The new remote workplace

Donna Kimmel and Meerah Rajavel join David Vellante for a discussion about adapting to the new remote workplace on this edition of Remote Works.

VIDEO | 30m
April 14, 2020

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Donna Kimmel is Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer at Citrix

Meerah Rajavel is Chief Information Officer at Citrix

>> Narrator: From the Cube studios in Palo Alto and Boston, this is and episode in the Remote Works Citrix virtual series.

>> Hello everybody, my name is Dave Vellante, and welcome to this cube conversation. You know, for the last several weeks, we've been interviewing key executives to really try to understand how they're responding to the COVID-19 crisis. And one of the key areas that we've been reporting on is the so called work from home offset, and I'll explain that in a little bit. But there are two great executives from Citrix that I'm really pleased to have on Donna Kimmel is the Executive Vice President and Chief chief people officer. Donna, great to see you. Thanks for coming on.

>> Thank you.

>> And she she's joined by Meerah Rajavel, who's the CIO of Citrix. Meerah, thank you as well.

>> Thank you.

>> So, I mean, this thing has been amazing. We've been doing a lot of research and it just obviously came out of the blue guys, if you would actually bring up that that chart. I want to set up the conversation here. This is something that we've been reporting on for a while. This is an ETR survey from about 1300 CIOs and IT practitioners that we asked them, how is your budget going to change in 2020 as a result of COVID? And you can see the red, we all know the story in the red, it's ugly. But surprisingly, about 35% of the respondents said no change. They're actually going to plow ahead. But what's even more surprising was 20 plus percent, about 21% said we're actually going to spend more. And so you can see from the data, that it's actually would be a lot worse, we're not for the green.

Now, the reality is that green is a function really have worked from home infrastructure. And guys, that's something that I really want to talk to you about today. So, Donna, let me start with you. I mean, this is we're always talking about people, people process and technology. I mean, we went from put your toe in the water with work from home infrastructure, to all in. Your thoughts I mean, this is just overnight.

>> Absolutely, you know, I think when I think about remote work and working from home, it is really not business as usual and probably was the biggest change that businesses have experienced, even in my career and many others. You know this was pretty much thrust upon us the work from home. And we realized that it requires new ways of thinking and behaving and operating. Our home offices quickly became kitchen tables and basements and bathrooms and bedrooms. And, in addition to it, not necessarily being set up the way that we would normally set it up if we knew we were going to work from home. It also didn't generally involve caring for family members at the same time.

And so, most people thought for the first couple of weeks well, I can get through this. You know, for, it's not an extended period of time, but the reality is it's become an extended period of time. And I think ultimately, you know when we step back and think we're as humans, we're all survivors, and we're resilient. And there's a number of ways that, you know, we can help our employees as they make the adjustment that was really sort of pushed on them.

>> Now, the executives that I've been talking to they, to a person start with, look, the safety and health of our team is the most important. So you obviously had to communicate that. Donna, I wonder if you could talk about sort of the priorities, you know what is it the cadence of your communication? The transparency of your communication? What really was your kind of first move, if you will?

>> Yeah, absolutely. I think for us, one of the first things we had to step back and think about is, who are we what is what is our culture, what's important to us and we recognize it Citrix, it's our talent that makes the business successful. So we to show understand as much of the experience as possible that are that our employees are having, and really come at it from, I think a place of, of empathy. Listening to what's important to them, thinking about what's going to enable them to be successful because when our employees are successful, they truly drive success and a great experience for our customers. They're the ones out there helping to support our customers to support our sales partners, and certainly, ultimately, our communities. But when we think about this, we're thinking about the challenges, the opportunities, trying to develop plans and programs, and making sure that we have continuous information that is provided to our employees.

And I think part of it you know we'll have an opportunity to talk with Meerah as well. When we step back, we think about kind of three things from a future of work perspective, we always think about the culture of the organization. Which is the embodiment of the values, the who we are and what we do. All of this clearly is grounded in the business objectives. So the first piece is our is our culture. The second piece is our physical space. So what is our environment like that enables us to be as productive as possible. And then the third piece is our digital space. If you can think about all of those almost as a Venn diagram, and that really puts the employee at the center. When we think about what's going to enable our employees to be successful, we think about that in a very holistic way. And so culture is sorry, did you want to--

>> Oh no please.

