Monday, 17 January 2011


I (Greg) thought it was about time that I posted something.

It's been two weeks and a couple of days and, although the transition has its challenges, things seem to be going pretty well thus far (knock on wood).

In terms of work it has been a fascinating couple of weeks. It's a new type of role (business analysis in product management) in a new industry (software) serving a new industry (car insurance) in a new working culture in a new city in a new country and partly in a foreign language.

It's been great to have the routine and the social contact to help feel settled in and people have been very helpful. I've been introduced to a range of local lunchtime eateries and educated in some of the local Züri-Tüütsch dialect and generally made to feel very welcome.

That said, there are things that turn the head (it wouldn't be much fun without some cultural differences!).

Last week there was a dog in the office. Just for a day but still, a dog. And not a seeing-eye dog either.

Also last week there was the office Christmas party. Handily held in January it was a great opportunity to socialise a little with new colleagues and to experience at first hand some of the intriguing social mores in Swiss culture and the Apero in particular.

However, today has trumped the lot to date. I arrived at my desk a few minutes before 9am to find a truly surreal sight.

I have never previously worked for a company that engages people to clean the computer equipment. I have worked in offices that were negligible in cleaning the desks but not where people clean the monitor, telephone, keyboard, mouse, docking station and any other equipment lying around.

And I don't mean wipe them over with a damp cloth. I'm talking cleaning chemicals in the type of plastic bottles seen in fancy restaurant kitchens with sauces in. I'm talking toothbrushes with two brushes facing in opposite directions. Add in microfibre cloths and an assiduous attention to detail (including removing the keyboard keys and cleaning under them) and you've got some very clean computer equipment. But that's not it. The staff of the company engaged for this bi-annual activity was entirely made up of women of at least sixty-five and significantly older. All members of the blue-rinse or aggresive auburn brigades. Clicking and clacking for most of the day as they worked their way around the workstations brought to mind the Shreddies Knitted by Nannas advert.

And I thought that the state retirement age (64 for women) in Switzerland was mandatory!!

A great day's entertainment to add to the list of things I'm enjoying about Zürich.

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