Future Of WorkSwiftkey People Functions interview

A refreshing chat has left me wishing that my Mac keyboard was engineered with the Swiftkey app somehow (blatant hint) …

Since it’s launch in 2012 the Swiftkey keypad app shot immediately to the top of the Apple app charts with over one million downloads in the first 24 hours of its launch. 

But by cutting keystrokes down and saving time for their eager clients, is the company themselves as focused on productivity time saves and instilling a sense of #happywork within their own team?

Trecilla Lobo, Head of People Functions chatted to Chaos and Rocket Fuel and it was a refreshing half an hour…

When you reach global success with a product, especially on a level as Swiftkey did the hard work suddenly starts not only with managing the ongoing user experience but delivering new updates and product releases when the world’s eyes are on you. How do you ensure your team are inspired for this?

Well a lot of it is down to getting the right people in the first place and that process starts internally by defining your brand’s values. We ensure that they’re visible around the Swiftkey office and relevant and transparent in everything we do so when it comes to getting the right fit with new people we can identify very quickly with people who speak our language and that’s half the battle won there.

How would you describe the Swiftkey culture?

It’s very relaxed and informal. We want people to be comfortable enough for their ideas to surge. There’s very little focus on hierarchy and instead a massive focus on collaboration.

How do you ensure the innovation of products is kept fresh?

Twice a year the entire company downs tools for innovation week. To re-instate our values we all get together for events and brain storming of new products and ideas. It’s brilliant for team building and gets the non-techies collaborating and problem solving with the techies. We always come out stronger moving forwards as any perceived barriers have been broken down.

Is sounds amazing. What goes on?

Well ideas for our existing products are discussed and new projects are brainstormed and then created, which is great for the non tech types that want an avenue to unleash their creativity as everyone can get involved and do what they’d like. From creating our values in an art format to coding an application that helps the community in general. These projects live beyond the Innovation Week which helps our team spirit live on too, the staff say that they feel as though their ideas have been unleashed, valued and invested in. The whole week has such a great buzz with events going on every evening. People have been known to camp over in the office to wake up and participate all over again.

How do you measure ongoing employee engagement?

We focus on behaviours when we look at output and whilst we have a series of one-on-ones which are good for the slightly more introverted members’ of the team, we generally have a very integrated and transparent team that shouts when something isn’t working right for them so that we can fix it asap to ensure that they’re left happy and productive. We run surveys throughout the year for everyone to evaluate their happiness levels at work across different areas.

How many people make up the Swiftkey team?

It’s approximately 150 at the moment, so at this level it’s good because I can make my way around and talk to everyone. I encourage upfront and honest chats so I can address any issues upfront.

With such a collaborative and open culture, what’s your approach to meetings?

We plan them very carefully. We have to take into account everybody’s different style – for example the techies tend to be more reflective so we always give them advanced warning of the topics so that they can process it and come to the meeting with their input and decisions already made.

What’s next on the agenda for honing in on?

Career development. It’s different to each and every member of our team and we want to ensure that we address it accordingly so that everyone feels valued and has a path that suits their goals.

I’ve no doubt that with the smart forward thinking approach that this team displays the future is bright for Swiftkey. 

Now about that keyboard…