Peter M. Fasolo, Johnson & Johnson

Peter Fasolo

The Future of Work

What are your views on the future of work, and what will the office of the future look like?

While no one can predict the future with absolute certainty, what is clear is that the world of work is changing just as fast as the world itself. At Johnson & Johnson, we have a clear mission to deliver the best of who we are to those we serve, and where, when and how we work is part of that.

With 156,000 employees in offices, the field, labs, and manufacturing plants around the world, our employees are extremely diverse in what energizes them, how they prefer to learn and get things done, and the level of flexibility that they want in their work and lives. Three years after transitioning more than two-thirds of our workforce to a hybrid work structure, we are taking what we’ve learned and re-imagining the workplace of the future by collaborating directly with our people leaders to define the strategies that will work best for their sites and teams.

While Johnson & Johnson has long championed policies that provide flexibility for our employees to balance personal and professional responsibilities, the pandemic pushed our thinking even further to meet the evolving needs of our employees. In 2021, we introduced our global hybrid working model, J&J Flex, which builds on an existing portfolio of Flexible Work Arrangements (remote work, compressed work week, job share, flex schedule changing when the workday begins or ends) to help meet the broad needs of our employees.

For those whose jobs require them to be on-site due to the nature of their role, we worked with site leaders to establish a framework of flexibility offerings that combines locally relevant practices with globally consistent actions. For example, our Supply Chain team was able to remotely onboard more than 30,000 on-site employees, who also remotely completed a portion of their total required training hours per year.

We recognize that the workplace of the future is only as good as the interactions we create and the systems and tools we use to enable it. At Johnson & Johnson, we’re investing in more community spaces to promote collaboration among colleagues, as well as providing more Teams rooms with upgraded technology, including for hybrid meetings. We also continue to introduce amenities that ensure the best possible workplace experience for our teams, including various food-service options and fitness- and well-being-related offerings, like sports facilities and walking trails.

In addition to these updates, and to underscore our commitment to employee learning and development, we also recently transformed one of our office spaces in Orlando into a physical center of excellence for immersive learning, where teams can gather in person for instructor-led courses in well-being and other skill areas, such as DEI and digital.

How can companies maintain culture and a collaborative environment in a remote work structure?

Within any company, products and strategies can be replicated, but people and culture are unique. Culture is built over time, driven by the company’s values, and cemented in how people work together and make decisions. Culture influences how employees feel when they “come to work” – wherever that may be – and we know that employees want to feel a sense of belonging and purpose.

At Johnson & Johnson, our culture of belonging is about uniting different backgrounds, beliefs, and experiences in an environment where everyone feels valued and is working together toward a shared purpose. In our case, that is to deliver on Our Credo commitments to those we serve. In many ways, we saw the best of our culture expressed as we navigated social and environmental crises and business transformations over the last several years. This is because, with every challenging decision or situation faced, we returned to Our Credo to guide our path forward.

We have a relationship-based culture that has always valued the energy, inspiration, mentoring, and human connection that comes from being together in person. Over the last three years, we have learned how to build relationships, express our culture and deliver our work through new approaches that capture this spirit, even in a hybrid work structure. We know that with all that has changed, we cannot go back to the way things were before, so we have re-imagined our working model in a way that empowers our employees to bring their best selves to their roles in and outside the workplace.

As we collectively face new talent and economic headwinds, companies need to consider what is right for them and their mission to ensure the fabric of their environment stays strong. Leaders need to set the tone, remind employees of their shared purpose, and embody the culture they want to see reflected back at them, whether they have returned to the office entirely or are operating in a hybrid or fully remote environment. For us, that means putting well-being first and encouraging our teams to be as present outside of work hours as they are during them.

As an HR leader, is it necessary for employees to be in the office to build employee engagement?

Employee engagement is built through continuous opportunities that allow employees to be present and feel connected, whether those opportunities take place in person or virtually. In any work structure, the road map to building and maintaining employee engagement isn’t linear.

I believe the best way to fully experience the benefits of flexibility is by embracing both sides of it: remote work and in-person interactions. Our global working model, J&J Flex, gives office-based employees the option to work at least three days on-site and up to two days remote per week.

Last year, we saw record-high engagement in our annual employee survey with participation from more than 92 percent of our employees. Additionally, our Global Activity Challenge engaged more than 33,000 participants across 73 countries, recording more than 7 billion steps throughout the 30-day challenge.

Both of these achievements are testaments to how providing ongoing opportunities for employees to feel connected to one another and to our company in a way that feels authentic to our culture can help maintain, or in some cases, increase levels of employee engagement. And, even when engagement results are high, it is important to remember that we are re-recruiting our talent every single day.

As we look toward the future, it is also important to listen to the feedback, experiences and evolving needs and preferences of employees to ensure we deliver the optimal systems and tools needed to stay engaged in a hybrid working environment.