“Instilling a ‘family’ culture can be a recipe for workplace toxicity.”
Sarah Hong, HR director for Dailymotion’s American office, knows that’s an uncommon and perhaps even an unpopular statement in tech, an industry where a blurred line between work and home is often encouraged. Instead, she thinks of Dailymotion as a close-knit, collaborative unit of peers.
“We become a cohesive unit by developing relationships and learning how to work together,” she said. “And that synergy helps achieve the ultimate shared goal — to drive success.”
Success for the global video platform looks like exceptional videos that resonate with users. Dailymotion’s algorithm and expert recommendations aim to create a personal world of news, sports, music and entertainment content for each of its 350 millions users.
To achieve the level of global growth Dailymotion is currently experiencing, employees rely on a culture built on autonomy, communication, exploration and respect for different perspectives.
They’re encouraged to try new things, pave their own professional development paths and bring ideas to the table, all with a push for work-life balance behind them. Strong relationships build the foundation for this openness and experimentation.
“Working in a global setting teaches you to be open minded and objective, and having that mindset helps produce an intentional and inclusive product,” Hong said.
And it shows in the product. This summer, Dailymotion introduced more features to make its player increasingly engaging and accessible for users and with better integration capabilities for publishers. The company is expanding its partnerships, too, especially to support local and regional journalism and expand video’s reach.
BRINGING CONTENT TO CONSUMERS
As of 2019, Alison Connard had never been to Europe. But in her first week at Dailymotion, she flew to France to meet her team. Her trip started in Paris at Dailymotion’s headquarters and ended in the south of France, where the product division rented a house for team-building activities.
Though it was her first time in France, it certainly wasn’t her last. Connard, vice president of product monetization, has since returned for in-person collaboration with her team. The days are long and filled with meetings. But at night, colleagues are able to unwind.
“I sleep when I go back to New York,” Connard said.
Dailymotion’s investment in relationships is vital for the global company’s success. Dailymotion’s offices in Paris, New York City, Sophia Antipolis and Singapore bridge time zones, languages and cultures. Most of Connard’s team members live in France, and for her, that makes relationship-building all the more important.
“You have to have tight relationships with people who don’t go into the office every day,” she said.
To build those connections in a hybrid work environment that spans three continents, Dailymotion encourages team members to take time to get to know one another, whether it be through team-building retreats abroad or virtual lunches.
“If you enjoy the people who you work with and you get to know them on a personal level, then you’re more invested in the relationships,” Connard said. “That leads to more collaboration, and staying extra hours to get a new project finished. It’s not just because you’re on the clock. It’s because you like the people.”
Cultivating personal relationships also generates investment in Dailymotion as a business. That investment furthers innovation, especially in product and engineering.
“Our products are very much in a growth phase,” Connard said. “Now that our platform is old enough, we can really scale it. In order to do that, we have to make sure that we have a great foundational piece in place.”
Trusting each other to continuously level up
When developing new product components to enhance user experience, Connard’s team is aligned with a company-wide goal. But how they achieve that is almost entirely up to them. That autonomy is essential for professional growth at Dailymotion.
“They let us chart our own course,” Scott Nathanson, head of North American sales, said. “We know what point A is and what point B is. But from the top down, they give us the flexibility to decide how to get from point A to point B.”
When it comes to professional development, there’s not much more you can ask for, according to Nathanson.
“What better way to grow than to chart your own direction and hopefully swim with it?” he said.
Nathanson had the chance to swim — or sink — last year. Dailymotion had begun re-entering the U.S. market, a process that came with relearning.
At the time, the sales team focused on enterprise customers and followed a programmatic approach to selling ad space, where sellers use digital tools like machine learning and algorithms to sell, and companies use software to buy.
It worked, but only to an extent. Nathanson saw the opportunity to make a major strategy shift: changing the sales philosophy his team followed, how they sold and who they were selling to.
“We realized if we approach the mid market, which is the next tier of agencies and brands — like a large regional brand or a smaller national brand — we felt that we could cut through the media vendor noise,” Nathanson said.
When he approached leadership with his strategic vision, he was met with trust. Dailymotion’s leadership had faith in him to make the right move. And in the end, it was.
Taking the open road
That open-door communication policy helps fuel a sense of exploration, which in turn helps Dailymotion navigate changes in a dynamic environment.
“Our industry is very much an industry of change, so we have to go with the shifts,” Connard said. She doesn’t like repetitive work, and Dailymotion has given her the chance to find something new and exciting each day.
It also helps employees build their own roadmap for professional development — another aspect of autonomy at the company.
“You’re not tied to this linear path of going from junior, to associate, to senior,” said Hong. “You have the ability to really grow your career capital and diversify your background and your skills.”
In practice, that includes attending conferences, trade shows and industry events to stay up to speed on the developing video content field. It can also look like exploring a different role or new projects.
“Giving people the opportunity to take on different projects and to make a huge impact is great for not just their growth, but it really helps foster this sense of inclusivity,” Hong said. “That allows employees to be their authentic selves. By having that mentality, you feel a lot more empowered to take on a whole project or be innovative and bring out an idea that’s never been discussed before.”
Decisions aren’t made in a vacuum, either, so new ideas — with some stats to back them up — are always welcomed.
“We make our decisions on data,” Connard said. “It doesn’t matter who you are; if you come up with a great idea, and you can prove that it’s going to bring revenue to Dailymotion, then you make it happen. It’s really empowering for everybody.”
Intentional care across the board
Hong values the different perspectives at Dailymotion when determining initiatives and benefits that influence an inclusive and empowering culture.
The cultural distance between the Paris and New York City headquarters means customs and processes don’t always translate. But for Hong, that’s an opportunity to challenge U.S. work-life norms and stay innovative when developing HR practices and benefits, all to ensure employees have a work-life balance.
“What we really learn from French culture is that in order for us to do well at our jobs, we need our personal lives to be well taken care of,” Hong said. “We want people to be able to do well.”
She’s learned small acts of balance from the French, like taking lunch and personal time. Nathanson is still learning how to strike that balance, an endeavor that Dailymotion supports him taking.
Over the past few years, he’s learned to take more time away and avoids sending late-night emails. It’s all in an effort to achieve what Hong calls “work-life integration.”
“If you take care of helping people grow, innovation takes care of itself,” she said. “Dailymotion helps employees develop skills and explore their full capacity, which helps them help Dailymotion.”