Dave Millner: Right and welcome to this great opportunity at chat with Jan Nieuweboer from Rabobank, where we're talking about measuring the impact of of hybrid work. Now, Jan is an educational technologist. He was a lead trainer for IBM many years ago, and then with Philips, he's a change consultant, a learning and development practitioner in Rabobank. There are many sides to Jan, but the most important, I think, is that he's been a great evangelist for future of work. And, you know, that led to him being given the opportunity to really explore the challenges of hybrid working within Rabobank. And that's what we're going to be talking about today. So welcome to today's session, Jan, and really look forward to hearing from you.
Hi Jan. Really looking forward to this conversation today. I think a lot of other people are as well because obviously lots of organisations are trying to get to grips with this remote working, hybrid working world that's evolved. So I know we've spoken before and I know you wanted to do this a little bit differently and so I think you were looking onto let's start by reflecting on your learnings from the process. So why don't you give us those? And then what we'll do is we'll go back and and go through your journey. But I think having those learnings will be really helpful to put it into context.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. Well, thanks Dave, for having me here. And yeah, I think it would be a really interesting one to start off with those lessons learned because there it's also the, the most recent thing that, that I can share, right? Everybody is, is looking in, you know, for, for ways in which to make hybrid or remote work better than it did before. And at Rabobank we've been adamant in in taking in taking a data driven approach in figuring out what is going on and, you know what, how can we improve there? And well, when we did a the talk just before this talk, I alluded to the fact that there were a few surprises over the last couple of weeks that that hit us. Yes. And I think the the biggest surprise of all is that we're in a situation as Rabobank now where hybrid working has become the de facto new standard. And it's not really about hybrid working anymore. It's about all those other things that are, you know, important anyway within organisations, right? But surface readily in a hybrid working context. So for instance, we did find out that in terms of our culture and, you know, being, um. We like being polite to one another, which is fine, of course, but being over polite might also mean that you introduce confusion within your team about what do we have to do, when do we do that? And stuff like that. And of course that was already something that we needed to work on. But now in a hybrid context, these things surface more than they did before. So we're not talking about a hybrid problem anymore, okay? We're talking about other problems that surface more readily in a hybrid environment. Um, so, and that is, that's just awesome because it means that from a data perspective, we have a lot of information now about, you know, what are things that we have to make an impact on and what are the things that we don't have to spend too much time and energy on because they will sort them out themselves. But other things we need to really address within the bank. Yeah.
Dave Millner: Okay. And I know you were talking one of those you reflected on both the culture, I think when we were talking and also organisational learning, which I thought was quite interesting. Could you just expand a little bit on that before we go and explore the journey to get you to where you are?
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. Well, one of the things so, um, as I said in my introduction, part of, of what I'm doing is looking at the future of work. Yes. And especially in the context of a bank. A banks are knowledge intensive organisations and they become even more knowledge intensive the way we go forward. Right. Automation and other factors are in play here that that um. That make that the things that people do within the organisation is much more focussed around the area of complexity. So learning from each other with each other is going to be a key factor in knowledge intensive organisations, right? So we've been moving along that way anyway, and now Hybrid Working has come along and we're still figuring out so how can we improve that organisational learning and benefit from hybrid context rather than it's going to work against us? And what we saw is that hybrid working is not, you know, an end goal in itself, but it's a context in which the organisational learning can take new forms and new ways of doing it better, right? Um, and one of the things that, that we talk about sometimes is serendipity. So that's one of those, that's one of those areas that people say, yeah, you know, um, what happens with serendipity if people don't meet each other at a coffee machine anymore? And I think we by now have a particular stance at that, and that is that serendipity is a very overrated idea.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. So the coffee machine was really interesting, but nine out of ten things that you hear there is just noise, right? And don't know about you, Dave But before COVID, one of the biggest, you know, rages was within the organisation to have noise cancelling headphones on when you were working there because there was just too much noise. Too much noise, right? So now the question is not, you know, what do we do about noise? It's how do we pick up relevant information from from within the noise within a hybrid context. And of course there's technologies that could help us there, right? So in terms of big data and and, you know, all these kinds of technologies that we have now, it will make it a little bit easier to figure out. My team is doing this. Hey, wait a second. There's another team that we haven't considered yet who are doing similar things. Why don't we start talking to one another? And we slowly but surely we see in our data actually that that is actually happening within the hybrid context as well. Right? So that's I think that's a very positive.
Dave Millner: So, so I think the takeaway that I that I sort of take is that hybrid working is an incredibly important initiative, but actually it actually is dragging along some of the other organisational challenges and changes that were already underway or were desired, if you like.
