Switzerland is a country that you either admire and love or admire but hate. Its prettiness cannot be questioned; however, its inhabitants are hard for many foreigners to understand. Before I give you my opinion on Swiss work-life balance from my experience at Acrea, I would like to say a few words about myself, because it will put you in a good position from which you will be able to judge my following statements.

I am a student in the last semester in pursue of a Master’s degree in Electro-engineering/Economics. Since transistors and microchips didn’t really get my attention, I decided to take some extra-curricular computer science courses, which opened me the doors to several interesting internships in various companies of different size and importance. When working in a small company, I liked the freedom one gets and also the responsibility which comes out of it. While trying different positions in a bank, I learnt how essential it is to understand the company business.

It may have been a coincidence that when my first doubt about the artificial self-importance, coming from working with large sums, rose Acrea stepped in and asked me to work with them on implementing a new business idea. The business idea arose from an Acrea innovation project and it is about building a new e-commerce company from scratch. I knew the guys quite well from our previous cooperation, so when they said it could break the status quo, I didn’t doubt it.

The offer was covered in thick mist of a business secret and served with an uncertain ending; for sure a great deal of trust was needed to accept it; however all the other signals were right. I knew the Acrea guys didn’t care about your country of origin – you were treated like one of them, they didn’t excommunicate you if you didn’t speak Swiss German, they gave you the whole task with full responsibility and freedom of selecting your own tools, not just the bits that fall off the table and company rules that you had to stick to, you were rated on a fair scale – you either did the job well or you didn’t, help and advice were always available, and I really got on well with all of them. With the assumption that I had more to gain than to lose, I accepted the offer and was taken in. When I arrived, I found out that my role will be quite essential to the success of the project. I had to design and implement a supreme front end for it. The business plan relied on it.

The thing about this project is that not a lot of people have done something similar. Thus you are left to your own research, ideas and thorough thinking. Some people might not like it, but I find it quite challenging, which is a good thing. There is really nothing that prevents you from thinking out of the box. Despite I am not coming with perfect solutions all the time; some of them are good and hold, some of them are bad and fall, and some of them gets challenged and improve; you never get the bad feeling if you fail, you just discuss it, learn the lesson and do better next time.

Since I started I had good days as well as bad days; sometimes I spent much more hours in the office than I wished or got stuck and sought satisfaction in a long line of cursed words expressed in Czech - my native language; at other times I was on fire tackling the tasks in no-time. As the project develops, I see more and more interesting tasks coming – some of them challenging, some of them fun, but none that make your life bitter and “the world a worse place to live”. Despite the success of the project doesn’t lie only in our hands - there are some variables that cannot be taken into account - every one of us shares the same positive thinking: we are here to make it happen.

When living in Switzerland, one realizes how obsessed the Swiss are with perfection. What the guys are able to do in two days really struck my mind. It is true I am quite negative about my own nation’s performance and efficiency. However, often I got a feeling that Swiss are simply playing their own league. Of course, I am working with experienced professionals; however the truth is that you can see perfection everywhere – on the streets as well as in the mountains, while traveling or when shopping.

Such an obsession has, of course, a dark side. Sometimes it is so tiring and unnecessary. This is probably one of the reasons why the Swiss seem to be posh and distant. While the first I can’t prove wrong, the second I don’t believe. You need to play by their rules, but isn’t it something that you would expect from every foreigner living in your country?

There is a whole bunch of variety in my life in Switzerland (and Acrea). One day I am a programmer, the next one I put my business hat on, but from time to time I turn into a crazy biker and downhill for hours. What is important for me is that the initial assumption still holds true – I still have more to gain than to lose.