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The consultancy firm STAUFEN.INOVA has moved location from Wollerau to Zurich. 

For the company however, there was much more to it: it has changed its entire corporate culture and is preparing itself for the future. A core element here was mobility, as the majority of employees are on the go every day as consultants.

We met Urs Hirt, joint Managing Director of STAUFEN.INOVA, at the new headquarters close to Zurich main station. The office space is light and modern. There are two somewhat partitioned corners where two meetings are currently taking place. But most of the office is an open space with desks and chairs all made out of wooden boxes on wheels. “This means we can arrange the room very easily to suit our needs,” says Urs Hirt, as we sit down at one of the tables.

SBB Green Class, the solution for business mobility

Interview with Urs Hirt.

Urs Hirt, you moved with STAUFEN.INOVA from Wollerau to the city of Zurich a few months ago. Why was this change of location necessary?

In Wollerau, we had two enormous office spaces but everything was really anonymous. There was no creative zone, no space to come together and exchange ideas. I would come out of my office in the evening and only then see a colleague who had also been in the office all day. So we wanted to fundamentally change the type collaboration within the company.

In what way?

We want to become a hub for our customers and partners. Regular exchanges of ideas should take place so that we can all benefit from one another. This also applies to our consultants. They too should be in the office more regularly so that we can work more closely together. To achieve this goal, it quickly became clear to us that we needed a central location. And that is what we have now found in Zurich, right by the Europaallee and close to Zurich main station.

When you suddenly work in the middle of Zurich instead of in Wollerau, there are also changes in terms of mobility. How have you approached this challenge?

We adopted a very systematic approach because the issue of mobility was a core problem we had to solve. We compiled a mobility profile of our consultants so as to better understand where and how much they were on the move. At that time, they all had a company car that they used all over Switzerland, covering up to 45,000km each year.

As our consultants cover different routes every day, the individual combination of road and rail is of central importance to us.

Urs Hirt

Managing Director STAUFEN.INOVA

And what were the findings of these mobility profiles?

We found that most places where their meetings took place were easy to reach by public transport. However, it’s the ‘last mile’ that presented a problem. Often it would be inconvenient to find a way from the station to the customer’s office. So we looked for an option that not only covered public transport, but also offered an individual connection facility. We came across SBB Green Class, which allows us to combine public transport individually with private electric cars as well as bikesharing and carsharing. As our consultants cover different routes every day, the individual combination of road and rail is of central importance to us.

SBB Green Class, the solution for business mobility

How has this change from company car to a combination of public transport, electric car and sharing options been received by employees?

There were discussions and it was not easy to win over all employees immediately. Catching a train was a completely new world for some of them. Something they had never contemplated before. Among the older generations, the first question after the announcement of the new location in Zurich was: Where are the nearest parking spaces? The idea of coming to work by train had never occurred to them.

It was crucial that we involved employees in this process from the start and that we were able to show our consultants in several meetings the extent to which they could benefit from this new mobility solution.

Urs Hirt

Managing Director STAUFEN.INOVA

Nevertheless, since the beginning of April, all your employees have been provided with a GA Travelcard for public transport and some are already using the SBB Green Class offer. How were you able to win over your employees?

It was crucial that we involved employees in this process from the start and that we were able to show our consultants in several meetings the extent to which they could benefit from this new mobility solution. Also, we did not simply switch from one day to the next – we have a defined transition period of two years. We still have several leasing agreements that run to the end of 2020. But we won’t be extending these any more; instead we will make a step-by-step change to the SBB Green Class mobility package.

This type of mobility brings me a very different quality of life.

Urs Hirt

Managing Director STAUFEN.INOVA

You yourself have been combining road and rail transport much more frequently since April. What are your experiences?

I think it’s great. I use my car much less often and I almost always use the train for long journeys. Since then, I’ve been home with my family much earlier in the evening and am much less stressed as I no longer have to battle through the evening traffic from Wollerau to Muttenz. In addition, I can use the travel time on the train to get work done. It’s ideal. After a meeting with a customer, I can write up the minutes on the way home or answer some e-mails. This type of mobility brings me a very different quality of life.

And what sort of feedback are you getting from your employees?

Likewise very positive. They also see the benefits that the new mobility concept brings. Depending on the daily schedule, they can freely select the available mode of transport. It means we’re all more flexible. In addition, we have also become more efficient because we can use the travel time to get work done. We are convinced that we are on the right track with this model and perhaps we can also inspire one or two other companies to rethink their mobility structures too.

Is the new mobility solution with SBB Green Class more expensive than your previous system?

No, it is even slightly cheaper. But for us, that wasn’t the deciding factor – other issues were crucial. For example, the safety of our employees. If 20 customer consultants cover over 700,000km per year by car, there is always a safety risk involved. With public transport, the risk is much lower as employees replace long drives with train journeys and only cover short journeys by electric car. The administrative burden has also decreased. We no longer have to laboriously write down kilometres, record them in an expenses form and send them to the accounting department. This is now completely unnecessary.

What role did sustainability play in the decision to introduce SBB Green Class?

Of course we considered this factor as well. We cover longer distances by train instead of by car and when we do use a car, it’s electric. This enables us to contribute to sustainability and thanks to this new mobility solution, we have become a more attractive employer, especially for young people who tend to be more environmentally conscious.

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