3M has innovation and technology in its DNA
3M has innovation and technology inscribed in its DNA, which translates into products, services provided, the appearance and functionality of the Wrocław office, as well as the quality of work and employee development. Focusing on 3M Global Service Center Poland, please tell us about your team. What are the company's expectations towards employees? On the other hand, how do you support them and how do you care for their development?
Vangelis Savvas, Director, 3M Global Service Center Poland: Innovation can only be born in a team where everyone can express their opinion and where every idea is appreciated. In order to work at 3M GSC Poland, you do not need to be a scientist, engineer or IT developer – we are primarily looking for proactive people who are not afraid to take their own initiative. Our organizational culture is based on diversity, inclusion and equality. We strongly focus on diversity – because the diversity of knowledge, points of view and experience is necessary to create innovation. This way we create an environment in which every employee feels safe, respected and appreciated, regardless of gender, religion, skin color or sexual orientation. As we expect the same as an employer – already at the recruitment stage, we openly talk about our culture, and the candidate can decide for himself whether he will find himself in our company. Acceptance of our mission and our values, compliance with quality standards – included in the Quality Management System certified ISO 9001: 2015 – I ethics, as well as openness, friendship, cooperation and an excellent approach to our customers - all these distinguish our employees.
For our part, each employee can count not only on support and individual development plans, an extensive training program or the possibility of implementing their own projects in accordance with the Lean Six Sigma and Agile methodology, but also on a wide benefit package. These are not just medical or sports packages for the whole family. We co-finance children's holidays, finance packages for Santa Claus, and even provide employees with interest-free loans for the purchase or renovation of an apartment. We support families over the school vacation with a special program – 3M Summer Care, which includes day camps organized during summer and winter holidays for our employees' children. They are held close to the office – so that parents can leave their children under their care and pick them up at convenient times. Our other initiatives are the Employee Assistance Program, which supports employees in difficult life situations, and FlexAbility – a program that ensures flexibility of working hours.
The Wrocław office of 3M GSC Poland is recognized as one of the most innovative offices in Poland ...
When creating the space for our employees, we wanted it to be modern, friendly, safe and ergonomic – one in which 3Mers would be able to perform their work effectively, and at the same time have a good time during breaks from duties. It was also important for us to function in an ecological space, so we try to involve our employees in pro-ecological activities like Spring Days, the eco-month during the summer or the recycling gamification. We do not have bottled water in our office – we use water with a 3M filter. We also use ecological paper. In addition, we provide our employees with many amenities for cyclists. The young generation likes to commute to work by bike and this is a tangible support on our part. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg of what we do to support ecology – we are always looking for more ideas.
What's more, our goal was to arrange an office that would improve communication between employees. That is why we have introduced various types of solutions, thanks to which employees can easily and quickly share their opinion or send feedback to their superiors - one of them were special touch Pulsetip panels that we used in the past. . Nowadays employees can find the most important messages on special boards – Tier Boards. These are technologies that significantly improve our internal communication in the organization.
As we continue to grow, eventually we require more space. In addition, the leases of the first building were expiring. These created the need to choose a new location and take decisions about the future of workplace during the pandemic in 2020. Despite the uncertainties, next year, we will change the headquarters, moving to a larger and even more modern building. We are currently working on its design and arrangement – it will be an innovative and comfortable space, located on 3 floors of the ecological MidPoint 71 office building. I can tell you that in addition to providing employees with comfortable conditions for hybrid work, there will be plenty of space for recreation and relaxation on site.
You have been the Director of 3M GSC Poland since February 2020. The company has passed through three waves of the COVID-19 pandemic under your wing. How does 3M GSC Poland, of course with the help of innovation and science, respond to the changes taking place as a result of the pandemic?
Let me use an ancient Greek proverb. It reads: from everything that is bad something good also comes. Sometimes the opposite is also true, and in this case, especially with regard to technological progress, we need to be aware of and find potential negative aspects in order to be able to mitigate them. For example, there is a debate around digitization as to how we can reconcile the higher energy demands associated with this technology with efforts to create a low carbon system. High Internet speed requires optical fibers, and optical fibers require complex manufacturing processes. However, whatever the negatives we need to be aware of, there are many positives. For example, thanks to digitization, we are able to move very quickly to a work-from-home system during a critical situation such as the present one. This has certainly reduced the amount of commuting everyone had to do and thus also cut carbon dioxide emissions. The same also applies to everyday life, such as shopping. Coming back to the business environment, I will also mention the lower consumption of paper and trees needed for its production. So there are many benefits, but we need to be aware of any potential negatives in order to get around them.
What have you learned from the pandemic as a leader and person managing a team of over 1000 people?
First of all, that nothing can replace direct interpersonal relationships, and this difficult time only emphasized how important they are. For although we have coped well with the transition to the remote work model, the long-term loss of daily contacts made many people feel alienated. And it is difficult to manage such emotions at a distance. Moreover, we were all forced to learn to use technological solutions that we did not know before, did not like or were simply not interested in. Although, as a consequence, it brought unexpected results – just 2 years ago, less than 30% of employees appreciated tools such as Microsoft Teams, and today this result is 95%!
Undoubtedly, during the pandemic, the geographical boundaries of cooperation practically ceased to exist - today the same projects, training and solving every single problem are carried out with a colleague from the desk next to and with a colleague from Costa Rica, France or the United States. It used to be unimaginable.
For sure, I am extremely grateful that in this difficult time, which was completely unpredictable, I was able to work for a company that made all employees feel safe, and safety was and still is the priority We felt proud that we as 3M were part of the solutions in protecting the wider population with our products and we feel ready to tackle the challenges of the future. We are facing the challenges of the new post Covid reality, and one of the greatest may be just building lasting relationships with the employee – his sense of identification with the company, loyalty. Because today, no matter where in the world you work from, how can you convince someone that they should work with us? The global implementation of Work Your Way in 3M in the following months will be incorporating our answers to these challenges.
Can you tell us what are 3M GSC Poland’s plans for the next 5 years?
As I mentioned, the pandemic, on top of challenges created opportunities. We all realized we can do more that we were expecting. That helped us keep growing. Especially in more cognitive and higher value adding activities like digitization, automations and keep driving process simplifications. In addition, we are expanding in a wide array of customer support functions. These will be our key areas of growth for the next 5 years. In order to succeed, attracting, retaining and developing our talent will be a critical factor and that comes on top of everything else!
Finally, I have a personal question. You are a Greek who has been living in Wrocław for several years. Please tell us about your favorite places in the capital of Lower Silesia.
My family and I really love our time in Wroclaw! It will be very difficult to distinguish a favorite place. I would say the general Rynek area, as we love taking a stroll or a dinner. I like to absorb the energy of the vibrant city center. Is something that a big city like Athens has wide spread in many locations and usually far more noisy place but here in Wroclaw is in Rynek where the heart of the city bits!