Uponor’s “Flexible First” Model Redefines Office Work

The company's redesigned office space will feature “neighborhoods,” or shared spaces for functional teams to collaborate while in the office.

As companies continue to explore how to safely return office staff in a post-pandemic environment, Uponor North America is offering its office employees the flexibility to work their own way. The Apple Valley, MN-based PEX pipe manufacturer is implementing Flexible First, an employee-centered model that lets staff choose the working pattern that works best for them.

post-pandemic office
Jen Hauschildt, VP of Human Resources, Uponor, cleans out her office as she prepares to work fully remote as part of the company’s Flexible First arrangement.

Flexible First offers three ways for its office staff to work, called “personas”:

  • Resident: employees working in an Uponor office at least four days a week.
  • Hybrid: employees who may come into the office up to three days per week.
  • Remote: employees that work from locations that aren’t near an Uponor office.

The company built its Flexible First model after more than 100 hours of employee-led focus groups, panel discussions, and the development of a culture team. Using this data, Uponor established a multi-phased plan for introducing the future of office work at the company.

“As we plan for our post-pandemic world, it is essential to evolve with the changing times that are defining what the future of work looks like,” said Jen Hauschildt, vice president, Human Resources, Uponor North America.

“For most people, going back to a traditional work environment doesn’t make sense,” she continued. “Employees want more flexibility. By working with our employees to define a new way of working that fits for them and for our business, we are showing our strong commitment to both the employee and customer experience.”

Since March of 2020, the majority of Uponor office-based employees have been working remote and have demonstrated a high level of productivity. The company has determined that Flexible First will be its “new” normal for work indefinitely.

“No matter what our working environment looks like, Uponor employees embrace our core values of Connect, Build and Inspire. These values define and motivate how we work with each other, our customers, and our communities,” added Bill Gray, president, Uponor North America.

Flexible First goes into effect in early this year. Uponor will introduce a redesigned office space in late 2022/early 2023 that will feature “neighborhoods,” or shared spaces for functional teams to collaborate while in the office. Hybrid employees, including leaders, will reserve a hoteling workspace through a scheduling system for the days they plan to work onsite, rather than having a dedicated workspace. The company has also developed an intranet site that provides resources to help guide employees with this new way of working.

“Implementing a Flexible First work approach is the right thing for us to do to deliver a great employee experience, retain and recruit key talent, and keep Uponor moving forward into the future,” added Hauschildt.

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