While the world is busy figuring out what workplaces will look like post-COVID, PayPay has announced some drastic changes. Today, we welcome Atsuki Senda, the head of HR at PayPay, to discuss the new work style PayPay has decided on.
Whenever and wherever: Choose your own work style to produce results.
– Getting right into it, what is PayPay’s new work style that will be introduced in September?
PayPay announced that it will move to a new way of working in September, named “Work from Anywhere at Anytime” or “WFA” for short. Simply put, you can choose your own work style to achieve results whenever and wherever you want.
Until now, there have been restrictions on how you could work and where you could live. Coming into the office was mandatory, so you had to live within a reasonable distance from the company. That meant that even if you had the right skills and aspirations but couldn’t move freely due to personal circumstances, you couldn’t work for us. Or conversely, you couldn’t move away if necessary. However, if the main focus is to produce results, you should be able to have more freedom. For example, even if you stay in Kyushu, return to your hometown in Hokkaido, or move to Kyoto, you can work for us. In other words, we thought that it would be possible to implement a work style where you could say, “I work at PayPay” no matter where you are in the world.
Furthermore, as COVID-19 has demonstrated, it is necessary to change how we live and work now more than ever. When I thought about that, I felt that binding employees to one place was no longer realistic.
I might add, that it may have been relatively easy to implement a work style like WFA at PayPay because there is a mindset here that as long as people do their part and get the job done, everything else is OK.
– Would it be fair to say that this work style can be achieved because each person is capable of producing results?
That’s right. Until now, there was a building called “the company,” and by having people gather there and start work at the same time, it created a sense of belonging to the organization and a feeling of being connected with our colleagues. If you think about it, that’s not the company’s number one purpose.
When considering that the ultimate goal of a company is business growth, I think that ideally each person should contribute to the company’s business performance by demonstrating their value. These people come together from the perspective of, “How can I bring my own value to this place?” So, as an organization, I think that we’re stronger when we come together that way.
On the other hand, we also know that there is value that can only be created by working together. That’s why we’ve decided to redefine the “office” as part of WFA.
The office is where new value is created through communication
– What do you mean by redefining the office?
When WFA was introduced, we thought about what the value of the office would be if each person were to produce results at home.
Of course, there are teams within PayPay who think communication loss is a risk, and some members of our multicultural teams feel lonely in Japan, so it’s necessary to have a place for such people. In addition, since we can create new value through collaboration, we’ve decided to define the office as “a place where everyone gathers.” By doing so, we can discuss and share ideas in a lively atmosphere, thereby creating new value.
We’re moving to a new office in mid-September, where there will basically be no fixed seating, but many spaces where people can engage in discussion instead. It will be completely different from the conventional office.
Basically, work is done in a place where you can concentrate. It can be at home or in one of our new satellite offices. In addition, if certain conditions, such as security are met, it is also possible to use cafes and public facilities, or even work on the road.
We’ve designed the office so that we can have the best of both worlds. We can concentrate on our work individually and can also gather in the office once in a while to discover new value as a team and spend time with our colleagues.
This is a one-eighty turnaround compared to PayPay’s former work style.
From “Absolutely no remote work!” to the polar opposite
– I’m sure doing a one-eighty was no small thing to decide on. How was it possible at PayPay?
It may have something to do with the original mentality here at PayPay. PayPay is a member of the SoftBank Group, and we are leading the way by introducing systems that no other company in the group is doing, such as having a flat organization, being completely performance-based, having a full annual salary system without bonuses, and offering annual pay increases. This is a company that has a unique approach and the spirit of challenge. We have a venture-like spirit that drives us to make decisions about what we have to take on and quickly act on those decisions.
In addition, although we do take pride in being a Japanese company, we are in no way fixated on traditional Japanese work styles. Being a close witness to examples made by global businesses, globalization was something that we wanted to work on, and this background has also helped in making the shift.
– What was the context behind implementing WFA?
Well, COVID-19 was the biggest factor. At the beginning, we switched to working remotely in principle and took measures like conducting sales activities online and by phone.
At first, I was a bit worried because I had always done my job at PayPay by coming into the office, but when I looked back on the business results during this period at home, I found out that there was surprisingly little negative impact. It was only then that I began to think that working from home could actually be an effective way to improve our performance.
Next, we conducted an employee survey and found that although there were various opinions on the subject, the feedback was generally positive. Even in the midst of sudden changes in the environment, employees had begun to devise ways to produce results. Of course, depending on the type of job, I think that some employees may still be struggling. However, from a comprehensive perspective, I decided that changing the work style would be beneficial to both employees and the business.
To tell you the truth, PayPay’s stance used to be, “Absolutely no remote work!” (laughs). However, after this period of remote work was extended, the management team and I had a major change in our thinking, and a full-scale implementation proceeded in a fairly short period of time. I believe that’s one of the good things about PayPay; even if the policy is the exact opposite of what it used to be, immediate changes can be made based on what we think is the right thing to do.
Also, hindsight is 20/20, but COVID gave us the chance to seriously experiment with how to achieve the best performance on a scale never seen before. Unexpectedly, I realized that the best performance could be achieved at home! (laughs) So, I think I was able to completely shake off the idea that I would never return to my previous way of working.
We create the answer ourselves
– Isn’t it difficult to measure “top performance” in an objective way?
When talking about a performance-based system, I think it is more important to set goals than to grasp the results. Where are the expectations of each person, and since the expectations are like this, is this easier or more difficult? Also, it is necessary to clarify to some extent whether this result is an A achievement or a C achievement for the person. Especially when you don’t meet face-to-face on a regular basis, it is absolutely necessary to have a goal and evaluation system that allows the evaluator to do the assessment with confidence as well as allow the person being evaluated to be satisfied.
I’ve always been interested in the various measures and systems required to facilitate a performance-based approach, which I became much more conscious of after the switch to WFA. It may be difficult to change everything all at once before September, but this is the one thing that has to be in place, so I’m considering all viable options.
– So it’s not just about changing the way we work, it’s about going deeper and changing the company’s systems including the evaluation system
I won’t go so far as to call it a Copernican Revolution, but the company philosophy is at a major turning point; what was thought to be a given will no longer be that way at all. And the thing is, we’re taking the initiative to change those values, so it’s all very fascinating and exciting.
Not a lot of companies have veered to this extreme, so we’re prepared to create everything from scratch if need be. We’ve got the resolve to take the lead as a role model and create the solution ourselves rather than going out and searching for it. That’s the kind of exciting life I’m living at the moment (laughs).
Working with a group of professionals with overwhelming potential
– Last question. What is PayPay’s goal in implementing WFA?
Our immediate goal is to make everyone’s life more convenient and to become a “super app” that’s indispensable in people’s day-to-day lives. A world in which PayPay can be used for every single thing related to money that’s centered around payment is what we are aiming for.
We’ve always stated that our rival is cash, so when asked, “Which is more important, cash or PayPay?” It would be great if everyone would say, “PayPay!”
At PayPay, we have a group of people who are seriously trying to make such a world a reality. They are hard-working professionals with a tremendous amount of passion, so it is a lot of fun working here. In other words, I’m in the midst of “a group of professionals with overwhelming potential” (laughs).
As head of HR, I hope that I’ve been able to inspire at least a few readers to come and work at PayPay.
We’re looking forward to hearing from professionals who want to work with us!
-Thank you, Mr. Senda!
Editing: PayPay Inside-Out Editorial Department
*Employees’ affiliations are as of the time of the interview.