E9 S2 - Talk Roleshare Podcast
"I think productivity is a consequence that happens when you connect everyone on the same platform, when everyone is equally informed."
-Julien Codorniou, VP, Workplace from Facebook
The norm is limited by what is possible. Technology widens what is possible and puts the norm under the spotlight. Is the norm the best way?
Look at companies like Uber, Airbnb. Think back about your reaction when you first heard of their business model. Surprised, intrigued, curious, uncomfortable perhaps? When people hear about Roleshare, sometimes their reaction is based on the norm. Surprised, intrigued, curious, uncomfortable. Historically, sharing a role has been for the lucky who knew someone in their immediate network with whom they could share a role.
Today, more so than ever, flexible working is a competitive lever for companies, but staying connected as a team is key. Even before the pandemic, global organizations faced the challenge of being disconnected, connectivity, transparency, and communication are core to the success of any team - be it a global, regional, local, core, or a micro team like a Roleshare.
Workplace from Facebook is a disruptive tool in the enterprise communication space, turning workplaces into connected communities. On this episode of Talk Roleshare, we speak with Julien Codorniou, VP, Workplace from Facebook. Hear how Workplace enables working in ways beyond the norm.
"There is no way back after Covid. The way people work is going to change and it’s here to stay. I’m not surprised there is a need for more flexibility. Roleshare is a great example of that. I think it was a basic need that was there for many years, it looked hard, it looked complicated, it looked extensive, but I think with the current circumstances more and more companies will want to get there."
Sophie Smallwood: The norm is limited by what is possible. Technology widens what is possible and puts the norm under the spotlight, is the norm the best way? I still remember the first time I heard about Uber, the shock. My grandfather told me never to accept a ride from a stranger. Airbnb. What do you mean I'll be sleeping in a stranger's master bedroom? Will be clean? Is it safe? When people hear about Roleshare, sometimes their reaction is based on the norm. I'll be sharing my role with someone? Will they outshine me? Can I trust them? Historically, sharing a role has been for the lucky who knew someone in their immediate network with whom they could share a role. Roleshare is here to help scale this. Well, this luck, to all professionals who seek it. To do this, Roleshare has built a self-serve platform, that matches professionals who seek to work part-time together for full-time roles. Today, more so than ever, flexible working is a competitive lever for companies, but staying connected as a team is key. Even before the pandemic, global organizations face the challenge of being disconnected. Connectivity, transparency and communication are core to the success of any team, be it a global, regional, local, core, or a micro-team like a Roleshare. Before Roleshare, I was one of the unicorn team members of Workplace from Facebook. Workplace is a disruptive tool in the enterprise communication space, turning workplaces into connected and productive communities. Today on Talk Roleshare, I interviewed Julien Codorniou, VP Workplace from Facebook. Hear how Workplace enables working in ways beyond the norm.
Julien Cordorniou: So Julien, it's such a trip for me interviewing you for Roleshare. I should definitely tell the audience that I worked with you for about three years on Workplace by Facebook and you're part of my interview loop. And it's pretty cool because when I think back we brought on some really great brands onto Workplace, didn't we?
Sophie Smallwood: We did. And you are one of the co-founders of Workplace back in the days. I hope you're proud of what you've achieved there.
Sophie Smallwood: I am. I'm super proud, and I'm actually drinking, I'm drinking out of my workplace coffee mug right now. So I wanted to get your thoughts on the best way you, out of anyone could describe, what is Workplace by Facebook looking to solve?
Julien Cordorniou: Well, I think you have to think of Workplace as a saas business or saas startup within Facebook. And the mission of Workplace is to connect the world of work, just like Facebook connected the world. The mission is to connect the world of work and to turn companies into communities, which is something that we had seen at Facebook back in the days because Workplace was originally a product that was only supposed to be for Facebook employees. But we realized that every company, of every size, of pretty much every industry, can be turned into a community. And when that happens, when you can reduce the distances between people, between teams and even between companies, great things happen in terms of productivity, employee sentiment, employee engagement and ultimately employee retention. So that's what we do. We get to serve and connect, I would say the biggest or the most respected of the fastest growing companies in the world, like Starbucks, Walmart, AstraZeneca, Spotify, Booking.com that you know very well because you approached them on Workplace and it's a fast growing business. We went from zero to five million users in less than three years now, and we continue to grow and scale the business globally.
