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
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
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".