Former Hoopla CEO and Raydiant Head of Workplace, Mike Smalls, on the Future of Work and Meeting the Needs of Customers in a Changing World

Motivating employees is something that comes naturally to Mike Smalls. In fact, he’s spent the last couple of decades doing just that in several startups and sales organizations before founding the performance management and motivation solution, Hoopla.

Now, as Raydiant’s Head of Workplace, Smalls uses his depth of experience and market knowledge to discuss where he sees the future of work headed, and how to help businesses stay competitive in an ever-evolving marketplace, both for talent and customers. 

The Remote and Hybrid Workplace: A Trend That’s Here to Stay

“Long before COVID, the trend towards remote work, or the “work anywhere” mentality, was gaining momentum,” Smalls begins, adding that the pandemic simply accelerated this trend by about 5-10 years. “In the beginning of the pandemic, people were saying, ‘I can work from home forever. I never have to go back to the office again.’ And then it started evolving to ‘I miss my co-workers. I miss the camaraderie of the office. I like the social aspect of meeting with people.’ And between this shift and the younger generation entering the workforce and looking for a better work-life balance, we’re seeing a more hybrid, flexible work environment emerge.”

“People thrive when they have choice and flexibility in how they work,” Smalls continues. “If they can do a job in a cubicle at the office the same as at their dining room table at home, they figure they might as well do it at home.” The struggle, indicates Smalls, lies in the moments employees can’t get from their dining room chairs: moments of collaboration, connection, and creativity. It’s these moments that Raydiant together with Hoopla are re-creating for the virtual workforce."

Motivating Employees Across the Room or 2,000 Miles Away

Despite whether workers are in the office or remote, one thing remains consistent: the need for motivation and recognition. “That’s what Hoopla was built on: this idea that you could drive better employee performance through motivation,” Smalls points out. “And to do that, you need to incentivize workers by leveraging their desire to be on top, to win, and to compete. Hoopla does this through gamification, like interoffice contests and challenges.” 

Taking this team-building solution from inside the office to the virtual workplace was the natural next step, which is why Raydiant and Hoopla together offer such a strong experience for remote and hybrid work teams. “I think the combination of Raydiant and Hoopla is exciting because I see the need for better communication, engagement, and recognition in the virtual and hybrid workforce,” says Smalls. Raydiant’s recent acquisition of Hoopla makes it part of Raydiant’s all-in-one workplace/brick-and-mortar experience platform.  

What does this mean for Raydiant’s workplace customers? Smalls is quick to weigh in: “It ensures that dispersed teams and remote employees know what’s going on at all times, know what’s expected of them, and know the progress they’re making. It’s important that they feel recognized, even celebrated, for what they do, regardless of whether they’re sitting in the same room or 2,000 miles away. Together, Raydiant and Hoopla help businesses create a much more extended corporate culture, regardless of where people sit. Add to that live data sharing, real-time communication, and engaging gamification techniques, and you have the tools to build a more connected workforce.”

For Brick and Mortars: Happy Employees = Happy Customers

Workplaces aren’t the only ones going through a major shift: brick and mortars are also struggling to meet changing needs. The customer experience has never been more important, with many brick-and-mortar businesses looking to attract still-hesitant customers back inside their stores. But, says Smalls, creating a better customer experience starts with your employees. “Every one of these businesses trying to create a better customer experience with Raydiant and Hoopla, they need to first go into the back office, behind the counter, and into the break room. Because there’s a need to drive the employee experience first.” 

“Studies have shown that when your customer-facing employees are engaged and motivated and connected to the company, they’re going to serve their customers better,”
Small goes on to explain. ”There’s a real tight link between employee experience and customer experience, and together Raydiant and Hoopla help businesses bridge that gap.” Raydiant’s Hoopla integration accomplishes this in a number of ways; for example, sending a congratulations email to an employee who’s met a KPI milestone, or simply acknowledging exceptional team players with encouraging on-screen messages.

At the Forefront of Where Things are Going, Not Where They’ve Been

“It’s always fun to be at the forefront of where things are going, and not where they’ve been,” Smalls says, on working with Raydiant to meet the needs of today’s businesses, both workplaces and brick and mortars. “What’s exciting is that we have the ability to help companies define the next step, the next level of what’s going to be happening in their companies. And to really help them be more competitive in the marketplace, both for customers and talent.”

Being a leader in the field has its challenges. But, for Smalls, it’s all about investing in a good product and knowing the pain points of our customers. “I think there’s a number of areas where we have to invest,” he begins. “First and foremost, there will be a lot of investment in the product, and ensuring that it’s meeting our customers’ needs. And the next level is more of a time investment, where we continue to really get inside each of our customers’ industries to gain intimate knowledge of their unique pain points. Then we can use that data to evolve our products to better answer those needs.” 

Together, Raydiant and Hoopla offer a powerful platform for remote and hybrid workplaces and brick and mortars. From attractive workplace digital signage and menu boards to team- and relationship-building performance management and motivation, this remote-based platform is a comprehensive, multi-functional business tool. To learn more about how Raydiant and Hoopla can help take your business to the next level, visit raydiant.com.