Our sixth annual Bay Street Bull 30X30 guide showcases a group of incredible individuals who are redefining the way we do business, championing their communities, and cultivating entirely new industries. From tech and environmental pioneers to cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and media trailblazers, each of this year’s inductees is challenging Canadians to think (and work) differently for a brighter future.
In our series of one-on-one interviews, get to know each honouree a little better: their values, mission, lessons learned, and best advice.
What is your elevator pitch to the world?
Pavla Bobosikova: The way we live and work has changed forever. We now have a unique opportunity to redefine what healthy, future-proof organizations look like and how they operate. People are looking to live their lives in a more flexible way, aligned more closely with their values. We’re here to empower people to do that while enabling distributed teams to stay engaged and build high-performing organizations.
What excites you most about the work that you are doing?
Pavla Bobosikova: We’re creating a category of solutions designed to manage the now remote-first workforce. We’re living through a renaissance in the relationship between people and companies, the way that people live and work is fundamentally changing. I believe we have the potential to change how over a billion people (knowledge workers globally) set up and experience their lives.
Where do you think you have made the most impact in your industry and/or community?
Pavla Bobosikova: Within the context of employee engagement, people analytics, and workforce management, we advocate for flexible and remote-first work. We’re encouraging People leaders and other HR Tech companies to focus on providing visibility and helping managers identify coaching opportunities that will ultimately help them build healthier organizations. We’re promoting organizational health and remote readiness over monitoring productivity and having a fixed mindset around what work looks like (9-5, “hybrid”). On a personal level, I am intentional about encouraging other young professionals and first-time founders to be genuine and deliberate about how they spend their time and which problems they try to solve, and most importantly to be courageous and shoot their shot.
What kind of problems are you trying to solve? What’s wrong with the current status quo that you’ve taken on as your mission to change?
Pavla Bobosikova: We’re solving the impact that the new way of working is having on the relationship between employers and employees. The status quo was built around synchronous 9-5, five days/week, in-office work. In that environment, managers had visibility into how each person was doing, how hard they were working, and whether they had an emotional connection to the organization—or whether they were an attrition risk. Similarly, leaders had a much better chance of assessing which teams were performing well. Last but not least, individual contributors had an easier time learning from senior colleagues physically sitting next to them and building relationships inside the organization – ultimately resulting in higher employee engagement and retention. These elements went away with the permanent shift towards remote-first work and it will require a new set of tools to overcome these challenges. The way forward is not about mimicking the old ways (e.g. virtual 3D office), but using this opportunity to make work a better experience.
The pandemic has fundamentally impacted how we work. From your perspective, what do you see as the key tenets of cultivating meaningful work culture today?
Pavla Bobosikova: The key principles of cultivating meaningful work culture boils down to clear communication, visibility and easy access to information, opportunities to build informal relationships at work, having well-defined processes, and providing opportunities for growth. Companies need to clearly and continuously communicate their values and act in a way that reflects them. Following these values and meeting one’s goals should be publicly recognized and there should be enough trust that people always have the confidence to express their opinion. The pandemic helped us to distill down what is really important at work and it’s not ping pong tables and free beer. It’s having visibility and having the opportunity to connect, which build trust – which is the key element in healthy organizations and high-performing teams.
How do you think we have emerged from the last two years better suited to solve work culture challenges than before?
Pavla Bobosikova: The last two years taught us many lessons fast. We were thrown into the deep end and had to figure out how to swim. We’ve learned that things can certainly get done remotely. We also learned that we shouldn’t have been worried about productivity, but rather burnout and surprise, undesirable attrition. We are in an excellent position to solve work culture challenges because we now have access to a data set reflecting internal communication that previously did not exist. Previously, people would discuss things over coffee or just tap someone on a shoulder to have a quick brainstorm. Now all these micro-interactions are tracked and can be processed into meaningful insights. We can fix behaviours and improve culture in real-time by looking at how people are interacting, instead of waiting for a quarterly or annual self-reported survey to see how everyone is doing.
What is one lesson that you hope people will learn or walk away from your work?
Pavla Bobosikova: I really hope that more people will learn and have the courage to challenge the status quo. I hope that people walk away with the belief that their opinion is valid and they have the power to challenge the system. When we started building WFHomie, neither I nor my co-founder Reza had a background in HR, Organizational Behaviour or People Operations. We just had the first-hand experience of being knowledge workers and people managers and were passionate about making work better for everyone, enabling people to live more fulfilled lives and empowering organizations to make remote-first work possible, productive and enjoyable.
What has been your proudest moment as an entrepreneur? Your biggest milestone?
Pavla Bobosikova: Seeing people grow with our organization is definitely something that makes me feel proud every day. So does the impact we’re having in our networks: seeing people take more risks and taking leaps to focus on what’s important to them and where they want to make an impact. In terms of milestones, closing our first round of funding that enabled us to scale and create value for other organizations was definitely a proud moment for me.
Why does your work matter?
Pavla Bobosikova: The work we’re doing now will likely define how people live and work for decades to come. We got stuck with the Henry Ford-style five-day workweek for almost a hundred years and mindlessly adopted that model in tech and other knowledge work industries, which did not require it to begin with. I remember learning about how the industrial revolution changed the role of home when I studied architecture at UofT. It suddenly became a place where you sleep, eat and shower, instead of a place to gather. We’re going through a similar shift where until 2020, it was cool to have a one-bedroom condo in a glass tower downtown. However, now for many people, it’s preferable to have more space, a dedicated workspace in the home and easy access to nature and travel. We have a unique opportunity to enable people to live better, healthier lives by making remote work, work.
What have you learned about yourself as you’ve built your company and raised your voice?
Pavla Bobosikova: I’ve learned the importance of relationships; nurturing the relationships inside the team and building a strong community that we can rely on for advice, feedback and support. Building a company has really taught me that it takes a village to create something long-lasting and meaningful. It also reinforced my trust in the process: small steps accumulate over time and every social media interaction, every small encounter, might over time lead to something impactful.
What is a major career goal that you have set your sights on and hope to accomplish in 2022?
Pavla Bobosikova: Last year we served thousands of employees across dozens of organizations. This year, as we continue to design tools that improve employee engagement and organizational health, I would love for WFHomie to impact the lives of 100 thousand employees globally—empower them to live and work better and enable their organizations to perform better.