Sophie Smallwood: I think connecting people now more than ever is exponentially more important. Right. You worked at Microsoft previously and now you lead Workplace by Facebook. So you're quite the expert leader in enterprise communication software. So I'm going to turn a question around on you. You used to ask this question to newbies who join your organization. What surprised you about X, Y, Z? So I'm going to ask you, what has surprised you about the way individuals and teams communicated during Covid?
Julien Cordorniou: I think what surprised me is that what we used to talk about when we created Workplace, which I just mentioned, the importance of building a community, the importance of giving a voice to everyone, the importance of engaging with employees and making employees successful. We have to work wherever they want or they have to work from, all of the things we talked to about three, four years ago, which were, understood by companies that you could describe as visionaries, across H.R., IT incomes. Well, pretty much every company right now is obsessed with that because they know that this is a long-term situation. We're going to have to deal with new ways of working for a very long time. So what used to be I would say, a product or a trend for visionaries is now becoming mainstream. Every company I can think of right now either already has something like Workplace or is looking for something like Workplace because they understand the importance of connecting everyone, of turning the company into a community. And they understand, more importantly, that it can become the competitive advantage for them. They want to attract and keep the best people, motivate them, also engage or connect with them, make sure that they feel more connected, more informed, more productive, more empowered, from the CEO to the front line, which is something very new in a way, the big surprise is that the market has just been expanded by two billion people who never had a desk, never had an email address before. But we yet have to be connected and feel that they belong to a bigger mission.
Sophie Smallwood: Yeah, absolutely. And so I think historically people were concerned about this type of technology way back in the day and I think they've had no choice but to accept it, so I think there's still some thoughts out there about things being lost. So firstly, what do you think is done better through digital communication versus in person? And then what do you think is lost, if anything?
Julien Cordorniou: I think scaling and including everyone is easier because of technology. In a certain way the Covid situation has created a level playing field for many employees because it means you can be successful even if you don't work at HQ, even if you don't sit next to the C suite because suddenly everybody is working from home. So it's a level playing field. So everyone can now, if you have the right solution of course, be equally connected and informed. And as you know, information is is extremely important. But some people just never got the information before because they were not connected, because they never had an email. That level playing field creates amazing opportunities. It means that as a talent, wherever you have to work from, wherever you come from, you can be identified, you can be celebrated, you can be rewarded because you have a great idea that you can share. So I don't think things get lost. I think it's easier to scale, and if you think of technologies like the one we have in Workplace that you know very well, auto-translation, you can now communicate with people that you could not communicate with before. On Workplace, I could say something in French, I could write something in French and my colleagues in Japan would read it, in Japanese or in Spanish if they speak Spanish. So technology can help connect people who do not know that they have to be connected with other people in the company and make it easy independently of the time zone of the language they speak.
Sophie Smallwood: Right. A really, really good point about the level playing field. So I've heard some conflicting reports about productivity during Covid. Some companies are experiencing increases in performance, others they're not really seeing that increase in performance. And then also employee well-being and perhaps spontaneous sort of innovation is a concern due to the lack of in-person interactions among a number of other reasons that I've seen stated. So Workplace has been very used to helping sort of distributed, desk-less workforce connect. Right. You guys have been doing this for a while, so you must have been well placed to support workers during Covid. So how do you think Workplace in particular helps to enable productivity, performance and wellbeing and then innovation as a byproduct of all that at a time where workers have had to rely solely on digital communication?