>> Yeah. Culture for us is really grounded in our ability to drive trust in the organization. It's about that human connection. Because the more we can be connected with each other's managers to employees and peers to employees, the better off we are, people will feel less isolated. Because without that face to face, it makes it, and face to face and I'll say in person makes it a lot more difficult. The second piece that we focus on is that physical environment. And I think for many employees because they were thrust into the situation when they compare it to the work environment, when you're in the office, there's almost a professional feel, in that work environment and so employees feel a fair amount of pressure to try to create that same professionalism in their home. And the reality is, it's hard to do that.

So it puts a lot of pressure on employees when they recognize that the whole family is quarantined with them, right? There's homeschooling going on. There's no childcare or eldercare. There's interruptions at inopportune times, barking dogs and cats walking across keyboards and family members doing drive-bys while the video cameras on and I think one of the things that we've been able to do is to help employees feel comfortable with that's who you are, that's our humanity. And the more we can help people feel comfortable about creating that physical space that's open and welcoming. That really helps drive that experience. And then the third piece, as I mentioned, is the digital space. And that's really where the partnership with Meerah comes in is so, so important, do they have the right tools and technology at home to be able to drive that experience? And for us, you know as Meerah and I have talked that partnership between IT and HR is critical. We're almost like the new BFFs in order to drive variance to enable our employees to be as productive as possible in this work from home.

>> All right, so Meerah, let's let's get into that. So once you've established the safety, the health of your your employees, obviously financial flexibility and runway and the like their physical digital space. Now, you're really under a microscope with the tech. Now, of course, Citrix has been in this business for decades. So you know a lot about this, but nonetheless, this is really new. You were thrust into it overnight. Your thoughts on on how you responded and you know kind of where we're at in that journey.

>> Absolutely, absolutely. So one other thing Donna mentioned, right, the three aspects when we moved to work from home, the biggest piece of this aspect that made it like for example, she was telling, I mean, I myself, we are in transition. I'm moving from Austin, Texas to Florida when it is all in the middle. I'm right now in the middle of my transition, I'm not settled my new house. And literally I'm doing this interview with the sitting my laptop on top of cereal boxes right now. That's actually something that I empathize clearly with my employees. So the physical space when we are in an office location is not any more that we can control. So the digital space need to really compensate for the physical space. The culture is something I think we are very lucky being in Citrix, the notion of what we have been always been talking about remote work, and employee experience, we have got that ingrained.

So when we have to go into this remote workspace, work force culture, the culture is something that I would say we had some foundation to stand on. But IT has to come in, it's not an easy job because we want to give people the ability to do they what they want to do in a productive fashion. But now digital need to compensate for the physical, you know efficiencies that are possibly lacking in a home environment. So I looked at it from three C's, right? It starts with connectivity, right? Connectivity being are we providing the right kind of connectivity, which is to a secure connection. At the end of the day my job here is to make the employee productive and secure at the same time. It's not just about the productivity, but also wrap it up with a greater experience. So we start looking at connectivity from a security point of view, from performance point of view, using you know technologies like SDVAN and maximizing their performance to the nearest, how we can, you know break out the circuits to maximize performance for our employees.

We also need to take into account that there are countries we went into the last mile to understand where the true problem is. Because if you go to Asia, there are so many countries, you know even if we can provide superior experience, their experience is very dependent on the local connectivity. So we need to look at, okay, how do we ensure our heavy duty applications are in a way optimized so it doesn't become a productivity tip for the employee. The second is if you think about productivity for employees, and it's all about information sharing and content sharing, right? So I call the second C is the content. The ability for the employee to have the right data at the right place. So they can make decisions and they can be productive. So using things like whether it is your ShareFile or your OneDrive or your collaboration platform JIRA, it doesn't matter, but you have to really make sure that data and information are available.