Jan Nieuweboer: Absolutely. Absolutely. So so I think the thinking now is, okay, so hybrid working is here to stay. It's the new context, it's the new normal. So within that context, how can we optimise and make things better? And so so.
Dave Millner: Therefore it just becomes don't don't mean it's terrible. It's not just another change program, but actually it is focus for that change program.
Jan Nieuweboer: Oh, and in terms of change, of course, this this has been a really weird change. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Because I've been in change management for many years. I've never experienced a change that was so in demand with the people who had, you know, the change coming to them. Right, Right. We just did a survey. And it turns out that 90 over 95% of the people that responded to our survey said hybrid working. I don't want anything else. Wow. More than 95%. Which is. That's. That's, you know, almost almost everybody. Okay. So that was that was a real key factor in understanding that this is not going to go away or anything. It's just it's what people demand, their autonomy, their, you know, their freedom to to work within a frame and and make sure they get their work done. Um, it is something that people really, really, really enjoy. Um, but you know, it has its, it has its puzzles. Yeah, of course, of course.
Dave Millner: Okay. So, so we've given the listeners a bit of a clue about the things that you've taken away. So let's go back to, you know, let's talk to me a little bit about the organisation and talk to me about, you know, the pandemic, because that's obviously ultimately triggered this. So talk to me a little bit about the organisation. Talk to me a little bit about what the, the organisation did in response to the pandemic because guess that, that that's had a bearing on, on what you've now been involved with.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. Yeah. Well the story actually goes back. Um, quite a long time, to be honest. Um, so, so Rabobank, for those of our listeners and viewers who don't know the bank, it's it's a predominantly Dutch bank, but we're an international bank and we, we are mainly involved in agricultural finance, for instance, worldwide and in the Dutch domestic market. We also have like mortgages and typical brick and mortar bank. But typically in, in a in a way that we're a cooperative. So we started off as a cooperative at the end of the 19th century. So we've been around for a long time. And that cooperative mentality is something that we've brought along during our whole journey up until now. Um, and I think that that's one of the aspects that is important for us to understand, because a cooperative really means that we drive for low level decision making in silos where, where, where decisions can be made as as well as they can be. Right? So that's something that drives our organisation. We're, we're very much not a hierarchical, top down driven organisation.
Dave Millner: So that's quite an important point. When you were ultimately, as you'll talk through the project, you had an environment that was quite empowered already, which you know is probably quite different to quite a lot of other command control type of environments that that might have been in play before the pandemic.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah, yeah, yeah. And there's a few things that will, I will address in just a minute. Sure. That, that came out of that. Um, but you know, if you look at the story, we were one of the first organisations to understand that activity based. Working, for instance, was one of the ways in which we could free up our potential of our buildings. And so in our central organisation, many people started working with laptops really early and it was like the norm that you would work in the office. But you know, many people got used to working from home now and then. I was one of the I started at the bank 12.5 years ago. I was one of the proponents of that, of that new structure. I was asked as innovation manager also to bring in that culture a bit. Um, but we were already on our way in in thinking about how can we use our offices in different ways to empower our people to be more performant within the type of work they're doing. Um, so we had just finalised a huge program, for instance, in making sure that we had our IT back, you know, background. Everybody was on Microsoft 365 and everything worked and then COVID hit us. Yeah. So like many organisations, we were just at that phase in time where we could say, okay, we're going to flip the switch, everybody's going to work from home.
Jan Nieuweboer: And what happened then was not only that people started working from home without glitches, which was quite special, but also we saw a shift in the way leadership behaved, especially in those first weeks, because leadership started switching their attention from productivity measurements to well-being measurements. Can we make sure that our people can be there for our clients? Our clients are in bad weather. It's it's a it's a mess out there. Um, we have to help our clients. We, we think our people can do that without us, you know, being, you know, too strict on them all the time. They have the knowledge. They have the autonomy to do that. Why don't we focus on making sure they can do their work the best they can? And it worked, right? It was a so, so many people, especially leaders, figured out that you don't have to be with 20 people in one room with a counter on top. Taking the phone calls. And no people could do that from home as well. And they do. They would do a better job at it as well, because our clients were never as happy as in those first few weeks of the Corona pandemic. Right. Right, Right. So so that happened. And I was working on future work with a few other people, people already considering the longer timelines and seeing what happened.
