Podcast, Remote Working

Empowering Remote Employees – Job Van der Voort – Remote

In this episode of The Human Behind the Screen, we are joined by Job Van der Voort. Coming from neuroscience, Job went head-first into tech by starting a startup, later joining GitLab as VP of Product to help scale it from 5 people to a unicorn with 500+ employees. He's now helping the world work remotely as the CEO of Remote.com, a company that allows both employers and remote workers around the world. In his free time Job loves to spend time with his wife and daughter, and play games and guitar.

Guidelines for a Successful Remote Team

Job lets us know what he discovered, as part of GitLab's success the time he worked with them, he tells us about the fact that as a company, they were pragmatic and could adapt to the needs that arose in the company. This being something essential to be able to work effectively as a company with a completely remote team, "We always wanted to work remotely, we were not planning to have an office. But we were also very pragmatic in the sense that we always said, well, if we find that we do need an office, we will get one, so we have to make it work if we don't have to get to that point" Job said.
Job shares with us that at the beginning, the company was strict when it came to the communication model within the, since communicating efficiently would be what would allow them to stay remotely and work efficiently. This allowed employees to adopt these values as part of their business culture, whether they were communicating asynchronously or not, learning to write everything they did at work and how regardless of personal time management, deliver results. "Beyond that, being very pragmatic, and continuously looking to change the way we work together, improve it, especially, we had the value of iteration, and it related to our products in the sense that we were constantly making small steps to make the product better. So you get feedback, and with that feedback, you can make the next step better than if you blend many events" Job said.

The Right Qualities of a Leader

Having leaders who motivate you and teach you to be independent, make decisions and take ownership of your work when you work remotely is vital, especially when the company is in the process of growth. The micromanagement only generates dependency and slows down the work processes of the teams. When a leader motivates you to make decisions, it also motivates teamwork and collaboration, if necessary, to solve possible problems or circumstances that may arise.

When a company is so big that decision-making must go through a hierarchical system, this is the best option "at that point, it becomes about emphasizing how can we make sure you feel like you can take ownership and how can you act independently. And then as a leader, it is your job not so much to judge the decisions, it's rather to make sure that that person feels confident making decisions and that they spent time on making particular decisions and other particular other decisions. Hence, you want to steer them towards the goals of the company, but then let them act independently, even though maybe you would have done it yourself differently. But that's not the point because it doesn't scale. and like if something comes up and you don't figure it out, Then I will always be there to help you out make that decision." Job said.
Job continues his idea by saying that when you have one-on-one meetings with team members, the topics of conversation can range from topics not related to work, such as checking your employee's well-being or personal growth and how the company has helped him with that.

Creating an Ownership Mindset

As a leader, knowing how to take advantage of the qualities and experiences of the members of your work team, to improve or increase productivity, is a reasonably important quality. This will allow you to know when to help a team member or when to empower them to work at their own pace in situations that may arise."I think it's like actually differing positions and letting people run with it. It's if someone, especially if you start to work with people that are inexperienced as a manager or experienced as being an actual owner of something, you have to just force them into a position of making pleasantly, but force them in a position to make decisions and say, what do you think? Or what do you think is what we're going with and like, not let them guess what your thoughts or expectations are, just let them roll with the decision that they make and just do that, like, if you do a good job as a manager, you probably hired this person, I probably hired someone better at you at the job that you're hiring them for at least that is what you expect them to do so trust them to do the job" Job shared with us. 
As a leader, it's not always your job to solve problems; it's your job to help identify and empower the team around you to solve them. That's kind of what you're alluding to there is it's not your job to have the answer, and you shouldn't give the answer. In most cases, maybe you don't even know the best solution because you're not the one on the ground doing the job your team does.

A Tool That Helps Remote Workers and Employers 

Job's company, called Remote.com, works as an intermediate for companies that want to hire remotely and takes care of all the weak points that are involved in the hiring process and of the legal needs that could exist; "we act as an employer of record in every country in the world, that's the goal. For now, the countries that we are activated as a small number and we do it all ourselves, so we have our entity, we have local attorneys, we have local accountants, and if you want to employ someone through us, you come to us and you as the employer, sign a contract with us and then for each of your employees, they just sign an employment contract with Remote, the local Remote of where they live" Job explained.

It is not only beneficial for employers but also employees, since this way they can obtain the benefits that the company can offer to local workers. All these processes are standardized and adapted to the requirements of the country in which the worker lives "if there's for instance, any compliance needs, the rules related to paid time off; they vary greatly from country to country. We abstract them, so we say to you, the employer, well, you know, if you want to give everyone 20 days paid time off, we'll make sure that everybody has at least that in other countries, but on a country by country basis, we'll make sure to keep track of the rules and do anything that needed to be compliant locally [...] to some countries, we have to take care of to check whether people. So we take care of all of that essentially abstracts away the complexity of the individual countries. So you're the employer, you just have to pay them and treat them as full as normal employees" Job said.

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