Barbara Riedl-Wiesinger, Salztorgasse 2, 1010 WienWork and lifestyle on the cutting edge: In our conversations with contemporaries, we examine the claims, clichés and ideals that circulate about our workplaces. The world’s leading player in online employment placement is Monster Worldwide. But what does a workstation at Monster look like? Nicole Kolisch met with Country Manager Barbara Riedl-Wiesinger in her office in Vienna’s first district.
Monster - according to the recruiting portal’s claim - helps people realise their life goals. If you sit across the table from Barbara Riedl-Wiesinger, it also becomes clear quite quickly that this also applies to Monster’s own employees. She has been a Monster for a long time already, says the Austrian Country Manager, and she can’t imagine doing anything else. She donned the violet scarf that matches the company colours just for the interview. Very cute and yet completely unnecessary: you don’t need any external symbols to see that this is a person who has arrived at her goals.
Riedl-Wiesinger, born 1972 in Horn, began her career in marketing and sales at Czak Leadership Training. Beginning in 2002, she worked as a Key Account Manager (for industries such as retail, IT and pharmaceuticals) at jobpilot Austria GmbH. In 2004, she switched to atms GmbH, where she was responsible for sales to media agencies with a focus on viral marketing. She became a Monster in 2004 and has had a storybook career ever since: from Sales Manager to Sales Director and then finally in 2008 to Country Manager.
The office as a space: What significance do you assign to it?
For me, the office is not just a showroom , but is first and foremost a place of communication. This is why I would not be able to work 100 per cent from my home office. I would miss the social contact. I believe that many people still underestimate something that’s extremely important: personal interaction. There’s a lot of buzz about teleworking. Meetings are often replaced by video conferences, even here, because it’s cheaper and saves on travel costs. But the things "between the lines" often get lost. Don’t misunderstand me: I value videoconferencing highly, especially because of the major cost savings, but I don’t want to completely replace personal meetings with videoconferences.
Do you have a ’primary workspace‘, and, if so, where is it?
The office is the centre of my working life, and in my position that’s the only way it can be. It’s important that I’m here and that people have access to me. They have to be able to speak with me at any moment. My door is typically open, and if someone needs something, they just come by and ask.
Do you take your work home with you in the evenings, or do you just close the door behind you when you’re done?
That doesn’t always work, but things have improved! It was different earlier, but now that I’ve done the same job for a while, I don’t have to take as much home with me...
Is free time a question of discipline?
That's the one aspect, yes. The other one is that we have taught our partners how to deal with different time zones. We are a North American company. We are active around the world, so we have different time zones. It takes a bit of effort to get yourself organised in the beginning, when you aren’t used to it...
Do you prefer to work alone in your office or with others?
I haven’t always been in this office. Back in my Jobpilot time, I shared an office with three other people. And then I would have said that I definitely would not want to sit alone in an office. But that’s changed because of my position. At the beginning, it wasn’t so easy for me; it was a complete change. And now that I have the doors open, I don’t feel so isolated any more – but it was simply necessary because of confidential discussions, telephone calls, etc.
Can you imagine working in an open-plan office?
There would have to be at least a few options for privacy! Surely it can be done, but only if you have a room to retreat to for confidential discussions – so you just have to arrange it. We have open-plan offices in many other countries. Austria is actually an exception, due to our historical building – with all of the advantages and disadvantages that an old building has.
Do you think there are differences between men and women when it comes to office design? I’m thinking here of a story that Manfred Bene told about an office in Amsterdamall of the women had designed their workstations in an individual way, with flowers, etc., while the men left everything bare..
I think it’s less a question of gender than it is a question of culture or personality. One of our men takes care of the flowers in our meeting room. He always goes in there and cultivates the plants because it’s so important to him. None of our women would be interested in that...
Although I do think there is a difference. Namely that women place more value on small things.
Is an office in which women feel at home pretty much identical with an office where men feel at home?
The basic furnishings have to be comfortable and cosy. That’s the same for both genders. But the colours that are chosen would probably be different. There are typical male and female colours. Men tend to choose more muted colours, while women might prefer something a bit brighter...
Are there certain rituals that you consider important in your everyday office routine?
The pilgrimage to the coffee machine in the morning!
I come in, turn the computer on and then go to the coffee machine while it starts up. My day starts when I press the button on the coffee machine.
What is the most important object in the office?
The computer. We are an Internet company...
What is the most important tool on your computer?
The email program.
Can you tell us about a "wow!" experience that you’ve had in an office?
My visit to the Bene offices.
Oh, thank you...
Yes, because there were so many exciting details that made me think straight away, how can we do this too? The WOW experience for me was to see how you can take things that are necessary and functional, and then use and present them in such a way that they look like design objects. That lends an office a totally special character.
Is there a place where you would absolutely hate to work?
Alone at home. And I also would not want to work in an office where no one has a sense of humour. You can often sense that when you walk in the door somewhere. That wouldn’t work at all.
And where would you love to work?
Here. At this moment, I can’t imagine anything else, the atmosphere alone... this old building certainly helps to create this feeling of expansiveness. It allows creativity. Thoughts need room – and they have that here.
Thank you for the interview.