Hybrid Remote Teams with Ana Guerra

Ana Guerra was the head of marketing and social media for Xbox Portugal and is a prolific podcaster, Twitch streamer and writer. She enjoys constantly experimenting with new and different channels, being an early adopte of Anchor.fm podcasting and WhatsApp newsletters.

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Ana Guerra

Luis Magalhaes: Welcome ladies and gentlemen to the Staff It Right Podcast. The podcast by Distant Job about building remote teams and managing remote teams who win. I am your host, Luis, and today I have a very special guest. I’ll be talking to Ana Guerra. Ana Guerra worked at Microsoft as the head of social marketing and partnerships at Xbox-Portugal and hers is a unique story because she was in effect part of a hybrid remote/co-located team. Ana is here to tell about the challenges that she faced with that experience and how they could have been overcome.

Ana Guerra: We shouldn’t see remote work as just something that we’re working from home. It can empower a lot of things, but it also comes with struggles that we as a company, need to be dealing with and know how to manage correctly.

Luis Magalhaes: Ana points out that video is a big deal when it comes to making sure that your team feels that you’re there with them.

Ana Guerra: But what I would recommend, so for example, what I think when you’re doing a call with someone, whether that is on Skype or any other platform, I think it’s very important to be doing video. Not only it helps with making a visual connection in helping you establish your relationship but also it helps with being as concentrated as you would be if I was in a meeting with you personally.

Luis Magalhaes: Something else that we talk about is how it’s important for managers to let their team know that they can go to them with any problem or any potential blocker.

Ana Guerra: People who are working under the manager … The ones that are being managed, I think it should come from them to seek support within their manager and then it’s up to the manager to provide about support to them.

Luis Magalhaes: As you listen, you will find a treasure trove practical advice, including how to use Scrum in remote teams and tips on how to resolve the not so obvious tensions that arise between normal employees and employees working remotely. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did, so ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, Ana Guerra. Welcome to the Staff It Right Podcast this is your host, Luis, and today my guest as I have already introduced is Ana Guerra.

Ana Guerra: Hello Luis.

Luis Magalhaes: When I talked to my guests, I already know somewhat about the remote work, but you have resisted my sprying powers, as I have scooted to the Internet and I couldn’t find you talking about your work, but I know for a fact from previous conversations that you have indeed done your work partly remotely. Why don’t you tell me, why don’t you start telling me about that? What kind of remote setup did you have?

Ana Guerra: I guess my case was very particular. I have experienced remote work maybe twice in my life, so I have previously worked sort of in a startup, which used to be [Boda 00:03:10], now it’s called Go In, which is like an event marketing startup. They were mostly focusing on collecting events, bringing them to the customers, making sure they would get according with the algorithm, recommend the right events and then make sure that people were able to share video events properly. Then the whole B2B, also information that they were providing then to event organizers, to restaurants, two bars and everything. It was like an event app that played with B2B and B2C.

Ana Guerra: While I was there, I only worked remotely at the time. It was just kind of the project, didn’t even have a contract with them, but I worked remotely for maybe five months and basically at the time, I was in my hometown and I was working for them. They were actually in Lisbon, but partially I worked while I was in my hometown because I was at the time in university holidays and then later on when I went to do my masters in the UK, I kept on working for them remotely. During that time, I was mostly working with the CEO using Slack. Sometimes I would meet with them personally, but mostly it would be remote.

Ana Guerra: Then the most serious experience happened when I joined Microsoft. At the time, I had no idea how my job was going to play out, but I ended up having my team, all of my team in Spain. Even though I was working for Xbox in Portugal, my whole team was in Spain, my manager was Spanish and I was located in the offices in [Eshpo 00:04:56] in Lisbon, which are the regular Microsoft offices. But most of the meetings there I was having there were meetings, external meetings. Most of my internal meetings with my team and my manager would always be remote, so I spent most time doing Skype calls as one does and sending a lot of emails and graphs and sharing files from one end to the other and using actually a lot of WhatsApp, which might be surprising to some.

Luis Magalhaes: Oh yeah, yeah, that is, but let’s go back. You said that startup was called Goings?

Ana Guerra: Go-In.

Luis Magalhaes: Go-In.

Ana Guerra: Go-In, so it’s Go and then In, so Go-Inc.

Luis Magalhaes: Tell me about how was your day like when you were doing this? What exactly were you doing? You were working at the marketing facility and what was your remote work day like?