Julien Cordorniou: Well, interestingly enough, the people or the teams who decide to buy Workplace and to deploy Workplace are usually represented across H.R., IT, and Comms because it's a controlled choice. It's not an IT choice. It's not a productivity tool per say. It's something that has to do with the culture. You want to build on the culture you want to scale. And I think for the first time you see these three execs, IT, H.R. and Comms and the CEO herself, coming together to talk about connecting everyone as a competitive advantage, driving the right culture. So I think productivity is a consequence that happens when you connect everyone on the same platform, when everyone is equally informed, connected, when you give people who never had an email access to things like bots and integrations with things like DocuSign or ServiceNow or books turning the blue-collar employee to a super knowledge worker. So I think productivity is a consequence of what can happen when you connect everyone, and again, connecting everyone is technically very hard to quantify. People need the cloud to give access to cloud computing and to communication applications to people who don't even have an email. Back in the days. I'm sure you remember, when we launch Workplace at companies like Danone, half of the company did not have an email. And yet we had to make sure they could be in the most secure way, all connected and identified in the cloud. So it's a technological challenge, but when you can overcome it again, great things happen in terms of productivity, employee sentiment, employee retention. There is a fundamental hunger to be connected by everyone, not just the knowledge workers, but by everyone. And I think it's one of the things we do very well on, that is what we're famous for.
Sophie Smallwood: So I'd love to get your thoughts on a use case. So obviously there's been a lot of ills during Covid-19 a lot of people have lost their jobs, are on furlough, but at the same time, there are companies who are growing still and are hiring. And so what that means is individuals are starting new jobs without really getting to meet their colleagues. Right. So what types of advice would you give someone who is starting at a new company today and it's fully digital at one hundred percent remote distributed if they are using a tool like Workplace?
Julien Cordorniou: One of the benefits of Workplace is that if you join a company that has been using Workplace for a few months or three years, you get all of the history, you get all of the context. When you join a new company, no one sends you the emails that you've missed in the last four years just for you to catch up. No one does that, it's technically complicated and impossible. Or you don't go and spend hours on the Internet trying to find the right information, especially if you only have a mobile device at work. So I think Workplace gives you a lot of a lot of context, you can go into the groups that matter for you, for your peers, for your managers, or for the CEO. The company's history is there so you can catch up and onboard quite fast. And again, making information available to people who were barred from having access to that information makes a big difference, and I think that's that's why people go Workplace to make that happen. Because one of the surprises we've discovered is that the next generation of talents will come from the most unexpected places. I have a customer, that I'm sure you remember Sophie, called in a small group. It's the company behind the Hawkstone and the Gleneagles Hotel, for example, and the CEO of the company said one day, 'I'm going Workplace for everyone in the company because the next CEO of my company that I've created might be a barista hotel in Scotland. And I don't know her today, but I need to find her. I need to identify her because she knows the customers. She knows the business probably much better than the people at HQ'. So giving a chance to these employees, that will come sometimes from the most unexpected places, from what we call the front line is something that can happen thanks to technology.
Sophie Smallwood: Right. And I mean Workplace by Facebook does an incredible job of surfacing that type of front line knowledge. I witnessed it firsthand. I remember the Starbucks stories very well, the introduction of new drinks based on customer feedback in-store. On the subject of another working model very close to my heart, role sharing, where part-time and sometimes full-time workers will join skill sets to share roles. It's a highly beneficial working model for individuals who are looking to secure strategic roles and for companies who want to sustain productivity and innovation while also enabling flexibility. But the caveat historically has been that it was hard, one, to find a person to share a role with that sort of matched you along a number of different criteria. And then also it was hard to transition the work between partners, and there wasn't technology to support that, whereas today companies like Workplace are really helping with that. So how would professionals in a roleshare today use Workplace by Facebook to ensure seamless Real-Time communication transparency among themselves, but also the greater team project prioritization tasks and such?
