#WayForward with Oliver Jaussi, CEO Bank Zimmerberg], Horgen, Switzerland

In the #WayForward series, CEOs tell us what’s on their mind in coronavirus times. Read how Oliver Jaussi, CEO Bank Zimmerberg, sees things.

Oliver Jaussi #WayForward visual (1)

I can handle a state of emergency. But the beginning of the lockdown was very challenging even for me. We were about to celebrate the 200th anniversary throughout the year and we had just moved to very modern new offices that are a radical expression of who we are. But the day before our open house party to which we had invited a few thousand people from the region, we had to cancel. That was only the start.

Our team of about 40 is now evenly distributed to our 4 locations and 5 staff work from home. If someone catches the virus and we have to close a branch, the other locations remain operational. The most interesting thing to me is to see who handles the situation in which way. We have employees with no official leadership function who are helping to guide their teams through the storm.

These are extraordinary times and we can learn extraordinary things. My tip for CEOs is to watch and listen very carefully. Learn now, then systematize. I understand our staff much better. Who needs the office to be happy? Which form of communication works best for an individual? Who has leading potential?

Oliver on communication: “Communication is key and one big learning is that not everyone needs the same kind of communication. Hyper communication was fine in the beginning, but after that everything became more about clarity and about being what each individual team member needs. In some cases, less is now more. For other team members, just having the chance to chat is the most important thing. We want feedback from everybody about what kind of communication serves them best. Typically, those who work from home, need to be kept in the loop much more than those who come to the offices.”

Oliver on how fast this is going to be over: “Don’t think for one second that this is a short term thing. The virus will be a threat for as long as we don’t have a vaccine. That means that what might have felt like an exciting adventure in the first few weeks of the lockdown is now becoming the new normal. There are huge challenges that come with that. We experience that people who work from home deeply miss the effortless exchange with colleagues over a cup of coffee. There’s a lack of closeness and a deep desire of being reintegrated into the team life as it was before. Those who work from home also need to learn to do that well. The basics sound simple and are very important: get out of bed, take your shower, wear a business shirt. Switch on the office mode even if you’re working from your living room.”

#WayForward Table Of Contents: Click here to get to the #WayForward series’ Table of Contents with all the posts we did with CEOs plus recordings of media events where the WayForward insights are discussed.