The future of work: Why many employees at Lockheed Martin UK in Havant only do four days a week

Like so many people these days, Emlyn Taylor has got accustomed to working from home.

Promoted by Lockheed Martin UK
Friday, 3rd December 2021, 12:00 am
Emlyn Taylor, managing director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Rotary and Mission Systems division based at Havant
Emlyn Taylor, managing director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Rotary and Mission Systems division based at Havant

But a few weeks ago the managing director of Lockheed Martin UK’s Rotary and Mission Systems division went into the offices at Havant.

He recalls: ‘It’s an 11-mile journey and as I sat in traffic on the M27, I glanced at my laptop bag on the passenger seat.

‘The irony was not lost on me. I was stationary, burning fossil fuel when I could have been using my time more wisely working from home.’

Marie Wallis, head of HR for Lockheed Martin UK Rotary and Mission Systems

Emlyn adds: ‘Before Covid I would have done that journey every day.

‘Today the thought pattern has changed. It was really bad for the planet that 600 people every day got up, had their shower and their breakfast and then got in their cars and drove to Havant, sat at their screens and then drove home again.

‘Now that more people are working from home or only coming in on certain days, it means that I can spend less money on office space and heating or cooling it.

‘We have a smaller but a better working environment and where we can save costs in one area of the business we can invest in creating a collaborative space.

Russell Cole, ISTAR Risk & Opportunity Manager for Lockheed Martin UK Rotary and Mission Systems

‘We will never say to people that you must come back to the office - unless there is a mission imperative.

‘Every decision we make is done via survey. These decisions aren’t made in the boardroom.

‘On the topic of hybrid working we canvassed the team and urged them to discuss it with their managers, who came back to share the data with us.

‘It allowed us to understand the needs of our people, who are the heartbeat of our business.

Emily Bibby, Integration & Test Engineer for Lockheed Martin UK Rotary and Mission Systems

‘I hope it will become the new normal, not just in the difficult times we’ve been facing because of Covid but in the future too.’

Before the pandemic, Lockheed Martin already had an initiative called LM Forward, which was looking at the way people work.

Meanwhile since 2016 it had been offering a 9/75 working pattern, where people did a four-day week every other week and made up the 75-hour total on other days.

Emlyn explains: ‘It is all part of a growth mindset. Is what we did yesterday applicable to tomorrow?

Langstone Technology Park, where Lockheed Martin UK's Rotary and Mission Systems division is based

‘But there’s no doubt Covid has been a catalyst for change.’

In April Lockheed Martin again led the way by introducing the optional four-day week every week, with no work on Fridays.

Emlyn says: ‘It’s not just a four-day week but a four-day flex. After discussion with your direct manager, you can do your hours at any time in those four days.

‘If you need to go and collect the children from school at 3pm each day, then you can.

‘Or you might want to work early in the morning and then later in the evening - that’s also fine.

‘Although a lot of our people now work from home, we have also made sure that anybody who still wants a desk at work can have one - and if they want to carry on working five days a week not four, then they can.

‘Flexibility sounds great, but maybe it’s not for you.

‘It is all aimed at work-life balance and getting the best out of everybody. I hope it helps people’s wellbeing.’He adds: ‘What a strange thing when you think about it. For many years people like me were telling others to work core office hours.

‘Surely a much better way of doing it is to let direct managers have conversations with our people, be it about hours or location, to allow them to be the best versions of themselves.

‘For instance software engineers used to come into the office, put on their headphones, do their coding and then go home.

‘Now they do it from wherever is the best place for them.

‘For some people, having time to themselves allows them to focus and concentrate on a task.

‘But there are times when collaboration is needed.That’s why we offer full flexibility.’

Emlyn is proud to work for a company that thinks in such an innovative way.

‘Our best asset is our people and we want to attract and retain the very best. Lockheed Martin makes sure its salaries are competitive, but it’s about the whole package. We’re employing people’s grey matter.’

He adds: ‘A lot of people outside the business have said to me: ‘‘How can you trust your team to carry on working at home?’’

‘Well I think that any company that doesn’t trust its people has a big problem. We implicitly trust our team - they are helping to solve some of the nation’s biggest challenges.’

To find out more about Lockheed Martin UK, go to https://www.lockheedmartin.co.uk

‘I have to say I can’t imagine working on a Friday again’

Marie Wallis, HR manager for Lockheed Martin UK, Rotary and Mission Systems

Since 2016 we had been operating a nine-day fortnight, so people would work five days a week and then four days every other week.

That was our pattern, 9/75 - 75 hours in nine days. But this year Lockheed Martin as a global corporation started the four-day week every week.

Our companies in the US moved to it at the beginning of 2021, while we changed in April. It came about as a result of an employee survey and there was a lot of prep work behind the scenes from a HR perspective.

It’s not compulsory, but means that people have the choice of working 37.5 hours from Monday to Thursday and then having Friday off.

We have also made it very flexible so that people can work their hours when it suits them. If they want to work an extra couple of hours one day, or work at the weekend, it’s up to them.

