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Successful thanks to dialogue culture - BDO redesigns headquarters

Digitisation is not only a question of technology. The auditing, trust and consulting company BDO is preparing for the future by moving into its new headquarters on Schiffbaustrasse.
"Open Space", "flexible working hours" or "teleworking". These are the buzzwords often heard these days from the management of the largest fiduciary company in Switzerland. The company has moved from various premises in and around the city of Zurich to Schiffbaustrasse 2 on the former Escher-Wyss site. As the anchor tenant, BDO occupies three floors with a total of 7340 square metres. In addition, the cafeteria and all customer meeting rooms are located on the top floor, which is operated in conjunction with a law firm. What is particularly striking is that there are only a few individual offices. The concept envisages a large, connected space - an "Open Space". Employees are separated from each other by partitions and storage areas just enough to allow them to concentrate on their work.

Consulting 4.0
"This is our response to developments in our profession," says Andreas Wyss, Head of the Zurich-Eastern Switzerland region and location manager at BDO Zurich. The key word is "Consulting 4.0". Not only the industry is changing due to digitalization, but also the consulting sector. IT technologies for data and risk analysis are already being used to a considerable extent in large companies. This means that in a matter of seconds, data volumes can be evaluated that were previously not possible on this scale. They allow more in-depth conclusions to be drawn, auditors become lateral thinkers and problem solvers. "Our professional profile is beginning to change," says Martin Nay, Head of Auditing at BDO. For him it is clear that the image of the "bean counter", which is still partly attached to the industry, will disappear. "Our people will be able to devote more time to high-quality, multidisciplinary consulting." This requires more social competence, a willingness to engage in dialogue and a deeper understanding of the companies we serve.

Interdisciplinary cooperation
SMEs also benefit from the experience of the big players. Those who can ensure the transfer of knowledge are ahead of the game. This is the aim of BDO with its traditionally broad client base, which includes not only small, but also medium-sized and larger companies and banks. In addition, consultants must be able to react more quickly and in a more targeted manner to increasingly complex issues in an environment that is changing ever more rapidly. Increasing regulation is making business management more complicated, especially for SMEs. Individuals are often no longer able to keep track of all the details of administration, accounting and management. Transformation processes are becoming increasingly demanding. Mastering all these challenges requires specialist knowledge from different areas. Trustees rely on so-called hyper-specialists to develop individual solutions for their clients, as Markus Helbling, Head of Fiduciary Services at BDO, recently wrote in the "Schweizerische Gewerbezeitung". This makes interdisciplinary networking and the use of synergies all the more important, enabling us to work out complete solutions for all client segments and offer them from a single source.

Readiness for dialogue
The office organization on Schiffbaustrasse serves this culture of dialogue. "With the open-space concept at our new location, we want to promote the exchange of knowledge among our employees," says Andreas Wyss. "With our new office space, we are creating not only the organisational conditions for this, but also the atmospheric conditions. There should be permeability between the various product areas such as auditing, financial services, fiduciary services, tax and legal advice. In this way, experience and approaches to solutions can be shared more easily across all barriers. Glass conference rooms placed between the workplaces offer the possibility for spontaneous meetings. Digitalisation also enables new forms of working. The demand for comprehensive advice means that audit and trust companies must make their physical and virtual workplaces more flexible. Advice must not only be efficient and individual, but also constantly available. To this end, BDO's advisors are equipped with modern IT technology, which allows them to work outside the office premises at any time. Telework is gradually becoming the norm. Incidentally, the fact that BDO has placed its headquarters in the middle of Zurich is not so self-evident. For Andreas Wyss, it is a commitment to the Zurich location. There is also sufficient space available at Schiffbaustrasse 2 for BDO's further development. Both in quantitative and qualitative terms.

PDF: Zurich economy, January 2018

Published on 22. January 2018 by Martin Arnold