The new LEGO People House
BY SANDY STRASSER
(Published in The Produktkulturmagazin issue 4 2016)
A place for work and fun. A space to cooperate and play. These are some of the elements of LEGO’s new office building. Starting this year, it will serve as a global meeting point at the headquarters of one of the world's leading toy manufacturers. We spoke with Senior Vice President of Corporate Business Services, Claus Flyger-Pejstrup, about the intention behind such a large-scale project, which the company chose deliberately.
Mr Flyger-Pejstrup, please describe the idea behind building your new company headquarters. How did you come up with such a venture? What business purpose does it serve?
We wanted a distinctive office building that clearly conveys the LEGO values and which truly expresses the creative, innovative culture of our company. We have outgrown our current facilities, and people here in Billund are located in various buildings around town. We want to replace many of those scattered locations with something that will more properly convey what this company is all about. So it will both serve the purpose of being the daily work space for many of our Billund employees but also a gathering point for all others.
What issues had to be discussed and clarified in advance before the concrete project could be started?
We do not disclose internal discussions on investments or projects like this.
What special architectural features have you come up with? What is the style of the overall project?
The building carries very clearly several LEGO features, and many of the architectural features are modelled over well-known LEGO elements. That is, of course, something that is important to us.
A major component of the new building will be the LEGO People House. A most cosmopolitan term. What precisely is behind this?
This House is very much based on input from our employees. We have involved hundreds of employees in the process, through workshops and other kinds of engagement, to get their input on what they would like LEGO People House to be. It will include both more regular things, like a gym and coffee shops, but also several facilities with a very informal, home-like feeling, even living rooms, workshop spaces for all sorts of activities and rooms for cultural activities, such as music or artwork. Furthermore, we have many employees from all over the world visiting Billund for several weeks at a time, for instance for training or participation in various projects, and in order for them to feel more comfortable and at home, LEGO People House will also include a number of short-term apartments. So it is truly a mix of many activities and functions, all of which our employees have been involved in.
How large is the new complex? How many people will it offer the space for vocational development in the future?
The new office building will be 52,000 square metres. It is built to be a flexible work space, so we have room for many of the employees we have placed in other buildings today as well as new employees.
What values and ideals are you trying to express with this major project?
Naturally, what we are aiming for is something that expresses our company values and truly manifests the creativity and imaginative approach to things that LEGO play is all about.
Why was Billund of all places chosen as the site?
Billund has been the headquarters of the company since it was founded in 1932, and that is not something that we have any plans on changing.
What is the time frame for completion and how are you financing it?
We plan to begin the construction in the beginning of 2017. The construction process will be in three phases, and the building is planned to be completed in 2020. But we do not disclose any details on investments as far as financing goes.
Why specifically is this kind of venture part of your global growth strategy?
It is a natural step for us, with the growth our company has experienced in the past decade. During the past couple of years, we have established global hubs in London and Shanghai as well, and just last year, we significantly expanded our global hub in Singapore. Therefore, adjusting the facilities here in our headquarters in Billund to create a global gathering point for all of our employees is a very natural step in that process.
To what extent do you believe that one can view the workplace as a modern place of identification in this day and age?
What I can say is that we see LEGO employees every day showing amazing commitment and dedication to their work and to the company’s overarching purpose of inspiring and developing the builders of tomorrow. So for our employees, I believe that there is a very strong feeling of purpose and meaning, which is important.
What influence do you think one’s surroundings can have on employees?
Nice surroundings are, of course, a good thing, and we believe that our employees should have that, for sure. But I think it is about more than just the physical work environment. Our new office building is more than just the physical frame for their daily work. It is also a testament to the purpose of our company and to the LEGO values, and I think that sense of purpose is more significant in order to positively influence the work life of employees.
What industrial agenda are you setting with your project?
This is not about setting any industrial agenda. We will have an amazing office building that will serve our needs and at the same time express the true values of the company, and that is what this is about for us.
What small things can enterprises do to ensure employees feel good and are motivated when working?
For us, it is not about one small thing but the combination of it all and most of all that we all feel a sense of meaning and purpose when we go to work every day. So that is what we focus on.
Claus Flyger-Pejstrup is Senior Vice President, Corporate Finance, at the LEGO Group. Mr Pejstrup was Sales and Marketing Manager for Sophus Berendsen before he joined LEGO in 2002 where he served as Vice President, Global Operations Planning and Senior Vice President, Supply Chain Planning and Distribution for LEGO.
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