Jan Nieuweboer: And we saw these things happening and we were like, wow, that's that's actually pretty impressive and pretty good that this is happening. This is this is something that we would envision over a couple of years actually happening. But it's happening happening now. Right? And we started working from that, you know, that idea and saying, okay, so if if that works. You know why? Why can't we think about other things? And then when we started measuring, we started measuring so much employee listening every week. We did 27 surveys within the organisation asking our people every other week, How are you doing? What's happening? You know, can we help you in any way? Um, and that sort of became a mantra for the organisation. Um, and it, and it really helped. Selling the fact that data was a very important aspect of understanding how things were going, you know, what things were going on within the organisation. So we were very fortunate that we had people at the top, most level of the organisation involved there on a weekly basis. We were on it based on data and we started chiselling out our new way of working and that became our hybrid working, we call it anywhere, right?
Dave Millner: And so what sort of data were you looking for at that stage? You've mentioned obviously productivity. You know, the wellbeing metrics guess that you would have been looking for. Was there anything that was the critical something that sort of said we really do need to make this a permanent way of operating for our organisation?
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. So, so there were a few things. Employee well-being was one of them. The experienced level of productivity be okay which so it, it was very hard to figure out one measurement of productivity across the organisation. So we asked people, okay, if your professional. Then you can probably tell us if you feel productive. Yes or no compared to your KPIs or what have you. Okay, so we ask people about that and it gave us a very good indication of the level of productivity, especially if we compare that to, for instance, other indicators that we got from the business, right? It turned out that they they were very much on par. So that was employee well-being, productivity. We looked at, um. A collaboration with your colleagues and which of course, in the first stage was hampered in the COVID situation because people really the only way of working together was through digital means. Um, so when we, when we started doing hybrid working, we were of course really interested to see if that particular indicator would jump up. Yeah. And it did.
Dave Millner: Right.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. Um, so we also did a lot of measurements in terms of asking people, so what is your intent when you go back to work now? Um, but we also did experiments, so we did um, experiments with, for instance, rebuilding part of our office to cater for a new way of working, keeping other groups in the same office buildings and then see what the effect of a different housing environment would be in terms of hybrid working, would you see people actually doing different stuff in the office than they did before? And the answer is yes, right? So we understood that refurbishing our our offices were part of the puzzle that we needed to, to lay down. Um, so. Yeah. And of course, we started off with general generic information. How are you? How are you doing? How is your family and stuff like that. And then moving along the the COVID situation, when that became more, you know, condensed and we sort of understood what was going on, we started focusing more on collaboration, employee well-being, productivity and stuff like that.
Dave Millner: Right? So, so data obviously had an important part in monitoring and reviewing what was going on in that that particular time. And obviously you must have been picking up vibes from other organisations that that may not have been quite responding to the problem in the same way that your organisation was so mean that that must have shown that you were doing something right. Do you know what?
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah, it did. So, so we, we felt we were on the right track also because we, we hardly got any negative feedback from, from the organisation. But of course we, we did have a few questions to be answered. One of one of the questions is are we going to work from a rule based type of, you know, way of working in a hybrid context, or are we going to do more principle based? And um, yeah, to be honest, we had quite a discussion at the highest level within the organisation on which, which way to go. Um, and, and, and here is where the cooperative comes in again. We said, well it fits our culture much more to be principle based rather than rule based. Also because we do so many different things within the organisation, what kind of rule would you install for a organisation that has that many different types of work going on? Um, we trust that teams are able from a number of relatively simple principles to figure out what their balance would be and how they're going to arrange that. And so we, we introduced three principles. The first one is think digital first. So whatever you can do digitally, you use it because it's there for you. Um, then secondly, make sure you meet your team and your team members at regular intervals.
Jan Nieuweboer: So plan time for your team, especially around just social cohesion, um, working on some difficult problems, maybe doing some creative stuff that is a little bit harder to do digitally. And the third one is make sure you have your network. So make sure you plan time to meet others rather than just the small circle that you work with on a day to day basis. So we put in a lot of effort in making sure that people were able to meet other people in the office when they go to the office. Plan time to just go and have a cup of coffee. So we we made sure that that everything in terms of catering and stuff like that was going on when people could visit the offices again, right? So, so they could just sit somewhere and have a nice conversation with somebody they hadn't seen for a while and build up their network again. So those were the three angles that we that we introduced and and we're still working from then, although it there were nuanced changes. Okay. And one of them is that we started off thinking, okay, digital first, that's the first principle. But now we're saying, okay, no, the three principles are actually all all three of them are equally as important.
