Remote work culture: how Hostpoint embraces home office

Remote work culture: how Hostpoint embraces home office

While major companies are calling their employees back into the office, we at Hostpoint continue to rely on remote working. In our interview, Michèle Bücheler, Head of HR at Hostpoint, gives us an insight into our flexible working model and its success factors.

Sebastian Rosa Sebastian Rosa · Social Media & Content Manager

Remote work, i.e. decentralized working (usually from home), has become popular for many companies since the pandemic. Working in the office remains the norm in Switzerland, but a survey by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has shown that the proportion of remote working exceeds the previous level despite the protective measures being dropped. In 2022, 37.1 percent of employees took the option to work from home, where this was offered. In very few Swiss companies, however, did the time spent working from home exceed half the total working hours.

Proponents of home office models emphasize the satisfaction of many employees, which should be a high priority for maintaining a workforce when there is a shortage of skilled workers. However, large corporations such as Google, Apple, Meta, Zoom and Amazon have already ordered their employees back to the office for a minimum number of days per week because they fear a loss of productivity or see their corporate culture in jeopardy.

We wanted to know from Michèle Bücheler, Head of HR at Hostpoint, how we managed to make the transition to the remote work model a success while still maintaining our core values.

Michèle, what are the rules for working from home at Hostpoint?
At Hostpoint, we deliberately allow our employees as much freedom as possible when it comes to determining their work schedules. This means that they can choose where and how they work in the way that works best for them, on the condition that their responsibilities allow for this and that the overall interests of the team and the company are taken into account.

In addition to classic working from home, we also offer the option of taking a workation. This allows our employees to enjoy their vacation destination a little longer and work from there for a certain amount of time.

Since social exchange is still very important to us, we make sure to meet in person in the office at least 25 days a year. Whether for company-wide events, team days or individual office days, these regular meetings promote team spirit and are important for building working relationships that are more difficult to develop in a purely digital environment.

The remote work model is now an integral part of Hostpoint’s corporate culture. Has this always been the case?
For a long time, remote work was not an option in our company. However, with the onset of the pandemic, we had to completely change the way we work. Step by step, we adapted our processes to the new conditions and carefully considered what is required to work efficiently. This included equipping all employees with mobile work devices, such as laptops, and additional home office equipment, including monitors and other peripherals. In addition, with the launch of our video conferencing solution Hostpoint Meet, we have adapted and continuously improved our communication and the way we conduct meetings.

Some companies have gone back to being more critical of working from home and believe that it harms productivity and corporate culture. What do you think about this?
I believe that a positive corporate culture and one’s own productivity depend on more than just the physical location of where you work.

The basis for effective yet flexible working in different locations is a positive culture of trust. This means that employees can independently assess where and at what time they can best work. In addition, supervisors play an important role with their leadership, as does a modern infrastructure.

What does this infrastructure involve, more precisely?
We have provided our employees with both mobile devices and accessories for working at home, including large monitors and the necessary equipment such as keyboards, headsets and mice. In doing so, we are contributing to enabling all employees to work optimally wherever it suits them best.

In the office, we have switched to shared desks and have also procured soundproof meeting booths to enable phone calls and video meetings without disturbing other colleagues or occupying meeting rooms.

These measures are complemented by tools such as the previously mentioned Hostpoint Meet as well as external software, which, in addition to booking desks and parking spaces, we also use primarily for planning attendance in the office. This creates natural incentives for office visits, as employees can see at a glance who is present. All these elements are very important for smooth communication and collaboration within the team.

Even in times of remote work and video calls, occasional meetings in the office are still important for us. (Copyright: Boris Baldinger)

What is important in leadership style today for managers to fulfill their roles despite remote work?
Leadership has become more challenging, but not necessarily because of the remote work model. The reason for this is that a tried-and-true “one-size-fits-all” leadership style is becoming increasingly unpopular. Employees today expect more flexibility, empathy and more frequent feedback. They also expect to be offered opportunities to adapt processes as a team to their personal needs. This requires a high level of communication skills and a willingness to respond openly and flexibly to concerns.

In addition, managers can feel a loss of control as soon as employees no longer work on site. Micromanagement has never been a useful antidote and is simply no longer appropriate today. Instead, we should focus on results and how best to support the team.

At Hostpoint, we attach great importance to our teams deciding independently how to achieve their objectives most effectively. In principle, we aim to listen to everyone and to value input in shaping our work processes. Not only are the processes tailor-made, it also creates an environment in which every team member feels heard and involved in the decision-making process.

Michèle Bücheler · Head of HR at Hostpoint “Employees today expect more flexibility, empathy and more frequent feedback.”

How can you build a vibrant corporate culture with remote work? Isn’t that a contradiction?
In a remote setting, the lived corporate culture becomes even more important. Of course, regular interactions, whether through an informal “watercooler conversations,” team events or days when the whole team comes together, are very important for cohesion. Nevertheless, these details alone cannot enforce a positive culture.

The common thread that ties everything together is the mutual trust between our employees and their superiors and teammates. Although this is always reciprocal, it begins with a proactive approach of “trust first” from the team leaders and the company itself.

For example, our culture encourages openness to mistakes. Instead of assigning blame, we see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and move forward. Should an incident occur that could even be security-related (such as a phishing attempt), we encourage our employees from day one to report it to our System Engineers immediately, without fear or shame. Our supportive atmosphere gives us confidence that we can handle situations like this as a team, no matter where we work from.

How can companies find their way in the hybrid working world with a combination of working in the office and from home?
A reliable infrastructure and a strong relationship of trust must first be established. But what works from the outset and costs nothing is transparency.

Right from our first contact with interested applicants, we clearly communicate how things work in the company and the conditions for remote working. We need to keep our promise of flexibility. We want to show that we are serious about openness and thereby create a positive working environment.

At the same time, we place great emphasis to a balance between flexibility and presence. This balance allows us to take full advantage of the hybrid working culture, while it goes without saying that we meet in person for important occasions.

An “open-door philosophy” can also be implemented immediately. At Hostpoint, everyone is directly accessible and willing to listen, including management. We don’t just pay lip service to the phrase “flat hierarchies”, it is actively implemented and lived. The result is greater closeness to colleagues, even if they do not work in the office every day.

All of this helps to ensure that team members provide flexibility and confidence in return and remain in the company for a long time. At Hostpoint, we are therefore very proud of the large number of colleagues who have been working for us for a very long time.

Curious? Then see for yourself! Hostpoint is always on the lookout for motivated, tech-savvy talent. Current job offers can be found here.

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