Understanding work culture in Zurich

The work culture in Zurich
Updated 2019-08-19 08:11

Many expats move to Zurich because of the attractive salary many companies offer. Prior to their move, little may be known about the actual work conditions and the work environment in this city. It is, however, vital to understand these topics thoroughly, as the information is very useful for not only the planning of your work but also your personal life. What are the basics that you need to know about the work environment in Zurich? Find out in this article.

All about work conditions in Zurich

Lucky you! Besides the attractive salary offered, people working in Zurich also enjoy pretty good work conditions. In 2018, the median salary in Zurich was 6,869 CHF a month, which was the highest in Switzerland. Please be aware that there is no minimum salary in Switzerland. However, during your salary negotiation, remember to take into account the high costs of living in Zurich, as well as the social contribution, taxes, and costs of compulsory health insurance. In some other parts of the world, having such kind of salary may also come with a lot of stress and long working hours. In Zurich, it is not often the case, unless you work in specific industries, such as the banking industry, where working hours may be a bit longer than that of average employees in the city. Most people in Zurich work 45 hours per week. However, there are more and more flexible work contracts appearing in the Swiss labour market, which allow employees to work 50 to 90%, allowing some free time for their personal life and engagements. Legally speaking, you should also get 20 days of annual leave per year. This may increase depending on your company, as well as your years working in the company.

The work environment in Zurich

Nowadays, a lot of Swiss companies try to provide a comfortable work environment for employees. This may mean that they tend to improve their office space if they have the resources, implement more flexible policies so that employees can have a better work-life balance, or simply create a more laid back corporate culture. Some industries do it better than others, especially the creative industry and the IT industry. Moreover, the fact that there has been a rise in the number of English-speaking companies in Zurich also contributes to this new work culture.

In general, employees in Zurich have one hour of lunchtime. Big companies that have a cafeteria at their office building usually provide subsidised meals for employees. In the summer, many sportive people who work close to the lakeside also go jogging outside during lunch hour. Since a lot of companies have flexible work hours, they can take some more time during lunch and leave a bit later at the end of the day.

How to behave at work in Zurich

Depending on the industry you work in, there may or may not be a strict dress code. For instance, companies in the creative or IT industry usually allow employees to dress rather casually, whereas people who work in the banking industry generally wear formal business attire. Before your interview or your first workday, it is best that you try to find out a bit more about the company culture, so as not to wear the wrong attire to the office.

In the Swiss-German part of Switzerland, people tend to plan everything. This is also true in the workplace. Whether it is a meeting or a lunch with colleagues, planning with the people involved is essential. Besides planning, it is also important to stick to the plan. If your Swiss colleague invites you to lunch and you accept the invitation, do not show up in the end as it will be frowned upon. Depending on where you come from, this may or may not be the case in your home country. However, living in a new country means taking extra steps to understand the local people and culture. Hence, it would be wise to keep these tips in mind and continue observing the behaviour of local people in order to adapt better in the new environment.

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