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Behind Criteo’s Flexible Work Philosophy

Posted by Anne Bierry |

At Criteo we believe the future is wide open when work is flexible, hence Criteo’s new Flexible Work Approach.

Let’s hear from Manuela Montagnana, our Chief People Officer: “Trust is at the core of our management philosophy, so what could make more sense than giving employees the freedom to choose where they work best? We often say that Criteo sets you up for success. How do we do so? By making sure we listen to our employees and adapt to their needs. They told us they now yearn for more flexibility and a better balance between life at work and life at home. Our job is to make sure we offer the best working conditions for all. That is why we chose to redefine our entire work philosophy and move on to something more flexible, so it is adapted to their needs. This new Flexible Work Approach is one important foundation to improve work-life integration.

More than a policy, this new approach shows how employees' and leaders’ work philosophy has changed ever since the pandemic. Anne Bierry, Change Management Director, explains in this article how, beyond setting rules, this philosophy illustrates a whole new mindset.

Welcome Anne! Criteo recently adopted a new Flexible Work Approach. Could you give us a bit of context? What led to this strategic decision?

What we need to highlight first is that, beyond a policy, we want it to be a real philosophy. The pandemic was a turning point that deeply reshaped both working habits and mentalities. As an Employer, we need to keep up with this transformation to tailor working conditions to employees’ real needs and expectations. Even though freedom of action has always been a strong part of Criteo's DNA, we had to work on a more defined policy. The first draft implied that employees had to come to the office, whenever they wanted, at least one day a week. But soon CEO Megan Clarken asked us to think of something more flexible. What surprised us when reopening our offices was to see that people weren’t coming in as much as we thought they would. Perhaps they didn’t want to or didn’t need to come anymore. Whichever it was, it showed mentalities had shifted and we needed to acknowledge it. Moreover, we knew having something more flexible would allow us to attract and recruit talented people with fewer geographic constraints. We could diversify skills and profiles more easily when hiring someone new. Besides, to remain attractive and competitive in the global tech market, offering flexible work conditions has now become unavoidable.

So, in sum, this Flexible Work Approach arose as a solution to:

  • Compensate less people coming to the office,
  • Attract talents we couldn’t reach before because of office locations,
  • Stay attractive and competitive in the tech marketplace.

Would you say it is now a strong argument when dealing with new hires?

It has become a must-have, definitely! Today, people yearn for more flexibility and a better work-life balance that we now call work-life integration. Besides, this flexibility also allows us to better adapt the workplace to employees’ real needs, not the other way around. For example, we saw that some offices were always full when others weren’t. In offices where employees didn’t feel like going on a regular basis, we listened to their needs and therefore switched to coworking spaces. This has also helped us to reduce the carbon footprint related to office expenses, which is something that has grown very important for all our employees.

The philosophy has switched from Hybrid to Flexible. Why is that?

Trust fuels our workplace philosophy. Who better than yourself to decide where you work best, right? Going Hybrid would have implicitly meant that people must come to the office, at least occasionally. We want to promote trust and freedom. It is up to our employees to choose whether they want to come or not. We thought “Flexible” reflected better this concept. It is important for people to build work around their lives, not the other way around. This new approach should help enhance work-life integration for all.

How to deliver a seamless work experience for people on-site and at home?

It is a challenge of course. We try to offer the same comfort in terms of work experience. For instance, our Workplace Feel-Good Initiatives were adapted so they’re also available virtually. This way, we make sure all employees, both on-site and at home, can benefit from them. We also created a Work from Home Allowance to help remote workers set up a real working space at home. They can use it to buy a desk, a monitor, a comfortable chair, a big screen, etc. The idea is to provide the best working conditions, whether they’re at home or on-site.

This new workplace philosophy has impacted companies, employees and, also, managers. How did Criteo help managers adjust to the new reality?

On top of the resources available on Learning Quest - our learning platform - we have organized training and live workshops to help managers adapt to this new reality.

Is it a try-out or are we talking of a philosophy that is meant to thrive?

This Flexible Work Approach marks a shift in our workplace philosophy for the long term. The world has changed, the mentalities too, and so we adapt. That is why we took the necessary time to understand people’s new needs and working habits outside of the sanitary crisis context before settling on a new approach. We felt it was compulsory to design something truly in tune with reality. It is funny to see that during the lockdown, surveys showed people were eager to come back to the office, but when the time came, the mindset had changed. We want to keep the sense of belonging alive and so we try to accompany our people through this journey the best we can. We don’t want them to feel isolated, so we help them to stay connected to each other. Our company and management approach has evolved along with our employees’ needs. We’re talking about an in-depth transformation of the workplace. I think the pandemic made us go down a road we were already heading towards anyway. The labor market has grown more flexible over the past years, and perhaps the sanitary crisis just gave us the final nudge to leap.

In the end, all we want is for our employees to feel good whether they work from home or in the office.” Explains Manuela, our Chief People Officer. “We believe employees who feel listened to and cared for are the key to a healthy company, and so it is our job to make sure we all work in the best conditions possible. We are proud of this new work philosophy. We have worked hand in hand to build the Criteo of today. This is an important milestone to promote employee well-being globally and a real step forward to make sure we all build work around our lives, not the other way around.

Anne Bierry

Change Management Director

The Future is Yours.

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