Swisscom AG



Though it's raining as I make my way to Swisscom's offices it's not so bad because Bern has done a great job of building bike lanes and bike paths for cyclists. Of course, the fact that Bern has a large university has something to do with the city being bike friendly.

It's four miles from the city center to Swisscom's headquarters. The building isn't very tall (four stories) but it's spread out like a huge flat pyramid. Essentially it's 20 little buildings connected to each other by long common hallways. Between each of the buildings are garden areas. Construction started on the 240,000 square foot building in 1996 and was finished in 1999. It's now home to over 1,200 employees.

Receptionist Gerda von Burg is friendly and very helpful. Actually there are two receptionists but the other one was just leaving to run an errand so I didn't catch her name. However, I did catch a picture of her. Why? She was off to do her errand on one of those two-wheeled human powered scooters that have been the latest rage (no she wasn't wearing high heels). Yep, this building may not be very tall but the corridors are very long-a half block long. Getting past the receptionists and into the main part of building requires everyone to pass through security capsules. Only one person at a time can enter a capsule and it's a strange feeling when the doors close around you- kind of like waiting to be transported in time.

Esther Huesler from corporate communications answers questions and gives a quick tour. The Swiss government still owns 66% of Swisscom. One of the reasons the head office was built here is its location, where two train lines intersect. This means trains stop less than a 100 yards from the front entrance of the building 12 TIMES an hour. So it's no problem getting to the city center quickly.

Behind headquarters is a large forest preserve so joggers have a place to run. There's a weight room and showers. There's no formal dress code, no smoking in offices but there are designated break areas for those who have to have their fix. It's a good- looking cafeteria and there's covered parking for cyclists. The company's art collection is international in scope and mostly modern. I can't see CEO Jens Alder's third floor office or the boardroom because "visitors never go there".

Employee perks? How about $100 a month off on your cell phone and discounts on train passes. The most interesting piece of trivia picked up here comes from walking the corridors. Embedded in the walkways throughout the building are various sayings or truisms. Done by artist Jenny Holzer, they're in a variety of languages. Several examples: "Abuse Of Power Comes As No Surprise", "Remember You Always Have Freedom Of Choice", "A Little Knowledge Can Go A Long Way" and "Moderation Kills The Spirit".