About the Episode
As 2020 comes to a close, many of us are looking for the light at the end of the tunnel after a tumultuous year. In this bonus episode, we’ve compiled the best advice from this season’s guests to help you head into 2021 on a positive note. From tips on keeping company culture thriving during a pandemic to using no-code tools to be more productive, this episode covers a lot. Listen now and be ready to start 2021 with more energy, focus, and ideas.
Meet Our Guest
It’s hard to believe Season 2 of Ripple Effect is almost a wrap! This episode features six of our Season 2 guests, including:
- Tara Reed of Apps Without Code
- Mark Walcott of University of Houston
- Nile Frater of Lloyds Banking Group and NoCode.Tech
- Megan Miller of eduWeb and RHB Global
- Andrew Meyers eduWeb and Hope College
- Mike Barnes of GOLFNOW
Chris Byers: Welcome to Ripple Effect. I am Chris Byers of Formstack. I don't want to understate it, but 2020 has been a challenging year. Business has been anything but usual, causing us to really reimagine work. As we explore this topic throughout season two of Ripple Effect, we focused on simplicity over complexity to help you create a digitally agile and adaptable workforce. As we finish the year, we want to share what we learned from our guests about reimagining work.
For this episode, we'll go into each conversation and pull out some key insights to help you continue to navigate the changing landscape. To get us started is Tara Reid. If you remember, Tara is the CEO and founder of Apps Without Code. One thing she emphasized is the importance of recreating the office culture in a remote world. How does she do that?
Tara Reed: One of the things that we're really thinking about is like how we create fun elements of office culture in a remote world and a lot of people are thinking about this right now, like how do you keep some of the really cool things about being in office on Zoom remotely? And so one of the fun things that we've been doing, we're starting to do for our team are things like movie nights on Zoom with the team and these sorts of fun things, fun extracurricular activities with our team. And so that's one of the things we're thinking about, around reimagining work, is how you create and include this element of friendship that you get to have at the water cooler, but actually having it remotely.
Chris Byers: Mark Walcott, Executive Director Advancement Systems at University of Houston, joined us to share the impact of simplifying processes.
Mark Walcott: The way I reimagine work moving forward is an even greater interaction or even a more seamless movement between our digital and our physical spaces and how we go about sharing information, how we go about seeing our impact on our spaces around us. I see that as being critical. Makes it seem too futuristic, but when you go into your office, if you have an office or a cube, when you go into that space, having that space reflect or project or encourage a particular mood. So whether or not the queues are changing on the walls, maybe the pictures are changing. If outside is a little dreary, the physical space changes to promote a little more sunlight or a little more positivity. I feel like that is going to be critical to enhancing our productivity overall, but making sure that as we work in these more confined spaces, it doesn't feel confined both mentally and physically as we move forward. I think our connection and our experience in these spaces are going to be critical. And that's one way I see our workplace and work environment changing in the future as a result of what's been happening here now.
Chris Byers: Now we'll hear from tech expert Nile Frater. Along with Tara, he also highlights the ways low-code and no-code automation can make business more agile.
Nile Frater: The thing I really try to do is think about number one, for everything I do, how can it turn into a piece of software or an automation of something that runs in the background? Someone, I can't remember who it was, but someone once said that a data center is kind of like a little army of robots who just do whatever you want them to do. And so everything I'm doing every day, I'm trying to figure out how can I get a robot to do that tomorrow, how can I get a robot to do that the next day? How can I build a little bit of software, a little bit of something running in the background that's going to make this easier. And the more and more I do that, that really, really shapes how I start to do things. How I implement features, how I implement marketing concepts or marketing strategies. Everything I try to do now is automated so that once again and again, it can go on in the background and I don't have to worry about it and I can keep thinking about the new things. The next thing the thing I'm going to do tomorrow.
Chris Byers: Megan Miller and Andrew Myers of eduWeb joined the show, telling us how they took a 15 year in-person conference and converted it to a completely virtual event.
