Podcast, Remote Working

The Secret Sauce to Remote Team Success – Vargab Bakshi & Eduardo Casta- Shopify

In a rapidly growing economy led by globalization and outsourcing, being a business giant oftentimes means to adapt and expand into new horizons; today in this podcast we are going to dive deep into the shared experiences of the first remote employee of Shopify and an exclusive insight inside the process of getting into the world of remote working and the intricacies of forging more humane work and team relationships within this environment and its numerous obstacles.

Eduardo Costa and Vargab Bakshi, who joined the team in 2013 and 2014 respectively, shared with us what they had learned through all these years as part of the team who mainly does work for the company outside the Canadian Headquarters of Shopify; and how the friendship they had developed through the years has helped them in the process of adapting to this challenging style of work. They tell us how they have broken through cultural, language and even time zone barriers to become colleagues and real friends over the years. 

How challenging it can be to build and keep good and “strong human relationships, even through digital connections […] but after a little while, like only a few months after, when Vargab joined the company, and we were two facing the same challenges. Also, sharing the same excitement, everything just started to be a little easier.” as Eduardo fondly recalls.
Creating a Remote Team Effectively

A remote team can surely become a stepping stone in helping a company develop and extend through vastly different markets and territories. But there are certain steps and elements that every company should keep in mind at the moment of creating said remote team in favour of it being successful; “...first starts with hiring people who align with the mission and vision of your company, because unless you have someone, you know, who believes in what you do, why your company exists, and you know what good you're trying to bring to the world, it's very hard because if you hire someone who's just looking at this as a job, then it's going to become very troublesome in the coming days” Vargab said. Both Vargab and Eduardo teach us how important is the trust among the company and the remote employee and give us tips on how we can build and solidify this bond through being effective on our job from the very first moment we get hired. They also mention the various traits we must develop to be efficient, such as being organized, self-motivated and communicate efficiently as a remote employee.

Humanizing Remote Relationships


A lot of emphasis rests on the importance of generating empathy and humanization through education and integration within all teams; the core team whose work is based at the main headquarters and the remote team, to help them create and develop a thorough bond and professional relationship, even when they are part of different cultures. 

There’s also quite a great deal within the importance of a remote employee when a company respects their working hours and their personal time and how important is for an employee when the company lets them the know-how thankful they are for them being available to sacrifice part of their time in certain situations. In this topic, they remind us how imperative is to keep the balance between our working and personal life, to keep routines that help us build excellent self-care habits to avoid getting burn-out after large periods of office-time while working as a remote employee; as its very common for a person who works from home to lose a solid grasp of said balance, mostly because of the subtle lack and absence of work-related physical elements or day-to-day social interactions to help develop a healthy notion of life balance.

Healthy Work Habits


Vargab even let us know that Eduardo has helped him get used to these habits, to keep the balance “I was awful at self-care. I think I had zero schedules. Zero idea of work-life balance and it's tough in a remote environment because your home is your office […] because there is a 12-hour time difference with the Shopify Canada which is our headquarters, but from here (India) I think, I have to give this to Eduardo, that you know, he taught me a lot about work-life balance and teaching me that, what's the worst that can happen? Right?” 

Both Vargab and Eduardo also stress the importance of noticing work-related red flags and situations of concern within our remote environment or our HQ and solving said situations as soon as possible; “... The main reason would be to put up so much on the shoulders of people remote, right, like expecting that because they don't have to commute or because they are working from home, let's say, so they will be there 14-15 hours every day for you. I think companies looking for people remotely because it's cheaper, or because they will work harder are creating a huge mistake. And I don't see success in the future for companies thinking that way. So it's better to have empathy, a huge level of empathy for remote teams, and truly understanding their struggles. And what are the parents as well, but it is trying to create these consciously set of goals, what these companies are trying to achieve with These remote teams.” affirms Vargab.

Hiring is Key

In the end, Vargab affirms that the key ingredient for a clean and humane remote success, is relying on a thorough hiring process that searches for the right people, people who believe in the company’s mission statement; “I think the biggest part of making a successful remote company is hiring, hiring the right people. Because I mean, why I agree that a business would have to, you know, do all the things that you mentioned. But it's possible that you know, you may do the right things with the remote employee, but you hide the wrong employee. And that person is never going to appreciate those little things. 

So hiring the right person, and spending a lot of time making sure you're hiring the right person is the key to success. So focus on hiring, I would request all the remote companies to you know, focus on hiring and who they're hiring and making sure they're hiring someone who's driven motivated, you know, belief believes in the mission and vision of the company. I think once those are in place, the rest of the things will fall in place. You know, it's more about operations after that, but hiring the right person is the foundation of this.” For Vargab and Eduardo, it’s all about not taking the hard-working remote employee for granted, it is always a delicate trade-off that requires a lot of care and attention from the employer, but it is never a trade-off built at the expense of quality of results for the employer or quality of life for the employee.

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