The Future of Workplaces and Employment Trends – Mike Boyd Keynote

The Future of Workplaces and Employment Trends – Mike Boyd Keynote


[Music] [Applause] Hi guys. Can you hear me okay? I can boom my voice that way, you should
be able to capture me over the music. I’ve got a very short period of time here, so, I’m not gonna
tell too much of a story. I’m just gonna give you a little bit
of context about me and who I am and then I’d really love to
open the floor. If you’ve got questions I’d prefer to use the short amount
of time we have to answer them for you. So that you get the most value. But who am I? I’m an Entrepreneur first
and a CEO second. Right now I’m the Managing Director
and Group CEO of a company called
vroomvroomvroom.com.au We’re a global car rental
comparison website. We’ve been in business 16 years
and I’ve been involved the last six. So, now I’m the co-owner of the business and we are effectively an Expedia
or a Webjet of the car rental world. Our biggest partners are Hertz,
Avis, Budget, Thrifty, Europcar and we book about
a thousand cars every single day for those partners all over the world. So, we’re number one
in Australia, New Zealand and we’re still booking
in the northern hemisphere as well a good amount of business.
We do about 80 million dollars a year. So, before Vroom and to give
you a little bit of idea as to sort of you know the context for today’s
discussion around digital and social, I’ve always been an entrepreneur
since I could remember. My entrepreneurial
career started at about age 11 selling lost golf balls
and I went on to start and fail at many businesses throughout
high school and university. And where I really cut
my teeth on digital was when I was studying
here up the river at UQ, I started a party
hire business when I was 17, 18 and it was out of
sheer frustration that I couldn’t hire a beer keg
for my 18th birthday. Alright. And so, I couldn’t believe that
there wasn’t a market for that. Cos, I had demand
but there was no supply. So, I set about building
a business called Coolybar which we ended up running
for about three years and then so, you know I won’t tell
you the whole story, but you know I borrowed
five grand from Mum and Dad, imported some gear from US, the dispensing equipment and the gas
and all that sort of stuff in order to chill beer kegs
and allow you to have a party, you know, US college style for an 18th or 21st. We then expanded in the
daiquiri machines and other things but you know, what was really interesting
about that party hire company was that we never spent
a cent on advertising and yet we ran it very
successfully for three years and made quite a bit of cash.
It was an amazing sort of hobby semi-pro business,
while I was in uni. I was only working the weekends.
We’d take enquiries during the week and make money on Saturday
and Sunday with deliveries of equipment. So, we ended up marketing
the entire thing using digital channels and it was at the
very early stages of social media where most people didn’t know
what Facebook or Twitter was or they thought it was child’s play. But, for me
it was perfect at the time, because my entire demographic,
my entire target market were 18 and 20 and 21 year olds and they were the only ones on the platforms.
They were the early adopters. So I went where
my customers were and rather than paying to advertise, in fact Facebook didn’t even
had an ad platform back then neither did Twitter,
all we did was actually promote
what we were already doing. So we would ask,
we would get a party, we’d have an 18 or 21st,
we would ask, if we could come in
and photograph the party on behalf of the celebrant and we’d give
them the photos for free. But what we’d do of course
is put Coolybar tag in the bottom right-hand corner
of the photo as a watermark and all of their friends were tagged
in the image and shared all over Facebook and so our branding
was being spread organically all over and anybody that thought,
“oh, wow! That’s really cool to have a keg ” or a daiquiri machine
or something that’s lots of fun”, our brand just spread purely
on word-of-mouth and then we leveraged you know ranking in
Google for SEO purposes and all that sort of thing
and really learned quite just through trial and error
and lots of error. So, you know that led me
into the next business where I ended up doing digital marketing
consulting for much bigger brands. Because the story got out that we’re
running a fairly successful business without spending
a cent on advertising and so I quickly became
a consultant and at the age of 20, I was charging 350 dollars an hour and being flown all over
the country into boardrooms and make it meeting with marketing teams
of publicly listed companies trying to educate them on this
whole social media marketing thing that they started to hear about,
but had no idea how to make money out of. So, you know, one thing led
to another to another to another and there’s plenty of stories
I can tell you about ventures but why we’re here today
is really to talk about how at VroomVroomVroom,
we run a globally distributed
remote workforce, how we attract them,
how we retain them, how we engage them
and the sorts of shifts we’re seeing in the workforce now and in the future. And I think it’s relevant, because