Dave Millner: Interlinked. Linked. Yes. Yes. Yeah. So as you as you started on this, you know, investigation, which I guess is you were doing with your data and whatever. Um, what was the role of qualitative type research? Because obviously we, you know, I know we can gather stacks and stacks of data and it's all really interesting. But you know, what sort of level of interaction did you have with, you know, groups of employees to to find out why the data was saying that? And also if they had any underlying concerns. You know, it's great and I love this and it's working, but there's something lurking in my mind that maybe this would not be brilliant, you know, over A12 year period or whatever. Just be interested to know what you did in that sort of phase of your research, I suppose.
Jan Nieuweboer: Well, we always included some qualitative data in our in our surveys, right? So we always introduce some open questions for people to, to bring in information. And we started for the for the bigger surveys that we did, we started using text automation to to figure out, you know, what are the categories of information and stuff like that. So but but we found out that that these kinds of technologies work best. If you have repetitive questionnaires where you ask the same question over and over again. So you know, what kind of category of information comes out and stuff like that. So there was still a lot of, you know, manual labour involved as well in figuring out, you know, what are people telling us? I, I shouldn't forget. I have a really interesting one on that later on. Okay. Right now we're, we're doing some research. Um. Which we call Field Lab. So what we said is that if you look at how the change within within Rabobank has progressed, we know that most of the teams within the organisation have figured out a way to do hybrid for themselves. They've been experimenting all along without us doing that from a central position. So everybody is working on this. Why don't we go into the field and find some teams who are a little bit ahead of the curve and figure out what kind of things they are doing? So we go into the field, use the field as a lab and bring all the good practices back and share them again within the organisation. So one of the things we did there was we had 17 interviews with managers and we, we used a proper rigorous methodology to do that.
Jan Nieuweboer: So we had like we did factor analysis on all the things that they said. So we figured out which of the which factors seem to be important. And we created from that we created surveys for the whole group to figure out and to test whether these perspectives of these 17 leaders would be something that their team members would also, you know, find. But then we started with 17 teams. We were with 65 teams now, and we're going to expand that even further down the road. So we we did find some really interesting data on that using that approach, working from the qualitative area and moving into the more quantitative area. Um. To get back on the on that former point that I mentioned. Our last official Corona survey. We asked people. A open question about. And the question was, what would you like to change in terms of hybrid working if you had the same? And we had I think we had 1700 people responding to the survey. Of these 1700, 800 people used that open question to say something different. Because they responded. I don't want you to change anything. Please, please do not change the fact that we've gained so much autonomy and flexibility. So they they sort of reused that question to give us a very important signal saying, okay, we're on the right track. We have to we have to keep on doing this.
Dave Millner: That what's happening, they took.
Jan Nieuweboer: They took their valuable time to sometimes in quite a lot of words, describe why it was so important that we stick to the course. Right. And that was that was really interesting to see. Yeah.
Dave Millner: And and so have you found on your journey because I know that's an overused word, but but I guess it probably is because, you know, you're you're picking up on themes, you know, as you were saying just a fortnight ago, you know, saw and saw that. Have you found any challenges or dilemmas that have occurred where it's been found that there are certain jobs that maybe they really can't be done, you know, in that particular way of operating? Because I know having worked with some other organisations on this very topic, you know, there's been a lot of discussion which I guess is the same principle against rules that you talked about, you know, a lot of challenge about is it about the job as opposed to the employees needs? And, and think the way that you've described the story is that you've found a way that connects with the culture, connects with the employees, and you probably they've kicked their own, you know, backsides, for want of a better word, to to feel that this is good for them and good for the organisation. Yeah. And there is that sort of dilemma that you've had. No.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah absolutely. But and I don't want to make it, um, um. An easy way out. But we never said that there can't be people who work in the office five days a week, right? Right, Right. We never said that. Um, if you are in a situation where you do a particular job. And you can only do that, you know, or the best way to do that is in the office. Please go ahead and do it right. So it's not that that you can't do it. We're just asking you to think about is it really necessary, Is it really necessary to get into your car or get on the bus or the train? Travel one hour to your to your office location, do the same type of work you could have been doing at home and then travel back again. Is it worthwhile that travel, including all the CO2 extra stuff and you know, yeah, to to do that and we're asking people to think about that. And yes, there are a few people within our organisation who work in our offices five days a week. Usually that's about, you know, the fact that they do some sort of stuff that you can only do in a server park in the office, you know, there. Yeah. Or maybe you've been working in, in finance as well. Yeah. On the dealing floor you know they work with, with maybe six screens with all kinds of data and they need infrastructure to do that. There's also rules in terms of being able to tap the phone and listen in on the, on the conversations and stuff like that that we have to adhere to. So these people will work from the office, right?
