Zoom Culture: The Core Value of Care

Lynne Oldham

Chief People Officer at Zoom Video Communications

Learning Objectives

Please join the Chief People Officer from Zoom, Lynne Oldham in this Executive interview where she will discuss how the core value of care shapes Zoom’s company culture.

Key Takeaways:

  • Can you talk about how the core value of care at Zoom shapes the company culture?

  • How do you create and maintain a culture that is tangible?

  • How was the transition to remote work for Zoom?

  • What do you think the workplace of the future will look like, and how does Zoom fit in?

  • Zoom has experienced incredible growth this past year. What was that like?

  • What are some of the ways Zoom is giving back?

"It’s all about understanding what your employees want and need and then thinking about how that factors into your business and being thoughtful and empathetic and coming up with a solution."

Lynne Oldham

Chief People Officer at Zoom Video Communications


Hello and welcome to connect HR leadership virtual summit hosted on quartz network. My name is Britt Erler QN executive correspondent, thank you so much for joining us. We have heard time and time again that company culture isn’t just what you do it is who you are prioritizing your employees and your consumers, valuing what everyone else around you thinks and feels. These need to be priorities that are ingrained into a company’s DNA. But how do you create and maintain a culture of care that is tangible? And what does this look like in the new remote environment? With more insights on this topic, I would like to welcome our executive speaker Lynne Oldham, Chief people Officer of Zoom video communications. Welcome, Lyn. My brother, thanks for having me. It is a pleasure to have you here. And thank you for taking the time. And to dive right into this topic. I’d like by asking you, how do you create a core value of care, and how has this shaped your company culture at zoom?

You know, the Zoom culture is what we say is we like to deliver happiness. And I think that centers around our value structure, which is one of care, we say, on the on the wall that we care about our communities, our customers, our company, our teammates, and ourselves. And with this culture of Delivering Happiness, we’re always emphasizing that we need to deliver happiness to customers by providing like, reliable, easy to use products. And that drives innovation, because we’re engaging the customer on on feedback, right and solving pain points for our customer. So with that, we’re able to be that frictionless secure communications platform. And that vision starts at the top and permeates throughout.

I couldn’t agree with you more. And I think when I speak with a lot of leaders, as you mentioned, it really does start from the top leaders are creating example for the rest of their team. My next question for you, and I think one that a lot of companies will really like to hear about is how do you make sure that you create this culture of care, but that it’s tangible? Hmm.

That’s a really great question. And it’s really important to me, when I joined, two years ago, I, we were back in a different world. And I walked into the lobby and zoom. And those two words, were staring at me on the wall, we care. And, you know, I’ve been to a lot of places where the words in the wall don’t match the environment that you’ve landed in. And that was not the case, I, I met person after person after a person who demonstrated even in the tiniest of ways that the culture was alive and well in the people. So what I worry about is keeping that keeping that strong, right. And we’ve hired so many people in the last year, people who have not set foot or seen those words on the wall. And that creates, you know, a challenge for me to make sure or us not, not me personally, but the whole of us to ensure that we maintain that strong and tangible culture, as you said. So, you know, we, we do things like ask value based questions in the interview process to ensure that we’re seeking employees who can not only share our value of care, but add to it right, it’s it’s, it should be additive, every hire we make right. And then the other piece we do that’s kind of interesting in terms of tangibility is the onboarding process. So we’re focusing on on day one, cultural immersion, where we’re not trying to talk to you about all the products that zoom has, or how we do business, we’re just talking to you about what is Delivering Happiness feel like when you deliver happiness personally, or in another company? In another role? What does it feel like? What did it make you feel like? So we’re really gearing our new employee immersion to our culture? So from day one, you hit the ground running, so to speak.

Yeah, I think that’s such a key thing to mention is it’s been so difficult for a lot of employees, as you mentioned, that have come on board during a time of complete virtual experience. They haven’t been to the office, they’re not meeting their new colleagues face to face. So really making sure that they come in, they feel like family, you’re opening it with a sense of communication and transparency. See, really makes all the difference and also guaranteed that you’re going to have an employee that is dedicated to the work and productive at the same time. And I think my question for you is, with a lot of companies that are just beginning this journey, what key areas do you believe that they should focus on or begin with to start creating this culture?