And we focused on making sure that we are streamlined that and communicating about that very vocally like to Donna's point. The third C we looked at was collaboration, right? I mean, that's actually where, we are now compensating for the physical touch with a digital touch. So that includes things like your audio conferencing platform, your video conferencing platform, your ability to bring these different facets together, right? I mean, the ability to share, a ability to whiteboard I had last week, three days off site, and it was a complete virtual off site with nine hours of working session. And we used all kinds of tools that literally we had digital stickies to move around that integrated into our video conferencing platform that integrated into our conference sharing platform. So whatever we are doing, these are all connected. At the end of the day I truly felt like you know what i can contribute to not you know adding to the carbon footprint of the globe, because we have people from all over the globe, all of a sudden, I'm getting feedback from employees saying now the playing field is completely level down, people who have been remote users before they felt they had a short stick.

Now everybody's same. In fact, my staff actually talked to one of my permanent remote employees and say, hey, what is the tips that I can use from you to make sure I'm productive, right? So I see the culture aspect is super important. That's actually bringing us together, but it is from a technology and digital point of view, bringing your, you know connectivity, content and collaboration in a way that it's going to be secure and in a way that we are looking at it with the aspect of your culture and from the employee shoes is a super important thing from a technology point of view.

>> So Donna, you mentioned the sort of BFF between between HR and IT now, of course, HR IT have always had a relationship but it really has been around that Human Capital Managers Software, whether it was simplified and efficient onboarding or certain, change management functions. What have you been able to learn from that relationship and apply and what's new?

>> You know, I think, what we're doing together what Meerah and I and the IT in the HR organizations are really doing together is truly understanding what it means to enable productivity for employees. And when you think about having the right tools to enable employees to be productive, doing that in alignment with the culture of the organization, what is it that drives our sense of meaning and accomplishment? And then being able to do it in a way both in a physical environment whether that physical environment is in the office or if it is remote. We do Look collectively together at the change management, how do you get employees to adopt new ways of doing things? And utilize that and learn from it. So we experiment with certain types of productivity tools, as Meerah was, was talking about, which ones worked, which ones needed to change, what worked for some teams and didn't work for others, when she and I can do that together, and our departments can do that together that enables us to truly drive productivity across the organization.

>> Yeah, I would probably add one more thing to what Donna said. I mean, one of the thing is, also if you think about it, you know the human resource, the talent organization has a much better understanding of the culture of the subcultures, right? I mean, I've never been in a company even when it's 1000 people company, you have subcultures. And HR is in involved in the culture of those subcultures as we are going through. From IT point of view, we look at it from user personas, okay? So a salesperson who's actually always on road or always like more of a remote worker versus an engineering person. I mean, we are a software company and R&D persona requires a different set of productivity tools, compared to a salesperson compared to an executive compared to an executive assistant, right? So for us, it's actually bringing that different functional line of business.

And that type of personas. And HR is absolutely crucial because as we are looking at it, we're saying, hey, what is the success for this organization, and what's the culture of that organization and one of the primary job roles and we don't do just with HR but HR gives us so much you know content to get jumpstart, then when we engage with the real users, we are not going with a blank sheet of paper we are going with something that they can react to and they can add to it. So we are doing a design thinking with them with something they can begin start together rather than you know white canvas and telling, tell me what do you want? I mean, he's asked, what do you want, you'll be getting, you know finding the sky on the moon.

>> Well, it's a good thing you have those virtual stickies to help with that design thinking, right? You know, one of the things that I've been been saying is that, you know we've never seen obviously anything like this before a forced shutdown to the economy, which is why we're going to remember it. And like 911, you know post 911 we are going to see some things here that that have permanence, bad post GDPR for example, it required, certain changes. So, Donna, I want to begin start with you. Just it's ironic that, you know we're starting a new decade with this crisis. We're not just going to go back and revert the 2019 there's not just going to be some, you know all of a sudden, everything is rosy again, it's not. There's going to be certain permanent changes. How much have you thought about that? And do you have any visibility on what those are going to be?

>> Yeah, you know when I stepped back and I think about this, and I think a large part of it has to do with much of what Meerah was just talking about in terms of design thinking. It's really, I think, for all of us, it's coming back to recognize that this became almost a forced opportunity to focus on business continuity. And how do we think about what's right for us as we move forward? But the design of that is based on what is right? What's the context for that particular business? What's the culture of that organization? What are the products and services that, you know that business provides? What are the subcultures in the organization? So, for me, it really does step back to say, look, we need to focus on business continuity.