Dave Millner: But but so I guess that's that's then taking accountability for what they know they're responsible for and making a choice, because I'm sure there might be the few people that have made the choice where they they don't want to work at home for whatever reason. It may not be suitable or whatever. I don't know.
Jan Nieuweboer: But but but in terms of data, we are talking and and I'm looking at the Netherlands now, right? Yes. We have 27,000 people working in the Netherlands and we're talking about 500 to 600 people. Right. Who are in that situation either because of their work or they're in what we call desperate situations in terms of maybe a divorce or. They they just finished their studies. They still live in a student dorm. Stuff like that, you know. But it's their.
Dave Millner: Choice that they they've made, which partly.
Jan Nieuweboer: Their choice and partly due to circumstances, but we cater for that as well. It's we have an inclusive model. It's not that we're going to say, no, you can't do that. It's, you know. What is the best for. For your way of operating? Yeah.
Dave Millner: Okay, That's cool.
Jan Nieuweboer: I have a bit of a cough. No, no, it's fine.
Dave Millner: Don't worry about it. It's fine. Um, so as you, how long have you been involved on this journey? Because, you know, it's, it's, it sounds that it's probably a good two years or so that you've been exploring it. Investigating it. What what sort of, what sort of role has the data team had in supporting because obviously you're the futurist, the evangelist, as that's where you started from, as you said. Um, you know, what's their role been in that and, and has it made them think differently about the way in which they look at data?
Jan Nieuweboer: Well, nuts are our data chapter per se. We've grown over the last couple of years explosively. Um, because. The organisation really feels that there is a lot of data to investigate, to understand how we can improve the workings of the of the organisation. Right. So our, our total chapter now exists of I think, 35 people. Wow. Some of them are more on the reporting side. You know, the people who do like Workday and and stuff like that.
Dave Millner: Intelligence and.
Jan Nieuweboer: Business intelligence, stuff like that. We have a few consultants, a few people who are more on like me, on more on the innovative side of of things. So and what we're trying to do there is also work together with the with the data scientists and data consultants within our group. Not only to look at those innovations, but also try to measure if if you know, if something's coming out of there. Is this a way to go forward, yes or no? So sometimes that's more of a. Collaboration within the chapter itself. So we have like maybe like 15 people who on a day to day basis do data wrangling, um, data science, figuring out which all the models that we have to see, what the patterns are within the organisation and the things that we need to change. There's sometimes there's a lot of questions in terms of, for instance, diversity or pay gaps or stuff like that that we that we get from the outside world as well. Right. So there's legislators who ask us, How are you doing in that respect? And those are the things that we work on as well. Right. And additionally, we do a lot of things, for instance, in terms of hybrid work to just figure out what the pulse of the organisation is and what we're doing. Yeah, of course, engagement surveys. So that's what many organisations obviously do and we do as well.
Dave Millner: But of course it's interesting that you're now looking at it through another lens in some respect because you're looking to see how is this? Is it sustaining itself from where it was or is it improving? If so, why? Yeah, dropping, why is that happening, etcetera, etcetera. So I think that's where you you're looking at it because you've got this this buy in to the approach. It's now giving you an opportunity to really explore it, I guess from a data point of view.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. And also because. From the word go. We understood this was a change process. Yes. And within So if you look at regular change processes, there's a few patterns that always emerge. So one of the things that we said is that, okay, we we started working. We we really started working hybrid one year ago. Okay? But because before that period, we were doing remote because of COVID. Yes. Um, and getting used to that new hybrid way of working and figuring out exactly how you're going to do this is going to take some time. So when we did a status confirmation in June, July last year, we could. Already predicts to the Board of Management that we were partly in our way of doing the change. The change wasn't over yet, which meant that in terms of, for instance, questions about. How often are people going to the office? Which offices do do they frequent? Can we maybe close down a couple of offices? We said, Oh, wait. Hold your horses. We know we're still on that trajectory and our expectations are that you will probably have more people coming to the office the second half of this this year because people are starting to get to grips to a new reality. So, you know, it's not this and it and that actually panned out.
Jan Nieuweboer: So it was really interesting to see that we did a. Just a, um. We just took a so, so the, the background, the, um, I'm not sure about how to say that in English, but, but we just chiselled out like a, an expectation of how many people would be in the offices over the year. So last year we did that and we just sort of drew up. Okay, so what do we expect? Well, would probably be like this and then oh yeah, but that that point in time, many people will actually do their appraisals and stuff like that. So they will probably come into the office a little bit more. And then we started just, you know. Making a guesstimate of what what happened. And in November, I took that guesstimate. And and put them on top of the actuals of office visitors. And it was almost the same. It was almost the same. So and that that kind of insight and um, um, maybe working with models and, and making also our board of management understand what those models entail and why are there, why they are like they are really helped us to be in the conversation about the change and the change process that we were going through. Yeah, up until now. And we're still doing that. Yeah.
