The TJA Director has recently jetted back in from Zurich for the umpteenth time! On this trip she spent some time working at collaborative working space Impact Hub. Here are some questions her team put to her earlier this week…
As someone who recently experienced the community spirit and beer-on-tap-vibes of WeWork at Aldwych, how did Impact Hub compare?
Well, there was no beer on tap! (as was at WeWork) Less Brit perhaps, but I was in Switz and who can grumble about that. The outdoor beauty is unrivaled.
They had the usual perks, free tea and instant coffee (filter was 1 CHF for a pod), there was free fruit available.
Is British work culture noticeably different in comparison to Swiss working culture?
I don’t think I’m well versed enough to say. I’ve been back and forth to Zurich for the last ten years but only recently started working from ‘the little big city’. It’s well known the Swiss work exceedingly hard. This can be anything from am 8am start to 6pm. The Swiss work ethic is said to be second to none.
How does Zurich compare to London overall?
I always say: you could eat your dinner off of the pavement (by the looks). I wouldn’t recommend that in London! The lakes run with fresh mountain water and street fountains offer this mineral or mountain water also -perfectly safe and clean to drink. The cleanliness, safety and attitudes are a juxtaposed to The Smoke’s.
London is an Alpha city. Zurich is a Beta city. Neither can offer what the other does. They’re different animals.
About a million people live in the metropolitan area of Zurich. In London we have 15 million comparatively. Laws are different. Brexit alert: Switzerland is not part of the EU and never has been. It’s one of the richest countries in the world. With a smaller populous and lots of coin to go around it’s no wonder it has the best quality of life in the world.
As there are different branches of Impact Hub here in London (Brixton, Islington and Kings Cross) do you think they’d be worth a visit anytime soon?
Absolutely. Why not. When shall we go?
The JA has something of a Swiss connection doesn’t it? Can you tell us about that at all?
Ha. Yes. The company is currently co-owned by myself and Michel Zimmermann. I am a Brit. Mike is Swiss. However we met in Africa, have both travelled the world and the website is currently live in 27 countries so we’re as global as we are anything else. I don’t think our nationalities really come into it.
Impact Hub often refers to itself as ‘Global’. Was there a sense of international community in Zurich?
Everyone at Impact Hub Viadukt was super friendly. Everyone said hello. That wouldn’t perhaps happen in London every time someone entered the co-working space; otherwise the day might sound like: “hello” “hello” “hello” “hello” “hello” “hello” “hello” “hello”….
There were a handful of people working at IHV and I made polite conversation with a few in English and met someone in particular who I chatted to further, also in English. The majority were Swiss but not all. I think that’s a testament to being global. When you speak fluent English in your own city and it’s not the native language.
There has been a lot of talk about Impact Hub’s sustainable goals. Was there any mention of plans for sustainable energy, clean water and action on climate change?
I saw some posters to that effect. I wasn’t informed further on it but I was a day visitor so perhaps there’s a further introduction for those who are around longer term.
Do Impact Hub embody their values of gender equality and community diversity?
I think Zurich does that very well generally. I wasn’t aware that this was something Impact Hub were ‘embodying’ but I would hope that everyone is doing this anyway because, it’s 2018.
Would you say it was easier for you personally to work in that sort of environment or did you long for Canary Wharf?
I can work from anywhere. That said, if you’re a Londoner you’ll always miss London at some point. Only London can truly offer what London does and to understand that you have to have lived it.
Anything you didn’t particularly like about Impact Hub Viadukt?
It was quieter than I thought. I didn’t dislike this, it’s just always strange coming from Canary Wharf, where an excess of 105,000 people work alongside each other.
I did think it was rather dark in the office space. The sun was shining outside but no lights were on inside. Impact Hub Colab was lighter than Impact Hub Viadukt. Perhaps this was a bid to save on energy – as you mentioned earlier! I’m not used to working without lights, even in the daytime.
Out of 10 how would you rate the experience?