we’re an early adopter of technology and what we’re doing now
you’re going to see become mainstream in two, three, four, five years. So, we have
a presence in 12 countries, employees in 12 countries, but we only have
two physical offices. Right? So, that means
that I’ve got employees in ten other countries that
are either working from home or working from co-working spaces, freelancing or contracting
or working across countless time-zones
we can’t keep up. So, how do we do that,
why do we do that, what’s the benefit,
what’s the value? For me the biggest value is we’re actually playing with
a global talent pool. In this day and age particularly
for some digital roles, it’s extremely hard
to find the talent, because all of a sudden
everyone’s digital company, all of the sudden everybody
needs software developers or digital marketers or other sorts
of talent that we’ve been using for years, you know,
not only has the price doubled, but they’re much, much
harder to find and attract. So opening ourselves up
to a global workforce allows us to not only fill roles
but find better talent for the same money
and fill the roles faster. So, we do that
in a number of different ways. Our head office is based
here in Brisbane and we engage people like anyone else.
We have full-time salaried employees. We also have,
we’re a digital business, we don’t see a lot of our customers
so we have some flexibility for whether it be mums
that need to make the school pickup and they need
to work some odd hours, we accommodate that
sort of thing to attract talent. It’s not all about money,
it’s about flexibility. Globally we employ people
directly as contractors but we also use
tools like Upwork which was previously
called oDesk or Freelancer. You know, any of these networks
to find and engage the right talent. And I’m sure you guys
are familiar with that. I guess what we’ve done in order
to be successful is we’ve persisted. We’ve chosen
that we wanted to double down on this remote team and make it work and we’ve had our highs
and our lows with it, but I think over the last couple
of years we’ve really built a lot of IP around what we do
and making that successful and we now use a lot
of systems processes and tools internally to drive up
the communication and make sure that we’re still
getting all of knowledge-sharing even though we’re not sitting
next to each other and you know walking
by the water cooler as they say. So, I’ll share a couple
of those quick tactics with you and then I’m gonna
open it up to the floor so that you guys can sort of
pull out the knowledge that you want. One of the things that we started
last year that’s been really successful and started as an experiment is something that
we call #CEOAMA which stands for
CEO Ask Me Anything session. You guys might be familiar with AMAs
on the internet through sites like Reddit I sort of took
that concept, evolved it and brought it privately
into our business. The way it works is, last year
we ran them once a quarter, they were so successful, we’re probably
going to move it to monthly, but effectively I sit down
in front of a webcam or a laptop, I livestream straight to YouTube
using their free live streaming tech. I think you can
do it with Google Hangouts and a bunch of other different things,
but the reason I used YouTube is cos I can broadcast live and it will automatically
save the video for later as well. I unlist the video,
so it’s a private link. You can only view it,
if I give you the link and I share that link
internally with my Team. We’ve got about 60 people
around the world. So, we host an AMA, we schedule at
3 o’clock in the afternoon, one afternoon, it goes for about an hour and in the few hours prior
to that my Team collect(s) a list of anonymous questions from our Team all over the world. So I end up usually with about 60 or 70 questions from the Team which could range from
interesting questions like, “can we all have a pay raise
or a free massage chair?” or you know, what’s
coming up in the business, what are the big challenges
at the moment, what are you tackling at CEO level,
what should we be aware of you, what are the roles were
hiring for next, what’s the risks in our industry, the sorts of stuff that
people are curious about, they not necessarily
have access to ask CEO, so the whole purpose is to drive
massive transparency, tear down any barriers to that, any walls, any silos and we’re really big on basically
being the anti-bureaucracy. So, I then sit there for an hour, I have one of the team [member]
read out the questions to me and in most cases I’ve never
even seen them before so I have to act right there on the spot
and I broadcast live. We usually have about 50% of the
Team in the right sort of a time-zone that tune in and watch
it for an hour and the other 50% watch it
in their time-zone on YouTube later when they wake up. It’s something that we have
received rave reviews on. They’ve really got a lot of value out of it. They’ve been extremely grateful
for the level of transparency and just the fact that
we even want to run that internally really helps us retain talent
cos it shows we care. The other thing that
we’re doing similar to that is, you know you’ll see Claire
and Jorg here. They’re here with me.