What we’ve found is that it fits in very well with other aspects of their lives, such as caring for children.

The majority of people have transitioned to a four-day week - I think it’s 75-80 per cent. As someone who has done it, I have to say that I now can’t imagine working on a Friday again.

Having that time off means I can go shopping when it’s not busy or do some chores, which then leaves the weekend free. In the summer it’s great being able to head down to the coast.

I think the four-day week is fantastic. I really sing its praises.

After the pandemic, companies have had to look at the future of work.

I’ve seen a lot of organisations looking at flexible working, where someone works three days at home and two days in the office, but not consider a four-day week.

I think Lockheed Martin has been very forward-thinking. Moving to the 9/75 model five years ago was innovative and the four-day week has built on that.

I actually think people work harder from home because they are more focused.

But people do need to go into the office sometimes for collaboration, for meetings and for brainstorming ideas.It’s important to come together from time to time.

We are human beings, not machines and we mustn’t lose our connections.

Yes, we have good IT systems and communication tools, but coming together does help with working relationships.

It’s just that I don’t see people sitting at a desk five days a week in the future.

So that’s why we’ve opened up our site to hybrid working and introduced a flexible process where people can work from home but also come into the office when they need to.

As an employer you have to listen to what your employees want and need and the majority want the ability to do either.

Our approach is that if working from home suits you, then carry on. But others prefer to be on site and that’s fine too. And if you want to do a bit of both, then go ahead.

Meanwhile there are those who can’t work from home because they need to be on site every day as a result of their roles.

I think other employers are going to have to embrace this and they will end up following our lead. I just can’t see that people will want to go back to the Monday-Friday sat behind a desk in an office.

The pandemic has been a period of time that has caused people to reflect on their lives and what they regard as important to them.

‘I have the flexibility to make when I work suit me’

Emily Bibby, Integration & Test Engineer for Lockheed Martin UK Rotary and Mission Systems

Coming into my first full-time job as an intern was intimidating, as I was unsure whether I’d be able to continue with hobbies I’d taken up and integrated into my daily routine whilst at university.

But working for Lockheed Martin means I get to have flexibility in my work schedule and make when I work suitable for me.

This means that, as a keen runner, I am able to avoid running in the dark by taking longer lunch breaks.

Additionally, I am able to finish early on a Thursday if I work a few extra hours another day, allowing me to attend weekly training sessions as an Officer Cadet of the University Royal Navy Unit Solent.

In a regular 9-5 work schedule, it would be impossible to get home from the office and get ready in time to attend the training session.

‘Moving to a four-day week has given me the freedom to simply be me’

Russell Cole, ISTAR Risk & Opportunity Manager for Lockheed Martin UK Rotary and Mission Systems

After 15 years in the armed forces as an Operations Officer for the RAF, it was time to venture out of my comfort zone and find a new and challenging career that would test my ability for change and a company that would help me reach my potential.

Working in the defence sector can often be quite challenging - late night deadlines, calls with the customer to alleviate issues on programmes.

But what makes the difference is knowing that you‘re supporting those on the front line.

Being an ex-serviceman, it feels great to give something back to the next generation and progress programmes that I was on the end of a few years ago.

What sets Lockheed Martin apart is not only the number of veterans we employ, but how the company aligns itself to customers, focusing on the individual.

That’s the same for its employees. We used to work on a 75-hour, two-week pattern, where every other Friday the company would allow staff to take time out to rest and support their own lives outside of work.

This was a huge attraction for me and was one of the main reasons why I decided to join the company.

With a busy life and two small children, it allowed me to simply spend more time with the family making memories and not worrying about the daily chaos of washing, ironing and shopping.

We all know that life just gets in the way sometimes, but this gave me the flexibility to focus during the normal week, clear the diary of the ’blue jobs’ on a Friday and spend time with family and friends at the weekend.

How could it get any better, I hear you ask. Well, Lockheed Martin then introduced the four-day flex approach. As a result, I now only work four days every week to support the projects I’m responsible for.

So how has this decision impacted my lifestyle? In a nutshell, it has given me freedom to simply be me!

Being in the forces always teaches you to make the most of the time you have and I’m happy to say that Lockheed Martin has gone over and above.

Nearly two years into my role as Senior Risk Manager and I couldn’t wish for a better company to work for.

I’ve got purpose, motivation and a sense of belonging. Plus I spend lots of my spare time cycling (call it my mental health check) and raising awareness for the forces charity sector.

I’ve completed a 24-hour spinathon, raised funds for the Royal British Legion and cycled from London to Paris.

I’ve also set up a small home-based workshop (RustysBikeShop) to help people in the local community by fixing bikes at a reduced price.

What else has Lockheed Martin done for me? It has simply given me the time to do it all!

Time off to train, funding to support kit whilst also pushing my professional development to the next level and paying for my studies to attain an International CERT in Risk Management through the Institute of Risk Management - and all in the space of two years.

Thank you Lockheed Martin, I only wish I’d found you sooner!

As part of a media partnership, this year The News has been featuring a series of articles about Lockheed Martin UK and the people who work there.