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Work Smart: your office on the move with @kupfi

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Thomas Kupferschmied-Wickart, you describe yourself as a “brand architect, designer and digital nomad” on your XING profile. What does a typical day in your nomadic life look like?
At the heart of it, my life isn’t all that different from anyone else’s: I have an office (in our coworking space), a flat (well, a little studio apartment) and a GA travelcard. The only difference is that there’s practically no such thing as a “typical” day for me and my workplace is mobile because it’s in the cloud. The one constant is change. I’m always on the move because my customers are all over Switzerland. I don’t have much structure to my routine – except for my morning coffee, which I couldn’t do without. Every day is different. I usually plan out my schedule the evening before. The most important thing is for me to always have more or less complete access to my mobile office.

Digital nomads are often accused of not working “properly”. Do you often find yourself having to justify your lifestyle to people who can’t work flexibly?
Yes, I hear that now and again (grins). Most of the prejudice arises from the fact that people can’t imagine what such a working day would look like, as they’re so used to working within their rigid structures. I would even go so far as to say that I work more than people in a conventional job – it’s just distributed across the whole day. I can work almost anywhere because I always have my mobile office with me. And if I can find a good coffee too, all the better. A firm daily plan and helpful tools and apps are my essentials. But I never justify myself to people – I just explain to them how it works. Most people are pleasantly surprised and this leads to an interesting conversation. That’s my goal: good networking.

What do you think are the benefits of your way of working compared to having a fixed workplace? Are there any disadvantages?
Every way of working has its advantages and disadvantages, of course. For example, I still have a fixed workstation in our coworking space. For certain jobs I need a big monitor, which I have on my desk. Because I’m on the go a lot, certain times aren’t so productive and I have to catch up in the evening or at the weekend. But the high level of flexibility makes this all worthwhile. Fixed workplaces have their advantages, but employees must be willing to make working hours more flexible. This would definitely boost motivation. However, my way of working isn’t for everyone. Some people really value clear structures – and that’s fine because we need these people too.

It all sounds very dynamic and modern – but it must be stressful too, and even lonely at times.
Things are only stressful if you don’t enjoy doing them. I love my job (#bestjobever) so I don’t feel like my day-to-day life is stressful. Of course, as I said before, it’s important to plan everything out, but my day always shapes up to be interesting and varied.

And loneliness definitely isn’t an issue for me. As I mentioned, my fixed workstation is in our coworking space, where I get to see my friends and new coworkers are always dropping by. As a XING ambassador and networker, I also get to attend a lot of events, meet new people and talk about exciting topics. When I’m on the move, I catch up with acquaintances and customers over coffee or lunch. That is the benefit of flexible working.

You do a lot of work on the train – what are your must-haves for working efficiently?
Again, solid preparation is really important. Then of course I need a good Internet connection during the train journey too. Even though, as a designer, I don’t always need to be online, I use the Internet now and again for research. If there’s a dining car, I’ll usually sit there so that I have a table to work at. A while ago, I was in the dining car on a train from Zurich to Bern when another passenger suddenly approached me and asked: “Is there wifi here?” Sadly, I had to disappoint him, but I was able to show him how to get online using the hotspot function. Then he asked: “But what about power sockets?”
Here, too, I had to tell him the bad news: “There aren’t any.” Then we got talking. SBB still has a lot of catching up to do in this regard. For example, Deutsche Bahn provides an Internet connection in its ICE trains, comfortable workstations and power sockets at every seat.

Last year, you opened the BUREAU.D coworking space in Dietikon. Did your vision of a “home from home”, in other words an office with a cosy atmosphere and filled with familiar faces, get out of hand?
No – quite the opposite, in fact. I knew that I’d still be on the move a lot, so a workstation in the coworking space is perfect for me. With the coworking space, we want to offer other entrepreneurs and digital workers a cheap workstation that they can use at any time and the opportunity to exchange ideas with like-minded people.

Being able to discuss things with my colleagues or new coworkers who are using the space is something that I value too. I already enjoyed working this way even before I opened the coworking space. I love working in different places and meeting people from all walks of life.

Over to you: what’s your favourite place to work?

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Competition: #weworksmart
12 to 16 September is Work Smart Week. The organisers want you to get involved: give flexible working a go, and share photos of your experience! The best post with the hashtag #weworksmart will win a designer chair. For more information, visit www.work-smart-initiative.ch/smarter-arbeitsplatz (in German and French)

 

Work Smart Initiative
SBB, Swisscom, Microsoft Switzerland, Mobiliar, Swiss Post and Witzig launched the Work Smart Initiative in spring 2015. By promoting flexible forms of working, the initiative aims to achieve the following goals: (1) To create motivating environments for highly qualified employees; (2) To make the job market more accessible to professionals; (3) To make smarter use of resources and transport infrastructure. For more information, visit www.work-smart-initiative.ch (in German and French)

 

SBB Service Scouts
As an SBB Service Scout, Thomas Kupferschmied’s job is to provide neutral reports – and criticism where needed – of SBB’s services. SBB Service Scouts spend a year reporting on topics relating to customer satisfaction, integrating these activities into their everyday lives, examining the issues that arise and documenting them online. More about the SBB Service Scouts’ mission