Ana Guerra: It was totally different than what I experienced at Microsoft because while I was at Microsoft, it was a full-time job and I had a contract and a roll. While I was working with [Borrow 00:05:59] or Go-In, I didn’t have a specific schedule or I was mostly doing it as a side hustle in a way. Usually what would happen when I was on holidays, I would mostly be having some meetings sometimes and then I would be working after 5pm, 6pm, so always after classes or after something that I would be doing. I definitely wouldn’t have a regular schedule, but I think it’s very important to have one because otherwise, you’re not as available to the rest of the team, which is very important because I don’t think we can …

Ana Guerra: Obviously, one of the advantages with doing your remote work is that you can work from anywhere. You can work from home. You don’t necessarily need a schedule, but still you should be considerate of other people who, obviously, want to have their own life and have their own schedule and some of them might not be working remotely like you. I think you always need to be considerate of other people.

Luis Magalhaes: This company was actually based on the same town where you were in. Did I get that correctly?

Ana Guerra: It was in [Oatas 00:07:15] and I was in Lisbon, but at the time, I had moved back, so at the time I was studying the last year of my bachelors and I went back home during the holidays. I went to my parent’s house, which is in Lidia. I was working remotely from Ladia and then when I moved to the UK to so the Masters, then I was working remotely from there. Although, most of my time I was living in Lisbon during my whole bachelors and now I’m living in Lisbon at the time while I was working for Go-In, I wasn’t.

Luis Magalhaes: Can you describe what the conversation was like what you found about you working remotely? Was that something that they told you from the start that’s how they wanted to do things? Was that adequate to your necessities? How did that come about?

Ana Guerra: It was kind of something that we discussed. Basically what happened at the time [Who Goo 00:08:09], who is the founder of Go-In, he approached me through LinkedIn and he said, “I have this project for you. I really want you to be part of it,” and I had had some brief idea that he had a startup, but I didn’t know much about it. We plant a Skype call and then we had a whole conversation. He explained me this whole product and his idea, what he was working on, what would be the strategy to approach investors in everything. He showed me the work. I showed interest.

Ana Guerra: At the time, it would be my first job experience or anything, but I didn’t want to be tied down to a contract and too much responsibility because I was studying at the same time and for me, it wasn’t like I really needed the money, so I decided to be working with them, collaborating with them just like any other person but not be tied down to a contract.

Ana Guerra: What I said was that as I was leaving for the UK for the next year that it was important for me to be during those summer holidays with my family, so that I would like to work from home and he said, “That’s fine. We’ve had people working remotely before. I think it’s totally possible. You can still travel back to Lisbon for more important meetings and to meet the team.” They were pretty happy with it, but it was my suggestion. It wasn’t something that was set up in the beginning because, obviously, I guess they thought that I would be working with them in the office in Lisbon because I was living in Lisbon at the time.

Luis Magalhaes: Wow.

Ana Guerra: But yeah, that’s what happened.

Luis Magalhaes: How did you know that that was a possibility?

Ana Guerra: I think it was the circumstance itself, the situation itself because the context was there was a guy with a startup, very small team. They had, it was mostly him, who was the founder. Then at the time there was a CFO and then there were some members of the team doing back-end and front-end so basically the developing. I would be the first person who would be doing marketing and helping with the business stuff.

Ana Guerra: It was a very small team and obviously, he knew that I was studying and I didn’t want to be tied down to a professional contract. We were just collaborating on this idea and helping them, so it seemed like a reasonable expectation for me to suggest that. Probably if it was some other kind of work, maybe I wouldn’t ask but surprisingly now that you’re speaking about this, I can actually tell you another thing that happened recently.

Ana Guerra: I left Microsoft a month ago and I’ve been applying to jobs and one of the positions that I found I thought it was super interesting company, recent company. I knew that the founder … It was a startup and although they had their office in [Porto 00:11:18], the CEO was abroad. He was in Madrid and he had some other members outside, so I thought, “Well, even though I don’t want to relocate to Porto right now. My goal is to stay here in Lisbon as of now. Maybe if they like me enough, they would consider having me as a remote worker since their CEO is working remotely and then they have other members?”

