you get home while there is still sunlight. i guess this fits into the 'timetabled' life philosophy.

however, i notice that they grumble a lot if asked to do overtime, or work during holidays etc. whereas i'm used to this being SOP (i'm in the office as i type). i guess we can learn from the swiss about work life balance, but i guess the anglo-saxon culture is that you do what you need to do and work when you need to work to deliver.

i lost count of the number of times that i received the information i needed at 7pm on a friday only to have to work all night and over the weekend to get things done by monday.

it's also a personality thing. i love the chaos and adrenaline fuelled work binges. others hate this. was a real eye-opener for me when we did a group personality/work method assessment at a previous job. i just assumed everyone else was like me - but found out that many people like to have time-tables have work planned and organised etc. etc. some jobs lend themselves to this work methodology, others don't.
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Old 13.01.2011, 23:46
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Re: Swiss working culture

Swiss workers ?

Where ????
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Old 13.01.2011, 23:56
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Re: Swiss working culture

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it's also a personality thing. i love the chaos and adrenaline fuelled work binges. others hate this. was a real eye-opener for me when we did a group personality/work method assessment at a previous job. i just assumed everyone else was like me - but found out that many people like to have time-tables have work planned and organised etc. etc. some jobs lend themselves to this work methodology, others don't.
Add me to this sort too, I wonder what my new colleague will make of me after a few months haha
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Old 14.01.2011, 08:44
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Re: Swiss working culture

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Must be upstate as the City is nothing like that
Wall Street, where client dinners start at 6:30pm and everybody heads home at 8pm!
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  #39  
Old 14.01.2011, 09:46
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Re: Swiss working culture

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I find it ridiculous that there are so many rantings, comparisons and fuss about what may or may not be the norms here. You can't simply change the basic foundations/principles/behaviour patterns of a nation overnight so you just gotta adapt to it. Which is why it is called the host country and we, the foreigners. If not, one should just rather stay back in one's country. Having come this far and travelled across borders, one should at least be a bit open minded. And honestly, it is so easy to pass on the negative vibes. I've lived in different countries and everywhere this is a common feature of the expats. I have learned long ago that to enjoy my host country, I need to be open, grateful and tolerant. I'd expect them to do the same in my country. So folks, enjoy all the positive aspects of Switzerland
On the other hand...

Being a foreigner - having to adapt to new norms - is inherently frustrating. I don't care how open-minded you are, how nice the mountains and the chocolate are, you gotta let off some steam somewhere, sometime.

Maybe if you are an expat family you can vent to each other over dinner, then go out to the mountains on Saturday, have a wonderful time and forget everything you ever hated about the place. But what if you are single? What if you are married to a Swiss person? It is much harder to rant freely about your "host country" when it is also your wife's or husband's home country...

I think the EF - and Complaints Corner in particular - is a useful safety valve for those times. Yes, it can occasionally be a vicious circle, frustrated expats constantly reading each other's rants and growing more and more frustrated, but it can also be quite the sanity-saver at times. Has been for me anyway. YMMV.
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Old 14.01.2011, 11:20
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Re: Swiss working culture

This site was set up for ex-pats, not for the Swiss to defend their country against all-comers.
The Complaints Corner was set up, as MathNut said, for the sole purpose of letting off steam.
Something really annoyed you lately? Get it off your chest here. If you are easily offended, please look elsewhere

I appreciate that too much complaining sounds awful to Swiss ears and maybe to those who have been here for ever and a day.
Phrases like 'foreigners are always complaining' is, however, just as unfair as some of the complaints themselves.

Every area, every country, every culture, every nation has its positives and its negatives. The trouble with being a long-term, or many times over, ex-pat is that we want the very best points in every country, every place we ever lived in. That country is called Eutopia/Utopia - see, we cannot even agree on how to spell it.

This post is, of course, way off-topic and may be deleted at a Mod's discretion.
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Last edited by Longbyt; 14.01.2011 at 11:24. Reason: Added last sentence
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