For members


‘Home office’: Will the pandemic change the way Switzerland works?

The Federal Council announced on Wednesday that Switzerland’s employees can return to their offices, as teleworking is no longer obligatory. But will companies allow employees to continue working from home, and will workers want to?

'Home office': Will the pandemic change the way Switzerland works?
Will you work from home more often as a result of the pandemic? Photo by Ken Tomita from Pexels

Among the new relaxed measures that Switzerland announced on Wednesday due to a good epidemiological situation, working from home will no longer be an obligation, though the government recommends it where possible. 

Mandatory testing schemes in the workplace have also been dropped. 

IN DETAIL: What are Switzerland’s new relaxed coronavirus measures?

After months of being merely a strong recommendation, ‘home office’ — as it is called in the Swiss-German part of Switzerland — became compulsory on January 18th 2021.

This measure was taken to contain the spread of coronavirus.

Since that time, 27.3 percent of employees worked from home full time, with over a third teleworking at least some of the time, according to government figures.

This was especially the case in professions that can be done remotely —such as in finance, insurance or consulting — rather than those which require on-site presence, like health care or manufacturing of essential goods.

Given that teleworking has become somewhat of a trend during the pandemic, “it is necessary to take a look at the extent to which teleworking has become popular in the long term”, Fredy Greuter, spokesperson for the Swiss Employers Association (SAV), told The Local.

He said that in some cases, home work “can improve the motivation and job satisfaction of employees and strengthen the attractiveness of the employer”.   

However, this is not always the case, he noted.

International studies show that productivity of home office is no better than that of working on-site.

“This is not surprising, because people are social beings who often perform better in a team than alone”.

This is demonstrated in a recent study by Deloitte Switzerland, which asked participants about the challenges they are facing while working from home.

“Unsurprisingly, almost half of all respondents see a lack of personal interactions with colleagues and clients as one of their biggest challenges – about 20 percent even worry about their mental well-being as they often feel isolated when working from home”, the study found.

Other challenges include not having a designated workspace at home and being distracted by family members (16 percent).

So will teleworking remain an option in Switzerland even after the end of the pandemic?

“Where home office is possible, this form of work may become even more firmly established as a fixed option”, Greuter said.

Whether this will actually happen depends on several factors, such as if companies across various industries are ready and willing to shift their staff to the remote work to cut office space and other costs.

The SAV doesn’t expect it to happen on a large scale, Greuter said.

However, at the political level, the association supports a parliamentary initiative to allow more creative freedom when working from home.

READ MORE: A refresher on Swiss office culture to make sure you fit in

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For members


Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier