10 questions..

Michael Kistler, Head of Marketing Communications & E-business

It is Friday the thirteenth. Early in the morning you can already feel that something is in the air. Nevertheless, almost all of us are in our office in Chur, getting about our tasks as we would every other day in Marketing Communications. But it wasn't g

Tanja Thaler, Communications expert, 27. March 2020

Michael Kistler is Head of Marketing Communications & E-business, lives in Schmerikon (SG) and currently shares the fate of many other people as his daily work routine has been turned upside down since that Friday because of the coronavirus. We ask him about it. 

1 What do you remember of Friday, 13 March?

My day started like almost any other day with a train journey from Schmerikon to Chur. But even then you could feel something was up… not all of the people who normally travel with me were on the train and there were much fewer passengers than normal.

We had our first meeting of the day at 9 am with the help of “Microsoft Teams” as our external partner was no longer allowed to travel. But otherwise there was no sign of what was going to happen in the evening.

During the course of the afternoon, we were informed that the Federal Council and SBB, as the public transport system manager, were discussing various measures which would have a considerable impact on RhB. The relevant telephone conference was scheduled for 5 pm and it got off to a punctual start with Andreas Meyer, CEO at SBB. And everyone knows what followed.

2 What has changed most in your everyday life since then?

The change came about the following Monday when we were informed about the staff measures by the internal task force and my superior. As an extensive commuter I had to work from home with immediate effect and that meant having to totally reorganise myself.

3 How do you make sure your team can still exchange information?

We are very lucky that last year RhB decided to make every workstation a digital one with “Office 365” and the integrated “Microsoft Teams” programme. And now the time had come to make excellent use of it! 

Every member of my team has a virtual chat with me every week. And we also introduced a digital coffee break that every member of the team can join if they want to. 

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4 Are you getting enough support from RhB as your employer?

We are getting fantastic support from RhB and I don't in any way feel left out. In crises like these, you really feel the solidarity within the company and I appreciate that. 

5 What is the thing you miss most when you work at home?

My team and direct, personal exchange in general. And of course our pot of sweets in the office and the raisin buns from Bäckerei Merz in Chur. 

6 What does your day in your home office look like?

Well, due to the fact that my journey to work has now reduced from one hour to just 20 metres I can sleep a little longer. But I get up at 7 am and get dressed as if I was actually taking the trip to Chur. I find it important to structure my working day and so I stick to that. And that includes a proper lunch as well as my mid-morning and mid-afternoon breaks. 

7 What technical aids are you using?

I started off using just my business laptop without any additional infrastructure. But I soon found out that wasn't in itself ideal. It was only when I got myself a second screen and keyboard that I found I was able to work like I could in the office. And then I use my private laptop too incl. the screen as my “Microsoft Teams channel” and I bought myself a good headset!

8 So have we now definitely arrived in the age of digitalisation?

The crisis is a challenge for everyone and very oppressive. But there are nevertheless a few points which are going to have a positive effect on our future. I’ve already mentioned the solidarity. And then nature can take a breather in a way that hasn't been possible for decades. And yes, digitalisation is definitely being given a boost and will change our way of working long term!

9 Have you experienced any personal changes since you were not supposed to go outside?

As is the case for everyone, the changes are not only affecting our working lives. As both my brother and my parents are part of the risk group, I can effectively only see them on “Skype”. But we have still managed to find a way to talk to each other every day. And that is also true of my best friends. In times like these, it is incredibly important to keep you social contacts going and use your free time to do something good for yourself. So I maybe do myself a good steak, just for myself, and enjoy a good glass of red wine to go with it. 

10 How do you find out more about how the coronavirus is spreading?

After the last 14 days, I think we're all suffering from an overdose of corona information. But it is still important to actively keep up with what is going on. Myself, I listen to the radio when I am working at home, watch the news in the evening and I get all the information relevant to my work from the RhB task force and the SBB teleconferences. 

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