Skip to main content
a child standing on a beach pointing at something
What we stand for

Managers: How to lead from home

Posted by Saki |

How to successfully lead your team from home? Which skills are required to maintain a sense of belonging in the virtual workplace? Saki, Senior Manager, Agency Sales & Client Support, kindly agreed to share her insights and tips on how to lead a team from home.

Thank you so much for meeting with us today, Saki! You manage your teams almost exclusively from home. How long have you been working remotely?

I’ve been working remotely ever since the pandemic started, but I’ve been going back to the office now and then. As I manage approximately 25 people, I feel it is important to mix virtual and face-to-face meetings. But I always give my team the choice to stay home when meetings are hybrid.

Leading your team almost 100% from home must be a challenge. How do you handle it?

It has been a challenge, yes! Since get-togethers are such a big part of our company culture, we had to find alternatives to keep the sense of belonging alive. I’m not going to lie; at first, my team's feedback wasn’t that good, especially since we used to get together because we liked each other... Many teammates found it hard to sort of “lose” that special social connection. I tried to compensate, organizing various virtual events like online drinks, games, and so on, but we soon realized it cannot recreate an actual face-to-face interaction. It made us realize we needed to make our ways of working, our culture evolve, hence our new Flexible Work Philosophy. If Covid has taught us anything, it is that social contact is important so, as more people work from home now, managers have put in extra efforts to ensure the sense of belonging thrives. Though it has been a challenge, remote work has brought more flexibility and people seem to appreciate it. I feel our new work philosophy shows we respect different working habits, needs, and lifestyles. It helps people feel they’re part of a company that listens and cares for their well-being. I guess it may even strengthen their sense of belonging in that sense. In the end, opposing on-site and remote work doesn't make much sense. They are two work philosophies that appeal to different company cultures.

Has Criteo supported you to make the transition smooth for your teams?

Yes, I’ve felt supported throughout this journey. We had specific training and e-learning, along with a slack channel to share tips on how to cope with this change and connect with other managers. Criteo put together many surveys to enhance a bottom-up approach and collect regular feedback from managers and employees as well. They gave the whole community many opportunities to share how they felt and what they valued about the new hybrid environment. Our Flexible Work Philosophy even came from that feedback. We’re lucky to have this great company culture where we listen and support each other. I feel that the transition has brought managers closer together, as we were all going through the same thing.

How do you build and cultivate trust in remote teams?

Trust is an essential component of our philosophy. I personally feel entrusted with my responsibilities and have never felt micro-managed here. I think it goes down to the hiring process. As a manager, I only hire people I feel I can trust. In my team, you meet around 7 people before getting hired, so we collectively have a very comprehensive view of the person. We're all different; some may need more structure while others enjoy more autonomy. For those needing more interaction, we’ll have the team leaders offering more regular follow-ups. The quantitative performance review we use happens to be a useful indicator to keep track of employees’ evolution and needs. The hybrid environment has changed the way we assess productivity, focusing on results rather than the number of hours spent. It also allows everyone to get the job done in their own time, respecting one’s natural working pace.

Any tips to share with a newcomer starting in this hybrid environment at Criteo?

Proactively engage with people from other teams. It is still one challenge of mine... When on-site, you can randomly meet at the coffee machine, talk with people from other departments and eventually learn something new. When working remotely, you talk to the people you work with and synchronize to go to the office together. So, as the hybrid environment makes it less spontaneous, you need to be more proactive when connecting with other teams. Secondly, don’t be afraid to ask questions. We’ve had a lot of people onboarding virtually and it was hard to know what was going on. You can’t catch the signals as easily as when you overhear a colleague at their desk struggling over the phone. Everything is much more of a blur at home, so don't feel ashamed to ask for help.

Now not as a team leader but as an employee, why choose to keep working remotely?

The pandemic was a turning point for me as I got married and had a kid. Working remotely has helped me integrate life and work. Usually, in Japan, people take a year off after a child is born, but thanks to remote work, I only took 4 months. Working has always been a huge path to fulfillment in my life, and that way, I felt like I wasn’t missing out on anything. Working remotely gives me more freedom and makes it easier to find a work-life balance. It saves me time to spend with my son or to work without rushing. I can get more things done in a shorter time and disconnect earlier in the day. Of course, I’d be lying if I said I don’t miss anything about being on-site, but I always have the option to go if I want to. I just love that I am free to choose.

When working from home, how do you organize your day? Do you have any kind of routine?

When you are a manager, you often have back-to-back meetings, so my day kind of structures itself. Being remote helps because you can just jump in without having to go from one meeting room to another. I never struggled so much with keeping a routine. The only thing I’m struggling a bit with is when people forget to give you 5 minutes to spare between meetings. So now, I block my calendar to make sure I take short breaks in my day when I need to. I don’t have a routine, per se, but I can tell you three easy things I do to make my day better.

  • I go outside at least once a day to get some fresh air.
  • I set a time limit where I consciously disconnect each day.
  • I block my schedule every Friday from 12 to 1 pm to study things for me, like Chinese.

In conclusion, I’d say that, whether you’re at home or on-site, it is important to make room in your day to have some time for yourself. 


Senior Manager, Agency Sales & Client Support

The Future is Yours.

Search jobs