Um, I think it’s really things like, you know, as I talked about how we hire, how we, how we onboard, but also you just how you behave every day, right? walking the talk, so to speak, we’ve got a culture and values deck that we adhere to in and talk about all the time. An example would be that when we have an issue, we do, and it’s it’s systematic, it’s what what all of us do, we do a problem root cause solution analysis to figure that out, that’s ingrained in who we are. We also have happy through. So our happy crew, interesting group of people, they are 175, and probably growing. And it used to be very office base. So it was the Denver happy crew, the San Jose happy crew. And what we’ve done is still rely heavily on that happy crew with respect to helping us build and continue culture, but move it more from in office to a culture group that’s looking across all regions. Because if you look at our numbers, where we’ve hired, oh, at this point, it’s way more than a third. But let’s call it a third to 40% of our workforce, since pandemic, so nobody, as I said, has stepped in an office. So we’ve really got to be happy crews got to help us ensure that the people who are coming on board wherever they sit, feel welcomed and part of the culture. So we’re using that a number of ways, from our culture and values back to our happy crew, to how we onboard to how we hire, to really reinforce everywhere you turn, what it looks like to be azumi.

I love that that is such a unique and creative way to get people involved in onboarded. And I really think companies need something like that it makes it exciting, and that much more personal. And that really does lead in perfectly into my next question that I have is what was the transition like for zoom moving into this new remote environment?

Oh, the I just posted yesterday on LinkedIn, it was one year, as of yesterday that we’ve been remote. And a lot of people don’t know this breadth. But we were 15% only remote before this all started. So this isn’t like, we didn’t know how to do this any better than anybody else, right. But we were uniquely positioned, given that were, you know, on our own tool all the time, to be able to move remote. So we were so in a day, we were all home. And we were back on the tool that we’re all familiar with. And it’s been working well. I mean, for the most part, our like I said, our volunteer crew has helped us create things like events virtually, to ensure that people are still getting together, we use a lot of our own features like breakout rooms. So if we have a big meeting, we can break out into the smaller groups and really have a chance to meet one another. My team itself has grown to over 100 people, some of whom I don’t even recognize anymore. So what we do is we break that group out into much smaller groups so that we can have more meaningful connection because I think the name of the game given you know, that we’re all more isolated is to ensure that there are moments of meaningful connection. So we’re, we’re using our own, you know, what do they call it drinking your own champagne, we’re using our own tool to ensure that we’re getting there and and then of course, like I said, the the volunteer crew is is huge in helping us get there.

I can speak personally, that zoom has really been the reason that our events company was able to pivot so quickly into this new virtual world. Without this platform in this tool, we wouldn’t be sitting here you and i doing this one on one interview, we wouldn’t be able to host our one on one meetings that we specialize in. So it’s really been revolutionary, and so exciting to see how the future of this will move along into the next year. The hybrid option that will now be a very Moving forward. So let’s talk about that a little bit more and what the future of the workplace looks like and how zoom fits into that.

