Full transcript of WP Desk’s CEO Maciej Swoboda’s TEDx Talk: How to Speak With the Millennials? at TEDxKatowiceSalon conference
Maciej Swoboda – CEO at WP Desk
I’m really happy to see, maybe not right now but let’s say two minutes ago, to see lots of young, smiling faces, because I’ll be talking about young people here.
Me, old person, will be talking about young people, and I hope you don’t mind.
So, let me first start with a quick quiz. You see a lot of faces here, and you see a lot of faces here, and again you see faces here, and you see the same faces here.
But the problem is there is a perception issue, and this is what I want to talk about. The perception issue that is connected with millennials, because we’re talking about young people, we’re talking about millennials and the way they are perceived.
Because, unfortunately there are lots of people, lots of media saying that this generation is lazy, is disloyal, is very demanding, changes jobs very quickly. It’s a really difficult target, but is it really true?
Is it really true? I don’t think so. I think we should look at it from a different angle, and let me give you an example.
Here’s the young guy. He gets a new job. He starts his work. He gets good money. He’s happy. After a year or two, he gets promoted, and he gets better money.
And what happens? Then he comes home, and he feels really sad. Why? What is the problem? The problem is he believes he is not perceived the way he wants to be.
So he changes job, and we have a lose-lose situation; employee-employer, lose-lose situation. So, he believes he’s not perceived the way he wants to be, and the employer believes he has done everything to make him stay at his work because he probably perceives him in a different way.
So we have an issue. We have an issue, and I would like to talk about this kind of issue that is connected with the new young generation and the new places of work, and the way we want to keep those people at our work.
So, surely there are lots of benefits, there are lots of things that are quite important when you start work, especially the money.
But there’s one crucial thing that we should bear in mind when starting or becoming something big, starting something new.
What I mean is the real relationship between employer and employee, which is based on trust and purpose. And this is what I want to talk about.
I would like to share my observations around this industry, around the places of work, looking at four areas that I believe could have a lot of potential for improvement, which actually will all lead to the fact that you can be proud of being a part of something big, of being a part of a company or a corporation.
The first area is space, space which is very important and which I believe almost everyone knows that has a great impact of productivity at work – almost everyone, because 4% doesn’t give a shit. Probably, I don’t know why.
What is important, meanwhile, over the last decades, not much has changed in this area. Since someone invented air-conditioning or light that somehow imitates the sunlight, the big era of open space began, which actually is, as I see here, about 67 years.
What happened throughout this time were various modifications of this open space. You know, lots of different things that we’re supposed to modify, we’re supposed to enhance, improve this space we work at.
The question is if beanbags or video games or free food or, for example, table football is enough to create a good space for work. Is it? Probably not. What is important is we should start thinking on what kind of environment will help us grow the organisation rather than what kind of gadgets or tools will help us keep people inside the company. Because, if not, we then are sad.
Here comes the rain again. I like the song, by the way. I want to give you an example. Jacek mentioned the porcelain factory, that beautiful iconic place which has been renovated. And actually, now the main purpose of the whole building, of the whole complex, is the office space. There are lots of companies from IT, from design, and the area of art, I should say.
One of our friend’s neighbors is Cobo Design. They are designing. They are designing office spaces. But what they did with their office was based on the philosophy that is called ABO. ABO stands for activity-based office.
What is that – activity-based office?
Imagine that you enter your work, your office every day, and you start working in a different corner. You start working in a totally different environment which is very much adjusted to your needs, to your projects, to the team you work with, to the task you have to do, to time you have or no time that you don’t have. This is activity-based office. You don’t have one room, one chair, one desk. You change the environment to adjust it for your needs.
And actually, what is important, this is happening all over the place right now. Big companies start to build activity-based offices, office areas just for the needs of the people. They don’t have their desk. I know there’s one case of Microsoft that actually came up with an idea to get rid of all the desks in one of their offices, all the desks, without telling people about this.
So people came to work and said, “Hey, where’s my desk?” And they’d tell them, “OK, you now have freedom to do anything with this space.”
It took them about three or four months to create this activity-based office. They started building the area they work at just for their needs. And, what is important, I’m sure you are quite familiar with cowork spaces. This is not much different from activity-based office.
