Alyce is 24. With a smoothie and her laptop, the Australian is sitting in the employee café answering emails. A few months ago, she became a permanent member of the adidas family. As Social Media Community Manager for adidas NEO, she is constantly in touch with fans of the young brand. Both Alyce and adidas NEO represent the generation of our digital age, the up-and-coming members of today’s world of work. So what inspires a young Australian to leave the sunny Queensland coast behind her and to work for adidas at the other end of the world?
After studying at the University of the Sunshine Coast, Alyce wanted to gain international experience, and she began her career with an internship at the adidas Group’s headquarters. It soon became clear to her that this should not just be a brief interlude: “I want to work here: it’s so cool!” This is reason enough to find out which factors make an employer so attractive and ‘cool’ for Generation Y.
Coolness factor 1: personal development and training
Alyce is open and keen to learn and, if she thinks about it, she is really learning everywhere and all the time. Many things are new to her, especially at first, and she absorbs new impressions and experiences like a sponge – consciously and unconsciously, formally and informally, in her leisure time, at work, and through new cultures, different languages and a new environment. This is what comes from working for an international organisation. Alyce has just joined the ‘Women’s Mentoring Circle‘. This is an initiative by women for women, and it is a good platform for her to find her feet and build up her network. Here the focus is on professional life and a good work-life balance, and everyone actively participates. There are joint activities, discussion forums and workshops, which are ideal for someone like Alyce, who is just starting out in her career. Here she can benefit from other people’s experience.
Learning is an interactive process: each employee is asked to share his or her knowledge, so as well as being students, employees are also teachers.This means that there is a lively exchange of knowledge in both directions, which benefits teachers and students alike. Alyce is also happy to share her knowledge with others, and she actively advises interns as to how they can make the most of their internship, for example.
Alyce definitely sees personal development and training, and the freedom that it gives employees to plan their own careers, as a coolness factor.
Coolness factor 2: networked world
Alyce is not only a good networker and always there for her NEO community: she is also constantly well-informed. a-LIVE, the adidas Group intranet, makes this and much more possible. It is the digital home for all employees all over the world. Here they can communicate and form networks, set up project groups, look something up quickly, or see what is currently keeping their colleagues busy, or what topics they are currently working on. A news area keeps them up to date about current Group topics.
Whatever you want to do – maybe look for a mentor, or share the latest news – a-LIVE is the intuitive, user-friendly platform for you. Of course, the fact that a-LIVE also has a social space, where you can communicate informally as on Facebook, is very appealing to Alyce. After all, she grew up with digital media and is used to being able to access and share information anytime and anywhere. So every now and again, if she sees a great subject for a photo in her leisure time, she might just take a picture and publish it on adidas NEO’s Instagram channel, even at weekends. For her, that does not feel like work. This seems totally naturally to her, and it is all just part of the same thing.
Boundaries are becoming blurred, and rigid structures are dissolving as if this were only natural. Alyce experiences this at first hand and puts it directly into practice. She is supported by a modern IT workstation, which offers her various options that enable her to live out this principle. For example, when she started work, Alyce was given a choice between a Windows laptop and a Mac. Another example is BYOD (bring your own device): although the adidas Group obviously provides its employees with state-of-the-art technology and hardware to suit their individual needs and preferences, they can also use their private devices for work. The company introduced BYOD in 2012, and as a first step it enabled the use of private smartphones and tablets. It was quick to recognise that the technological feel-good factor plays an important role in employees’ productivity. Today, experts are already working on the next step. For as long as we can remember, companies have equipped their employees’ IT workstations with standardised equipment that meets economic criteria and is as uniform as possible. But as in sport, no running shoe is ideal for everyone or helps everyone achieve their personal best. Individual factors play an important role, and the same is true of workplaces. For example, in terms of their IT equipment, controllers generally have different needs and requirements from those of designers or HR managers. In the long term, the adidas Group plans to implement a paradigm shift away from the ‘one size fits all’ approach, towards each IT workstation being tailored to the needs of each employee. The future concept, ‘Choose your own anything’, provides each employee with a budget that he or she can use to put together hardware and software from an internal IT online shop, and to manage his or her own configuration in a flexible way. Here, too, the boundary between private and business use will be fluid in both directions. Alyce learned about the concept as part of the Speaker Series a few weeks ago. It will still take a little time before the concept is actually implemented, but the Australian is already extremely enthusiastic about it:
Coolness factor 3: space and time
Alyce shares an office with six colleagues. Alongside her regular workplace in the NEO team, she recently started working now and again in the new Herzo Newsroom, one of the adidas brand’s six global social media and communication hubs. So she is even better connected with her PR and social media colleagues from other categories.
Moreover, the fact that she can also occasionally work from home or take a flexiday on the spur of the moment makes adidas a cool employer for her.
Networking and flexibility also play a central role in the expansion of the adidas Group headquarters in Herzogenaurach. In the coming years, two new office buildings for 3,600 employees will be built on the World of Sports campus, as well as a conference centre with an additional employee restaurant. The start signal has already sounded: the final plans were selected in 2014, and work on the infrastructure is already in full swing. The new ultra-modern office complexes will be excellent additions to the campus and its facilities. Even as it is, the World of Sports is already architecturally outstanding. With a structure designed to imitate the laces of a sports shoe, the ‘Laces’ building was selected as one of the 15 most spectacular company buildings in the world in 2013. And the last 18 months alone have seen the opening of a day care centre for 110 children of employees, a multi-functional car park that can accommodate 1,550 cars and 100 bicycles, and also a fitness studio. For the new planned office buildings, revolutionary and highly flexible spatial concepts are in the pipeline, with an openness and lightness which will particularly impress their users. Theycombine the best possible working conditions with innovative architecture, in order to offer employees an attractive and pioneering work environment and to attract young talent from all over the world. On the park-like company site, there is a relaxed and casual atmosphere, not unlike that of a university campus. Moreover, everyone can wear whatever they like.
Her colleagues often inspire her with ideas for creative outfits, and some of them have become her friends. Like many of her young colleagues, Alyce does not make a strict distinction between her work and her private life. The boundaries are fluid. It is far more important for Alyce to have an atmosphere where she feels good.
Lunch time workout
For Alyce, another coolness factor is the fact that she can work out during her lunch break. She works out with a colleague at lunchtime in the company’s own fitness studio. Afterwards, Alyce feels revitalised and it clears her head. But Alyce does not go to the fitness studio just to work out. She also goes to meet friends and chat. The large bar lounge on the ground floor is a great place to spend time with friends and colleagues before or after workout sessions. The smoothie is nearly finished, and the lobby is filling up. The American climber Sasha DiGiulian is in Herzogenaurach today to give a talk, as part of the Speaker Series, entitled ‘How you can be driven not only by success, but also by failure’. Afterwards, she stays to answer employees’ questions and to sign autographs. It’s events like this that Alyce finds cool and really enjoys. Since she started working at the adidas Group she has a new hashtag: #Ilovemyjob.