The Covid-19 pandemic has not only brought out the need for marketing and sales teams to optimize use of their martech and salestech to drive better customer journeys and online buying experiences, it has also showcased the need for marketing, sales and especially IT leaders to focus on the security of their customer and in-house data and processes during this extended remote work phase. Aaron Wilmot from JumpCloud shares some thoughts:
Tell us a little about yourself Aaron…we’d love to hear a little bit about you, and JumpCloud?
I took an unorthodox path to the People function. In my first couple of ‘real jobs’ I investigated claims of employment discrimination. I just remember how shocked I was by the way employers talked to and treated their employees. These experiences shaped how I approach the craft and fueled my passion to reimagine the employee experience, empowering employees to gain a deeper sense of purpose, ownership and mastery in their work. As a growth stage startup, JumpCloud’s mission is to securely connect any user to any IT resource that they might need. Similar to the way I looked at the state of an employee’s experience in the work environment, JumpCloud viewed the state of the IT Administrator’s experience. We weren’t satisfied with the friction that they experienced every day, so we reimagined what their world could look like in an effort to enhance their lives and the lives of their users.
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In today’s remote working environment what are some of the top security concerns you feel enterprises / mid-sized teams should be paying more attention to?
It starts at the macro level. It is incredibly important for IT teams to work diligently to weave security into the fabric of their company culture. From the moment a candidate becomes acquainted with a company they should have a clear understanding of the importance and significance of security to the individual and the company as a whole. In a remote world, securing the user’s device, their access (to applications, files, etc.) and their network should be the focus moving forward. Device security is number one on that list for a reason. Ensuring there is a recognized user through MFA and that the device can be wiped remotely are two very prevalent and real scenarios that every team should have a plan for.
How have you seen the core fundamentals of remote work evolve over the years and now, with the ongoing pandemic and other issues, how do you feel the future of remote work is set to shape up?
Remote work was fun to hypothesize about and flirt with, but at a large scale it was a fantasy. What a difference a year makes! Remote work is here to stay at scale for the long haul in my mind. From a technological perspective, the cloud and SaaS applications have pushed us into this kind of post-physical, domainless world where it is possible to work from anywhere. Additionally, I think it provides an incredible amount of flexibility and access to an enormous labor pool, benefitting not just employees and companies, but communities that may have been isolated from a variety of good paying jobs that are now just a click away.
There is a lot for us to learn from a cultural perspective. We can say with certainty that remote work does not impact productivity. However, there is a lot to learn about drawing boundaries, burnout, and establishing deep and personal connections with your teammates. This will be an incredible and exciting frontier to explore in the years to come.
In what ways do you feel companies can focus on creating a customer experience using the right processes and tech?
We’re a product-led growth (PLG) company, and I can speak from that perspective. By committing to PLG, orgs can ensure that a top priority is understanding the evolving needs and priorities of customers. For us, it’s IT admins who use our product to secure and manage their environments. That allows us to balance tech – the programs in place to objectively monitor what features are being used, where users are getting hung up, etc. – while also having a dedicated customer success team to help with the process of managing customer needs. We want to create value, and we won’t do that without objective monitoring – which guards against investing too much time on features that we think are cool but that aren’t helping our users.
For any organization, in practice, this leads to increased customer outreach from a support team along with flexibility on the engineering side to adapt short-term objectives and goals based on customer feedback.
Companies should work to maintain a balance where the work that’s being prioritized right now gives customers the best possible value for their immediate needs, in addition to setting them up for long-term success. And it has the added bonus of giving people a stronger sense of the purpose behind their work.
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As companies and teams grow during this uncertain period, being remote can be a positive but also a setback to basic team efforts and growth plans, so what a few best practices to follow?
I would say: be intentional about teams, be inclusive of everyone, and reinforce company values. Let me share some examples.
About being intentional. To start, every team at JumpCloud has a charter so that we know why we are here and we’re inspired by our future state. There are a variety of practices that we have held onto from our physical environment that others have adopted to assist maintaining healthy teams. For instance, our engineering teams inspired the entire company to replicate their daily standup meetings. So, across the board, teams meet on a brief video call each morning where each member talks through their goals and priorities for the day. It’s a great opportunity for leaders to guarantee that everyone has the support they need and are on track, and it cultivates a sense of camaraderie around shared objectives.
In terms of being inclusive, I would say one thing – variety. Find a variety of ways to replicate the kind of informal interaction and relaxed environment that happens when people work in a physical office together. Virtual happy hours, game nights, trivia, scavenger hunts, birthday celebrations, ‘cribs’ editions of home offices, etc. Our CEO also started optional company-wide check-ins (what we call “Cloud Hours”) on Fridays. It’s a great place to share good news, share demos, shout out individual accomplishments across departments and celebrate the week’s wins. Find ways that every employee can feel connected, and feel as though the company is invested in their whole self.
Lastly, find ways to reinforce company values. Maintaining culture is tricky when everyone’s remote. So use your company values as a foundation. Make sure that each employee understands how they uniquely fit into the bigger picture, and how they’re contributing, day-to-day, in making that vision real. Make your core values operate as a philosophical guidepost to help drive decisions big and small.
Before we wrap up, we’d love to hear a little about your top of mind thoughts on leading product and tech teams more effectively during a global pandemic!
Empathy, clarity, and understanding are essential in team-building and team creation. This pandemic has highlighted the importance of understanding each other, especially in teams that are working toward a common goal, whether a product launch, landing a customer, or ensuring networks stay secure.
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Aaron Wilmot is the Vice President of People at JumpCloud. Aaron knows that the key to a thriving organization is a culture designed for the growth and development of its employees. For over a decade, Aaron has been reimagining the employee experience to allow employees to gain a deeper sense of purpose and ownership in their work.
JumpCloud is an open directory platform for secure, frictionless access from any device to any resource, anywhere.