The local leadership team is very experienced and had success in attracting talents of diverse nationalities and age ranges. Yet as the transformation at Merck starts to happen, Isikci worried that the existing leadership style had become too cautious and conservative for the ambitious, young, and diverse workforce.
Merck’s Global Real Estate team initially felt hesitant about implementing a workplace of the future concept in the Middle East. The Middle Eastern work culture is characterised by the incredibly fluid and complex external environment, and as it was, many teams in the MSD Lebanon office had already developed close-knit connections within their immediate teams. To some, the new concept brought about curiosity but also uncertainty and fear. The leadership team, on the other hand, had started to recognise that in order for business to succeed, people from different teams had to come together with greater ease, and the physical office environment should facilitate these connections.
Challenges with time and distance:
Three Veldhoen + Company consultants, Millie Letori, Pieter-Bas Dekkers, and Luc Kamperman set out to work with the MSD Lebanon team. All three consultants were based in different geographical locations: Australia; the UK; and the US. On top of this geographical challenge, it soon became apparent there was also a time challenge. Due to external reasons the new MS Lebanon office had to be ready within a year. In this case, the geographical distance, time zone difference, and cultural differences added further complexity to the project.
Challenges with people’s perception of the office:
Although over 85% of employees believed that the design of their workplace is important to them, only slightly over half (58%) thought that it created an enjoyable environment to work in. Although many employees (79%) considered that the culture of the Lebanon office was supportive to working in a mobile/flexible way, they felt limited by the design of the workplace and technology tools and infrastructure.