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Global Legal Leader Insight Series - Catelijne Engering

Tobias Herweijer Career Advice, Tobias Herweijer

Taylor Root reached out to its global network to exploring the initial challenges faced by businesses and impact on legal functions during the Covid-19 global pandemic.


  Catelijne Engering, Legal Director at CH Robinson

Apart from the financial impact what are the top two challenges your business has faced during this period?

There is no doubt that the impact of COVID-19 has been felt by all businesses around the world. Our leaders have also navigated a spectrum of interrelated issues but as a company our priority has always been to keep our employees and customers safe and to vigorously adjust to the new market conditions and global restrictions.

We are proud to say that our digitally advanced operational systems allowed us to do both successfully in a complete remote working environment. Crises, like this, reveal the true strengths of businesses and their people, and once again, we have proved from the very beginning to be a strong, resilient team.

What has been the biggest impact on your legal team as a function and how have you dealt with this?

Not being able to physically access some files and authorised signatories in the office was a challenge in the beginning. However, this was a great opportunity for us to see where we needed to speed up, even further, the digitalisation of certain work processes within the legal team. For example, we have now implemented a digital document signing solution in order to enable authorised signatories to sign documents remotely and not having to be present in the office. This hasn´t only helped us to effectively cope with the current situation but has also prepared us for the future.

How well has your business adapted to working remotely?

There is no instruction manual for how to handle times like these, or the times ahead, and we had to switch very quickly from working in an office environment to successfully equipping all our employees to work remotely. This was a huge project for our IT department and its people, and I must admit they have done an amazing job to make this happen with such great success. More than 90% of our workforce are working remotely since mid-March with no major interruptions. Some of our employees, such as those working in shared service centres, continued to work onsite to handle certain processes, always satisfying the safety requirements as issued by governmental authorities. It is important to be able to set priorities, continue to monitor the current situation, re-assess if necessary, and base any decisions on those priorities set.

Our primary focus continues to be the health and safety of our employees, our best ability to serve our customers and support our carries, and the maintenance of our financial stability to minimize any impact on employment during this crisis. So far, we have done an incredible job and mastered the crisis exceptionally well. Our business performance is strong, and our company resilient.

What do you miss about being in the office?

I really miss the connection and face to face contact with my colleagues. It makes such a difference to walk around in the office, get in touch with everybody, and notice the energy of our people. While the transition to a fully online working mode has many advantages, sometimes the endless online meetings and phone calls can be somehow tiring to me, whereas the face to face interactions energises me more.