Ana Guerra: I just proposed the idea to them and surprisingly, they came back to me and they say, “Oh, we thought of this position as a full-time position in our office, but you’re right. Our genesis has been a remote work for a bit of time and since we like you so much, we’re considering are moving forward with this idea.” I had the interview, but then at the end they decided that for the time that they had … How should I say this? Business curve that it wouldn’t it make sense to have another person remotely.

Ana Guerra: They really wanted to have someone working in the office, sharing the culture and helping, having a more hands-on experience with the rest of the team, so they decided at the end to go for someone else, so they didn’t stick with me. But still they considered it and they didn’t say no straight away, which is good. I think it’s very cool to see some companies starting to think that this is an option and you don’t necessarily have to be thinking about having to not hire someone because they’re not there with you, but hiring for the skills and not necessarily for geographical location.

Luis Magalhaes: That’s an interesting thing about the culture because a lot of companies are adamant that they’re remote companies and they have a remote culture. I want to drive this back to when you were at Microsoft and you discovered that you were mostly, even though you could go to the Microsoft office and you did in fact go, so you were working with the remote team, how did you feel about the culture because Microsoft, obviously, has their own culture? I guess this falls into two sections. How was the culture different between the culture that you’re experiencing in person in the Portuguese office and then while interacting with the office at Madrid?

Ana Guerra: Yeah, well when I joined I defintely knew that Microsoft was a company that was an advocate for remote work. A lot of things that they sell is this new lifestyle of working working remotely in the modern workplace and you have people collaborating. You can have people in the office but also having people joining with a Skype call, so I definitely was aware of that. It was a thing. I had spoken to some of the members there and have told me, “Yes, it depends on the team but sometimes we’re able to work from home and we’re not too tied down to schedule.” I was aware that it was possible, but I wasn’t aware that it was going to be my case.

Ana Guerra: I was not scared of it at all. I had tried it before and I deftly think that if you’re someone who likes to take the initiative and who is very disciplined and knows what they’re doing and is not afraid to do calls, I definitely thought that it would be something that was suitable for me and okay. I felt fine having responsibility and being able to take care of my own schedule.

Ana Guerra: About the culture itself, I think it’s a very, very strange situation because I was the only Xbox person working in Portugal and then my whole team was in Spain. At the time when I entered, I entered with a bunch of other interns and all of them … I was the only one who had their manager outside. Everyone else had their manager inside Microsoft-Portugal.

Ana Guerra: The size that, there was a situation that the structure that I was working for, although I was based in the Portuguese office because that obviously made sense, I wasn’t contributing to the Microsoft-Portugal structure. Sometimes we would have these “all hands meetings,” which would happen every quarter and they would do presentations and I couldn’t relate to any of it because although I was there, I wasn’t working with any of that. It was always a very funny situation.

Ana Guerra: Even a company like Microsoft has a lot of, how do you say this? Specific words, is anagrams or something? They have specific words and you have no idea what they mean because they’re related to this whole different business sector, which is not mine and it’s not my company not the structure that I work for. There would always be this kind of gap between me and them because they wouldn’t understand me and the kind of work that I was doing. I wouldn’t understand them because they have all these-

Luis Magalhaes: You were the weird person from Spain. You were the weird person from Spain.

Ana Guerra: Yeah, yeah definitely and I wouldn’t be able to understand their own problems. They have their problems. They have a manager. They don’t like their manager or they have to get to work very early or they’re working over hours or something and I’m complaining about totally different things like “I don’t have enough support.” “I don’t even know if people care about what I’m doing here.”

Ana Guerra: There were totally different spectrums so sometimes, I guess it was hard for me to relate to them but also hard for them to relate to me because they thought I had the best job ever because I could work from anywhere and I didn’t have a schedule. I never saw my manager, but obviously that comes with struggles, too.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, and obviously as someone who manages remote work, I think that my people should see me quite often so that kind of points … I understand how that could be a struggle. I usually talk to managers and this is a unique opportunity to get to the other side. What did you feel that was missing from you being managed remotely? Or put it in a more positive way?

Ana Guerra: What were the struggles, right?

Luis Magalhaes: What would you like your management to have done differently?

Ana Guerra: Yeah, I think there is a lot of … Even though you’re doing remote work, you still want to be part of everything and sometimes that’s hard. I think most times it’s not intentional from the manager or the team but just because I guess they’re not used to working remotely, it might be a recent thing for them, they don’t know how they should best approach it and how to make sure that the other person on the other side with team, especially when you’re the only person on the team working remotely, which is even harder … I think sometimes it’s not that they don’t want to do it, they just don’t know how to or not aware of what they should be doing better.

