Troy Compano of Workgrid for DWX leaders 2020

Troy Campano's career has brought him progressively closer to the end user over time. Starting out as a database administrator, Campano has dedicated the last decade and a half to helping organizations create contextual employee experiences, a practice he continues today in his role as head of product at Liberty Mutual Workgrid.

A Platform Grows Beyond Its Foundation 

The seed for Workgrid was planted in 2013, when Campano was a technologist working on enterprise-level internal applications at Liberty Mutual. The company’s efforts included an initiative that put an intense focus on building a better and more modern employee experience.

“We thought, ‘What would it look like if we put the employee at the center of all of the different applications we are building?’” he said. “What would a modern and consumer-like experience, something analogous to what you would get from using Google or Amazon, look like in the context of the workplace?”

That led to the creation of Workgrid, a digital assistant and employee experience platform that simplified the way employees receive information from different systems and sources — such as their pay slip, time-off balance, team information, company communications, manager approvals — all from a single unified experience.

Liberty Mutual’s Workgrid platform turned out to be one the most well-received technologies rolled out to its employees. “Because of that, whenever we showed other organizations what we were doing to advance our digital workplace, they’d always ask if they could use the platform in their organization,” said Campano. “This gave us the idea that if we could make a few changes to the platform it could ultimately be a platform used at any organization.” In 2017, Liberty Mutual officially launched Workgrid as its own company and the platform has served other large and medium-sized organizations ever since.

Workgrid is a sponsor at Simpler Media Group’s Digital Workplace Experience, which takes place Oct. 13-14 in Huntington Beach, Calif. We spoke with Campano about the trends driving today’s focus on employee experiences and how companies can align their technology efforts towards those goals.

Keep Employee Experience 'Front and Center' 

SMG: What are the biggest challenges companies face in terms of walking the path towards a seamless digital workplace experience? 

Campano: I frequently see two big challenges: The first involves how to develop a shared understanding about the importance of employee experience. Many groups will roll out a new technology or implement a new process, but the focus tends to be around making something functional. Only afterwards do they make improvements to the experience, if at all, and then wonder why their new system isn’t well adopted. Educating teams about the importance of employee experience goes a long way.

The second challenge is about how to align departments to create a singular employee experience. In many companies, different departments create experiences that meet the needs of that line of business. But when you add up all the different systems and processes used by each department, the net result is a fragmented experience for the employee. Organizations that succeed are finding ways to align processes and systems across the organization, to provide a unified employee experience layer.

SMG: What are the best ways organizations can align technologies around the employee and craft flexible experiences that grow with their needs? 

Campano: One of the best ways to start is to identify the things that employees are doing the most across the enterprise. What are the things that employees commonly do each day or each week? Then, what can you do to simplify those processes? Can you take a 10-step process and simplify t down to two if you’re using the right technology and designing the right intelligent experiences?

This is essentially what we did with Workgrid at Liberty Mutual when we started. We saw that managers were spending significant time jumping from one system to another to approve requests across various HR, finance and IT systems. One of the first things we did was to extract and bring all of these approvals into Workgrid, so the approvals were elevated outside of the noise of email. The manager could tap 'approve' or 'reject' all of these requests in one place.

Next, we identified the common things that employees were doing. This included reading company communications, viewing their pay slip, looking at the time off/vacation balance, editing their HR information, and seeing their team’s out of office schedule. We brought all of these commonly performed functions into Workgrid as well. Now, instead of an employee jumping into various HR and IT systems, they just go to one place to see all of their information and, in some cases, are able to update it from our intranet or on a mobile device. 

SMG: How would you say digital workplace technology has evolved over the last decade? And how do you see it evolving over the next couple of years?

Campano: In the early days of the digital workplace, there was a lot of focus on digitizing processes. By now, most things have been digitized, which is why we’re starting to see a shift towards improving these processes to be simpler. Also, we’re seeing teams begin to have a broader perspective beyond the intranet and understanding what the full experience is for an employee. The intranet is just one piece of the puzzle when the employee might also be using a sales system, a project management system and several corporate systems. I’m starting to see teams that are now thinking about how the intranet can help to act as the glue that brings these different systems together to create a cohesive employee experience.

Troy Campano, head of  product at Workgrid: "If the leaders in the organization do not check or ask questions about how the experience will be for employees, and better yet champion for a great experience, then often those things get forgotten."

SMG: How can organizations develop the company vision to make a seamless digital workplace happen, both through technology and culture? 

Campano: Leaders need to share how important it is to create great employee experiences. When setting objectives, funding projects or reviewing progress with the team, it’s important to capture the need for what the experience will be for the employee and make sure it’s in the front and center of everyone’s mind. If the leaders in the organization do not check or ask questions about how the experience will be for employees, and better yet champion for a great experience, then often those things get forgotten.

CMSWire: Thousands of companies are working remotely due to the spread of the coronavirus. What are the big challenges companies are facing with digital workplace technologies?

Campano: There are the typical challenges needed to scale: Will companies have the bandwidth to support the entire organization working from home? Will each of the cloud tools used have capacity to meet the demand? But beyond the technology, everyone’s processes will begin to adapt and change. With a current remote workforce, many of us can’t physically be together, so how do we still connect on a personal level?

SMG: What is your favorite business book you’d recommend on the digital workplace and the employee experience? 

Campano: I have to recommend Paul Miller’s original book on the topic, "The Digital Workplace: How Technology Is Liberating Work." It set the stage for what the digital workplace is and how it is broader than the company intranet.

Learn more about Digital Workplace Experience