Dave Millner: No, and, and you're probably in many ways you're I would suggest that you're advocating the very best way of change, which is to use it is to change with data because it enables you to understand what's working, what isn't working. Yeah.
Jan Nieuweboer: Surprising you and, and rigorously, rigorously feeding that data back to the people who provided that data. Right. That's one think that's one of the key ingredients that that we learned. Um the only way people will provide us with information and data is because they are sure that when they give us the data within two weeks we will provide them with the responses and what we did with the data. Yes. And we were very clear on that. If we if we start losing that perspective, we have a big problem because we need the information from our people. Yeah. And and they're and they're happy to give it to us.
Dave Millner: Yeah. That transparency is so important. Isn't it? Really important? Yeah. Yeah. So. So as you as we're sitting here, you know, thinking about where you've been and what you've done, um, what's, what's been your favourite story? Oh, because you, you, you referred a little bit earlier to must come back and tell you this story and you know, what was, what would be the favourite story that surprised you? It may have nothing to do with data or whatever, but what's the one that sort of we're doing the right thing? This is really working. Is there some story that sort of reiterated that for you?
Jan Nieuweboer: Well.
Jan Nieuweboer: Well, I'm not sure if it's not a fun story, but it's. But I, I do feel that one of the one of the big things that happened over the last three years. Was that? Um. It is very easy as an as a management board to be influenced by just the loudest voice. Yep. And that loudest voice might be the exception to the rule. And I think one of the. One of the things that that that we've done really well is figuring out what are the what are the extremes within our organisation, what is the and what what is the bulk of the people actually doing. And, and I'm not saying that those extremes are invaluable. They're really valuable because they are at the, you know, they're the outliers within your, within your models. So you have to be sensitive about them and have to listen to them. But you don't always have to agree with them and make the decisions in their favour and using data, it really helped us to to make a difference between, you know, what is the what is the broad consensus within the organisation, how, you know, where are things really going well and where are the items that we really need to focus on? Because you know, some people are not well and what are we going to do with them? So it's it's also being. It's understanding the inclusivity of of voices within your organisation without being, you know, too much influenced by just the exceptions. Yeah. And I think that over the last couple of years, I think we. Our team has has done a really good job in making making that available to people, allowing people to voice their concern even if they were just lone people to do that, but still have a have a sound basis to to make our decisions upon. Right.
Dave Millner: And I think that must that must that must make you feel that quite re you know, quite proud of of where you've where you've been and, and where you've been a part of that. Yeah.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah, absolutely.
Dave Millner: It's changing people's lives in some respects. And that sounds a bit drastic, but it is. Absolutely. They're suddenly looking at work in a different way to maybe how they did it in the past. Yes.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah, absolutely. And and. And in addition to that, I think it's it's a really necessary step we have to take. If you look further down the road in terms of the future of work, because I think if you if you look more a little bit more from from a distance, you know, the complexity in the type of work we're doing is only going to increase the amount of people that that we can have working for us. We'd like to have as many people as we have now. That's not a problem. But, you know, if you look at the demographics of most Western countries, we're just not going to have them anymore. Right. And the people who work with us, they will be in a situation where the work within the bank will be complex. But they have to juggle many things in terms of like catering for elderly relatives, their kids, maybe doing other type of work that is not, you know, not remunerated remunerated. So so working for for your football club or what have you. Right. These are things that makes our make our society work as well. And if you if you look at that, we have to understand that the performance of many people within the organisation needs to be bumped up by maybe even 50% compared to now. Right. So there's a lot of things we still need to learn. We have to get better at understand technology in a better way to to to use that. And there's so many things that that we still need to improve. This is just another phase of opening up new possibilities. Yes.
Dave Millner: And building on the foundations that you've created.
Jan Nieuweboer: So we're entering a new curve right now. Things are still in liminal phase for for for a few things. Yes, but but I'm absolutely 100% sure that without this step, we cannot progress to to new levels of performance.
Dave Millner: I guess, you know, we've been talking about this is a very people centric initiative, you know, and quite rightly so. But where does the where does the business come in in terms of saying, am I getting additional X or additional Y as a result of this? I know we're getting happier, more connected, more empowered, more accountable employees. But have you managed to you know, have you managed to translate that into, you know, money? You know, I used to work for a bank for 20 odd years. So I know that, you know, money talks, as they say.
