Every workfellow’s story is special to us. Every person in our small but fast-growing family is unique and adds his/her own flavor to the company’s spirit.
Today we have an interview with one of the two very first workfellows - Henri. It’s the co-founder who envisioned and saw the potential in Workfellow before it even existed :D And I guess we don’t even have to mention how much influence founders have over the company, the culture, and the people.
Let's learn more about Henri as a teammate and workfellow, and have a glance at the life of a startup's CPO.
Hi Henri! Starting with some general questions, what do you do when you’re not working?
It’s typically three things ongoing all the time for me. One of them is, of course, work. Then I have a family - we have 2 kids, and that also takes quite a good chunk of very well spent time. And lastly, I like doing some sports as well - cycling, cross country skiing.
What drives you forward to build and improve the product every day?
We’re solving a really exciting problem, and I truly believe that it will change the way companies go digital! It really is exciting to think how large companies and enterprises would be using our software to improve the way they work. Obviously, that doesn’t happen overnight. I guess that’s the main driver to keep moving forward every day.
Compared to your previous job, has the CPO role at Workfellow been more demanding, and how do you keep a work-life balance now with that change?
I think I’ve been really busy earlier as well :D Maybe it’s like a different kind of busyness because as a co-founder there are a lot of things that need to be done.
For me, it’s mainly about “what” to prioritize and “when” to do that work. In my past job, there were customer projects, which had to be done at a certain time. And here at Workfellow, I just try to choose the right stuff to do and probably have a little longer days to do those. In larger companies, there are lots of processes - good and bad, and some of them used to happen automatically without even thinking why we needed them. Now it’s the perfect time for us to set up good processes and good ways to do similar stuff at Workfellow as well.
Coming back to the question; to have enough energy for work, we should have enough time for recovery. That’s why I try to spend more time with my family and do sports to keep myself in a good shape both mentally and physically.
If there was no pandemic and no need to work online, would you still prefer remote work, or would come to the office more regularly?
Maybe a little more at the office, because it’s a good reason to commute by bike and do some exercises. Also, I like to meet people face-to-face, it’s a good way to have small spontaneous chats. I think I generally like that atmosphere when there are people around, working together and exchanging ideas. In the past, it was a good excuse to do remote work once in a while. Now it’s the other way around; you work from home by default and go to the office if there’s something to be done specifically there.
Even when remote, we still manage to find good ways to meet people and keep the conversation open by having daily short calls or slack huddles. I also like how we have our videos on when chatting about some open issues while working.
What was your best day at work so far? Alternatively, what would be your perfect-ish day at work?
That’s a tough question… Maybe it was the day when we just got our office, and our first software engineer Janne joined us. It was very exciting and memorable: we were assembling the tables, “physically” building the company, and everything was still ahead of us!
As for the day that I’d like a lot, there would be a few parts to it. First, I’d love to communicate with the customers a lot; get their feelings and feedback, and try to understand how we could improve our product and make their life easier. Second, it’d be great to have more time to think strategically about what we should be doing in our product. If we get some cool features to the product released on that same day, that would definitely be a perfect day :)
What has been the most challenging so far in your work?
I think communicating what all of the stuff that is in my head is about, for example, improvements in the product can be challenging from time to time. There’s so much happening every day in the markets, in the customer data; so it might get hard to communicate the whole thinking path behind certain decisions. We don’t want to just say “let’s do this and that”, but rather “why” we’re doing it, and what customer challenges led to that decision.
Of course, we have some really good processes to get together and discuss things. But then doing that in a shorter time frame AND in a scalable manner requires some more thinking on how to improve those processes.
What is Workfellow for you?
It’s like our family member, who is growing up now and becoming wiser and wiser every day. Someone who parents can be proud of.
What traits would you want future workfellows to have?
What I’m excited to see in people joining us is curiosity. Being curious about work in general, about customer problems and how those can be solved, and about teammates here.