Using lockdown to your advantage

Posting date: 30 April 2020
Home working was already popular in Switzerland in 2019, with 33.7% working from home at least occasionally. This number has of course dramatically increase in 2020, thanks largely to Covid-19. The black swan event was neither expected nor planned for by these employees and their businesses. Thankfully, there’s an abundance of resources which will help you make your lockdown space a productive one.

More than two-thirds of office workers say they are more productive when they’re working from home. This ‘new normal’ is the perfect time to focus on where your career is heading, upskilling and even prepare yourself for the next career move. Using this advice, you can be sure that you’re using lockdown to your advantage:

Project your career path

It’s important to always have sight of which direction you want to steer your career in, yet studies show that people spend more time planning their holidays than they do their career. As our global workforce experiences a sizeable shake-up this is the perfect time to assess where your career is heading. In light of recent changes, new opportunities may have presented themselves or you might have reached a fork in your career path.

To make a well-informed decision you must begin by writing down specific goals. For example, becoming the Chief Finance Officer of a multinational company with a gross revenue of £150 million is an extremely clear goal. The more precise that your target is the better it serves you when trying to make career decisions. To improve the effectiveness of your goals write them down - psychology professor, Dr Gail Matthew, shares that we are 42% more likely to achieve them when we do so.

Learn a new language

There’s no better time to pick up a new skill or hone an existing one and learning a new language could have more career benefits than you’d think. This is particularly true in multilingual Switzerland, where there are four official languages and regional dialects that can make business communication challenging at times. Take the opportunity to brush up on your German, French or Italian and you may see yourself with improved career prospects at the end of lockdown. An American study found that in just five years the number of job advertisements aimed at attracting bilinguists has more than doubled. Commit just 30 minutes each day and use free apps like DuoLingo to expand your vocabulary or enrol in virtual language courses from the Open University if you’re focused on becoming fluent. This free learning platform also offers courses in business, politics, health and more.

Pick up the basics of coding

If you’re not a natural linguist but want to learn a language there are several computer programming languages that you can choose from. Many websites, like CodeCademy, provide free tutorials for whichever language of code you want to learn and they help you do more than just add a skill to your CV. These resources strengthen your problem-solving abilities as you begin learning the basics of HTML and CSS, laying a solid foundation for programmes such as Python – which is great for beginners – and JavaScript.

Get to grips with technology

Understandably, the global recruitment landscape has been largely impacted by the imposed lockdown. Hiring managers can no longer meet candidates in person but must rely on technology to match the right candidate with the right job.

Already, 53% of HR professionals reveal that they routinely use video interview and we expect this figure to soar throughout and beyond the lockdown as the recruitment industry notes the benefits of a virtual interview over a traditional interview. Get prepared and ahead of other job seekers by learning how you can make an impression on a video interview. It all starts with having the right technology set up so there any no glitches on the day.

Alternatively, now could be the perfect time to refresh your knowledge of Microsoft Excel and pick up some new functionalities. AMT Training are offering a free Excel fundamentals course which will teach you Excel best practice and share top shortcuts to help you maximise your productivity. Alternatively, take a look at online training courses on LinkedIn, Udemy and Coursera, where you can do everything from learning business analytics skills to gaining a master’s degree in computer science.

Digital networking

We’re amidst the largest disruption to the global workforce but that doesn’t mean to say new job opportunities aren’t on the horizon. Many industries have adopted a business-as-usual stance – particularly Switzerland's pharmaceuticals industry - and others are concentrating on bouncing back from the impact that the outbreak has had on hiring efforts. Now is the time to brush up on your digital networking knowledge.

With in-person interviews and large networking events off the cards for some time you need to focus your efforts on your digital presence. Begin by optimising your LinkedIn profile so that you’re visible to recruiters and hiring managers. Remember that networking is not always about gaining connections - use this time to reach out to old contacts.

Start the job hunt with Swisslinx

The lockdown is no reason to put your personal and career development on hold. You now have the resources and advice to help use this time to your advantage and even ready yourself for the next career move. Begin the search now – browse our latest opportunities in life sciences and financial services.

Is Switzerland the smartest country in the world?

