Q&A: Managing HR across borders in the new phase of work

Inside HR interviews Donna Kimmel, Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer, at Citrix. In this exclusive Q&A, Donna speaks on Citrix’s embracing of the flexible work model and their belief that businesses can unlock employee potential by giving them the flexibility to determine their own workspaces.

  1. What are the key factors to shaping employee experience in a global company?

Culture, physical space, and technology—which we sometimes call digital space—shape employee experience. Culture is about who we are, how we are known, and how we act and engage with each other. The ways that we demonstrate our values in decisions, behaviours, and interactions greatly affects how employees experience our company. We’re seeing that employees are seeking cultures that are inclusive, support well-being, contribute to their communities, and invite different perspectives. Physical space, whether in an office, at home, or elsewhere, contributes to a positive employee experience when it enables us to be productive by matching our work needs. The impact of technology on employee experience is often underrated. But when it’s neglected, it can be highly disruptive. We rely on technology to connect us and to enable us to work anywhere, at any time, on any device, securely.

  1. How does Citrix maintain workplace flexibility for their employees while still navigating the changing time zones of employees across borders?

Our values guide how we collaborate. When working across time zones, we particularly rely on our values of respect, unity, and a bit of curiosity. Out of respect and unity, we have adopted some shared practices. If a recurring meeting has participants in different time zones, we vary the meeting time to share in the inconvenience. We are understanding if colleagues joining in off hours may choose to leave their camera off, need to eat, or may step out for a moment to attend to family. If we need to work outside so-called business hours, we may take personal time during the workday.

We also use collaboration tools to work asynchronously, sharing files, recordings, and chat threads to advance work within each person’s schedule. Activating our curiosity, we experiment with new ways of working together, asking colleagues what they need and trying new tools or approaches. That said, we also look at our team design. We assemble some centers of excellence within adjoining time zones to enable frequent synchronous collaboration. In a collaborative and interdependent company, it’s not yet true that any role can truly be anywhere. We have to be deliberate in where we grow our teams.

  1. How does Citrix ensure a sense of community when employees in different countries are connected only remotely? 

We’ve seen that employees who moved to work-from-home models in response to COVID-19 are maintaining their sense of community with their colleagues from their local office. Employees schedule time to connect with each other online, and site leaders still host virtual events and send communications.

Employees who are not associated with one of our sites, which was about 13 per cent of our workforce even before the pandemic, and new hires not yet going to a physical office still find ways to connect. For example, we have ten types of employee resource groups, such as our Women’s Inspirational Network, Pride Alliance, Parents and Caregivers, and Black Professionals Network. These offer a sense of community no matter where you are.

We also have active interest groups, including a group that schedules time to practice meditation together virtually and even an online puppies and pets group.

We’ve been a global company with distributed teams for decades, and one of the strongest drivers of community remains our shared vision and purpose. We come together to solve customer problems and create ways that they can unlock their employees’ potential.

  1. How have you utilised the global rebrand as an opportunity to show greater support for employees internationally?

Citrix’s new identity celebrates what’s most important to us as a business – people. As we support our customers in delivering a great employee experience for their employees, our own employees see how committed we are to their experience. Our brand aims to ‘show not tell,’ treating our customers as partners, not as business opportunities.

No matter where we are in the world, we are unified in helping organisations unlock people’s full potential by giving them the space to succeed. This is a vision that every individual in our organisation can now rally behind. It gives our people a structure to make business decisions to ensure we stay true to what is important to us as a people-centric company. And as our organisation finds new ways to integrate remote working and distributed teams, it’s become even more important that our brand identity is relatable and relevant to all our employees around the world.

  1. How do companies ensure the personal development of their staff to ensure they are growing skillsets that suit roles for the future of work? 

Companies have to intentionally plan for and invest in developing and growing their employees’ skills. No one magically grows new knowledge. We have a few practices that help us be purposeful about development. Managers and employees have regular touchpoint conversations to talk about growth areas and career interests at the individual level.

At the team level, we have a talent review process in which we identify the skills we need for the work ahead and assess how well our current teams are equipped with those skills. When we see gaps, we look for upskilling and training opportunities. We also encourage employees to seek mentorship, and we help connect them with colleagues who can be a sounding board about their career and coach them.

We also look further out. With research, such as our recent Work 2035 report, we anticipate possible future scenarios, emerging jobs, and work models, and we actively work to both shape and be ready for what’s ahead.

Our core competencies include ‘learn and innovate.’ This regularly reminds employees that we practice a growth mindset and look for continuous improvement.