Jan Nieuweboer: Uh, um, we've. That that is a hard question to answer, to be honest. Yeah. Um, I think the what we can say is that it doesn't have a negative influence. Okay. We, we see that people feel more empowered. Um, our clients are very happy with, with the way we do our business. At the same time, there's a lot of pressure to cut down cost. Um, for instance, in terms of getting rid of some of our buildings. But that is of course in conflict also with the idea of being cooperative and being close by our clients. So that's, that's always a tricky question. Yeah, it's a balance thing there as well. But but interestingly enough, we are taking a stance in which we say, okay, it is for us.
Jan Nieuweboer: For instance.
Jan Nieuweboer: I know that some of our competitors are choosing a different route here. Okay. And the route our competitors are taking. Okay. There's there's a lot of possibilities to work in a other location that is not our location, but it's catered for. And you can sit there and go and work. So if you would like to work closer to your home, but in an office and not in your house, you can do that. We have like a subscription with XYZ. Yeah, We from a cooperative perspective, we choose a different way of doing that. We would say, okay, why don't we invite those people into our offices? Why don't we have start ups and other organisations use our offices that we have that we sit in as well and bring our clients closer to what we can do? We know there's a lot of, you know, start ups and and, and organisations, especially in the, you know, self-employed people who feel it difficult to work in their homes every day and they might want. So why don't we do that? So we're taking a different perspective there. Based on our on our roots, basically.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. So that that's one of the things that, that we're working on as well. And, and yeah, we're in that discussion, right, because we want to change those officers and then the business wants to, you know, so that that's where business and us meet. And we shouldn't forget. One of the big things that we said is that we would like to have a positive influence on our carbon footprint as well. Right. So what we did see is that by travelling a lot less to the offices, we actually bring down a lot of the carbon usage within the organisation. And by closing down offices it's the same. So of course if you look at the whole chain, those offices might be sold to somebody else who uses that. So yeah, you know, it's a complicated story, but if you, if you start looking at specifically hybrid working, we can see that we're actually saving a lot of CO2 within the organisation. Yeah. So that was another one that, that we did try to measure as much as we could. Right.
Dave Millner: Okay. So as you it's been great chatting to you and just hearing your journey. And I think the thing that strikes me is the the importance of the culture and the way in which you do things around your organisation, because I think it enables you to do certain things that maybe other organisations wouldn't have been brave enough to have done immediately, you know. But, but so I think that's something that, that, that I take away and I, and I quite like the fact that you say, look, you know, we've got a, we've got a platform and now we need to think about the next step and how you drive that. What what would be the sort of you started the conversation with your reflections, which was great and I love that. But what would you think would be the key learnings that you would be saying to anybody that's getting involved with this, either in the diagnostic phase and the research phase or the implementation? You know, what would be the key learnings that you would take away that would say, you know, if I had to do this again, these would be the top five things I would do or the top six things, whatever. What would you what would you be sort of saying?
Jan Nieuweboer: Uh, well, first of all, we we are absolutely sure that, um, compliance driven change for hybrid working is not working. Right. Right. So so we are very firm believers that a principle based approach is just as good or maybe even better, especially in the long run, because one of the things that we're working on right now and that we see coming out of this is agency. We're really seeing that agency is one of those those elements that we that we figure out maybe underlying everything we're doing right now and saying, okay, if you have leaders who are. Who can transfer agency to their team, make them autonomous, work in a good way, making sure they have the right people with the right skills and attitudes. We're working. We can work in. In. We can work miracles. Right. That that is just the way to go forward. And a compliance driven approach. It's it's it. I regard it as as a.
Jan Nieuweboer: Um.
Jan Nieuweboer: It introduces negative feedback within the organisation. Sometimes it's helpful, right, to make sure if you know you, you get things within a certain bandwidth. Um, but if you want to, if you want to change and if you feel that change is, is the game for the next couple of years, compliance is just not going to do the trick.
Dave Millner: And I sense that a word you haven't used, but I sense there's a lot of it that underpins what you've been doing is trust. Sense. Absolutely. That that's a word that seems to embrace a lot of the things that you've done. You know, trust us, will share the data with you. Trust will find out what you're thinking, will ask you questions and things so sense that.
Jan Nieuweboer: 95% again, 95% of the people we did our last survey with said that they felt trusted by their manager to do the right thing. So that's 95%. That's huge.
Dave Millner: Stunning. Yeah, that's stunning. Sorry I interrupted your your learning points, but.
Jan Nieuweboer: No, no, no. Think I mean, these are things as well, right? It's, you know, if.
Jan Nieuweboer: Uh, uh.
