Exploring Reckitt’s future of work strategy

Marketing director shares why the consumer healthcare company is devising a new future of work approach and what marketers must to lead the way

With the Covid-19 crisis accelerating future ways of working while presenting unique leadership challenges to navigate, one organisation that’s been spending time and effort to build out its future of work approach is Reckitt.

The consumer healthcare company recently unveiled its new future of work strategy, devised off the back of research into how employees would prefer to work in this next normal and beyond. The strategy also sets out the vision for its headquarters in Sydney.

Employee research identified five themes. The first was the prioritisation of work/life balance, while the second was ownership over the role, career and ongoing learning. A third was the need to foster collaboration, while two other drivers are a sense of feeling nurtured and respected and playing a positive role in the wider community.

Using these insights, Reckitt has outlined four contemporary working practices: Ongoing hybrid work; simplified and richer technology experiences; people-centric workplaces; and integrated workspaces and technology. The strategy was created in partnership with consultancy, Tignum and Hinsta.

Reckitt health marketing director, Henry Turgoose, says the company has always emphasised output over presenteeism. “That said, it was deeply ingrained in the culture that people were in the office give or take five days per week,” he tells CMO.

Building a simple framework to explain how Reckitt approaches going back to the office is vital to finding a future way of working that’s constructive for employees as well as the company.

Turgoose says feedback showed people appreciated working from home but that it was highly individualised. What’s more, while many tasks can be done remotely, there are reasons for continuing physical connection in an office environment.

Four 4Cs are being used to guide Reckitt’s hybrid approach: Coach, collaborate, connect and create.

In getting this strategy rolled out, communication has been critical, Turgoose says, adding there was a lot of nervousness and questions around expectations of being back in the office.

“What we had to keep repeating was that you as an employee are certainly empowered and have the freedom to shape your working day as you see best,” Turgoose says. “We thought it was quite a simple message. But actually the questions we got back, across functions and the leadership team, showed people were asking for permission and what’s appropriate.

“The extent we needed to communicate that we all have the freedom to shape how we approach our working day was substantial.”  

Reckitt’s marketing function has also played a practical role by modelling a hybrid approach.

“We’ve been through the planning process for 2022, and that required us to pull in functions such as regulations, sales, trade marketing. Through the collaboration entailed in that process, marketing has been a driving force behind the return to the office and we’ve probably been quicker to find preferred ways of doing things on an individual level,” Turgoose says. 

Physically, the office has adapted to suit a hybrid model through hot desking and new technologies that seamlessly connect in-person and virtual teams.

For Turgoose, the ultimate role of marketing is spearheading moments of collaboration through an organisation. As Reckitt looks to find its future way of working, this role is even more critical.

“Driving cross-functional engagement and effort is so essential to a healthy company culture,” he says. “We have empowered people to shape how they want to work. But if we’re talking about coming back to the office to collaborate and connect, it’s often marketing’s role to initiate those moments of collaboration across the business more broadly.” 

As to his leadership approach, Turgoose’s focus is making sure the right level of communications exists. He’s initiated skip-level meetings with people across different functions, while other staff, such as the head of Dettol, have met with other brand teams to foster connection.

“You can’t do everything over Microsoft Teams or Google Meets,” Turgoose adds. “It takes us back to the framework and why it’s been useful to say there is a role for the office, using those 4Cs – and let’s live that.” 

This article originally appeared in CMO magazine Issue 1, 2021. To access your free copy of our latest magazine edition digitally, simply click here, register or sign into our CMO member system for free, and read away!

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