Interview Claudia Schmidt – HR-advisor

Read the interview with HR advisor Claudia Schmidt about the process to hybrid working at Canon Medical Systems here.

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interview Claudia Schmidt

Engaging with HR on Hybrid Working

Hybrid working is the new standard for many. But many organizations are still struggling with the consequences and elaboration of this. Every company is different and everyone needs to find a workable situation for their own organization. But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn from each other. In this episode Claudia Schmitdt, HR advisor at Canon Medical Systems talks about her experiences.

Claudia has been working as an HR advisor at Canon Medical Systems for over 6 years. Here, together with two colleagues, she is responsible for all HR tasks except learning and development. In March 2020 they also received the message that they had to work at home for two weeks, not knowing that two weeks would become two years.

It started with 2 weeks of working from home

‘In March 2020, the government instituted the mandatory home working measure. We neatly packed up all our stuff and made sure we could work from home. It didn’t feel like a process yet that we as HR had to do much with. We had no idea that it was going to be for a long time and that – especially for us as a Japanese company – it would become the new normal.

At that time, the pressure was mainly on the IT department. They were responsible for making sure that the practical part ran as smoothly as possible: people had to be able to work properly at home. This meant that everyone had to be able to connect to the system at home and that we could communicate with each other via Microsoft Teams. Because we hadn’t done this before, the IT department had to set it up completely. They did a fantastic job.

New issues

Then we quickly found out that this would not be short-lived. That meant that as HR we also had to shift gears. During that time, my role also changed. Things that are normally taken for granted were suddenly no longer so obvious. I was asked many new questions, some of which I didn’t know the answer to myself. We also had to think about how to keep our employees involved. Many initiatives were devised to keep them connected.

We quickly set up a policy for Home Office materials. That gave employees the opportunity to purchase the right materials that were important for working from home. After all, not everyone had a good office chair, an extra monitor, etc.

During that time, my role also changed. Things that are normally taken for granted were suddenly not so obvious. I was asked many new questions.

Own responsibility

Meanwhile, almost two years have passed and you notice that you miss certain information. The conversations at the coffee machine have disappeared and people hardly eat lunch in the canteen anymore. These are normally the moments when, as an HR person, you pick up information that you don’t get to hear during one-to-one conversations. We are lucky to have an open corporate culture. Ultimately, the responsibility for communicating well when there are problems lies with the employee himself.  Fortunately, we notice that employees are able to indicate when they like or dislike something.

New Way of Working

We listened carefully to the employees. For example, we had them all fill out a survey to retrieve relevant information. Based on this information, among others, we developed a “New Way of Working” policy. This is a dynamic policy. By this we mean that we are always examining what works best in order to adjust when necessary. We find it extremely important to keep listening to the employees. After all, they know what works best. Various agreements have been made that are supported throughout the organization.

Training the managers

Part of the policy is to train the managers. They have to learn to manage their team remotely; that’s not just a skill someone naturally possesses. Supervising such processes keeps the operation running smoothly and keeps our employees engaged.

We listened carefully to the employees. Based on this information and others, we developed a ``New Way of Working`` policy.

New agreements on onboarding

Another process addressed in our policy is the induction of new employees. Normally it was a fixed process in which a new employee quickly got to know several colleagues, received a tour and in this way became acquainted with the entire organization. Unfortunately, that no longer happens as easily as it used to.

We already had a great onboarding program to which all new employees were invited twice a year. We will, of course, continue this program. To make onboarding as smooth as possible, we have made new arrangements. For example: the entire team, which the employee joins, has to come to the office for at least a month, so that a nice cooperation is created. New employees are also matched with a buddy who takes them in tow for the first two months.

Surprised by positive impact

What has surprised me recently is the positive impact that working from home has had. It is nice to hear from the employees that they are satisfied with how the process went and that they, also because of the changes, are really happy in their jobs. We contribute to this by always maintaining the ‘we’ feeling.

We have given our employees the freedom to plan their days so that they can get the most out of them. The only stipulation is that they can be reached by telephone on working days and are present at joint (team) meetings. This means that we have been working together successfully for over a year and a half on the basis of trust. This flexibility has been experienced as very pleasant by everyone. It has helped them to keep their work-life balance under control. It has even resulted in less absence! Also, the employees who actually wanted to work less, were able to keep working the same hours because of the elimination of the travel time.

Social value of office

We see that more and more employees come back to the office now. They miss the social contact with colleagues and find it nice to get back to work in a different environment. It’s nice to see people face-to-face again. You notice that the function of the office has changed. It is more of a meeting place. You are not immediately more productive, but the energy that the contact with colleagues gives you, does contribute to the productivity in the long term!

What has surprised me recently is the positive impact that working from home has brought us.


The entire transition to hybrid working has been a switch. Yet we see that it works. We are not going back to the office completely, but we are still looking for the best interpretation. We continue to organize initiatives to bring employees together. Everyone realizes how valuable fine colleagues are and what kind of energy they bring you. It is extremely important to continue to guarantee this mutual connection.

Knowing how others approach it

Also read our interview with Dory van Marwijk HR business partner at Remobis Refund Service and the interview with Lysanne Tuchscherer, HR manager at Interparking Netherlands.

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