Julien Cordorniou: First, I have to say Sophie that, I'm sure that the value proposition of your company that you identified a few years ago must be resonating a lot on the market right now. There's no way back after Covid. The way people work is going to change and it's here to stay. So I'm not surprised that there is a need for more flexibility and role sharing is a great example of that. It was a basic need that was there for many years, but as you said, it looked hard, it looked complicated, it looked expensive. But I think with the current circumstances, more and more companies will want to get there. On using Workplace to enable that. I would say two things. I would say the first thing would be the matchmaking part of the value proposition could be easily done on Workplace. Then on the sharing of information between two people, or two plus people, or a group of people, as you know very well between groups and chat and video and the newsfeed, Workplace makes that very easy. And we also integrate with tools like Atlassian and other productivity tools to drive more productivity on the product and manage proper projects. So I would say using Workplace as the place of discovery, engagement and communication connected to other applications, of course, including Roleshare, would be something that would make sense. But the matchmaking part would be definitely easy to be done in a Workplace.
Sophie Smallwood: I'll add to that. I think one of the things that I love the most about Workplace by Facebook was that when we were working on various projects, we could add a number of individuals to a group and everyone who wants to see what's happening in that project can pop in or out, check out their notifications. And it's a nice way of keeping everyone posted on a project without CCing everyone on an email. And I think with transparency of role shares, that's absolutely critical. You want the whole team to feel like nothing is being repeated, nothing is being lost in the transition, and if you have shared groups, then obviously that's a fantastic way of making that happen.
Julien Cordorniou: Remember how you feel when you join Workplace or when you join a group and suddenly you have access to information that you did not have access to, you feel more empowered. You feel more connected to your peers. You feel that you belong to an organization that is transparent, where anyone can have the same access to information and where information is not stuck in the mailing list of last year, that there is no way for you to catch.
Sophie Smallwood: One final use case, which I think is interesting, is the retiring workforce. So my dad is retiring. He's retired this year and he's been with one company globally for over 30 years. Imagine the amount of knowledge that in essence, the company is losing by having individuals who've been with the company so long leave. There's an interesting use case Workplace by Facebook, is this idea of retention of knowledge. Can you tell me and maybe the audience a little bit about how that knowledge could be retained for talent that is exiting the company?
Julien Cordorniou: It's a good question, it was a surprise we had many, many times, I would say a month. We have companies asking us to help an onboard former employees or employees about to retire or to leave the company on the platform. I remember the company, a little group. I think you launched them, Sophie. They had this employee, she had worked for them for 30 years, and when she left she said, 'hey, I'm very sad to leave, but please can I keep my workplace account'. Because, for her, that work community that she's been a part of for 30 years, these people, the values of the company, the culture of the company was extremely meaningful and she still wanted to be part of it. And I've heard that from many companies of many different industries and many different geographies. Sometimes you're still a shareholder. Sometimes just still care about the products, about the people, about the business, and you still want to feel that you're part of it. Especially if you spent a meaningful amount of time with the company and with these people. So unexpected, use case, but it shows that some employers do that extremely well. When you have to retire but you still ask for being part of the organization, it means you had the best time, you love the people, you love the product, you love the culture. Of course, as an employer, you want these former employees to still be connected, to refer candidates, to refer customers, to be local friends of the market. An unexpected use case for Workplace, but you would not believe how often customers are asking us to do it.
Sophie Smallwood: And that was Julien Codorniou, VP Workplace from Facebook. He said the next generation of talent will come from unexpected places. There's no way back after Covid indeed Julien. The pandemic has shown at scale how the combination of effective enterprise technologies and the incessible ability for humans to adapt to change drives productivity wherever, whenever, and however. I agree Julien about Roleshare. I mean, I know firsthand my team and I built it. He said, "it looked hard, it looked complicated, it looked extensive. But with the current circumstances, more and more companies will want to get there." #Hesaidit #vision, #futureofwork. Thanks for listening and join us for the next episode of Talk Roleshare.