Ana Guerra: What I would recommend, for example, I think when you’re doing a call with someone, whether that is on Skype or any other platform, I think it’s very important to be doing video. My experience while I was at Microsoft was that most times we were not doing video. I think it has to do with connection because it’s way better. You get way better quality, if you don’t, if you remove video and you only do audio and I think it also has to do with sometimes people are dressing in pajamas. They don’t want to be seen, but I think that’s one thing that-

Luis Magalhaes: Oh, but you weren’t the only remote employee?

Ana Guerra: No, no, no, I was not, but I think that makes a big difference, seeing someone, making eye contact, seeing whether they’re understanding or not? Are they smiling? Are they agreeing with you? Are they distracted because if you’re doing a call with someone and especially everyone is busy, right? I think it’s very easy for someone to be on a call with you, but they’re writing emails at the same time or they’re answering to someone else, so it’s very easy to not be as concentrated as you should, so I think video helps. Not only it helps with making a visual connection and helping establish a relationship, but also it helps with being ask concentrated as you would be if I was in a meeting with you personally. That’s one of the things that I think really makes a difference.

Ana Guerra: The other thing also has to do with meetings is especially when you only have when someone that is working remotely. Sometimes you as a team might want to have everyone in a meeting room and then have only the other person joining Skype, but that can be dangerous sometimes because it’s very easy to you as a team, the ones that are in person altogether, to be speaking with each other and be deciding things or even speaking in a foreign language, which was my example and you’re not getting half of it.

Ana Guerra: I think it’s very important or try as much as possible to even though you’re there physically with the rest of the team, try to get people in different rooms to be everyone on the same level, everyone doing it the remote, through a call because I think when you’re doing that type of thing, it’s very easy to only be interacting with the people in the room. Sometimes you might have bad audio quality and everyone in the room is understanding but you on the inside might not be. I think meetings is a big part.

Luis Magalhaes: When you started … We actually helped some of … Distant Jobs has actually helped some of their clients with that. It’s not really your robot, but it’s like this little hat, neck kind of stand for an iPad and then what it can do is it has a special microphone incorporated into the neck and it turns the people on FaceTime to whoever is talking, so they can follow the conversation naturally. I found that helps a lot but, of course, it’s important.

Luis Magalhaes: Here in my case in our company, there is only two native English speakers in the company that’s over 30 people and everyone in the company speaks English just because that’s what’s agreed. Because it’s all different languages and so maybe if a Ukrainian and a Russian are having a one-on-one talk, yeah, sure, they’ll speak Russian. But whenever people of different languages are in a room, we always default to English as a matter of cordiality.

Ana Guerra: Yeah, and I think as we’re progressing as companies and as a culture, it’s now more than ever important to be as considerate of others as possible. We’re working with people from all over the world, speaking all kinds of languages, having all kinds of backgrounds, so it’s very, very important to be considerate of other people and that is whether you’re speaking a language that they know … Don’t make comments in other languages while you’re speaking to someone else or try to be considerate of the time that you’re setting up meetings so sometimes there’s a big gap of time … Even when there is a small gap.

Ana Guerra: For example, Portugal and Spain, it’s just one hour difference. But for us doing a meeting at 8am is a mess, right? Everyone is getting to the office at nine usually. It might seem like something small, but eventually it becomes distressful to the members of the team and can even create some kind of distance between the team, which is not what we want.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, yeah, no, obviously, matching your time zones properly is important, definitely. Actually, tell me about two times. Tell me about the time where you were really glad about your remote situation and another time where you felt that, well, this basically sucks. Yeah, give me the two signs of the Go-In.

Ana Guerra: Let me see? I think definitely there were a lot of times where I felt very, very fortunate to be working remotely, probably more times than I felt unfortunate. That’s why I considered … I made a proposition for that company that I just said that I wouldn’t mind working remotely just because I liked them so much. It’s definitely something that I have enjoyed and that I felt fortunate to be doing while I was working at Microsoft. Let me see one example?