The digital age has transformed the meaning of ‘smart’. What was once a nod towards human intelligence is now a reference to a product, service – even a city - that is connected via the Internet of Things (IoT). Data and information are the building blocks of a smart city, where they are captured and transmitted using electrical signals to improve the functioning of the city. The only country to steal two spots in the 2020 Smart City Index is the home of luxury chocolates and high-precision watchmaking – Switzerland. Could this be a signal that Switzerland is the smartest country in the world?   Smart cities ‘Smart’ conjures up the image of multiple wireless connections beaming to form a complex network of signals. These signals are what make a city interconnected but what makes the city smart is when the data is used to make more informed decisions and improve the lives of the residents. In the Smart City Index, Zurich was awarded the bronze medal - only beaten by Singapore and Helsinki – and was recognised for its health facilities, governance and education. However, the citizens of Zurich addressed the need for e-voting and greater investment in mobile apps for car sharing. Meanwhile, Geneva took seventh place for their basic amenities, health, education and social mobility. Air pollution was identified as a problem in this Swiss city and this could be a call for increased investment in smart devices that conserve natural resources.   This continuous investment in new technologies is one of the reasons why Switzerland took first place in the 2020 Global Innovation Index once again, but how has the push towards developing smart applications and devices impacted the healthcare system?   Smart healthcare Despite there being no universal coverage in Switzerland, the nation is renowned for having a high-quality healthcare system. And as the digital revolution sweeps over the country, technologies such as wearables, implanted sensors and smart textiles are beginning to push the boundaries and alter the skillset required for healthcare jobs. In PwC’s Digital opportunity in the Swiss healthcare system report, smart devices are identified as an emerging technology, suggesting that the true potential of Switzerland’s smart healthcare is yet to be seen. These devices are being used to collect patient data and report it in real-time, resulting in both reduced costs and improved operational efficiency.   One of the first uses of smart technology within Switzerland’s healthcare system was Google Glass. Swiss developers created an app to allow paramedics and doctors to use the augmented reality (AR) glasses to improve the quality of treatment, particularly in time-sensitive cases. Several years on,  more applications of AR and VR tools within life sciences are beginning to emerge. The smart devices are now being used to help surgeons to prepare for surgery and assisting patients to perform their therapy exercises at home.   How can Switzerland get smarter? In 2009, the chief technology officer for the District of Columbia (D.C) – Vivek Kundra – announced a competition for software developers to create a mobile app that used the open data made public by the municipality. The purpose of the competition was to take the stores of data that the local government collects and put it to use in a way that benefitted the public. The resulting 47 applications – including a real-time parking app and an app to track a safe route home from any bar in the city – achieving in one month what would have taken years had the government chosen to outsource the work.   Despite the number of software developers living in Switzerland being yet to reach the numbers in the US, and estimates that the shortfall of ICT specialists will reach 40,000 by 2026, the job market is growing. The combination of Covid-19, increased government investment in technology and a booming fintech market have led to a heightened demand for tech and digital skills, with no signs of the trend slowing down. Now, many software developers are trading in their coveted roles in Silicon Valley to relocate to the culturally vibrant Zurich. And with the rise of disruptive technology in Switzerland, more smart apps like those developed in D.C. look to be on the horizon. Perhaps all it will take is a competition to draw out these innovative ideas.   Access our team of market specialists Whether Switzerland is the smartest country in the world remains up for debate, but one thing for sure is that the nation is making a name for itself in the smart technology market. It is trends and technology drivers like these that the team at Swisslinx are committed to keeping pace with, so we can provide you with timely career advice. Contact us to speak to a member of the team or begin the search for your next digital and technology job.

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What does the post-Covid workplace look like - and how can businesses thrive?

In the US, 41% of the workforce is expected to continue working partly remotely beyond Covid-19, compared to the 30% prior to the outbreak. A similar trend is expected to sweep over the globe, meaning that in the post-Covid landscape companies that are ‘remote-friendly’ may gain a competitive edge. Though the damaging effects of coronavirus will be felt for some time, for some industries the pandemic is likened to a double-edged sword. So, can the post-Covid workplace be more productive and enable businesses to thrive?   When, where and how?  The 9-5 working model was one greatly favoured by businesses around the globe, but with commuting times creeping up and taking precious time away from employees’ personal lives a gradual shift towards flexible working was forming even before the virus outbreak. Now, with 80% of employees stating they’ve enjoyed the transition to home working, it’s hard to imagine the age-old working pattern being put back into play.   In countries like Wales, the government is exploring new options where cities are no longer the hub of the working world. Instead, smaller co-working spaces will be set up in housing districts – thereby cutting pollution and improving the work-life balance while still creating that sense of community on a smaller scale. As companies strive to keep their culture alive and prioritise the employee work-life balance, new flexible working practices will begin to take root.   Similarly, technology has demonstrated its power to create new working practices and has shown business leaders that remote does not equal diminished collaboration. Within days, Zoom confidently replaced client meetings and over weeks conferences moved to the digital space too. This is a cause for celebration for introverted employees but a challenge for companies to understand their teams’ behavioural drives and examine how to make remote-working work for everyone. As the employee tech stack continues to grow to include more collaboration tools such as Asana and Trello, so will the job opportunities for software developers.   The workplace culture Workplace culture is key when securing top talent and promoting employee engagement, but the remote working model appears to pose a threat to carefully nurtured cultures. However, culture is intangible and a physical workspace is not essential to enforce company values and behaviours.   Covid-19 presents the opportunity to fortify culture. To do so leaders need to establish creative solutions that encourage autonomous working and actively engage the workforce, but a one-size-fits-all approach will not suffice. A McKinsey survey found a huge discrepancy amongst remote workers with children or dependents, with 63.2% of males and 38.5% of females revealing they are engaged with their work.   Technology will become cemented at the core of all businesses 2020 marked the fifth decade of the Information Age – a period which has seen technology play an increasingly important role in everyday life and business. No period has witnessed such rapid development, with technology transforming the way humans communicate, creating jobs that were unheard of a few years ago and improving the overall quality of life. While coronavirus was a threat to all this and more, it gave technology the platform to prove its value and has propelled the adoption of technology forward two years, paving the way for a more automated working world.   How businesses can thrive post-Covid The ability to thrive hinges on adaptability. Businesses that hire individuals with this transferrable skill and back projects that are centred around this idea will likely survive the pandemic and flourish in the post-Covid world. Where Covid-19 initially forced industries into reactive decisions, now the stance will change to a proactive one. This has drawn out operational inefficiencies and demonstrated how the new world of working can be more productive than before.   One example of this is the life sciences industry. Globally, 826 companies have noted a disruption to clinical trials, of which over 50% are US-based and 3.7% located in Switzerland. The banning of nonessential appointments was a challenge for life sciences companies but the response was to take a new approach to study, investing more in digital technologies for remote appointments and using smartphone apps to improve patient care management.   Helping you hiring during uncertain times Since 1999, we’ve been providing unmatchable talent acquisition solutions to Swiss companies and the international market. Hiring in these uncertain times calls for recruitment expertise and this is where Swisslinx can help. Learn about our client services, or if you’re looking for a job take a look at our financial services roles.   Get in touch to discuss your needs.

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