(This story was originally published on Aug. 11)By Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

MAPLEWOOD, Minn. (WCCO) — Amidst the pandemic, one of Minnesota’s largest employers is permanently changing how and where its employees can work.

3M is unrolling a one-of-a-kind plan to permanently give employees more work-life balance. The new plan will affect most of their 90,000 workers.

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Minnesota-based 3M is going full throttle these days, making everything from respirators to adhesives to surgical equipment. But the Maplewood parking lot is a bit of a ghost town as employees like Jeanne Hoppe work from home. The operations specialist and mom of three is still working remotely with most of the 3M workforce.

“I’m able to go to school activities, I’m able to go to my family’s sporting events. I’m able to take my own dog for a walk,” Hoppe said.

As of this week, those perks will be permanent. The senior VP told us they are unveiling a new “Work Your Way” model.

“What we have discovered is our employees are probably even more productive working from home, in that non-production environment,” Senior Vice President and Chief Corporate Affairs Officer Denise Rutherford said.

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3M has been offering flexibility, but with this model the employee can come up with their own workflow. The new model means employees will tell their supervisors if they want to be remote or hybrid, and they will come up with a personalized plan.

“It’s not about where you are or how you’re working, the number of hours you are putting in, it’s about the work output that we agree together is important for us to get done,” Rutherford said.

She says it’s a trust-based system, and the pandemic life slowdown has fast-tracked their employee appreciation.

Hoppe says that appreciation is felt.

“The word that comes to mind is respected,” she said. “I really feel like not only is my work product respected, but also the ability to have a successful and fulfilling life is respected.”

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The new model will start with office jobs. The plan is to let those who work in labs do paperwork from home and eventually figure out how to give plant workers more flexibility, too.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield