- Logitech’s tools and accessories played a major role in the global shift to remote work last year.
- Bracken Darrell, president and CEO of Logitech, told Insider about the process of moving and supporting employees during the transition.
- Darrell also shared why he feels it’s important to address racism and bias, and climate change moving forward.
- This article is part of a series about CEOs and their vision for the future called “What’s Next.”
Before joining Logitech in 2012 as president of the company, Darrell led Whirlpool, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric. He added CEO of Logitech to his title in January 2013.
Darrell spoke to Insider about how he ushered Logitech into remote work in 2020 and the company’s return-to-the-office plans for the coming months as the number of administered COVID-19 vaccinations increases. He also spoke on his initiatives around sustainability and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
This interview is lightly edited for clarity and brevity.
Insider: How did you and your teams handle office closures at the beginning of the pandemic? And what types of support were offered to employees to help the transition to working from home?
Darrell: I’d say in the first stage, like everybody else, we tried to give people enough space where we pulled back a lot on the workload because we just didn’t know what was going to happen. We really tried to reduce the workload, and we thought ‘There’s going to be a big learning curve.’
The second thing we started to do was, and this was more informal and probably happened over time, we tried to make fun and laugh about the surprises that happened on video. I have a 19-year-old cat and he began to appear regularly on video. And people’s kids were on video-we just tried to make light of that.
Then we realized, as time went on, people didn’t really have the equipment they needed. So we created a program where… you could go out and buy or order whatever you needed. I think it was $500 and we raised it [over time].
And then we started to see the mental health thing really kick in and people were just stressed. They were stressed and feeling overworked because they were working longer hours. So, we started doing no meetings on Fridays. And then we added one day a month where we gave everybody the day off and we’ve done that ever since. We call them “Logi-Mondays.”
We just keep adding stuff that we think makes sense.
We have one big advantage which is it’s been really rewarding for people that work here because our products played such an important role during the pandemic for students and educators, patients and doctors.
Insider: Are you planning on going back to the office anytime soon?
Darrell: I think we’ll reopen. If I go around the world, we have offices that are already open and have never closed even. But in terms of most of our offices in the US and Europe, we will start to open up in July and then slowly, I’ll be in there too.
We’ll open up like everybody else will, I think we’ll probably have two or three days a week in the office and two or three days a week working remotely, and then we’ll see.
Insider: Is this something Logitech is planning on doing permanently? Allowing employees to build their own schedules of in-office work and at-home work?
Darrell: I was reading Sundar Pichai’s note at Google and thinking that’s pretty much what I think everybody’s doing. Most companies are basically saying, ‘Okay, here’s the framework.’ You know we got some people who are going to work remotely all the time and we’ve always had people who did that-salespeople, some coders, other people. We have another group that is going to be that ‘have to be in the office to do their jobs’-some hardware engineers just don’t have a choice. And then the vast majority are going to be two or three days in and two or three days out.
I think we’ll try to kind of herd everybody into the same two or three days so it feels like a normal office when you’re in. You can bump into people or ideate with people.
But we’re going to wait and see how it goes. I think we’re going to be very flexible.
Insider: Educating the next generation is important, but how does Logitech plan on educating its current employees?
Darrell: I think if you talk to the average employee at Logitech, you get a slightly orthogonal answer to that which is we do have training programs and we try to help people grow. We try to give people freedom-the freedom to do new things and do things a different way.
And it shows up in our internal surveys, we really stand out in that regard, so we’re less about trying to teach people new skills and more about letting people learn new things on their own by giving them new responsibilities or letting them take on responsibilities that are around them. It might sound a little nebulous, but it’s one of the things I’m most proud of in our culture.
Insider: Switching gears a bit. In the weeks after the summer protests broke out, you did a post on LinkedIn sharing how Logitech would address racism and bias. Why was it important for you as the leader of the company to say something?
Darrell: This story is a little longer than you signed up for but I feel like I need to tell it to answer your question.
I grew up in the south with very progressive parents. My mom was as anti-racist as you could be in the time when I was growing up. She was amazing. So we really grew up feeling like we were some of the good guys-my brothers and sister, and I, we were really on the right side of all this and not only this but just generally with LGBTQ [as well].
When George Floyd was killed, it took me a couple of days… I found myself at my kitchen table where I worked every day, just thinking about South Africa and what people were doing then and I don’t know why I started thinking about South Africa. You know, they were sitting there in the middle of apartheid and why didn’t those people speak up? And then I really realized that we’re sitting in American apartheid and I haven’t spoken out. That was incredibly powerful, more for me because I have a platform. I write on LinkedIn and people read it, I have lots of followers.
It was like getting hit in the head with a frying pan, but the pain never went away and it shouldn’t so I immediately started calling friends and apologizing. I just didn’t realize what I’d done, and then it actually changed the direction of my life. I was like ‘Wow.’ I know who I thought I was, but if I’m not doing something… That was the beginning of my very aggressive path to where we are now as an individual and as a company.
Insider: In that same letter, you talked about supporting communities and minoritized groups. What do those actions look like now?
Darrell: We’ve really recentered our whole purpose against these two things which is one we’re already doing and this one we thought we were doing, but we weren’t.
One of them is the environment and the other one is diversity, equity, and inclusion. DEI became a central part of our purpose which was to enable all people to pursue their passions. So that’s been our purpose, but [now,] all people.
Part of the Juneteenth letter is really an explanation of how we’re taking an end-to-end approach from our suppliers’ suppliers, through our suppliers. We have as part of our diversity program through our own company-up and down the company-pay, promotion, everything, all the way through to customer experience and who we target and how we enable it.
That’s where we’ve been and it’s obviously a long-term thing. I want to be held accountable personally and as a company. And I want people to track exactly what we’ve committed and we’ll come back on a regular basis.
And if I’m not doing it and we’re not getting it done [rapidly], I should be fired.
We’re the same on the environment. We’re way ahead on the environment compared to where we are in the US, and we’re making up a lot of ground right now.