Yeah, I mean, just to your comment, yes, it’s pretty darn awesome. I don’t know if I think back to earlier in my career when this didn’t exist, how we would have gotten through this time period. So I would say, pivoting to what does the future look like? More the same? I think our goal at zoom is to enable everywhere workforce, we we think that the pandemic has only accelerated what was inevitable Anyway, it was on a longer track, for sure. But now we’re here, right. And I think if you think about the generations that exists in the workforce, I think the the younger generations are probably, in particular, want more flexibility. There’s a lot of data out there, I think BCG did a survey recently, it was 12,000 people they surveyed and 60% want more flexibility in where and when they work. And, you know, if you if you take a look at job openings, there are four times more job openings that are saying they’re remote positions, and we’re here to support that. We’re here to say, you know, we, we can continue to make that work for you. And I think that’s really critical. I mean, if I see it in our own data, when when I survey our employees, they’re saying the same things that they’re not different than anyone else. And I think that the range of products support it, from meeting to webinar to zoom phone, and then the appliances support it right. So one of the things I’ve got behind me is a Zoom Room. So if I want to have not just on the small screen, but on the big screen, I can do it at home devices, my my meet with all my children base on either on a portal or a Google or this or that, but we’re for the most part, were ubiquitous, and then you can have a zoom meeting on on almost any device, which really does help. Or when you’re at home, doing this, and if we’re back in the office, there’ll be opportunities in the office to make this experience better, too. So I think one of the things I’m worried about Brett is the fact that today, you and I meet and our heads are the same size. If you know two more colleagues were in the office sitting with one another, how would that be you remember those days where we had a meeting, and you’d be looking at one screen with you know, the the meeting room, and you’re over here, and their faces are so small, you can’t even read their expressions, we we’ve come up with something called Smart gallery. That will be it’s about camera placement in a room. So it involves a couple more cameras. But basically, you and I, if we were sitting in a conference room would still show up on screen this way. So it really enables that, you know, maybe the worry around inside outside culture, to to, I don’t want to say go away, but but certainly deals with that situation. So very excited about where we’re going. I mean, I could go on in terms of zoom apps, and ways we’re going to work going forward, that will be integrated into the Zoom tool. So it won’t be a meeting just to meet but there’ll be a meeting to actually do work on other software’s like Asana or Dropbox. So there’s, there’s a lot coming our way. And I think that will make for an interesting future, and a future where tools become important. But more importantly, I think, though, the way we use the tools will be important for organizations to be really clear about. So the best example I can give of that is we have chat here at zoom. Chat is the way we survive every day. Email is over here. And email is a for me, it’s mostly sales type type emails, occasionally, it’s a word cable, but we at zoom talk to each other through the chat tool. And that’s our I want to say it’s our unwritten rule. I think that’s what companies are going to have to think about as they bring these tools to the forefront in the future work is how do we use them? What do we want to use for this? What do we want to use for that? And how are we going to prescribe that in a way that helps everybody, new employees and current employees navigate?

I think that’s so important to mention, because there are so many new tools, so many new applications that are Merging can be a bit overwhelming, you know, sit there and say, Well, what do I use? Where do I start? But what you said is key that making sure whatever tools you do implement whatever you decide to use, that it works for the company as a whole, and then it’s actually effective, and it’s productive for every employee’s day to day work. And I think that’s something companies will have to look internally, you know, to see what they’re currently using and what what needs that they have. And now, as you just talked about zoom has obviously had incredible growth in this last year. I mean, I mean, people can’t even imagine what that’s been like, walk me through it a little bit. What did you experience?

It’s a, it’s been a year, for sure. I think the good part about zoom is that the product, the good parts, there’s so many, the product architecture was designed to scale, right? The cloud based nature of what we do, makes it possible to flex to meet increasing demand. And demand did happen, right, so we went from 10 million daily meeting participants to 300 million meeting daily meeting participants in a very short window of time. And, and that, you know, caused exponential growth with respect to, you know, the the support of those of those daily meeting participants. So it was it was a, it was a fast pace here. But it was invigorating in a lot of ways for us, because we did things like allowing K through 12, to access the tool for free. And that really did. Like, if you think about what it was like to be the human behind the tool. It You know, it could be exhausting. And at the same time with this, the pizzas we were doing and what we were seeing around the world, weddings became legal on zoom in, in New York, and people were not only getting married, but graduating and you name it, right, it kept everybody spirits up and going which, which was exciting, right? Because you don’t you don’t want people to to feel like oh, my goodness, like this is too much. It really was an opportunity for people to get behind sort of keeping the world going. So it became really exciting to watch. We had a chat cool and inspiring stories. And that was just filled up filled up with things about zoom, whether it was from the news, or from you know what you heard from a friend, it was great. So it all in all, a heavy time for us. But I think people really feel good about what what we were able to accomplish.

