People + Strategy Journal

Summer 2022

Innovating Through a Crisis

How Logitech adapted its culture to meet surging demand.

By Kirsty Russell, Logitech

​While the pandemic brought many industries—such as travel and tourism—to a virtual standstill, the broad shift to remote working created accelerated demand and relevance for our products. We faced the same crises as every other organization, including ensuring the health and safety of our people, but we found ourselves dealing with an unusual challenge: How to keep our culture of innovation humming? 

Because of the sharp increase in demand for our products across all our businesses, we doubled our traditional hiring rate. Almost half our people have joined Logitech since mid-2019. Many of them joined remotely and have spent the last two years largely working from home via Zoom. We had to focus our innovation muscles on our culture, as well, to create new paths for keeping teams engaged, innovating and productive while the world worked from home. 

That required new communication strategies that were a departure from how we operated before the pandemic. We traditionally have not had an email culture. We prefer to get out there to talk and listen. Bracken Darrell, our CEO, and most of the leadership team historically traveled between our sites in the U.S., Europe and Asia, holding regular, regional, all-company meetings, “ask anything” sessions, or simply walking the halls and shaking hands. We had established roadshows at the start of each fiscal year where leadership would meet with teams across the globe to not only discuss the year’s plan but also to gain their input on the priorities and what the culture needed to thrive. Screen Shot 2022-06-23 at 11314 PM.png

While we could no longer meet in person, we maintained our approach to prioritize communication throughout the pandemic. We continued to hold regular, all-company meetings, site and region huddles online, and we launched new sections on our Intranet to help promote a compassionate workplace as we all dealt with new stresses from the pandemic and working at home, and Bracken shared his personal thoughts every Monday via a recorded video message on a variety of topics, with a variety of guests, that underpinned our mission and values. He also established an anonymous online CEO comment box, and addressed inquiries in many of his weekly videos. While you cannot replicate visiting offices, no comment-box topic was off-limits, and it became a conduit for sharing candid comments and concerns. That in turn helped strengthen our culture of trust and transparency.

That transparency included acknowledging the fact that we don’t have all the answers and owning any missteps, with a commitment to learning from them. We ask new hires after their first 90 days to share their “newcomer’s advantage” on things that we could do better. This empowers everyone to speak up and speak out, and we act on many of the insights they share. Even as we have taken public stances on sustainability and diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I), we have been open about the fact that, as we try to drive change in the world, we might get things wrong, but we will learn and continue to take steps forward.

At Logitech, we make sure everybody understands that we see mistakes as opportunities to learn. For example, we have a number of “seeds” or early-stage innovation projects. Some make it to market, others we shut down after taking insights from them. But if we do shut them down, everybody on the team gets a bonus and moves to another part of the business. This removes the fear and uncertainty of trying something new and taking a chance. Over time, this establishes a foundation of trust, which reduces the stress of uncertainty and allows for open minds and communication.

At the same time that our teams were adjusting to working remotely, the company’s business was accelerating. It was a perfect storm of stress, and early on, it was clear that our people were having a hard time disconnecting from work while at home. We knew this instinctively and saw it in our bi-annual survey. To provide a break from the week-long, back-to-back video meetings, we initiated Meeting-free Fridays. We also launched LogiThanks Mondays, a company-wide day off once a month. Over time, we have evolved this to LogiThanks Weekends, where once a quarter we give everyone a Friday and the following Monday off, a paid break in addition to their standard PTO. We have continued this into 2022, as we emerge from the pandemic and continue to navigate the challenges of hybrid work. 

We have also added more support services for wellness, fitness and mental health for our people and their families. We have tried to emphasize that “it’s OK not to be OK” and that there is no stigma attached to needing to take a break to focus on yourself. But more than just providing these services, we also stressed that there was value in investing in yourself, taking the time to care for one’s health but also one’s passions. We provided time and resources to follow individual passions — whether it was volunteer time off, speak up and speak out days for activism, or support of employee resource groups. We believe these initiatives and others helped build personal resilience, which in turn helped strengthen our organizational resilience. 

Not everything worked well during the pandemic. We quickly saw the challenges with our onboarding, as we had historically relied too much on in-office processes. We learned a lot talking to our remote employees, who were experts in remote workarounds to the inequities based on an in-person operations mindset. For example, remote employees spent more time than we realized searching for “who” to contact on a number of HR or IT-related issues. We moved from relying on “local” points of contact within our offices to 24x7 online hubs and better documentation across support services. Also, despite the fact that we are a video collaboration company and thought we were ahead of the curve, we didn’t provide training on how to effectively run video meetings—especially when they are non-stop, back-to-back—or how to best manage remote teams. 

We continue to learn how to build greater resiliency that will minimize the impacts of inevitable disruptions and crises. But in the last two years, we certainly learned people are resilient.

We’ve yet to broadly solve the exhaustion of constantly being on meetings across multiple times zones that the pandemic accelerated. We have some great insights on creative storyboarding and asynchronous meetings from pockets across the organization. For example, our Design team recorded Zoom and Mural creative brainstorming sessions and shared them with team members who could no longer travel nor participate virtually due to time-zone constraints. In a follow-the-sun model, they in turn met during their day and provided feedback and ideas. All voices were heard and design iteration continued.

The pandemic reinforced our sense of purpose, as the world needed our products to better connect. There was a time that we could not donate enough. We could not give enough of our webcams, mice and keyboard products to hospitals and schools to help them provide medical treatment, to teach, and to learn. On top of what the company did, our people found products in their closets and on their desks to share with others. 

In the early days, this sense of purpose led our design and engineering teams to work together on pressing issues to support front-line workers, such as redesigning DIY face shields or working with others in their community on 3D printing respirator parts. This freedom to address new problems with totally new constraints led to team connection, new ways of collaborating across the company and ultimately product innovation. More than 60 new product introductions followed over a two-year period.

We continue to learn how to build greater resiliency that will minimize the impacts of inevitable disruptions and crises. But in the last two years, we certainly learned people are resilient. We were also reminded that establishing a strong culture of transparency, communication and trust is a crucial foundation during both good and challenging times.    

Kirsty Russell is Head of People and Culture at Logitech.