A message by Nicolas Bürer, Digital Switzerland

12 March 2020

Everything bad is for something good


Dear Members,

Thank you for your great input. We would like to start with a quote by Tomáš Pavlíček COO of the HELIOT GROUP, that perfectly reflects the thought behind my email sent to you concerning COVID-19. «In Czech we say - Everything bad is for something good. We can use the current situation to host and attend more remote meetings and temporary minimize travel. That way we are reducing our carbon footprint and act more sustainably now and in the future».

Thank you all for all your great contributions. We hope our summary gives you new inspiration how to handle the current situation - and maybe even beyond the COVID-19 madness.


Our first question was: Which established practices are you now rethinking?

Most of you have implemented a policy to reduce travel activities fully or at least to an absolute minimum and have introduced video calls or other virtual solutions instead. Home office is strongly advised whenever possible. Even more flexible working hours support your efforts to avoid public transportation at peak times. Employees who were recently visiting risk regions work at home for 14 days to prevent possible contagion. The Swiss Sign Group grants exceptions, if an employee has had a (negative) test. Credit Suisse has also introduced self-quarantining of their staff in certain cases. Some of you have built a taskforce to monitor the latest developments in the situation and respond quickly.

There are some answers that we would like to point out: Bain & Company as well as Ringier made changes in the cafeteria/canteen to avoid contagion. Bain & Company stopped serving open food whereas individually packaged supplies remain.  In order to increase physical distance between employees while they are eating Ringier changed the layout of the tables in the canteen.

From NetComm Suisse, based in Ticino where COVID-19 cases are more numerous than elsewhere, we received the answer, that they are in contact with the canton to ask for support in cases of short-time work (we keep our fingers crossed that you are successful, Carlo). Additional food for thought was provided by the answer of AMAG. They stated: «We rethink processes again and again, but because of corona we are currently not multiplying. This is also in view of the fact that we as a trading and service company with stationary garages and appropriately equipped workshops are bound to processes»... We are impressed!


Secondly we wanted to know how your working conditions changed.

The most common answer was pointing at Home Office and the switch to virtual gatherings or, where needed, live streams. In this context Mobiliar mentioned three challenges that we would like to share: 1. Not all functions can be performed from home 2. Dependence on the provider; In this extraordinary situation a provider failure would be fatal 3. Additional technical equipment (e.g. screens) for specific functions are required. We would be curious to hear your inputs and solutions on this. 

Also Team Splitting, meaning team members that are working from different locations, is already widely used. You recommend to avoid or even prohibit the participation in physical events, lectures or training. To minimize the on site risk in your offices, common areas are cleaned and disinfected more often.

Two more specific answers were given by Bain & Company and Mercedes Benz Schweiz. To be operational, should the situation require an enforcement of Work From Home policy, Bain asked all employees to take their laptop home every night and to forward the landline phone. Furthermore they implemented a visitor health declaration statement for all visitors to the office. Mercedes Benz Schweiz introduced a digital entry control at one single building entry at all sites and added a «COVID-newsticker» on the social intranet with three updates per week. Also they defined a clear escalation policy in case of suspect/confirmed case.


How are you using the experiences and advancements you’ve made in regards to «the future of work» to navigate this new situation? 

Most of you agree that tools and equipment designed to introduce remote work can now be applied and that stress tests pay off (congrats)! Also previous evaluation of tools for online meetings simplify the situation.

We liked the positive answer that we received of Manuela Ruoss, project manager for personnel and organizational development at Ringier: «I think the extended home office, which includes different aspects of "the future of work", will encourage people that it is quite easy to work remotely. Current home office regulations might also accelerate the digitalization of certain processes, which might be an advantage for the future.»,  

Also positive about the new forms of work is AMAG. «It's the same as in the "old world": informing, explaining, deciding, leading, but the new forms of work help us to work more flexibly - where possible in terms of activities.», explained Dino Graf who is responsible for Group Communication & AMAG Brand Management.


Our last question was «Which new practices will stay in place long after COVID-19?» 

This one was the most interesting because we were not able to identify a common answer. NetComm Suisse will use this extraordinary situation to implement a smart working software and is looking for ways to further digitalize business operations. According to Pascal Perrot, Chief of Staff - Digital Transformation & Data Office of the ICRC, they are also planning some updates:  «By nature, the ICRC is used to operate in crisis mode and has a Business Continuity Plan. (...) We will learn from this situation and will update our Business Continuity Plan at the Head Quarter, as well as in our different delegations, accordingly.»

We want to close this Email with a remark by Thomas Wüst, founder of ti&m: «Agility helps: daily, fast and direct decisions and communication based on the FOPH, which I trust 100%, plus coordination with other companies and branches in Switzerland and abroad»

What you and your organizations are experiencing right now is without a doubt extraordinary. We are confident that you, as industry and thought leaders, are able to find the positives and emerge stronger than ever. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your colleagues from our network – after all, collaboration fosters innovation. 


Stay healthy,


Nicolas on behalf of digitalswitzerland

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