For Kintone users, working remotely is suspiciously easy. The powerful workplace platform offers teams a 360-degree vision of everything they need to stay up-to-date at work: data, conversations, status reports. And they can see it from any internet connected device.
But what sets this platform apart isn’t just its features–it’s the culture infused around it.
“Kintone is as much as a philosophy as it is a product,” says Dave Landa, CEO of Kintone Corporation. Kintone Corporation is the U.S. branch of Cybozu, a Japan-based groupware company that set records when it launched.
Founded by three former-Panasonic software engineers in 1997, Cybozu went on to become the fastest company to go public on the Tokyo Stock Exchange – only three years after its debut. Kintone is now used by 19,000+ organizations worldwide, and the business grows an average of 50% a year.
“Oftentimes, people want software to solve their problems. To make things like remote work easier,” says Dave. “They think, ‘if only I could see reports from my phone, or access that document that’s in someone else’s email.’ They hope new features or editions will fix the struggles they face around their job. But having access to reports on your phone isn’t a fix-all solution if you’ve got young children at home who need constant help logging into their Zoom classes. Being able to access that spreadsheet in someone else’s email won’t feel like much if you’ve just been told your company expects you back in the office after you’ve bought a house outside the commuting zone.”
For Dave, having the right tools is just the first step. It’s the policies around them that make or break their ultimate value.
“Last year, we had a sales member named Lisa reach out to us. She’s a mom with a young kid who needs a lot of help logging into classes and staying focused throughout the day. She felt she couldn’t be the mom her son needed and work within the normal nine-to-five timeframe. So, she came to us and had a conversation… She ended up switching her hours so she would work mornings—before her son started his classes—take the afternoon off to focus on him, and then jump back on in the evenings to finish up what was left. Lisa wrote an open note on Kintone explaining her decision and situation to the entire rest of the team. That note did two things: it helped her team understand her situation and support her, but it also helped establish an open line with other parents on our team who were struggling with the same thing.”
Rather than turning a difficult situation into a point of shame or lack of commitment to the company, it became an opportunity to explore who else on the team was struggling and what adjustments could be made for them.
Kintone’s culture laid the groundwork to speak up. Then the product came in to help others raise their voice. For Kintone users, the platform helps foster and encourage many of the company’s core philosophies, including transparency and accountability.
“Kintone is a database. But it’s also a collaboration hub; rather than writing isolated emails back and forth to internal members of the team, you can push those conversations through Kintone itself,” says Dave.
The result is fascinating. Data records store conversations between team members right alongside the data being discussed – even after the conversation is over. Areas called Spaces allow teams to create department or team-centric areas where they can chat and talk about the specifics of their work. Customer success has its own Space, as does marketing and sales. And within each of these spaces are threads are conversation topics sorted by subject.
That’s where Lisa’s message to the team was posted.
At a typical business, her message might have never left the conference room. Or if it were announced, it might have been done through HR and accompanied by a politely worded email from Lisa to only her closest colleagues.
But on Kintone it was visible to everyone in the company. “Just because it lives in the Sales Space doesn’t mean only sales can see it. Anyone can go over and look and read and benefit from it,” says Dave. “The Kintone platform gave her a voice, and in turn it gives others in the company a chance to speak for themselves as well.”
For Dave, this is what Kintone is truly about: creating an ultra-transparent workplace where people feel truly comfortable to raise and discuss the issues facing them–both at home and in work. “If someone in sales wants to learn about the marketing initiatives launching this month, or if the marketing team wants a better understanding of what current clients are saying to the customer success team, the information is there – accessible to all.”
This all lends itself to this emerging semi-permanent remote work world businesses are dealing with. Right now, “many companies are struggling to figure out how to let people stay remote without risking company culture,” says Dave. What he feels they don’t realize is that they can build and grow a strong company culture even when no one is in the same room, if they’ve got the right setup. “Your team needs tools that allow them access to the information and conversations they used to be able to get by walking across to someone else’s desk.” No more conversations siloed away in email. No more spreadsheets trapped on someone’s desktop – and they’re not responding on Slack. Centralization and accessibility are critical.
But to Dave, the right tools don’t just help your team get their work done more effectively. They help foster the underlying values of your culture even when your culture committee or HR team isn’t around.
“When the lockdowns occurred in March of last year, we like to say we went remote in 24 hours without a hitch,” he laughs. “That’s because we did. A team of 50 people in San Francisco and around the U.S. went completely remote in less than a day with no major hiccups, minus collecting the office mail. And while certain parts of our culture have changed, such as no more in-person happy hours – other parts have thrived. We haven’t lost anything.”