They’re filming me today. This little talk will be
on YouTube and I’m gonna share that out
on the social channels and only three weeks
ago I started producing a daily video blog sharing,
Day in the Life of a CEO, Day in the Life of an Entrepreneur and I’ve put out
you know five or six episodes now of us travelling through Manila
and what our Manila office looks like, Transiting through Hong Kong,
the Brisbane office and how we’re doing some
of this, because people are curious and that’s actually part
of how we attract talent. So when people are googling me
or googling VroomVroomVroom. we’re putting out a huge amount
of social content now and that part of that is
driving self-selection. We want people to see what
our brand is doing, decide whether or
not that’s a great fit for them and choose to opt in or opt out
when we’re advertising a role or better yet,
knock on the door and say, “I love what you’re doing.
Are there any roles going?” Alright, so I could talk
for hours but I’ll try and slow it all down there. Hopefully,
that gives you a few seeds in your mind. Are there any immediate questions
that I can answer for you? Yeah. For your people who are
globally dispersed kind of all around the world, how do you engage them
in a company culture, if they’re kind of — They are out on their own.
Yeah. So, the question
was for the remote team that are dispersed over the world,
how do we engage them in the company culture. So, we use all sorts of
communication and collaboration tools. Our favourite is Slack. I’m sure you guys have heard
of Slack and used internally. So, we basically
banned internal email, because we found that the response rate and the level
of communication was far too slow and people felt out
of the loop with time-zones. So we moved to a chat based
collaboration tool which was Slack and that really reduces the divide. Each of the teams
whether its Development or Marketing or Design has a daily stand-up and so that’s a daily video call
where they stand up and just do
a really quick check in. This is what’s on my list today,
this is what I’m doing, this is what went well yesterday
and do that within their Team so that they’re actually
getting face time and feeling like
they’re part of something. The #CEOAMA helps
bridge the gap for everybody and gives them access to me. I catch about a hundred flights a year.
I’m around the world quite a bit and so I can film that anywhere rather than having to be
in just one of those offices. And of course you know,
we try and make sure that everyone irrespective of where they are are onboarded correctly
and trained in our core values, our operating principles,
what we’re all about and everybody participates
in the ideas, the planning, the strategy and what’s next. And again it sort of comes
into our core value of being an adhocracy rather than
a bureaucracy and really making sure everyone
feels part of what we call, ‘The Vroom Family’. How do you come up with
all the new ideas because there’s
always something newer. [Indistinct] Yeah, yeah. Look, to be honest like the #CEOAMA if I use that as
an example was my idea, but it was really just a variation
on a public AMA I’d seen. You know, if you guys aren’t familiar
with it, they get famous people to answer the public questions
on a forum called Reddit and I just thought
I’m gonna do that on video and I’m gonna do it internally
for the Team to share knowledge. In terms of new platforms
and what to use and why would you use them
in a social environment, for me I just experiment, you know. I pay attention to the market,
I see what other people are doing and I try and model their behaviour and I’m not prepared —
I’m not worried about falling on my face. I’m an entrepreneur first,
a CEO second so I’m pretty used to failure. We’re prepared to have a go at things. So, last year about February or March, I saw some
very early adopters in the business world
starting to use Snapchat, so I downloaded it thinking,
it was either a tool used for things
that we don’t talk about or tool used for teenagers. But all of a sudden,
I saw some really clever people using it I thought, hey there’s gotta
be a reason, why. So, I just downloaded the app
and started playing with it. And the first few times
I put out content, I think I accidentally sent it to myself,
you know, it didn’t even work, but you just try and so then very
quickly around June, July last year I started doing full-length
Snap Stories and that’s where you know they’re
ten-second videos at a time, but I would hold out
my phone like this and I would
record a video talking to camera as I’m walking down the street or as I’m going into a meeting.