And now we have a couple of new models where you know in the past, it would be really easy for managers to say, you know I don't think my team can work remotely or your job isn't possible to do remotely. And now what we're finding in many businesses is that many jobs can actually be done remotely if they're provided the right tools and the right resources. So for me it, I step back and say, as we think about the business continuity going forward, there is a new way to work. It is a combination of finding that flexibility between working in the office and remote work and providing the right tools that enable employees to be able to do it successfully.

>> You know, Meerah, this notion that Don is bringing up of business continuance, I've sort of been noodling on this and thinking that going forward, one of the things that will change is that companies might be willing to sub optimize near term performance to put in better business resiliency. Now at the same time, I know how CEOs thing and they say, okay great, we're going to make that investment. Yeah, fine. We'll maybe sacrifice some short term performance, but I had a really interesting conversation recently with a chief data officer said you don't have to sacrifice necessarily, with with data in this new era, there actually are ways in which you can both drive business resilience and drive productivity and ultimately profitability. What's your thinking on on that sort of imbalance or balance, if you will?

>> I agree with that statement. Because to me, you know today's business we need to look at I mean, especially with the cloud and some of the new technologies that we have, I mean, even I see this thing coming out of COVID there's going to be industries that are going to come out new business models that are going to emerge, right? I mean, think about telemedicine, we have been very, very hesitant about telemedicine for decades now. I mean, that's not a new concept, but we have been very hesitant. we said, I have to see the doctor. But today, pretty much everybody except for if you're seriously injured, you're getting telemedicine. That industry is going to work, right? So to me the statement you made is absolutely, absolutely, and for me, it's actually an opportunity coming out of an adversity that's going to come out.

When I think about it, the most important thing I see is the businesses that are going to be successful. That's why even HR, you know partnership is even more greater. The businesses  that has talent with digital dexterity are the ones that are going to win, right? I mean, regardless, you know whether you're in HR, whether you're in finance, whether you're in IT, you're in R&D, you're in manufacturing doesn't matter. Your digital dexterity of your company really makes you whether you win in the market, or you're you're one of those dinosaurs in the market, right? And how do you bring those together? That's a cultural change. That's actually educating, right? I mean, we don't want to leave, we already have talent shortage, and we don't want Want to leave a generation of population behind and focused on only the millennials and others because I mean, recently I've been going through the scaled agile framework, which is a lean agile and I really love the word of lean agile, lean has a lot of economies of scale.

Agile brings a lot of agility. When you bring them together, you get both. And that's exactly what we need to do with our talent, bring the vision and bring this digital dexterity that we need to bring there. How we get it from a productivity? Of course, we want to be respectful of privacy. But as we have been going through we have been looking at different productivity metrics looking at, you know what is the usage pattern of our employees, how much code checking they've done? How was my MTTR being, I mean, in my organization, I've been looking at the velocity of our transaction processing and our issue resolution SLA times. And we also even, you know had a little because I think at the end of the day, we human we actually We are social animals, we need that patch. And we cannot forget, we are not mechanical, we are human.

So we need that empathy and we need that emotional side of it. So we have been both qualitatively and quantitatively checking with our workforce, how they're feeling about it, and also looking at the data to see if the productivity is telling the story, what people are talking about. And to our surprise, you know 66% of our population, when we did this pulse survey said, they feel more productive in this situation, because many of them commented that, you know the time they save from not commuting, or the feel, just the sense of spending a little bit more time with the family is actually giving them that extra boost. And they can really do a work life integration, not like a work life balance they need to do. And we also heard about 11% felt pretty much they're in the same range.

And but I also want to recognize it's not for everyone, right? I mean, we do have folks who are in manufacturing, they need to patch the physical things. And those jobs in certain days need to be, more physical. So there's about 3-5%, depending on your job function said, you know what I need access to the lab because I really deal with changing my connectivity, changing my or a dislike for the customer, I'm repairing their board, I really need to see that, those are the ones where we find kind of, you know absolute physical touch is required.