It was no doubt an extremely difficult time, but you kept businesses and people alive, you know, it kept their businesses chugging along. And as you said, it gave us inspiration, it gave us hope that we can make it through this time. And now that we’re already in March, and I can’t believe it, it’s also showing people that we can do work in a brand new way, ways that we never thought possible. So it is such an exciting, invigorating time, especially for your company. Now, I’ve had the wonderful opportunity to speak to several of your other colleagues. And they have mentioned to me some of the incredible ways that zoom is giving back to the community. Tell me a little bit about that.

Yeah, I think the the, our values to care, right, so so one of the things that we did early on is to put a foundation together, it’s actually called the Zoom cares foundation. And it really is creating a future by bringing the best of zoom to solve humanity’s biggest challenges and, and that involves everything from deploying funding to deploying technology and technical expertise to solve issues around the globe. The cool thing about zoom cares is our employees vote on what, what what issues that they want to solve. So for this year, we’re looking at educational and social inequities, as well as climate change. So those are the three areas that are of philanthropic focus for our employees. And what’s cool about that is there’s you know, there’s the Zoom cares group there are employees who are trained in how to, to what do I want to say it how to review grants, so we just had a whole grant application for what we call the end No. I’m gonna add Innovation Award add Innovation Award sorry, it were the the EDD Innovation Award was for 501, c threes who were focused on innovation in education. And what a cool thing that our employees actually reviewed hundreds of grants and came down to the five or six that we ultimately gave three spread a million dollars across the the five or six. And it was, it was really exciting to see that they all got involved, right. And I just read countless messages and chat about how exciting it was. The other thing as an organization we’re doing is you know, we talked about the K through 12 schools, I think 125,000 schools were kept open in 25 different countries, through the the providing the technology for free. And then the other thing we’re getting involved in is things we believe in like the HBCUs, we’ve partnered up with Claflin University, for a five year strategic partnership, that’s going to allow us to really help with things like paid internships, merit scholarships, and things like that, which will further our the racial, in justices in the world and further help fight in racial injustice in the world, I think. Those are some of the things we’ve done. I mean, there’s, there’s countless others, but I think that if you you know, it’s it’s one of the things that just matches so well, with our value system that most every employee here is involved. It’s not like anyone really sits on the sidelines, it’s, it’s constant from donations through our matched funds, to participating in reviewing grants, to volunteerism, all of the angles are covered, and everybody gets involved. It’s really exciting.

It’s incredible work and so inspiring. And I hope that other companies follow suit, because there is so much change that we make ourselves just individually, but also as a company. And because you have gotten your employees involved, it’s really become, as you mentioned, part of your company culture, which is so incredible. And let’s wrap up this conversation, you know, there are so many leaders out there that are looking to you for insights right now, just trying to make it through this time, making sure that their teams and also the business is successful. What final pieces of advice would you give them? Yeah.

Listen, listen to your employees. I think what’s critical is that we don’t necessarily jump to solution around, you know, this type of hybrid or that type of hybrid. I think it’s all about, you know, understanding what, you know, what your employees want, and need. And then thinking about how that factors in to your business, and being, you know, thoughtful and empathetic and, and coming up with a solution, maybe through maybe experimentation, rather than just saying it’s this, or it’s that, maybe you’re trying some different things. Because, you know, I think about like hybrid, the definition is as wide as you know, I don’t know, as the equator, I think. And I think you can, you can really through the list through listening and experimentation, come up with something that really is right for your company. Without it, I’ve seen a lot of companies come out with the proclamation, we are going to be this, we are going to be that. And I just think it’s too early. I mean, one of the things we’re seeing about zoom is we don’t have to be the first we actually can be the last to return. If we do return and how we return. We can listen, learn and watch. And this way, you know, we we ourselves are being exactly what we want to be which is caring and continuous learners through this process.

I couldn’t agree more Lynne and I want to thank you and speak on behalf of the audience for all of the work that you have done and support you’ve given our communities, our businesses and people. So Lynn, thank you so much for being here. You’ve provided some incredible insights not to HR leaders, but also all professionals across the board. And thank you to everyone who has joined us as well. If you have any time. Questions or comments for Lynn there will be a discussion forum underneath this presentation. Please be safe everyone be healthy and enjoy the rest of the Connect HR summit.

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