I just started sharing my day. Because I realized that I’m a young
CEO running a fairly big global business and that’s a unique position
that a lot of people are interested in. So, rather than trying to be
really, really creative and really produced
to put out content, I just started sharing
what I’m already doing and I think that for a lot of people
you can do that as well. I think there’s a lot to be said
for documenting what you already do rather than creating. Cos otherwise
you spend a lot of time you know planning,
producing worrying about lighting and sound
and all that sort of thing. Allow it to be terrible
in the first place. Just make a plan
to put out 10 videos or make a plan to write ten
blog posts or 10 tweets or whatever it is that you wanna
experiment with and don’t worry if no one looks or respond or shares,
that’s not the point. You know the only way,
I got ‘camera comfortable’, was by doing it. And I wasn’t at all comfortable
in the beginning and I felt like a fool and I wanted
to delete it afterwards. It was only this year,
I really picked up Instagram for exactly the same thing,
Instagram Stories. So, now I’m doing it
on a bit of Snap and a bit of Instagram and it’s opened up
a completely different audience for me. So, I was doing that
before I walked in here today. I took a little bit of the Story
before I walked up, I captured a little bit
of Petra speaking. I’m just trying to document the day of what goes on in my life,
cos people are curious and then they end up finding
out about VroomVroomVroom and they become aware of it
next time they think of renting a car, they go, “oh, that’s right. I saw that
guy and maybe I’ll google that.” it’s not about Direct Selling
in the social environment. If you’re trying to promote your business
or if you’re trying to attract talent. It’s not about
push, push, push, it’s about add as much value
as you possibly can. Hopefully with interesting content and allow people
to opt-in themselves. I’m trying to promote word-of-mouth
rather than selling something. [Indistinct] I’m not sure about the question
properly. One more time. [Indistinct] Yes. Yes. Oh, okay. So, you know. I’ll just come back over here
so everyone can hear me, but how do we link the content
that we’re putting out that’s primarily
promoting the business or promoting me to recruitment? How do we actually make the ask
for recruitment and attract talent? I actually think a lot of that is almost by osmosis. The same people that are consuming
the content for business kind of wish their
business was like that. That’s what we’re going for.
We’re trying to actually be a little bit contrarian and have a more interesting culture or more interesting content
or a slightly more flexible workforce to attract talent and we can
compete with big corporates because we have
an entrepreneurial culture. We can attract people
that need to have a flexible workforce. We work with freelancers all the time.
We work with people that work from home
a couple of days a week and then work from the office
a couple of days a week. We’ve built systems to make
that happen and I think that to some extent
is our competitive advantage. So, if we’re putting
out content like this and people are following along
because they find that interesting, I’ll just pull out
an Instagram Story one day and I’ll hold up my phone, I’ll say,
“hey guys, we’ve actually published “three new roles” or “we’re thinking
about publishing three new roles. “We need a digital producer,
we need a videographer, “cos, we started doing all of this content.
You can see that the video aren’t great, “we want them to be great, “if you know anyone that would love to play
along with this journey let me know.” So, we can still go down traditional
recruitment channels. What we’re trying to do is “value add” to the process.
So one: if our network’s big enough, or our audience
is big enough on social, we might directly attract
some talent which is great. That shortcuts the process. They’re already familiar with this,
cos they’ve consumed some content, but what’s more
likely to happen is, we’ll publish a role or will give a role
to a recruitment firm and as they start shopping
it around and people are short-listed or candidates start
to become interested, there is no candidate in the world these
days that doesn’t google the business and potentially the
leadership of the business before deciding if they want to put their hand up for it
or go for an interview, right? And that’s where
they find our content. So I’m putting
out content irrespective of whether or not anyone
watching now because it’s all on Google, right? Or it’s all on Instagram,
it’s all on Facebook, it’s all still there and so someone can find it
when they’re ready and when it’s relevant. And you know,
we will actually put out content under the Vroom brand
about our culture, about our values. We’ll show what
the office looks like and what the vibe’s like internally. We will share some stuff
from office celebrations and birthdays and you know a couple
of weeks ago we had a great party because the business
turned sixteen, so we had a 16th birthday cake
and we had a bit of fun in the two offices around the world
and we sent some stuff to the remote Team to engage them as well. I think it’s about being you
and being your organisation and just sharing that
little bit more publicly and that helps the recruitment process. [Indistinct] You know what, our business
is really interesting. A lot of people think,
we run by twenty-year-olds. There’s a bit of that.