Ana Guerra: I think not a single example, but there were a lot of times that I would be, for example, usually what would happen is I would be working from the office every day except for one day or two days, which usually would be Tuesday and Thursday so kind of need to get some rest and being at home. But sometimes, for examples, imagine if I was visiting my parents in their hometown and my hometown, sometimes I would go home on Friday and I would be working Friday remotely from my hometown. That’s something that is very, very cool. Obviously, my parents would always be saying, “Are you sure you don’t have to be at the office? Are you making a good decision?” because it’s not something that they’re used to, not used to having people working from home and not used to people at be able to manage their own schedule.

Ana Guerra: That was very cool, being able to sometimes go home earlier and be working from home. Or for example, even though I might look very extrovert, I would actually identify myself as more of an introvert person, so even though I am here and I’m talking to you and I’m having the best time, probably after this call and since I have another call in the morning, I would rather be in a more quiet place-

Luis Magalhaes: You’re crying to yourself silently-

Ana Guerra: Yeah, yeah, working on my projects, headphones. I would always be the headphones girl at Microsoft, always listening to music and, “I don’t want to talk to you. Message me on Skype or on Microsoft teams or whatever.” I think when you’re doing a remote job, it’s very easy to shelter yourself from other people if you want to. If you want to be really concentrated on a specific thing, I think that’s very cool. Imagine if I was …

Ana Guerra: Sometimes, for example, I would be working with Photoshop and I knew that Photoshop, I’m not going to be speaking to anyone. I need to be deeply engaged in this activity and I’m going to be working for probably one hour or even two hours on this project. Sometimes, I would be deciding, “Okay, I’m going to be working at Microsoft in the morning but then after lunch, I’m just going to go home to work on Photoshop because I can have more rest there and I can already be at home.”

Ana Guerra: That was something totally okay to do. Especially at Microsoft, we had an open office so no one had their own desk or table. We were in circular tables and you could see … That’s a whole conversation itself, open office. Open office is cool because I think you get an idea of what everybody’s working but sometimes you don’t want to know what everybody else is working.

Luis Magalhaes: You’re getting information on what everybody is working while you’re wearing your headphones and not talking to anyone.

Ana Guerra: Yeah, yeah, and even though you’re very concentrated, it’s very easy to pick up some conversation and you might want to give your input or you’re just interested in listening on what people are working on. For me, remote work was a way of shielding myself from sometimes that confusion. If I’m at home, and I live at my home by myself, there is really no one else that is going to bother me. I know that if I want to do this, I’m going to be doing this.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, you get to focus. That brings me to an interesting thing, which is I see it as a different challenge that varies from person to person. Different persons have different ways. Where some people struggle with remote work is that they get distracted because they’re at home and they have their Xbox and they have their record collection and they have the gap and the kids. They end up being less productive.

Luis Magalhaes: On the other side of the coin, some people just get hyper-productive and because they can work at any time, they just work, work, work and work and skip meals and, “Oh, I worked 80 hours this week. Now I’m close to dying of hunger and my wife is getting [inaudible 00:29:41]. This remote work thing isn’t working out as I expected.” Do you match any of these etch cases or are you a pretty balanced person?

Ana Guerra: I would say that I’m more of a balanced person but more on the side that I think the best thing about remote work is that it adapts to who you are. You can do it however you want to. If you’re someone who really wants to be concentrated in whatever they want to do, you can just be doing that. Usually with regular jobs and having a regular schedule and being at the office, you have to be working usually from nine to five or nine to six, but that’s not how everyone works.

Ana Guerra: For me, I am an early bird and I’m comfortable with waking up early and be working during the daytime. But for some people, they hate waking up early and they’re way more productive working in the evening or even at nighttime and that’s fine for them. With remote work, it helps people like that. I think for that, it’s awesome. I do think there are obviously some dangers with remote working as you said. I think for some people, it might be easy.

Ana Guerra: I had the experience of speaking with some people at Microsoft, some of said, “Oh, I would never do remote work because when I work at home, I’m never concentrated,” or “I wake up five minutes before a meeting that I have and I’m still wearing pajamas.” I think it has to do … It goes down to each person whatever they feel more comfortable. That would be the best case scenario that someone can pick whether they want to work remotely or not according to what they feel like is what best suits how they work and what they like.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, based on your experience, I want to give you a challenge because you’re in my area. Your area is PR and marketing, am I correct?

Luis Magalhaes: Ana Guerra Yeah, yeah.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, obviously, this was the big question, I’m sorry. We’ve talked about this before. If you were to have a marketing team working under you that you had to manage but all of them or part of them, you can choose, but a significant part of them at least worked remotely, what would you do? What would your day look like as you managed your team?

