BoxWorks Digital: How the CEOs of Box, Zoom, Slack, and Okta are thinking about this new era of work

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When stay-at-home guidelines were put in place back in March, business leaders quickly  scrambled to prepare their workforces for a new era of work. Years worth of innovation were implemented within a matter of months and people around the world adjusted to a seemingly ‘new normal.’

At our first ever BoxWorks Digital, Box CEO Aaron Levie, virtually sat down with Stewart Butterfield, CEO of Slack, Eric Yuan, CEO of Zoom, and Todd McKinnon, CEO of Okta, to discuss some of the challenges they faced at the start of the pandemic, how their respective organizations have adapted to a fully remote workplace, and the changes that they think are here to stay. Here are a few key takeaways from their conversation.

Employees should create environments that work for them

As companies raced to get their employees set up remotely, many were left wondering if they would ever be returning to the office again. Commutes and business travel came to a halt, and suddenly families were together more than ever before. As time has passed, many employees  have adapted to their new way of work and created an environment that works for them.

The workplace, in some ways, has never been so flexible. Moving forward, many companies have announced they will give employees a choice to stay completely remote, or return to the physical office when it is safe to do so. 

“At the end of the day, everything is about having a hybrid,” says Eric Yuan. Even once it’s safe to return to the office, many will make decisions that best fit their lifestyles rather than conforming to traditional work environments.   

Changing the way work gets done

Without offices, conference rooms, and whiteboards, it’s easy to feel detached from colleagues and teammates. This disconnect creates an added layer of pressure to schedule countless video calls in order for teams to connect and feel synchronized. 

Stewart Butterfield shared that since people have now adjusted to working from home, it’s important to spend more energy trying to find new ways to accomplish the same goals. “The idea is not to do the same thing better, faster, or simpler, but just to replace it all together. We’re all used to being on video calls all day, what if those activities, which we currently only do in a synchronous way can we instead do asynchronously?”

Without a steady stream of video calls, Butterfield explains that we can be more flexible, and in turn, create artifacts in place of meetings which can be much more permanent and portable. 

The app ecosystem isn’t a one size fits all approach

When the pandemic began, there was a huge jump in the use of collaboration tools across the board. This showed that different apps can be used on a variety of levels. For many, this solidified the idea that one app isn’t the answer, and in turn we need a variety of apps to build one functioning tech stack. 

Entire companies use apps such as Box, Zoom, Slack, or Okta, but at the same time, it’s important to have specific apps that help with specialized job functions and teams. The main goal is to develop a way for all of these apps to compliment one another so that different areas of the business have the tools they need, while seamlessly integrating with the rest of the organization. 

Todd McKinnon explained that, “even when you have suites coming in, like Office 365, you still get a lot of apps used within that suite. So we see in our data that people who use Office 365 also use Box, Okta, Slack, etc. So it’s kind of a myth that if you have one of these suites you will only exclusively use that.” 

One Last Thing

This pandemic has taken collaboration to new heights. While digital transformation was on a steady forward progression, many organizations implemented decades of research and technology within a few months. As a society, we’ve proven that productivity isn’t lost when we work from home, and once this pandemic is behind us, we’ll have a new opportunity to see how far we can push the boundaries on the way we work. 

Watch the full session below! 

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