Particularly in the, because I’m young, right? We’ve got a lot of young
software developers and digital marketers in that
because it’s a newer space but we actually balance out
to an average age of about 45. I often make a joke, we actually appear
to attract the demographic of mums with children
that have left home and they’re in their early fifties that basically run the ship and then the group
of young guys and girls that are doing marketing and digital. It’s just a weird mix
of what we’ve managed to attract. In terms of the content though, um, completely different
on different social networks. So, you know when
we put videos out on YouTube, they’re consumed by all sorts
of different demographics and age groups. Instagram is really ageing up. It started young.
Facebook started young, now Grandma is on Facebook
looking at the pictures, right? Or Mum and Dad are on Facebook
looking at the pictures, so there’s plenty
of people on Facebook and they’ll consume more
content than you think. They might not be as digital savvy and commenting and liking
and sharing on everything but there’s a lot of views there. You know Twitter’s
an interesting space at the moment. It’s in decline, but apparently
there’s a new emerging group of people adopting it in the teens so you know, we’re watching that. Snapchat at the moment for me, because I mainly put out
entrepreneur and business content. I don’t get much engagement, because it’s too young. I get a few other people
that are trying to do what I do, but we consume each other’s content. We’re not really reaching
a wider audience. When I took exactly
the same Snap Story, you know daily videos that maybe add up
to 5 or 10 minutes throughout the day and put that on an Instagram Story,
sharing day in the life, it exploded. The like 600 times the amount
of engagement on Snapchat. That’s not to mean
that I’ll stop with Snapchat, it just means it’s not ready yet,
it’s not mature enough. Instagram has much
better discoverability, cos I can put a hashtag
on it that says, #CEO or #Entrepreneur
or #DayInTheLife and people discover my content. On Snapchat people only watch
me if they already follow me and so it’s a much
higher barrier to entry. So, yeah. I don’t have all the answers,
I just experiment, to be honest [Indistinct] Yeah. Look, massively. Massive difference in the different
markets around the world. In Brisbane we’re seeing a much
bigger agitation for flexible workforce. You know,
they’re getting the ideas. You know, Europe and the US
are so far ahead of us in terms of this sort of stuff. Australia is a bit slower
in terms of the adoption, but these digital first businesses
like ours are the ones to adopt it first. So you know we’ve got
a lot of flexible workforce in Brisbane and they’re our
most senior staff. Most of my Management Team
are based in the head office in Brisbane. In Manila, much more regimented and process and systems driven,
so that’s where the majority of people that,
we have in the Manilla office, we’ve got about
25 people there at the moment and I’m not talking call centre,
I’m talking SEO, design,
software development, strategy. We have CPA Accountants,
there’s all sorts. A lot of those actually thrive
in a much more structured environment because that’s what
they’re used to. And so when we started actually
offering flexibility in the Philippines, it failed miserably for us. Unless someone set up from home
as a 100% full-time freelancer, and they never come to the office, the whole hybrid
flexibility thing is not something that
their culture is used to or mature enough,
I think to handle. And then there’s real
infrastructure challenges, right? So if you’re working
in a place like the Philippines where in our office, because we have
a fibre internet connection they don’t have the same infrastructure
at home which is why they travel in. and traffic and transport and all those
sorts of things around the city are an issue. So, we recruit in a very tight circle around our core infrastructure. That’s where the money is all on.
