Dec 18, 2020

Jaggaer: the workplace environment before and after COVID-19

JAGGAER
Workplace
covid-19
Georgia Wilson
6 min
https://www.jaggaer.com/
Business Chief EMEA speaks to Jaggaer on the workplace environment before COVID-19 and how it has transformed since the outbreak...

Before the outbreak of COVID-19

What was the working environment like prior to the outbreak of COVID-19 in 2020?

It was what you would consider a pretty normal working environment before the outbreak. People came into the office and worked regular hours. Because we are a software company, supporting customers 24/7, some staff worked nights and weekends. Plus, there was a lot of travel for sales visits, onsite training and development etc. JAGGAER is a global company so there was also travel between HQ and our offices around the world, and between our offices in Europe and the Middle East. We employ a lot of people at our North Carolina HQ from different parts of the USA and around the world. Ironically, one of the people hardest hit by the change was our new Chief Human Resources Officer, Michele Hamill, who had just joined and relocated. She said, “When I took the job I thought, ‘Wow, this is really cool, I’ll be meeting new people and living in a really vibrant area.’ But then, having relocated, and with everyone else at JAGGAER working at home, I felt totally alone. I got to the point where I couldn’t stand weekends!”

What were the core focuses for HR functions when it came to their workplace strategy?

We ran an employee survey on Covid-19, in which only 11 full-time employees out of close to 900 respondents said they wanted to return to the office on the same basis as before the pandemic. And only four of the 200 or so who work at our headquarters in Morrisville, NC. This started a dialog at JAGGAER around the recognition that our whole mindset about how we work and ”going to work” must inevitably change as a consequence of the pandemic. A good portion of respondents said they “never” wanted to work in the office, but the majority said they would be happy to return to the office occasionally. The main reason was not because they think they get more work done at the office, but because they miss their colleagues and feel isolated. The social interaction that we all feel is important for our health and well-being.

What were the top three emerging trends for the workplace environment prior to COVID-19?

  1. In the years prior to Covid-19, JAGGAER was undergoing a period of transformation and readjustment following a period of international merger & acquisition activity. This necessitated some reorganization, but the policy was to continue with existing workplace environments in the local offices.
  2. Remote working was already a trend before Covid-19, but the process has been accelerated.
  3. There was also increased emphasis on employee well-being, work-life balance and broader issues such as social purpose and sustainability. 

After the outbreak of COVID-19

Since the outbreak of COVID-19, how has the working environment changed as we enter into 2021 compared to 2020?

Almost entirely remote working. That is more of an option for JAGGAER than most organizations as we are a software company with SaaS as a model. A lot of our customers that had digitized elements of their procurement value chain were already working in a secure, paper-free, digital environment. For example, digital signature functionality meant they no longer had to come into the office to sign physical documents. Other customers have been able to push management for the swift adoption of such solutions.

We ran an employee survey on Covid-19, in which only 11 full-time employees out of close to 900 respondents said they wanted to return to the office on the same basis as before the pandemic. And only four of the 200 or so who work at our headquarters in Morrisville, NC. This started a dialog at JAGGAER around the recognition that our whole mindset about how we work and ”going to work” must inevitably change as a consequence of the pandemic. A good portion of respondents said they “never” wanted to work in the office, but the majority said they would be happy to return to the office occasionally. The main reason was not because they think they get more work done at the office, but because they miss their colleagues and feel isolated. The social interaction that we all feel is important for our health and well-being.

How have workplace strategies evolved since the outbreak of COVID-19? How have their focuses shifted?

Remote working affects different people in different ways. You cannot simply manage people in the same way as when they are in the office (whether in whole or in part). Working at home brings its own challenges. If you are working with demanding kids or pets at home, that adds a further layer of stress and distraction at an already difficult time. We needed to offer employees support and let them know it’s okay if your son or daughter is yanking on your leg during a conference call because it’s time for lunch. We needed to give a virtual hug to the young parent who cannot concentrate on work because their six-year-old daughter is in tears at not being able to visit friends or see her teacher’s smile. Alternatively, if you are single and live alone, loneliness can drive you up the wall. Or perhaps you are a younger worker living with your parents or an extended family, in which case it can become very claustrophobic.

Overall, the impact is easily measurable – access to our employee assistance program, which enables folks to reach out for third-party counselling, skyrocketed since lockdown. But our survey helped us to identify a very wide range of stressors and therefore no easy one-size-fits-all solution.

In terms of recruitment, JAGGAER actually increased its FTE headcount in the course of 2020, unrelated to Covid-19.

What are the top three trends that you see gaining traction in 2021?

  1. People talk about getting back to normal or returning to a “new normal” but there probably will not be any such thing as “normal”. We will see an agile mix of onsite and remote working, and probably more and more contingent workers such as contractors.
  2. The black lives matter movement and other impulses in 2020 will see further progress on workplace diversity. At JAGGAER, we have launched a human equity project to make our workplaces more inclusive for all types of people. This began with an initiative to remove all insensitive language from JAGGAER software code and documentation and will be followed through in 2021.
  3. A major positive among all the gloom through Covid-19 is that it has drawn us closer together as workplace communities. Online meetings mean we see our colleagues from around the world, not just the people with whom we share office space. At JAGGAER we have encouraged this trend by holding formal “One Country Each Month” calls so we can learn about each other’s working environments and cultures. We have already covered the United Arab Emirates, Austria and Serbia.

