To continue reading please register or login to your OHW+ account.
Gerard Jacques, director of people at Eurostar, tells Adam McCulloch about the company's plans for hybrid working, with learning and the quality of line management at the hub of change.
The Covid pandemic has been particularly damaging for passenger transport firms, but while domestic organisations have seen customer numbers recover to some extent with the success of the vaccine and easing of lockdown restrictions, international companies reliant on business travellers and holidaymakers buying seats are still in the grip of the worst of Covid-19. Many are keeping staff on furlough, even as hospitality businesses return to some semblance of normality, and will now be paying a larger proportion of their salary, without knowing the date at which they can return to full services.
By January 2021, Eurostar – newly merged with French/Belgian rail provider Thalys – saw passenger numbers slump to less than 1% of pre-pandemic levels. Its parent company Eurostar International, majority-owned by French national railway operator SNCF, has been involved in talks with the UK and French government and banks over its financial sustainability.
The company employs about 1,400 people including 450 in its London, Paris and Brussels offices and 350 at its engineering depots. A further 600 work at stations and on board trains. Gerard Jacques, Eurostar’s director of people, has a complex task aligning the diverse needs of these employees with organisational culture and values as it faces an uncertain future but is happy to endorse hybrid working and to laud his colleagues' loyalty and commitment during the pandemic. Here he answers 10 questions on Eurostar's future plans.
Personnel Today: How did Eurostar come up with its post-pandemic working plans, did you take note of what other companies were doing?Gerard Jacques: Rather than monitoring other companies, we have based our plans on the response from our people. We ran a number of surveys over the last year to gather insight, which strongly showed that people were enjoying many benefits of remote working, but missed the opportunities for collaboration. Therefore, we have developed a new remote working policy, which allows office-based colleagues to split their time between office, other business locations and home. We believe this will have a significant impact on the wellbeing of colleagues and teams.
[caption id="attachment_270865" align="alignright"