Star Interview

Jasmin Mantel,
Head of HR
at SAP UK


According to Jasmin Mantel, Head of HR at SAP UK, flexibility can boost inclusivity and accountability. In this myGrapevine Magazine exclusive, she reveals how SAP are rolling out 100% inclusivity for staff…

Words by Dan Cave

Flexibility seems to be the most popular HR buzzword of the moment, and with good reason. As English organisations react to a newly (and largely) restriction free world, many will be experimenting – and it is still an experiment – with what should come next. Those concerned with delivering for their employees, it is flexibility – in when and where work takes place – that they should be concerned with.

According to a recent Leadership IQ study, over 90% of workers want some remote work to continue after restrictions ease. Some big firms are going one step further, by saying they don’t really mind where work takes place at all, giving workers almost complete freedom. Revolut, Shopify, Siemens and Spotify are amongst those adopting this kind of policy.

And now, SAP is getting in on the act. The company recently announced a radical plan for complete flexibility, which it says allows employees to work from anywhere and create work schedules that work both for them and business – as well as redesigning offices for different kinds of work.

Based on employee feedback – with 94% of their workforce saying they plan to use this flexibility – SAP used the feedback to highlight to employees it is taking its responsibility of flexible work seriously and deliver on what employees need.

To find out more about the thinking behind the move, myGrapevine Magazine spoke exclusively with Jasmin Mantel, Head of HR at SAP UK to get the lowdown on the move.

CV of
Jasmin Mantel

Experience

Head of HR, UK, SAP

July 2020 – Present

Chief of Staff to CHRO, SAP

July 2018 – July 2020

Global Head of Performance Management,
Global Talent Experience, SAP

May 2016 – May 2018

Projects at SAP

Jan 2012 – May 2016

Education

University Mannheim, BSc

2008 – 2012

Q

What are the benefits of complete flexibility?


A

Flexibility is an increasingly important aspect of employment, and the past year has only served to reinforce this. The global shift to working from home has meant that employees, many for the first time, had the opportunity to choose how they balance their work and personal lives, and were empowered to manage their productivity and collaboration through flexible working.

For many, especially caregivers, flexible working provides the space and freedom to juggle responsibilities without the worry of, for example, a long commute or childcare. Many also benefitted from choosing their working hours around the needs of their families – delivering results, but during times that worked for them.

At SAP, we think that organisations should offer an inclusive environment where people can work from home, at the office, or completely remotely, so that everyone is empowered to run at their own personal best.

A flexible working model empowers the employee to choose to work where, how and when they are most productive – it fosters an environment of trust, inclusivity, of prioritising health, and one of individual accountability. Of course, to maximise the benefits of homeworking, it’s essential that a workforce is given the tools to be productive, creative and inspired while working from home, and that managers are provided with the training and skills to successfully manage teams remotely.

"This is a step towards future-proofing our working environment..."

Q

What is SAP hoping to drive with the ‘complete flexibility’ decision?


A

This is a step towards future-proofing our working environment. The one-size-fits-all approach just does not work anymore, especially when technology empowers us to work from anywhere and always be connected. We believe that, in addition to improving employee experience, it will also improve overall productivity within the company.

Q

How does flexibility benefit inclusivity?


A

Giving everyone the chance to choose a working situation that fits their personal circumstance in itself is inclusive, as it takes into consideration our lives outside of work and, in some cases, even our personalities. Some have long commutes, some employees are caregivers or some people may be introverts who thrive in a working from home environment. Also, it will encourage tapping an even more diverse talent pool that have not considered applying for SAP before.

Quickfire Questions


What did SAP employees want most?

The greatest preference was for a hybrid working model.

Do offices still have a role to play?

Although modern technologies empower us to collaborate remotely, a lot of our best ideas happen in shared spaces, where we’re able to seamlessly bounce off of one another.

How does SAP plan to use office space going forward?

Our new London location is already a pilot for this new-age workplace, with a state-of-the-art customer centre, plus our activity-based and agile workspace. The office, with its open layout and carefully chosen furniture, is designed to foster creativity, collaboration and bridge the gap between working from the office and from home.

Q

How did the decision to go completely flexible come about?


A

In the spirit of innovation, we are constantly looking for new ways that we can improve the experience for our customers and our employees, and this is what led to the conversation to put in place a flexible working model at SAP – even pre-pandemic.

SAP’s flexible working model is 100% trust based – our employees are empowered to shape their work preferences as their responsibilities and roles permit, while ensuring that we meet our promise to our customers.

This means that, as an employee, you have a choice of where you work (office, home or remote), when you work (hours that suit your lifestyle and needs), and how you work (workspaces that provide different work settings and flexibility). We recognise that variety and flexibility are essential to a healthy and productive working environment and through this flexible working model, we want to empower our employees to run at their personal best.

"Flexibility is an increasingly important aspect of employment..."

Q

What do HR teams need to consider when going flexible?


A

HR plays a critical role in fostering flexibility within an organisation – right from ensuring the right office space, creating memorable virtual experiences for onboarding, team events and learning offerings for managers on managing virtual teams. And all this with the backbone of a strong technical infrastructure.

In this sense, they need to be incredibly involved in the flexible working process, as they’re fundamentally the architects in the creation of the corresponding culture to support this. It’s important for these teams to recognise their responsibilities in this area and to listen to and act on feedback from their employees.