Workfront’s Laura Butler On The Relationship Between Business Culture And Continuity

Workfront has a people first ethos, and believes that “if anything has to give… let it be work.”
  • In an interview with Robert Kropp for Allwork.Space, Workfront’s Laura Butler expressed that the right culture is arguably the top element in ensuring business continuity.
  • The health crisis means it is also critical to have the right systems, processes, and people in place to ensure continuity of operations.
  • Workfront has a people first ethos, and believes that “if anything has to give… let it be work.”

There are a tremendous number of challenges facing businesses in this era of shut borders, quarantined employees, suddenly remote teams, and networks stressed to their maximum. 

Whether we could foresee these changes or not, having the right systems, processes, people and culture in place to ensure continuity of operations has become even more critical. 

I had the pleasure to chat with Laura Butler, the SVP of People and Culture at Workfront to dive deeper into all of these things and more.

What is critical for maintaining business continuity?

Process and Technology

Workfront manages their entire business continuity plan with their own software. 

According to Laura, their “enterprise work management platform” enables their teams to “work better and more collaboratively with other people, no matter where they are and that certainly is helpful at times like these.”

However, having the right technology and systems in place is only the foundation of what is needed for organizations to succeed and thrive.  

Laura says that a critical driver of their success has been their “special culture”.

With the largest work from home experiment under way globally, organizations must now also focus more actively on how their employees are doing, and their mental and physical well-being.

A People First Culture

“If you take care of the people. The people take care of the customers. The people take care of the product. The people take care of all the other things. So our stewardship is to really focus on the people and this allowed us to really lean into that and demonstrate that that is a core foundation of who we are as a company,” said Laura.

“We have a team of employees that are just super passionate about life, not just about work, but about life. And I think that brings a whole energy to what we do and how we do it.”

She continues: “We’ve always had a very people centric, people first culture and this type of situation tests what that says. How serious are you about focusing on people first? And one of the messages that we came out with early on was, if anything has to give… let it be work.” 

“Take care of your life. Take care of your family. Take care of yourself.”

How is Workfront supporting their team members?

What was interesting is that their team took much of what they were already doing in person and moved it to an online version that instantly became more widely accessible to team members.

Volunteering

Volunteering has always been important for not only the community but for bringing people together and building comradery. However, since volunteering in person together is no longer possible, they moved to a virtual volunteering day where team members were able to do things together but separately.

Training

Prior to the pandemic, some of Workfront’s offices in Europe were doing in person Lunch & Learn events. Since there is no advantage or possibility now of being on site, all Lunch & Learns are now available to the entire company virtually. This not only helps to bring more of the teams together globally, it has also increased the continuing education impact of a single event.

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Wellness

In Utah, they previously had Yoga classes taught in their Salt Lake City offices. These classes have also been migrated online and now available to the entire organization for those that are interested.

Home Office Ergonomics

When all employees transitioned to remote, it was important to work with each team member to review and improve their home workspace. Whether it was adding a new chair, monitor, or some other way to make the workspace more comfortable, ergonomic, and ultimately productive, it was a critical step to make sure each person was setup for success.

Whatever actions an organization has taken to make people first, bring team members together and support well-being, it is clear that it is crucial for teams to have the support structures they need, albeit virtually, while also focusing on ways to improve what can be an isolating experience when working remotely.

To wrap up our chat, I was also curious as to what Laura and the team at Workfront expected to see next in how we work, whether offices will be as critical, and what they plan to do after the impacts of the pandemic eases?

The Future of Work is Flexible

Laura believes that “when we return to the office we will see more people who say… I’d like a flexible work schedule or I’d like to be able to work from home part time.”

Extroverts Rejoice

She continued as well to say that “I actually envision the day that we opened our offices and it will be a dramatic event for all the extroverts who can’t wait to come together… I think people are eager to see each other.”

In Person Work is Necessary Sometimes

“I think that some functions do work well when they’re physically group(ed) together and can kind of riff off each other. And I think that will always be an important part of work. I don’t see us being 100% virtual…  But, some companies are saying this actually works really well.”

Hiring

She also talked about hiring globally and the options that that presents. 

“As a person in charge of talent, when you can go anywhere for people, that’s your dream — I mean, the ability to hire anywhere is fantastic.”

Majority will Go Back to the Office 

Laura finished by saying that “there are some huge benefits that I do hope we can capitalize on for the long term. But I do think we will have a significant portion that goes back to the office.”

For many organizations, remote and distributed working can either expose organizational gaps in their technology, systems, culture, etc or it can demonstrate strengths in those areas. The success or failure of many organizations is determined by being able to overcome these gaps. 

By focusing on people, culture and the right foundation of technology and process, an organization can improve their odds of being able to evolve and grow through any market challenges and changes in the future.

It was a pleasure to chat with Laura and look forward to connecting with her and the Workfront team in the future.

If you have any questions, comments, or want to chat about the future of work, workspaces, or remote work, reach out here.

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