The BIT is a pioneering new ways of working
The Federal Office for IT and Telecommunications is a trailblazer in new ways of working within the Federal Administration. Work Smart coaching is an important element on the path to the future world of work.
Text: Urs Binder, images: © Manuel Zingg,
“Work Smart” is a part of everyday life for Carlo Dietiker. The man in charge of customer and quotation management at the Federal Office for IT and Telecommunications (BIT) does not even have his own office: “My office is a rucksack, a laptop, a smartphone and a wireless mouse”, explained Dietiker, who fulfils the role of Vice-Director at the BIT. He is very keen on flexible working and actively drives the conversion of the Federal Administration to new ways of working. He does this completely in line with the Federal Administration's “Mobile Working” partial strategy: While the Federal Personnel Office (EPA) is taking care of general conditions under labour law, in its capacity as the internal ICT provider for the Federal Administration as a whole, the BIT should provide the computer equipment – starting with the BIT itself.
A key prerequisite for the introduction of new ways of working is a standardised communications platform. To that end, the BIT uses Skype for Business. The solution is already widely used. According to Dietiker, hundreds of thousands of sessions take place within the Federal Administration each week. The Work Smart coaching provided by Swisscom is equally responsible for ensuring a high rate of acceptance: Making use of the reverse mentoring principle, Swisscom trainees acting in the capacity of “Work Smart Specialists” showed BIT employees how they could put Skype for Business to good use on an everyday basis within their workplace.
“The average age at the BIT is around 45. That is not necessarily the age group that will adopt new ways of working on their own initiative”, stated Dietiker. However, this is definitely not the case with younger employees, particularly trainees belonging to the Millennial Generation: “The youth of today exchange views in group chats, get solutions from YouTube, are used to working with one another and generally use completely different methods and tools.”
It therefore makes sense to also make use of reverse mentoring in our own organisation. “Swisscom has young Work Smart Specialists, and I wanted the same for the BIT.” Around a dozen BIT trainees were given the opportunity to attend two workshops to learn about the working culture at Swisscom, while at the same time working on specific projects for the BIT. “It really took off”, said Dietiker, “the participants found the workshops to be very good and felt that they had returned full of the Work Smart spirit.” It is expected that, in the future, they will bring this enthusiasm for the new world of work to older employees, as well as providing in-house training to further trainees to enable them to become ambassadors. Carlo Dietiker expects this to result in improvements in efficiency – and the BIT will be able to position itself as an attractive employer for young talent.
The Federal Office for IT and Telecommunications is the ICT provider for the whole of the Federal Administration. In 2016, its contract volume amounted to 430 million Swiss francs. The BIT employs around 1200 people across two sites, located in Bern and Zollikofen; four fifths of those employees are IT professionals and technicians. The BIT provides its customers with ICT services throughout the entire value chain, from business analysis to operation of the solutions.
“The youth of today exchange views in group chats, get solutions from YouTube and are used to working with one another.”
Carlo Dietiker Head of Customer and Quotation Management, BIT
The ambassadors also play an important role during the establishment of the internal Work Smart community. Together with Work Smart coaches, the use of a digital and physical community is defined – a point of contact for employees that provides expertise and support with regard to the new ways of working. Direct consulting with Work Smart experts regarding the simple technical handling of Skype, SharePoint and other such programs is just as much a part of this as an online platform; this could perhaps take the form of a SharePoint workspace with supporting information concerning typical use cases for employees.
“The participants found the workshops to be very good and felt that they had returned full of the Work Smart spirit.”
Carlo Dietiker Head of Customer and Quotation Management, BIT
In addition, like many organisations, the BIT is suffering from a severe case of information overload. “There are a great many different tools in existence, and often we do not know where to find the information we are looking for.” That is why the Management Board tasked Carlo Dietiker with developing a new knowledge and collaboration platform. He wanted to ensure that the younger generation was heavily involved in this.
If you look at the FlexWork phase model used by the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Northwestern Switzerland, the BIT working environment and ICT equipment are very well positioned. As a result, in the new “Black Pearl” BIT building in Zollikofen, a room concept involving open-plan offices, project rooms and hourly-assignable “think tanks” was implemented. Initial fears concerning privacy and nuisance noise or odours failed to materialise. Job satisfaction, measured by means of regular pulse surveys, has increased.
“However, technology and infrastructure develop significantly faster than culture. It does not stop with the provision of IT equipment and rooms”: this is one of the most important lessons learned from the Work Smart transformation to date. It is necessary to carry out a fundamental discussion of values. For example, this could address the fact that flexible working is equivalent to fixed working hours, regardless of the time and the day of the week. In that sense, as far as Dietiker is concerned, the process has only just begun at the Federal Administration.
In the future, the Vice-Director hopes to achieve a widely-supported Work Smart culture, barrier-free access to knowledge in accordance with the open book principle and a less pronounced hierarchy. The result will be a strong feeling of togetherness and, ultimately, improved quality and lower prices for the BIT’s customers. Thanks to Work Smart coaching and the internal Work Smart ambassadors, the foundation has now been laid for this.
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