It’s on the office with the great internet
and the backup power and all of that and then people come into that hub,
whereas in Brisbane, people can work from home. You know, we’ve got remote
workforce in Sydney, we’ve got remote workforce
in New Zealand, we’ve got remote workforce
in Spain and the US. In the more mature countries
we can rely on the infrastructure, which is so important
to our business. In the freelancing world,
so we use Upwork quite a bit to discover contractors
that are purely freelance. Sometimes they stay
on Upwork for years and we pay the fees and use
the Upwork platform, other time they become
full-time employees and we contract them directly
and pull them off the platform. But every market
is slightly different. The thing we found
the most success with is, the really high-calibre freelancers
in the world that use Upwork, the really valuable ones,
I’m talking about, you know if you’re trying
to attract a software developer a senior software developer,
maybe the market’s really tight here in Brisbane. You haven’t
quite found the right person, but you find them in, what’s a good example, Bali,
I hired someone in Bali last year, still a six-figure spend, right? This is still a role that’s probably
a 110,000 dollars Aussie equivalent, but I found the most success with those types of roles.
For the really talented, they’re craving reliability, ongoing stable work. Because the main reason they
operate on those platforms is, it’s two reasons. One, they want
flexibility of hours and work or interesting work. Two, more likely they live in a place
where there’s not enough work and they wanna play
in the global workforce. So, you know we have
people from Russia and India and Bangladesh
and Bali and Lithuania and Spain and the US
and all over. And they have these great talents
that we have in demand. They don’t have the same
opportunity in their local economy. And so we’ve had great success
engaging people on short-term trials and then offering them
a full-time long-term contract. Even if it’s still through
the Upwork contract, we’ll give them
a guarantee of a year’s work or six months work,
because you usually find that, that these guys and girls
that have worked in corporate, being agitated by it,
haven’t enjoyed it, they’ve come out
and decided to freelance, then they realised
that freelancing’s hard, right? You have four
clients on-the-go. The client says,
“yeah, we need you next week”, but then they shift their project. And you were counting
on the cash flow, but then it wasn’t available, because you’re at the mercy of other people.
So, usually these are technicians, software devs or designers. They’re not good at running
a business, they’re not good
at client management, they’re not good at managing
time and energy. So, they go out for the opportunity
to work from home and the flexibility, but when we offer
them a full-time gig with ongoing work and they don’t have
to worry about juggling multiple clients, multiple projects,
we often get a big sigh of relief and we attract
much greater talent and we retain them longer. So, really flexible
in our Western markets like Brisbane
and the US and the UK, very regimented in the Philippines and other parts of Asia
and then you know Eastern Europe and other freelances
like a bit of flexibility, but they like guaranteed work cos these people still have
mortgages and bills to pay. [Indistinct] Yeah. I think that last story,
I just told about professional freelances that you’re giving full-time
or very sort of uh, guaranteed work to is where we’re going. You know that’s what I’m seeing.
I’m seeing people with demands that they want freedom of geography, they want to be out like — we have an Optimisation Manager, a quite senior role who does
all that conversion optimisation, analytics and testing and
split testing and all that sort of stuff. Brilliant guy based in Lithuania. I was chatting to him
you know, a month ago and it looked different.
You know we’re videoconferencing, it’s different room. And I said,
“Ah, looks sunny today”. And he said,
“yeah, I moved to Spain”. I didn’t even know, right. He said, I moved to Spain
for three months for the winter, because it’s too cold in Lithuania. And so he loves that
freedom and flexibility. He still delivers all his work.
He’s got a commitment to us, but he can move around so, I’m seeing more
of that being pushed even into the Western environment
here in Australia, the US and Europe.
I think people want to be able to make
commitments for mortgages and bills and plan their life
and grow their family and have security, but they just need
a little bit more flexibility in terms of where they are
and when they work. So, not everybody can offer that. Even to some
extent we can’t, right? We have a very large
Customer Care Team, that answers phone calls and they can’t
choose when they work. They’re very much rostered on
to make sure we’ve got full coverage. But where you have the roles
and you can provide flexibility, I think you’re gonna see
a much bigger demand for that coming up. Any other questions.
Thank you so much. Thank you guys.
I hope it was valuable. – Thank you.
– [Applause]

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