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Working on the basis of mutual trust

19 Jan 2023

With 2023 in mind, hybrid working can certainly not escape our attention. We had an interesting conversation with Kris Poté, former Vice President of Capgemini Belgium.

In his role, Poté was responsible for influencer relations & thought leadership at the Belgian branch of the consulting company that employs 220,000 people worldwide – of whom 2,200 are in our own country.

Can you tell us more about the unique vision of hybrid working at Capgemini?

“With us, it’s very simple: three major principles apply,” begins Poté. “To start with, our employees can choose to work between 30% and 70% from home, and the rest of the time in the office. They are free to shape this ratio themselves. It’s not 50-50 like some companies, or 75-25. Employees can choose the ratio themselves, as long as they spend at least 30% of their time in the office. Managers can’t interfere with their decision. And, of course, everything remains focused on the clients, who also have to agree – and most of them do. There needs to be some coordination with the manager and the team you are working in at the time, which is logical, but this should be evident from the results. It’s a results-based hybrid working method,” he says.

So how does your method differ from that of other large companies?

“Well, some companies ask their staff to come to the office as much as possible, for the sake of social contact or so they can keep an eye on them. It’s easier to see if people are working when they’re actually with you. But Capgemini has always operated on the basis of mutual trust; trust is one of our core values. It was therefore logical for us to opt for hybrid working and for our employees to be able to decide for themselves. The fact that the manager has no control over the ratio is something I see in very few companies. The option to spend up to 70% of the time working from home is also quite unique. In the IT sector, I do notice that most companies are going for hybrid working methods, so in that sense it isn’t all that different from how we do things at Capgemini. But even before the coronavirus crisis, we had a protocol in place that made it possible to work from home two days a week. So the opportunity for hybrid working already existed, though people didn’t really use it all that much. We have now been able to expand this underlying structure still further. The 30-70 ratio and the fact that our employees can choose for themselves is specified in an addendum to our employment contracts. So this also offers certainty for our people and allows them to carry out their work in the most comfortable way,” explains the Vice President.

But are there also a few pitfalls on the hybrid working path?

“The situation continues to evolve, for sure. Hybrid working also has its positive and negative aspects. It’s up to the management to ensure that the employee doesn’t hide away in the long term or say something like: ‘Yes, but I’m much more productive from home’. You still need personal contact. As a company, you are still kind of a family; it’s not just a case of: ‘we do business’. We work with technology, but it’s still managed by people. And where there are people, there is also human interaction: you do need to see each other from time to time – and fun is also one of our values! Having fun on your own is very relative; it’s better to get together in a group, play a game of indoor football or have lunch together in the canteen. This can only benefit team spirit (another of Capgemini’s core values),” says Poté.

Is the Belgian head office moving to a new location this year?

“That’s right. At the moment, we are still located on Rijksweg, in Diegem, which leads to the airport. During this year, we will be moving to a building that is much more sustainable across the street. All the colleagues from Capgemini Belgium will come together there. Currently, we also have offices in Sint-Pieters-Woluwe, where our people from Capgemini Engineering are located. They will also be moving to the new building. This coming year will mainly be dominated by sustainability. Our new building meets the highest ecological standards.”

So what else will 2023 bring for Capgemini?

“We will probably grow by double digits, just like last year. By Belgian standards, we have already grown substantially. We aren’t an SME any more. We are always talking about sustainable growth – and in our sector, we also know that we must continue to grow. We would therefore like to recruit 300 people this year. We are looking for about 150 experienced IT professionals and consultants, and we also have room for 150 young professionals. These will be IT profiles that have just left college, and we will onboard them. We then give them a year to decide which direction they want to go in. Would they prefer to work in a banking environment, or perhaps for a government body? Of course, you can do it all at Capgemini. We also sometimes recruit atypical profiles. I remember that we hired a nurse two or three years ago. I told her I thought it was a good idea because she was used to taking care of patients, and we really want to take care of our clients too,” concludes Poté.

This article was initially published on TechPulse.