Spotlight on – New Technologies, Flexible Working Time and Saying No
How Basil Bonzi Sees Work-life Balance at Unic
In my role as a user experience architect, I support customers and teams within Unic. The role currently keeps me busy with a workload of 70%, spread over five days. I can decide for myself where I want to work on my tasks. At the moment, I often work at our offices in Zurich and Bern, and from my remote workspace at home. Family – my wife and son – is another key part of my daily life.
Smart work has become a bit of a buzzword. What it means is optimising your own way of working while increasing job satisfaction. To do this, our staff use new technologies and new developments in peripheral devices they’re already familiar with to reduce their overall workload and create more breathing space.
How flexible can you really make your working time at Unic?
It very much depends on the project and on our customers. I’ve seen a great shift from on-site to remote working since the Covid-19 pandemic. That gives me great flexibility when it comes to planning my working time. But at the same time, we mustn’t forget that an in-person meeting can be key in certain project situations. And yes, it’s good to maintain personal contact in general. Interpersonal relationships are just as important for collaboration as the opportunities offered by working remotely.
How do you achieve a good balance between working in the office and working remotely?
I’m a big fan of our workspaces and actually prefer to work in the office. I really appreciate the contact with colleagues, and spontaneous chats are incredibly important for my daily work. There’s a reason why so many ideas and suggestions for improvements come to life in the cafeteria. I go to the Zurich office by bike, which is an important way of getting some exercise during my day.
But I also enjoy being able to work from home on certain days of the week, which allows me to take care of household tasks in my role as a father.
Which of the many technologies and tools available do you draw on for support?
I recently got a new MacBook Pro and realised how much work content is now in the cloud. I just had to create a folder on the new device and could download the rest.
I also like that I hardly write emails anymore. Most of my communication with colleagues now takes place in chats such as Teams and Slack. My team is spread all over Switzerland and it’s usually difficult to get all the team members together. That’s why I really like our ‘Good Morning’ Slack channel, for instance. There I find out very quickly who’s working on which project. And much more importantly, how everyone’s doing.
At the same time, the tools come with a certain risk. It can be hard to switch off when you finish work, especially when you’re working remotely. It’s even more difficult if you’re like me and have the apps on your smartphone.
To achieve a good balance between work and private life, you need to plan well and be prepared to compromise.
How do you personally achieve that balance?
The key factors are planning and communication, especially for me as a parent. I coordinate closely with my colleagues to ensure that we have enough time to work on topics together. And I coordinate with my wife, who also works. After all, our household has to do more than just keep ticking over. One of us has to look after our son, and this has to be organised on an ongoing basis.
How does Unic support you as an employer?
I plan my own work, in other words, I can decide when and where I work. Of course, I always coordinate with the project team in question, and I sometimes have to be flexible in terms of my private life, for instance, if a project requires me to be on site.
Flexible Working Time Models
Fortunately, flexible working time models are no longer the exception.
And yet we often see that people very much appreciate having the flexibility to adjust their workload to suit their private situation. How do you distribute your workload?
At the moment my workload is spread over five days. I spend two days in the office in Zurich, and up to twice a month I visit our colleagues in Bern. Wednesday to Friday I mostly work from home, and in the afternoons I’ll usually be found cooking. Friday afternoon is just for me and my six-year-old son, and this has been my working model since he started school. Before that, I had one free day per week. I’m very glad that I’m able to adjust my workload to fit my private requirements.
When you work part time, you run the risk of taking on more work than your working model actually allows. How do you achieve balance in your daily life?
You need to plan well in advance and be strict about time management. With a family, I don’t want to do night shifts or spontaneously work longer in the evening. I know that I can work a bit longer on two days in the week. Saying no is also part of it. I always try to plan in a buffer, rather than filling my 70% workload.
Saying no is also part of it.
Leave and Free Time
At Unic, we see flexible workloads and working times as a given. As well as taking unpaid leave, employees can purchase additional time off.
This option has been very well received. You’ve made use of it, too. Is it a valuable addition to your existing leave quota?
I’m very happy about this option. Although I’m managing well with my leave quota this year, it gives me peace of mind – I know that if I need more of a break I can easily arrange an additional week off.
Summary of Work-life Balance at Unic
What’s your take on work-life balance at Unic?
When I started at Unic nearly four years ago, my jaw dropped when I saw how easy it is to reduce your workload. Fill in a form, enter your desired workload, and that’s it! No lengthy discussions with bosses and no need for countless rounds of approval. It was quite a different matter with some of my previous employers.
Which freedoms do you particularly appreciate?
That I can work from anywhere, whether at home or elsewhere, or at my two locations. And that I can adjust my work quota to suit my private situation.
What factors do you personally find helpful for achieving a good balance?
Part-time work is definitely a significant factor. But it’s also the little things that make for a good work-life balance. Our daily meeting was pushed back, for example, so that the parents in our team have time to get their kids ready for school or nursery. This is a good example of the culture in our teams. We try to consider the needs of all team members.
But it’s also the little things that make for a good work-life balance.
It is the people who make Unic and drive it forward. The section "Spotlight on" gives an insight into what distinguishes our experts. They not only present their field of expertise, but also show their very personal perspectives and tell us what drives them and what fascinates them.