How many of you actually had the situation that we’re chasing the deadlines? What do we do? We get away, we run to these cowork spaces, we tuck ourselves up on the sofa, we just put the headphones on, we get a big mug of strong coffee, and we get things done.
Nobody is disturbing us. Nobody. I mean nobody because we know nobody will do it there. Because that’s our intimacy, and this is actually activity-based office. So, this is the space.
If you think of space, try to adjust it for your needs, try to make it as tailored as possible to your needs. And don’t forget, there is also green – important in your space. Because green is one of the biggest factors of happiness. So, if you have a chance, just plant a tree, plant a flower in your place of work. It will make you feel happy. Trust me.
All right. Another thing, another area that is very important in terms of trying to find some kind of potential to improve is the communication. I’m talking about the internal communication here, which is clear, which is true, which is understandable, and which is simple. Very simple.
Because we live in the clutter of communication here. We live in a very strong clutter of communication. Actually, I’ve been here for about five minutes, and I can guess that most of you got at least one message on your smartphone from any place possible. Is that true? Could you just look at your smartphone if there’s any message from Facebook or anything like that. I’m sure there is.
No worries. I’m not going to say anything about this, but I know this is happening. Because, actually, we are showered with a number of messages every day from different, different areas – from our laptop, from our PC, from our tablet, from a smartphone. From a smartwatch. You know what? I used to have a smartwatch.
Now I have a regular watch. I swapped it with my son. I just entered his room and said, “Son, give me your watch. I’ll give you mine.” The look on his face – that’s priceless.
But what I’m trying to say is email is dead. Email is dead. I’m talking about internal communication. Why is that? Because I think it’s overpromise of a very good communication. I just don’t get the idea of internal emailing. I just don’t get the idea of scrolling five screens to get to the message. I don’t get these strings, you know, I don’t understand.
I’m really frustrated about this, and actually this is what’s happening to me, if I have to find something in my email. But, of course, I have to find a solution. Not sure if you’re familiar with Inbox? This is Google, which actually is the inventor of Gmail. But Google came up with an idea of ‘to-dos.’ I’m really happy to be using Inbox.
I don’t know why it’s called Inbox because it’s actually a to-do list. Why am I happy? Because at the very end of the day, my Inbox looks like this. And I’m really happy to see the sun, and I’m really proud of doing the job because I see everything is completed. So, to-dos are back, and it’s very important.
What is more important, even than to-dos, is that, I don’t know if you’re familiar with this? It’s Slack More and more companies are using Slack. Why? The answer is very simple: because Slack is all about chatting.
We chat every single day. We use lots of different messengers – Snapchats, whatever things that actually help us chatting, rather than sending emails – because the process is much more complicated, you need to fill in some data, you need to answer.
Slack is an instant messenger, and this actually is all that is based on chatting. That’s why it’s so successful. A lot of companies are using it, and the guys are developing this system, lots of platforms.
We are using Slack at our work. Internal communication is at the very top level. What’s important, there are lots of followers of Slack: there is a bench company from Poland that is building their own system also based on chatting. I know Facebook. I’m not using Workplace, I know they have come up with Workplace, but if this is Facebook, I believe this must be something real, something serious.
We probably have to wait a couple of years to see if this kind of workplace – the area of communication using Facebook for internal communication at work – will work. We’ll see, probably, in two or three years.
OK, another area that is very important when it comes to building an organization inside the company to make sure everyone is happy, to make sure everyone is growing, and to make sure nobody is leaving, is the organization, is how we organize the company, how we build the structure. Yeah. Big brands of this world have their own organization structures.
They all look different. Actually, I like Apple, you know, it’s like self-centered. Everyone is loving one spot. I don’t know how Google copes with the problem here. But they’re big, so I guess they are quite successful.
But what I’m trying to say here is I don’t want to talk about the others. What I’m trying to say is that the structures are getting flattened and flattened. So, what it means, most of our work we do is based on projects. So, it requires building teams rather than it requires building processes to help us run the projects. So, we should be flat.
Flat organizations work, and it’s very good. It should be as flat as possible, as flat as these pizzas. And now there’s a short break. Short break and a quick quiz. Anybody who can spot three differences on these two slices? OK, that was a joke.
