When I Work is the easiest way for businesses to schedule and communicate with their employees. It puts the work schedule in everyone’s pocket as a text message or on their smartphone. When I Work helps restaurants, retailers and healthcare providers run more efficiently and simplify labor management. With over 50,000 monthly active users and hundreds of new businesses signing up every week, When I Work is reinventing the way businesses manage labor and communicate with staff.
MO: What inspired you to launch When I Work?
Chad: I used to work in the service industry along with several of my friends. Most worked at restaurants or fast food joints. I worked at a grocery store — bagging groceries, stocking shelves, cashiering, unloading trucks, cleaning spills, etc.
The most stressful part of my job was never the work, duties or hours. It was off-the-clock things like finding someone to trade shifts, requesting a day off, waiting for the schedule to be posted, knowing when I was supposed to work next — it was disgusting how much off-the-clock time I wasted just making sure I knew when I was supposed to be on-the-clock.
So I had this idea. What if I could take care of all this off-the-clock stuff from my phone or computer. What if I could find someone to pick up my shift, take off next Friday and know when I work while waiting in line for a cup of coffee. Thus, When I Work.
MO: Can you talk us through the inspiration behind and the development process of your rebuild last year?
Chad: Last year was our 2-year anniversary. Our rebuild was the result of 2 years of listening, observing and reacting to our customers. We iterated our product a lot during the first two years. It taught us a lot about what our customers wanted, but it also showed us how our product needed to built in order to scale in the long term. We demonstrated fantastic discipline by building our API first and then building our product on top of the API. It’s also the most elegant UX we’ve ever created. Scheduling software is notoriously complicated, clumsy and intricate and we’ve done a very nice job of keeping it as simple and useful as possible. The heart of our product is something we call “The Scheduler”. We used some ‘new age’ JS libraries (ie. Backbone.js) that have proven to be a fantastic approach for building modern web applications.
MO: Can you share a bit about your brand new Ambassador Program and what you hope to achieve?
Chad: Our customers are our best marketing tools. Many have been spreading the word about When I Work since we launched. Some have even said When I Work has ‘changed their life’ and we think that’s pretty cool. We wanted to create an easy way to reward our users for telling friends and colleagues about When I Work. We setup an “Ambassador Dashboard” in our app that makes it easy for users to share a link via email or social media. If someone clicks their link and signs up for When I Work, they get a 50% commission — simple as that. Ultimately, we want to grow our customer base as organically as we can and reward our existing customers in the process.
MO: What are some trends in your industry that you’re excited about?
Chad: It’s fun to see so many modern, cloud-based back-office apps emerging; —everything from modern payroll software to mobile point-of-sale apps. It’s totally changing how businesses choose and use software. APIs have been played an important role in consumer apps, but I think APIs are going to play a more fundamental role in the future of business software. API integrations among business software can create totally new layers of value that have never been considered before. For example, sharing data between two otherwise independent processes can offer brand new insights that help businesses make smarter decisions.
MO: Why do you think that business software should be made for the end-user, not the decision maker?
Chad: I believe there is a paradigm shift happening in how business software is selected. Decision-making has traditionally been from the top down, but that is flipping. End-users are getting savvier every day and mobile apps have given them access to way more user experiences than they ever had with their desktop. Their expectations are higher and their confidence about what makes good software is skyrocketing. As end-users, we don’t need a CTO or CIO telling us what software will help us do our job; —we can figure it out ourselves and make a better decision in the process.
For example, some of our customers will pay for our app out of their own pocket because they can’t get management to approve or fund it. Our users will abandon corporate mandated software and choose us because it’s easier to figure out and solves their problem better. End-users are stepping up and demanding better software. This is a trend that will continue to grow and fundamentally change how software selection is done in business.
MO: What tips would you pass on to a company looking to establish a policy on texting in the workplace?
Chad: Every organization is different. These days a flat out ban doesn’t make a whole lot of sense and next to impossible to enforce. The key things to consider are safety and understanding your environment. There are some ‘high risk’ jobs where it makes total sense to avoid your phone while on-the-clock. Also, keep in mind that a “zero tolerance” policy can actually prevent companies from harnessing the power of text messaging when it comes to improving both productivity and accountability. What is important is that a company implements a solid texting policy that can be prescribed across all employees, at all levels of an organization.
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