David Wilson

Director for Virtual Engineering

ZF Group





ZF is a company that recognizes the strong connection between financial performance and culture; it aimed to improve employee empowerment through increased engagement with colleagues, an autonomous environment, and professional development opportunities.

As employees started returning to the office, the DIAX team in Northville sought ways to improve team engagement during days in the office and increase productivity and GMP, ultimately reducing expenses on the Division Contribution Margin line.

The team hypothesized that increased engagement would impact productivity, leading to the need to reduce the average time for collaborative tasks by 20%, from 5.6 to 4.5 hours in a relatively short period.


To achieve their goal, at The Legacy Leadership Consulting Group, through our Legacy Leadership Lab, we suggested different configurations of time and meeting space to identify the most effective conditions for collaboration.

We analyzed the use of pre-existing rooms that could accommodate eight people, building new rooms in preferred designs, requesting reserved desks for the team, and agreeing on a common office time for everyone.

The team at ZF implemented the three most prioritized options using four PDSA cycles:

  • They secured a dedicated team room in Farmington Hills with a single table, where the team members worked together on Mondays and Tuesdays from 10 AM to 3 PM.
  • They secured a room with a table with divided working spaces and monitors, providing some privacy for the team.
  • The team members used individual desks in the same building.
  • They also used a cluster of eight individual desks in Farmington Hills, where team members were co-located but were on different tables.


The experiment’s results demonstrated a productivity benefit, with a 79% average reduction in time taken for two days in the office, compared to a target improvement of 20%. Translated into three days in the office, two people freed up 19 hours of capacity.

Over a year, the impact from two people was approximately 50% FTE, assuming 1,880 hours per year. For every four working together on a joint project in the office for three days, they could generate one FTE (Full Time Equivalent). For the DIAX team based in Northville, with an hourly rate of €124, this productivity improvement impacted €442k per year, avoiding recruiting two extra people.

Moreover, the post-experiment survey results showed that time spent in the office was more rewarding when working on collaborative projects than individual tasks. Being present in the office also avoided rescheduling delays for meetings and technology issues and reduced delays in taking action, indicating significant benefits in teamwork, communication, and productivity.

The experiment’s success recommended the training and education of ZF Leaders on the benefits of face-to-face collaboration and how it can provide much-needed capacity to teams that cannot recruit externally or hire temp labor.

By increasing team engagement and collaboration, companies like ZF can achieve better financial performance and contribute to a positive company culture, empowering their employees to develop personally and professionally while achieving organizational goals.