Sorry. What I’m trying to say is did you know that if you cannot feed your project team with two big pizzas, do you know what that means? The team is too big. You have to try that. And this is true. Statistics say that the project team – when we talk about organization – the project team should be not more than six people.
Six people because seven people is too much. Why is it too much? Because simply speaking, we spend way too much time synchronizing information. But we need to get things done, and this is very important, this is productivity. So, if you want to build a team, first try the case with a pizza.
All right, motivation, that’s a cliché. Motivation is everywhere. We need to be motivated. We have motivations at work, at home, everywhere. Motivation is still very important. Even though it’s kind of a cliché, it’s very important to build a good future for ourselves, to make sure we are happy, we are motivated, we are proud of being a part of something big.
And there are some more statistics about motivation. When it comes to non-financial benefits that will make me feel motivated, there are three that are very important: a good relationship with your boss – yeah, that’s important. A good relationship with your boss. You have to get on well with the boss because otherwise you might be fired.
Workmates. A very good relationship with your workmates. Why? Because these are people you spend most of your life with when working, right? So that’s very important, and I think this is quite obvious to say. And, what is important, you need to feel that you grow, because when you grow, you feel happy, you feel that you are part of something.
So the organization needs to give you an option to grow. And one of my mentors, the guy I’m really admiring, the guy who is inspiring me with lots of things I’m doing is Gary V, which is short for Gary Vaynerchuk.
He will back me up with a short story right now about growing. Let’s listen to Gary. Can we pump it up?
Gary V: Those are tactics that bullshit companies do to try to make people inspired and feeling good, because they feel safe, and they feel like they could grow. They feel safe, and they feel like they can grow. That’s the shit that matters.
Not fucking free. Cheerios on fucking Tuesday.
Right, because Cheerios don’t have to be free. You can pay for Cheerios with appreciation from your friend. That’s actually how more or less the GoodieBox works. The GoodieBox is the solution from our company from Netizens.
I don’t want to talk about GoodieBox here because it’s not commercial time here. If you want to find out more about the GoodieBox and how this works, there is our stand in the main hall. The guys will be happy to tell you more about the very good solution. It’s all about motivation. It looks more or less like this.
So you can pay with appreciation from your friend. That’s the main key. Right, one important thing… Google. Important thing. Google came up with a great idea, maybe 15 years ago, on what to do to keep people motivated. And they tell them this thing: ‘Hey guys, you don’t have to work 100% of your work time. You can work 80% of your work time; 20% is all yours. You can make phone calls, you can scroll Facebook’ – probably now because it was 15 years ago so there was no Facebook.’
So you can talk to your girlfriend or boyfriend. You can sleep, you can have a lot of food, or you can do your own projects, your own projects. You can use all the tools here. If you have ideas, you can do your own projects.
You know what happened? These guys came up with an idea to run some kind of project they do for themselves. You know what they came up with a few years later? With this. They did it in their free time. Isn’t that amazing? They built Gmail in their free time. That’s crazy, but I’m really amazed with, you know, such an approach. Probably, it kept them motivated.
So, to cover up, I was trying to tell you a few words about my observation in these four areas which have a very big impact on how we can improve our approach towards our employer, the new place of work, etc.
What is important, what is very important, I’m going to repeat, is the relationship we have with our employers. It’s the place that allows me to grow, allows me to educate myself, allows me to face defeat as well. It’s the place where I can be proud of building a relationship with my workmates in the space I work.
Because this space is the space I spend most of my life, so I want to make sure I’m really happy also on Monday mornings.
On Monday mornings Gary will tell you something about Monday mornings.
(Video starts) I just don’t get the mentality of being head down sad on a Monday morning. I’m going to make Monday morning my bitch. I’m going to make you Saturday, Monday morning – that’s what I want to do every morning and that’s what I want from you. Please, take a step back and think about how awesome it actually is, and then recognize that you can attack the world in a totally different way because you were lucky enough to be born during this era. Fuck you, Monday! (Video ends)
Guys, thanks very much for your time. If you feel like a conversation, I’ll be very happy to talk. Thank you. Have a wonderful weekend!