If you have ever tried to coordinate a group meeting, outing or any other type of get-together, whether in the office, for a volunteer committee or just with friends, you have probably banged your head off walls in frustration until you discovered Doodle.
If this is the first time you have ever heard of Doodle: Welcome to the world outside your cave! Prepare to have your life changed.
What is Doodle, you ask?
Doodle is a free tool for finding the best date and time for a group of people to plan a meeting. It works by polling users with a simple yes/no question: Are you available? Poll administrators or meeting coordinators receive alerts via email when people answer their poll or comment on it. Best of all, Doodle works with various calendar systems like Google Calendar, Yahoo Calendar, Microsoft Outlook and Apple iCal.
If you knew this already, I have just bored you. But if this is your first Doodle encounter, I think I have just helped you save countless hours the rest of your life…
What many people do not know is that Doodle is a Swiss company headquartered in Zürich. (They do have additional offices in Berlin and Tel Aviv.) The company grew out of a frustration its founder experienced when trying to find a date for a dinner party.
What’s more, Doodle now employs over 40 people from 18 countries speaking 14 different languages!
Inside the Doodle headquarters in Zürich
I recently decided to meet this diverse team at their headquarters in Zürich. The office is inside the Tamedia building near Stauffacher. During my visit, I talked to no less than five team members and pick their brains about what it is like to live and work in Zürich.
Meet Alejandro from Guatemala, Büsra from Berlin, Josep from Spain, Jack from the UK and Julius from Slovakia. Following are some of their candid answers to my questions.
I can’t imagine trying to organize an event - be it meeting or dinner party, without Doodle anymore. How many of you used Doodle before you started working for the company?
Everyone answers a resounding, yes! In fact, Büsra would like to know who hasn’t used it.
Who has worked in Switzerland before moving to Doodle?
Three of the five have. However, both Josep and Julius, the two who came directly to Doodle, have been with the company for 2.5 and 1.5 years respectively.
Christian: “Doodle is Swiss - by virtue of its origin. How would you describe the work culture at Doodle? Is it what you would consider typically Swiss? If it is not Swiss, how would you explain it?”
Alejandro: “Work is very focused on doing things correctly and not taking shortcuts.”
Büsra: “I do not quite know what to consider ¨typically Swiss. I can say it is different to Germany. I like that people are polite to each other, and I like it that many work four days a week and are still considered full-time employees. Furthermore, I appreciate that home office is usually not a big deal.”
“What I miss, though, is the directness and topic focus of conversations in Germany. In Switzerland, I feel there is a need for small talk and pleasantries before getting into the topic. I guess I will need to get used to it. And, of course, the downside of the flexible working habits is that it sometimes can get difficult to get the information quickly that you need.”
Josep: “My only experience is this office, and it has become more international since I joined. So, I guess my experience is not very relevant to only one previous job in Spain. Here, it is not very Swiss, but my guess is other sectors have more Swissified work cultures.”
Jack: “My perception of Swiss work culture is not very flexible, both in regards to working outside of regular hours and doing things that are not in the job description. At the same time, I think of Swiss work culture as quite pragmatic, meaning there is not too much BS, and decisions are made based on the situation and facts. I think Doodle has a fairly Swiss work culture although it has a lot of non-Swiss influences.”
Julius: “In comparison to Slovakia, it is a very similar work environment and culture.”
If it is not the Swissness of Doodle, what do you love about working here?”
Alejandro: “The team! It is very inclusive and even though I have been here for only a few months, the feeling of camaraderie is noticeable. It is fantastic. I am also happy to be working on a great product that solves real-life problems.”
Büsra: “I agree. There is a common focus on making customers’ lives easier. And I love it that it has offices in three different places. It is also great to see that people here are not afraid of trying out things. It is very open-minded.”
Jack: “I like working for a small company but with the security of a big firm that backs it.”
”Let’s step outside the office. What’s your favorite place in Zürich? Or in Switzerland, in case you do not have a particular place in Zürich?”
Alejandro: “In Zürich, I love the Lindenhof with its views over the city, or the quiet solitude of the Schanzengraben.”
Büsra: “The lakeside - that’s where I like to spend my time. Or along the Sihl watching the fish swim in the river. When I am not in Zürich, I enjoy visiting Lugano.”
Jack: “I might be the only person ever to say this, but I like Zürich HB. When I can go anywhere in Switzerland, I prefer Zermatt.”
Julius: “I like the quiet parks like Rieterpark. There’s a calming atmosphere there.”
Talking about hobbies…
This topic was interesting because some people have not been able to get back into their hobbies. As Büsra points out, Switzerland is not a basketball nation. Others seem to fit right in with activities like skiing, running and photography. Clearly, the proximity to nature has advantages.
”How’s your Schwiizerdütsch, and are you taking German classes?”
Alejandro: “Schlächt. (Smiles.) I am learning Züridütschseveral evenings a week, though.” Büsra: “I am a German speaker. I understand most of what I hear, but I cannot speak it.” Josep: “I understand a bit and am taking lessons.” Julius: “I understand Gipfeli. I think I will take lessons despite their cost and time demands.”
Jack: “No, I do not understand it. Currently, I am not planning on taking any lessons, either.”
What’s the most stereotypical Swiss moment and your worst experience here so far?
Jack: “Moving apartments is a nightmare. Is that also typical?”
Julius: “Yes, finding a flat is terrible. The contracts are weird and not welcoming. I loved Sechseläuten though!”
Josep: “Eating Racelette several days in a row was a little extreme. It is hard being in a country where I do not understand the language or do not have a group of friends yet.”
Büsra: “People greeting me on the street, even when I do not know them - I found it odd yet slightly delightful. Another odd one is how some Swiss try to be so anti-EU that they do not even consider themselves European, like when I asked a shopkeeper if the return policy was like in Germany and she responded with, ‘You know, Switzerland is not in Europe.’”
Alejandro: “Getting told off for making noise on a Sunday - I was putting some furniture together. However, now I am the neighbor demanding quiet. I guess I am becoming Swiss. I’ll be honest, the few days that it gets freezing like minus 18 degrees Celsius - I could do without them.”
What’s on your Swiss bucket list?
Jack: “I want to see more mountains.”
Julius: "More hiking and snowboarding. Number one, though, is going to see the Matterhorn."
Josep: "I want to check out the Engadine."
Büsra: "Maybe learning how to ski and visiting the French and Italian speaking regions."
Alejandro: "Learning Swiss-German and spending a night in a SAC Hütte."
Christian: "Thank you all for your time. I hope that you find yourself at home in Zürich soon if you have not already. Keep up the good work, I love Doodle - and please keep an eye on Newly Swissed for tips and tricks to surviving life in Switzerland and for things to experience."