August 5, 2020 Culture, People, and New Ways of Getting Work Done – An Uprisor Conversation with Jasmine Torfi
In our Uprisor podcast series, we’re talking with Future of Work thought leaders about remote work and on-demand talent. Clinton Bonner, VP at Topcoder, recently spoke with Jasmine Torfi — a WorkSmart coach driving digital innovation at Swisscom. Their conversation focused on bridging the gap between inside talent and outside talent, and crisis-accelerated innovation brought on by COVID-19.
Enjoy a video and recap of the conversation, below.
DISMANTLING CLASSIC HIERARCHIES OF MANAGEMENT
Jasmine talks about how her team was set up to implement and scale a new innovation at Swisscom—Skype for Business in this case. This was 10 years ago, so Skype was a relatively new technology at the time. These types of innovation projects almost always require immediate buy-in from management. Jasmine notes, “Luckily, we had support from leadership from the start.” But when Jasmine’s team began to replace hard phones with Skype, she “had a lot of internal struggle and resistance.”
Jasmine talked about how she shifted her team from focusing on deploying specific technology to focusing on building a tech-agnostic team that could help push out new technology. To do this, Jasmine flipped the mentoring structure upside down with what she calls “reverse mentoring.” Instead of having the longest-serving members of Swisscom act as mentors, WorkSmart brought on groups of younger people who grew up with tech and deeply understood it.
“The older can learn from the young and with that, it’s an intergenerational learning organization.”– Jasmine Torfi
Unlocking Hidden Talent
Jasmine discusses how Swisscom was able to create an entirely new startup out of this unit. “We realized that there were some companies in Switzerland that were interested in our approach and also how we communicate.” Suddenly, all of these young workers had management buy-in to act as consultants to other companies looking to adopt new technology and new ways of doing things.
Jasmine noted that this younger core of the WorkSmart team was able to bring significant value to the table when given a chance. “They would also go the extra mile or just think about new ideas.” Clinton added that bringing talent that would otherwise be excluded to the table is one of Topcoder’s core tenants. When you bring in people who normally wouldn’t be involved in daily workflows there’s potential to create new value levers on top of existing systems.
“It’s fun to work like this!”Jasmine Torfi
Jasmine and Clinton ended by talking about the ways the global pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new working models. Remote work has been around for years, but companies across the globe are now rapidly implementing tools and systems to manage distributed workforces and adjust to demands. Jasmine discussed trying to find the happy medium between remote work and on-site work, adding that, “Companies should have a strategy in place that we employees can work from anywhere.”
But it shouldn’t be one massive shift towards digital-only. “I think not everybody will ever fully be remote… digital teams should still meet up for coffee and have personal exchanges.” This nicely parallels the way we advocate for a hybrid workforce—it’s not about choosing either 100% FTEs or 100% contractors and on-demand talent—the most optimal workforce represents a mix . Similarly, most individuals benefit from a blend of work-from-home and in-person collaboration.
Many companies are seeing the value of remote work for the first time. Remote is showing itself to be a viable work model that gives employees more freedom and increases satisfaction, but it isn’t going to be “full throttle” one way or the other. Clinton ended the podcast by talking about the bright future for remote work. “I think there’s more opportunity for people. I think there’s more productivity.”
Thanks so much to Jasmine Torfi for sharing her insights and giving us another fresh perspective on the future of work. For more Future of Work conversations, listen and subscribe to Uprisor wherever you get your podcasts.