Jan Nieuweboer: Going back to, to Daniel Pink and others, you know, autonomy, purpose, competence. These are these are the elements that make up a, a good performing organisation. And, and I think one of the one of the keys is to make sure that you allow people within a change like this to come forward and show that they're competent and show they're autonomous because, you know, we tend to forget that many organisations like Banks are highly professional organisations. Well, it's it's about time we started, you know, thinking about our people as professionals as well. And, and they will have to become even more professional than they are now. So, you know, I'm, I'm humble in that respect and saying, okay, over the last three years we've seen enormous change and it was great to do that. But but at the same time, no, we still have a lot of journeys to go through. Right. And this is just a, you know, another stepping stone in getting that done. Yeah. So I'm already thinking about, you know.
Jan Nieuweboer: Going forward and.
Jan Nieuweboer: Going ahead again and and think we're in a in a in a nice situation and especially because we've, you know. Doing data rights. Empowering people with the data and showing what you did with the data and showing that you made some, you know, decisions or did something with that data and feeding that back to the group. It's again, it's organisational learning as well, right? Because people will trust you with the data. They will get something back from it and you move from there again. So, you know, thinking about continuously thinking about organisational learning loops like, like the corp type of learning loops within organisations, I think that's the, that's probably the best way to, to think about continual change and continual improvement within your organisation. And if you, if you can, if you can put data to that, you're in a really, really good spot.
Dave Millner: And guess as you, as you said, you've got other challenges that are going to be coming your way. You know, there's a lot of noise being made about, you know, who gets promoted in this sort of environment and, you know, is it the person that makes the biggest noise or the whatever. So guess that again, with that data perspective is going to give you a clearer evidence based approach to help make. We would like to think better informed decisions, which is, you know, what is at the heart of any analytical piece of work, I guess.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah, but don't don't want to.
Jan Nieuweboer: Uh.
Jan Nieuweboer: There's a little bombshell there because if you if you look at organisations and their the way they're developing as being very flat organisations, the old ideas of career ladders and promotions is something of the past. Absolutely. So that's one of the things that. Yeah, that's going to be an interesting one. How are you going to if, if, if the if the perspective of somebody who's 22 or 20, 23 coming from university starting to work at Rabobank and their perspective is that they're going to work for our organisation for more than 55 years.
Dave Millner: Yes.
Jan Nieuweboer: How how are you going to think about careers in that respect? Yeah, that's going.
Dave Millner: To be don't have any of the job shadowing or any of the you know, it's not going to happen in that. No.
Jan Nieuweboer: So we have to.
Jan Nieuweboer: Like like with with hybrid working, we have to figure out new ways of doing those kinds of things within the organisation as well. But that's, that's a completely new story that we can talk about next time.
Jan Nieuweboer: Maybe that's next.
Dave Millner: Year, that's next year. Chat All right. Who knows that that's going to be a very interesting how do we get people to learn and develop, you know, beyond the more traditional ways? And the hybrid just adds a different complexity, to use your your word that you've used a few times.
Jan Nieuweboer: So I've been working. I've been very fortunate to have been working with Lynda Gratton, um, and, and her team. And one of the things that she's very adamant about is also the idea of that of the three stage model, right? You go to school, you work and you, you're your pension age that that is going to flip and, and that's going to do a that's going to be a huge change for many organisations. Yes. Um, because we have to figure out ways in which people my age, I'm 51 now, we have to consider that I'm midway my career right now and if I want to change my career, I might have to take out maybe. A couple of months or maybe two years to really revamp my career into a new direction. Are we okay in doing that or do we have the facilities to do that? And are we going to invest in that as an organisation? Yes or no? I think many organisations will will be confronted with questions like that over the next couple of years.
Dave Millner: Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, look, yeah, it's been fascinating talking to you. I've loved it hearing your story. I've loved the, you know, the conversation about your culture, the thing the way in which it's shaped a lot of the way that the workforce has responded back to the organisation, let alone the way in which the organisation has approached the workforce. Um, you've also reinforced, you know, the, the in a very nice underplayed way, the importance of data that, you know, it's so important and yet it's not necessarily the be all and end all. We need to support it with other information. But you know think it's provided you with a great foundation to to take the project forward. So thank you so much for your time. I hope our listeners and viewers have got as much out of it as I have, and we'll look forward to maybe next year's conversation.
Jan Nieuweboer: Yeah. Well.
Dave Millner: Let's talk about let's put it out development challenges. That'll be brilliant. And yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So but thanks ever so much again for your time, Jan, and look forward to hearing more of the story as you go forward. Thanks very much. Thank you.