Skip to main content
a man in a blue jacket
What we stand for

Inclusive approach to COVID19 response

Posted by Matt Van Geldere |

As the COVID19 crisis spread across the globe in early 2020, Criteo reacted quickly to protect employee health while maintaining business continuity. At the same time, the company adopted an inclusive approach to managing the crisis that took account of feedback from Criteos around the world. Chief Transformation Officer Matt Van Geldere explains.

How did the covid crisis unfold for Criteo?

It happened very fast. When it was first identified in China at the end of January 2020, we moved quickly, closing our Beijing office even ahead of actions by the Chinese government. We also implemented protective measures in APAC countries. With COVID19 starting to spread to Europe in February, we realized this was going to be a global event and we formed a multi-country, cross-functional team, or steerco, to manage our response. In March we took the decision to switch our entire workforce to fulltime remote working, which was a big decision since Criteo’s culture before COVID19 was very much focused on working from offices. However, employee safety has been our first priority from day one.

How did the COVID19 steerco work?

We opted for an inclusive approach, bringing together a team representing all larger sites and including key decision makers from all functions directly involved in the COVID response. We felt this was important for getting employee input and buy-in and to enable us to move quickly. The team included representatives from People, Workplace, IT, Communications and our French Works Council, given the size of our workforce in France.

How was such a large group able to function efficiently?

It worked well because we had key people who could make quick decisions on many topics. Of course, for the big decisions, like switching everyone to Work From Home in March, the Steerco provided recommendations but the decisions were ultimately owned by the Leadership Team. The Steerco have been meeting on a very regular basis, often weekly in the midst of the COVID19 crisis, and decisions were taken quickly and often on the spot during our meetings.

What kind of input did you get from employees?

In addition to informal feedback, we sent all employees various Pulse surveys since the start of COVID19 to measure how we were doing and how employees were experiencing WFH and the impact of for example lockdowns. The data showed us where improvements could be made to further support our employees such as more IT assistance and improving the ergonomics of the workplace at home. Another strong message was the desire of employees to stay connected to Criteo and its culture. Employees also asked us early on to provide clarity on working life after COVID19 – many employees were considering moving house, especially those who may not have had an ideal set up to work from home.

What was the response to this feedback?

To improve the physical workplace of home offices, we gave all employees the opportunity to purchase desks and chairs at Criteo’s expense as well as monitors and other IT equipment. We also focused on employee well-being such as ensuring the availability of psychological counseling support in all languages -- a need that was particularly acute in strict lockdown countries like Spain and France. We also provided additional training for employees and managers for whom, in many cases, working and managing remotely was a new experience.

To give employees more certainty of what work would look like post-COVID19 and enable them to make personal lifestyle decisions , we announced our new WFH policy in December last year, due to take effect after COVID19. In doing so we were amongst the first companies giving employees clarity on the future, reassuring them that flexible working was here to stay. After COVID19, we will allow our employees to continue working from home, on average, for up to 4 days per week if they wish to do so. However, we will also continue to provide fulltime access to offices for those who prefer this.

How have employees been helping to guide planning this year?

In addition to continuing to survey employees, we’re constantly communicating through our dedicated COVID19 portal and regular updates via email and Slack, including the roadmap for the re-opening of our offices. We now have the majority of our global offices at least partially re-opened, providing access to those who prefer to work from an office environment. Employee feedback also contributed to initiatives such as Quiet Fridays and the decision to provide all employees with a break through an extra day off at the end of May in recognition of their hard work.

What lessons from the covid crisis management experience will be applied in the future?

I think we learned that an inclusive approach, consistent with our Open value, can be a good blueprint for reacting to a slow-building crisis. We’ve shown that even a large group of 25 can still move fast and that we could manage the trade-off between acting with speed and agility and emphasizing employee consultation. The inclusive, open approach of the steerco also helped level the playing field for people in smaller locations who previously might have been less present in the decision-making process. Finally, it forced us to rethink and be more purposeful about how and why we bring people Together – another of our values that we can live up to even more.

Matt Van Geldere

Chief Transformation Officer

The Future is Yours.

Search jobs