Megan Miller: I work remotely already. I've worked remotely for over a year. And so I you know, I'm pretty familiarized with the land of Zoom calls all day and all of that. And I think that, you know, right now things are a little different. And I've got in the next few rooms over a virtual third grade class and a virtual kindergarten class going on because my children are here at home with me. And that creates its own series of challenges. And I think that what that speaks to is that they're going to be different things that you have to adapt to than I would have had to ever think of doing previously. So I think it creates one a greater level of appreciation for the opportunities with the time that I do have to make it to maximize it and make it more efficient to really when there are opportunities and spaces in my day to really get down and get focused in my work, that I should take advantage of those that really lean into that.
I think along with that, one of the things that I think that has adapted my work, I think that I'm realizing more and more the importance of more communication with folks. You know, I think that it's easy when especially if you're in an office setting where you see folks regularly, it's kind of easy to come take it for granted. You're going to pass people in the hall and say hello or you're going to talk of the coffeemaker. Things like that, and when you're working remotely, you don't have those opportunities. So the need to communicate with others more effectively, more regularly and more intentionally to build those relationships, it requires more, like I said, more intentionality. So that's the other thing that I've been really trying to focus on as well, is that intentionally building those relationships with those I work with so that I'm able to, you know, come alongside them. And when we need to work together, we have a greater level of trust and camaraderie with each other. You know, and I don't need to be their best friend, but I do need to have a good relationship with the folks I work with. And that requires a little bit more work than it would have before.
Andrew Meyers: I think prior to this crisis, our administration wasn't really open to remote work. It just didn't seem necessary. But then it's clear that the team I manage basically can do its entire body of work remotely, with the exception of printing some papers and even that we could manage through some kind of workflow to do remotely. So I love that there's an openness now to that. I floated after a couple of months of being remote. I just floated it by my VP like, hey, this is great. And it's along the lines of what Megan said, the ability to get into that sort of deep work state. That is really where the best work gets done. It's a lot easier to come by in a remote setting where there are far fewer interruptions and distractions. That comes with its own set of drawbacks, to be sure, you know, in terms of team culture and so forth. But even that's overcomable, I think. But what I'm excited about is I think this has caused everyone to rethink what's possible and ultimately that is a positive thing.
Chris Byers: Finally, here is Mike Barnes, Director of Salesforce Administration for GOLFNOW. He talked about the importance of a client first mindset when adjusting to new circumstances. For him, reimagining work is all about being willing to embrace new challenges and tools.
Mike Barnes: I'm still drawing on my piece of paper and with pen it's obviously kind of funny for a technology kind of person to live off kind of paper, but I guess I'd say more about my generation and my age. But yeah, definitely need to use the tools I have available in teams and whatnot. Maybe if I need a different tool, find a different tool. That's probably something I need to figure out now as well. What tools are available to me that I can then, you know, draw things out on the screen with other people able to see it, as opposed to my pen and paper, which is just, you know, just for me. So that's that's definitely something. One of the things on the roadmap as this staying home here seems to be interminable, I don't see any end coming to it anytime soon. For us, again, being a technology business, we're very fortunate that there's no absolute need to be in an office environment. So we're very fortunate in this current state of the world to have have that option to be able to be home. At the same time, it does pose some challenges where before we could all get in a conference room, whiteboard things out. And we had we're just used to that being the way we could get things done. I get these steps and pictures with my phone of the whiteboard, then leave the meeting and everything. I need it. So beyond the whiteboard, this thing's out. That's definitely a problem. I need to figure out how am I going to solve.
Chris Byers: Throughout all the conversations, a few themes emerged that you can take back into your organizations. One, take time to clearly understand and identify the problems you need to solve. Don't just create a solution in search of a problem, examine the problems, then develop a solution to it. Instead of backing away from it, lean into adversity and turn those challenges that you're facing into opportunities. Finally, creating a culture where people are comfortable with asking questions is crucial to innovation. This is the only way you can reimagine work going forward.
Thanks for joining us on this season of Ripple Effect, we want to hear from you. How are you reimagining work? Share with us on Twitter @formstack or tag us in a post on LinkedIn.