Spending the last few days before returning to work after my vacation reflecting on the “Future of Work” term which in my opinion starts to deflate a little as I see two discussions taking place in one. The first being what the future relationship between organizations, leaders and people will look like. Much debated and discussed among others by my good colleague Otti Vogt. The second, is on the return to work following lockdowns and working from home during COVID-19.
I’d like to use this post on the latter and it was sparked by a post on LinkedIn by one of the many colleagues at the LEGO Group who has been working from home for 18-months and now for the first time ventured back into the office. He spoke of the expectations and concerns about going to the office that he had before deciding and just as he walked out of his car. He, also spoke of the wonderful joy of seeing and speaking with real-life 3D people again.
No one is the same, no company, no individual, and no situation. I haven’t felt the same anxiety about leaving my home “dungeon” that, on and off, I’ve shared with my three kids during their time of home-schooling and going to the office. Hence, I would like to share some of the insights and decisions we are making at the LEGO Group to tackle working post-covid which contributed to me feeling safe, included and taken care off.
Our People Promise says “We care deeply for our people who are part of making LEGO® play experiences possible and are committed to upholding human rights and ensuring safe, healthy and respectful workplaces for our employees. We strive to champion responsible business principles across the company.” This means that we seek a Safe & Inclusive Workplace for people who create LEGO® play experiences meaning that all country guidelines and safety regulations takes precedence over company decisions. That said, I do believe our global and local site and emergency teams have done a tremendous job of navigating the changing situation, changing recommendations, and always stayed well within the limits laid out and where no limits have been stipulated by local authorities, we’ve taken a step back in precaution.
Realizing that the situation post-COVID will not “just” revert to the old normal we’ve discussed and laid out a new direction dubbed “The Best of Both Office and Home”. Based on the insights from our steep learning curve the past 18 months the new direction has come to life, it will apply to all salaried colleagues who have roles that allow working offsite.
A lot of data gathering and thinking around the future working model has taken place ending up with the global direction for getting “the Best of Both” – a hybrid working model that gives us the space to plan when we need to collaborate and meet colleagues at the office and when we need focus time at home. The global direction is a ‘rule of thumb’ of 3 days in the office and the option of 2 days at home per week on average. Team leaders will make the decision together with their teams about what makes most sense in their specific context. We are also looking at how to design more collaboration spaces since that is what we expect offices will be used for to a greater degree in the future.
Our research has shown that the magic is really in the mix with majority of our colleagues telling us that a hybrid work model is their ideal work mode: 83% of employees pointed at a hybrid between working from home and the office to help them be their best working self. Further, when we asked our employees to reflect on their “Best Working Self” and the various tasks and contexts at hand they answered that “Individual Focus Time”, “Phone & Team Meetings” and “Individually Generating Ideas” were best suited in a home environment while “Collaboration” and “Social Interaction” were best at the office. This may not come as a surprise, and we used the response from our people in designing the direction.
Best of Both is just what the name implies – a way of working that utilizes the best of working from the office and from your home. With Best of Both, we will be able to unlock our best working selves while also getting more flexibility. Our offices will continue to play the primary role to maintain our strong company culture and play promise by facilitating social interaction, collaboration, creativity, and group learning.
Why, do we emphasize the office so much you may ask. The LEGO Group’s strong culture is built on strong interpersonal relations, which is something we believe deeply in continuing with the global direction of the office playing a critical role moving forward. We’ll continue to build on that by getting “the Best of Both” and ensuring we have a workplace where we create the space for all of us to do our best work together while nurturing our unique culture. We are exploring new grounds. Our colleagues’ safety is, as always, our highest priority. The roll-out of Best of Both will be driven by our local leadership teams, ensuring alignment to local government rules for when we start to open our offices again. Even though we have practiced our working from home skills, working in a hybrid is new territory and not an overnight change process, we continue to collect insights and evaluate as we move forward and will adjust to what works best for our people and the business.
About the author
Thomas is an international business, project and change management expert, currently employed with The LEGO Group as HR Process Innovation Director. He has previously held positions at Vestas Wind Systems, Valtech, Grundfos, Kunde & Co and IBM.