For more information on business topics in Europe, Middle East and Africa please take a look at the latest edition of Business Chief EMEA.

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Jun 10, 2021

People Moves EMEA: Kearney, KPMG, Oliver Wyman, Skoda

Executives
peoplemoves
Leadership
CSuite
Kate Birch
4 min
Consulting and sustainability take centrestage this week with executive movements at Kearney, KPMG, Oliver Wyman, Skoda, Syngenta and Laing O’Rourke

It’s been a busy week for executive transitions across EMEA and especially in the world of consulting, with partner/CEO announcements at Oliver Wyman, KPMG and Kearney, and in the role of head of sustainability, with new CSO appointments at Laing O’Rourke and Syngenta Group.

We round up the biggest executive moves across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Nick Studer announced as CEO of consulting giant Oliver Wyman

Set to take the top job at consulting giant Oliver Wyman next month, Nick Studer has been named CEO and Dual President of the firm’s economic and brand consulting subsidiaries NERA and Lippincott and will be based in London. Having been with Oliver Wyman for more than two decades, becoming partner in 2003, Studer has since served in a variety of international leadership roles, including head of Global Corporate and Institutional banking Practice, before becoming managing partner at the start of 2021.

According to Dan Glaser, CEO of Oliver Wyman parent Marsh McLennan, Studer has not just led many of the firm’s practices, but he “has been a leading voice for change and a major driver of our Inclusion and Diversity agenda”.

Delphine Bourrilly to lead Kearney in France

Seasoned consultant Delphine Bourrilly has been appointed leader of consulting firm Kearney for France, one of the firm’s larger locations in Europe, becoming fifth head of the Paris office. Having been with Kearney for more than a decade, most recently leading the Leadership, Change and Organisation practice across Europe, Bourrilly has an array of client successes under her consulting belt, including overseeing an operating model transformation at a large retailer. Prior to this, she spent five years at UBS. According to Geir Olsen, Head of Europe at Kearney, Bourrilly’s “talent, energy and charisma will be critical in leading Kearney through its next growth phase in France”.

Roland Villinger becomes head of corporate and product strategy, Skoda Auto

A consulting veteran, Roland Villinger has been appointed head of Skoda Auto’s corporate and product strategy, a newly created area for the Czech car manufacturer that combines two departments. Described by Skoda’s CEO Thomas Schafer as “an international experienced leader and proven digital expert”, Villinger most recently oversaw the implementation of Volkswagen Group strategy and was also previously chief strategy officer and chief digital officer at Audi AG. Prior to this, he spent 25 years at consultancy McKinsey including serving as a senior partner and running McKinsey’s operations in the APAC region.

Hanan Alowain promoted to Partner, public sector, KPMG

Becoming the second Saudi female partner in the history of KPMG, Hanan Alowain has been promoted to Partner in the firm’s Public Sector function. With 14 years of experience in human capital and social development in the Kingdom, including the last three and a half years at KPMG, Alowain is a Harvard Business School graduate with extensive experience both in the public sector, as director of research and development for the Saudi government’s Ministry of Labour, and the private sector, including as a partner at investment & development group Eradah.

Vicky Bullivant named Laing O’Rourke’s first-ever group head of sustainability

Seasoned ESG leader Vicky Bullivant is joining Laing O’Rourke as its first-ever group head of sustainability from Drax Group where she was head of sustainable business and responsible for developing the firm’s climate ambition, social strategy and community and charity policies. Having led the world’s first company ambition to be carbon negative by 2030, and the UK’s first energy company to commit to improving skills and education for one million people by 2025, Bullivant boasts 25 years of ESG business experience in highly regulated sectors, FTSE 100 companies, government and NGOs.

Bullivant spent eight years at Experian, where she was head of corporate affairs and community, nearly four years as head of corporate responsibility at Eon, five years as group head of sustainability at Rolls-Royce, where she turned around the firm’s performance in the Dow Jones Sustainability index, as well as sustainability heads at Tate & Lyle and Drax Group.

Daniel Vennard joins Syngenta Group as new CSO

Former global director at the World Resources Institute Daniel Vennard has been appointed chief sustainability officer for Syngenta Group. Based in Basel, Switzerland, Vennard will be responsible for developing and implementing the Group’s sustainability into its business strategy. Bringing extensive experience in the development of sustainability strategies and in launching global sustainability programmes that deliver growth and impact, Vennard most recently served as global director at the World Resources Institute, Vennard founded the Better Buying Lab bringing together scientists to develop, test and scale innovations that help consumers opt for sustainable plant-based food.

Prior to this he spent 15 years at Mars and Procter & Gamble in sustainability, corporate strategy and marketing and brings “creativity and remarkable expertise in sustainability” that will “help us further advance regenerative farming practices and help mitigate the harmful effects of global warming”, says Erik Fyrwald, CEO, Syngenta Group.

 

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