New trust-based approach allows 3Mers around the world to work their way
Oct 25, 2021

For many 3Mers around the world, working in an office has become the exception to the rule. While COVID-19 vaccines are readily available in many places and physical distancing protocols remain in place at 3M facilities, the future of work isn’t necessarily a full-time return to the office. 

That’s where Work Your Way comes in, 3M’s trust-based approach that lets employees create a schedule that helps them work when and where they can most effectively.  

“We are aiming to deliver both a superlative employee experience and business performance,” said Aman Gupta, vice president of Enterprise Workplace Strategy. “It is about getting your work done and delivering results. Not about where you sit and what time you logged on.” 

Work Your Way has been a collaborative effort by 3M leadership all over the world.  

“We put together a global team made up of people from different walks of life and different functions,” said Juan Pablo Velasquez, the HR Innovation & Culture director of 3M. “We really wanted to have a modern and fresh approach to work that evolved 3M's employee experience to be modern and appealing to new talent.”  

The Work Your Way team reached out to 3Mers at all levels around the world with this question: What does the future of work look like to you?  

Not surprisingly, they heard how Work Your Way is being brought to life in countless ways. We spoke to four 3Mers to hear their stories.  

Lucy: Hybrid 

Lucy Cai, customer operations team leader at 3M’s office in China, and her colleagues work in a hybrid model, coming into the office on an alternating schedule. Lucy chooses to work from the office about 60 percent of the time, scheduling all her meetings with local supervisors, team members and customers for those hours.  

“I get more benefit from face-to-face collaboration,” she explained.  

Lucy and her coworkers are close, so she enjoys being able to connect in person. On Mondays, Lucy’s whole team comes into the office to touch base on projects and plan ahead. “The team sometimes has lunch together — we’ve all missed each other so much,” she said. 

When Lucy has global meetings that can’t happen in person or she needs desk time, she works at home.  

“It provides me more flexible work time and a peaceful environment for better focus.” 

The hybrid schedule allows her to spend more time with family, too.  

“As a working mother and single child to my parents, working from home allowed me to accompany my daughter to her high school entrance exam and help my parents in an emergency,” she said. 

Terry: Hybrid 

For other 3Mers, a hybrid model is necessary for product development or project management.  

Terry Collier, vice president of Research & Development in Austin, Texas, goes into the lab about once a week to oversee projects that his team can’t complete from home.  

“It’s incredible what 3M has set up [for physical distancing measures],” Terry said. “If you need a disposable respirator, they are available. There is hand sanitizer in lots of locations that serve as a great reminder to sanitize often. We have maps to show you how many people can be in a room. It makes it really easy for you to go into the lab and work safely.” 

Like many other 3Mers, Terry isn’t just looking for flexibility in where he works, he’s looking for flexibility in when he works.  

“I can have meetings early, and I can have meetings late,” Terry said. “[Work Your Way] lets you take a little bit longer for lunch if you’ve started at six o'clock in the morning or run some errands throughout the day. I’ve really appreciated that structure.” 

Stephanie: Distant-remote 

Remote work can look different for everyone depending on their situation, but it offers the same level of flexibility for all. Stephanie Seidler, a project engineer based out of a 3M site in Alabama, has worked remotely from Austin, Texas since September 2020. With the introduction of Work Your Way, she plans to take advantage of the distant remote option within the U.S. to support both her and her husband’s careers.  

“I’m a military spouse, and we recently moved from Singapore to Austin where my husband is now stationed,” she said. “Work Your Way didn’t exist when I started at 3M in 2016, but I’m really excited that other 3M military spouses and family members will be able to move with their service members.” 

While Work Your Way does not cover moving to another country, since moving to the U.S., the option for distant-remote work gives Stephanie and her husband the ability to grow their careers congruently.  

“Being able to work remotely gives me reassurance that I can still have a very successful career without limiting my husband’s career,” she said. 

Juan Pablo: Hybrid 

Working remotely allows you to spend more time with the people who matter most — which is especially important for 3Mers who are new parents.  

Since he began working from home in Colombia, Juan Pablo has been able to spend more time with his daughter.  

“When the pandemic started, my daughter was only one year old,” Juan Pablo said. “[Working remotely] allowed me to share a lot of time with her that otherwise I would have been in the office.” 

Even though most of Juan Pablo’s work can be completed remotely, he prefers a hybrid model because it allows him to maintain connections with other colleagues.  

“I work in HR, and I’m very much people-oriented,” Juan Pablo said. “I like spending time with others, going out to lunch, going out to have a drink after work. I’ve really missed that kind of interaction.”  

Advice for determining what’s best for you 

If you haven’t determined the way you work best, Aman has one piece of crucial advice: Ask yourself, are you delivering business outcomes and taking care of your well-being?

“Pick the model that helps you do that as well as you can,” he said. “If you find you’re not able to deliver with a certain schedule, work with your supervisor to tweak or change your model. Every few months, evaluate your chosen model and see if it’s still working for you.”

Work Your Way is an example of how 3M is continuing to put the needs of its employees first and fostering an agile, inclusive and collaborative culture. It is initiatives like this that helped 3M earn the No. 6 spot on Great Places to Work’s list of the World’s Best Workplaces.  

“Creating a workplace that makes people feel valued, creatively challenged and appreciated is a mission we strive to achieve every day, and what I think makes 3M such a great company,” said Zoe Dickson, executive vice president and chief Human Resources officer at 3M, in a recent LinkedIn post. 

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