>> You know, in a way, I mean, we're kind of lucky in the technology business talk about the digital transformation. I've been saying this is going to accelerate a lot of digital transformations. But for us, you look at the Cube, we've been up remote studios, no problem. You're a software company, you've already really transitioned largely to a subscription model so you can code remotely, but there are some industries in particular industries, where you guys sell a lot of product, I think about healthcare, you mentioned telemedicine, Meerah, financial services, defense, big users of VDI, they're highly regulated and secure industries. And while it's not, you know your main thrust, you talk to your peers and in those industries. So, and I've always said, you know some of these industries really haven't digitally transformed, they're actually kind of complacent. My feeling is that this is going to really accelerate, you know some of those-- >> Absolutely. Industries that haven't transformed and haven't been disrupted. I wonder if you could both comment from both a technology perspective and a people perspective.

>> You know, I think, I think from the people perspective, it's really about mindset. And it and recognizing that how we approach these new problems and needs new ways of thinking about getting work done, is all about what our minds block us from thinking. And this pushed us into a situation where we've been able to demonstrate roles that we did not think could ever be done remotely, can actually be done remotely. And so for me, it is about a mindset shift. It's about enabling the dialogue sort of having the courage to have that dialogue inside of the organization to understand, again, what's the business context? What can we do in a more flexible way? And how do we continue to serve our customers the best that we can?

>> I think for me, it comes down to you know protection is always an extinction, right? I mean, if you're trying to protect a current model, and if you're trying to be saying, you know, you don't want to be the dinosaur. Things are going to change and being proactive about the change and embracing the change will let you to some extent influence and control that change versus being the change being done to you. In this particular case, to me looking at it to see especially with today's technology around, you know manufacturing industry is probably going to see a lot of remote hands as well with IoT and robotics coming in. And I see that is going to be one area, you may see a drip down on type of talent that's getting extinct. On the other side, we are going to continue to see the demand on technology is going to continue to go up and especially which is already shortage.

I mean, if I remember the last survey from KPMG, in December, the CIO survey said 60% of the CIOs responded, they are having challenges with the you know filling the roles and I also remember the other one is around Korn Ferry survey of technology talent shortage. By 2030, the expectation is we're going to leave around 8.7 billion or $7 trillion of revenue on the table and 85% will be unfulfilled. I mean, this is a time for, you know really how do you ensure there are industries that are going to transform which means there are certain skills, people need to reskill. I mean, even in technology that reskill and upskill is going to be a constant thing that's actually it's nobody is there, you know spark from that one, in my opinion in today's world.

so that reskill and upskill is going to be the ones who are going to embrace that they're going to be in a bigger way and taking advantage of these transitions and transformations. I also think there are areas that we may see what we call the hype may have a broader adoption. So you'd mentioned about the chief data officer talking about how data can come in, I mean, I see automation accelerating and data is going to be a core component of acceleration. And you will see more and more you know things around how measurements becomes important as a start that leads to you know more data modeling that leads to more automation, that cycle is going to accelerate the influence of AI is going to accelerate even further than when we have said.

I mean, I just wish some of the areas where, you know we have been slow in that option if you would have accelerated some of the challenges we are dealing with now with capacity, we wouldn't have been having problems. I mean, then I did a reflection with my team. The one of the highest one ranked by my leadership was we should have accelerated accelerated automation more.

>> Well, I think what are some really, really interesting and deep points, but really no industry is safe, from disruption and in really Meerah to your points. If you're just paving the cow path, you're going to be in trouble. If you're trying to protect the past from the future, you're going to get disrupted. And I feel like you guys really have a good handle on this. And it's our pleasure to be able to post an interview such experts like yourselves, really appreciate you sharing your insights and your experience with with our audience. I mean, we're kind of all in this together. So thank you, Donna, Meerah, thanks so much for coming on the Cube.

>> Thank you so much.

>> Thank you for having us.

>> You're welcome and thank you for watching everybody. This is Dave Vellante for the Cube. For my CXO series we will see you next time. (upbeat music)


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