Ana Guerra: I think one of the things … I didn’t mentioned this before while talking to you but one of the struggles that you have as a team while working remotely, I think, at least for the people who are being managed, is that sometimes you’re not as aware of what other people are doing because you’re not in the same office. You’re not always looking out for each other. It’s very easy to only know what you’re doing and what you’re asked to do and not be as aware, especially if the tasks that you have are not dependent on other people. One of the things that I recommended to be doing in my team and that I would recommend if I had a new team that I would be managing is doing some sort of hybrid mix of Scrum, agile methodologies. I think-

Luis Magalhaes: Actually, it’s a funny story, funny that you mentioned it because we had the X … What is … Chief marketing officer, yes, the X chief marketing officer of CD Project Red, which I know you … Well, not CD Project Read, the other CD project, the one from GOG.com, not the red one, here on the last show and he was actually saying that Scrum and agile are very good methods of running remote teams so please go on.

Ana Guerra: Yeah, yeah, so obviously, we’re not talking about usually is applied to creating software, but I think with marketing, it could definitely be something that can be applied as well, especially when you’re working with a remote team because every day … I wouldn’t recommend doing it every day, especially with marketing but at least doing it, for example, on Monday morning, the starting of the week, meet the whole team, get everyone on board on, “Okay, what am I going to do this week? What were my struggles in the past week? What can you help me or what do we need to unblock here to progress with our jobs?” Obviously, it’s very easy to tackle a lot of issues because the whole team is there, so you have people to help you unblock the issues.

Ana Guerra: Also, it’s a great way for you as a remote worker to showcase your work to the rest of the team and to your manager. For other team members, it’s also a great way to understand what everybody else is doing because sometimes there might be some synergies that you could be using, so someone else on the team might be working on something similar or might have worked on something similar to what you’re doing now and could be helping you out. But you would never know that unless you were doing something like this.

Ana Guerra: I think doing the standup meetings, especially doing it once a week, I think it’s deftly something that could help teams and not just in marketing. I think it’s something we should be seeing not only on software but on any team that is a very tied team and working on projects together. I think definitely that can help. It helps everyone. Like I say, it helps the manager to get a better overview. It helps the team to fix their problems more easily and it helps the people to showcase their work and learn from other people’s work. That will be something I would definitely recommend.

Luis Magalhaes: You did say before and forgive me if I misrepresenting, but it feels that you felt that your manager, your Spanish manager was not present enough in your-

Ana Guerra: Was not what?

Luis Magalhaes: Was not present enough, but I also don’t think that you feel that talking to him or her one day a week would be enough. What do you think is a good balance for a manager to be present? What’s the difference between a manager that is not present enough and the manager that is constantly looking down, just nagging you and not letting you do your work? What do you think is a good balance?

Ana Guerra: Definitely, I think, first of all, people were working under the manager, so the ones that are being managed, I think it should come from them to seek support with their manager and then it’s up to the manager to provide that support to them. I think the way the flow should go should be that way because you have an actual problem and you want to do something and you ask the manager and the manager supports you. I believe that’s the kind of flow that should be happening most times but obviously, not everyone is the same and not every person that is being managed has the guts or is comfortable enough to be asking for help or anything. It also comes down to the manager to sometimes be guiding and looking out for the person who is working with you.

Ana Guerra: I think you should do regular meetings with the team and even one-on-one meetings I think are very important as well to assist not only how is the person feeling about this project that they’re working on, do they need help, but also to see how happy they are with their job, about their career, how else the manager can help them. It’s not just a question of what work are we doing now, it’s what work are we going to be doing in the future? Definitely, one-on-one meetings need to happen. I wouldn’t say every month but every three months, for example, or every quarter there should be a one-on-one meeting with your team members and then obviously, try to have group meetings, like one a week. That would be the minimum.

Luis Magalhaes: Yeah, well that seems very nice. I actually, try to have one-on-one meetings with every member of the team every 15 days but obviously, my company is smaller. At Microsoft, that might be hard, that might be very hard, but I can definitely hear you. I want to know how much do you enjoy fortune cookies?

Ana Guerra: How much do I enjoy fortune cookies?

Luis Magalhaes: Do you enjoy fortune cookies?

Ana Guerra: I probably-

Luis Magalhaes: That’s good advice.

Ana Guerra: I don’t think I’ve eaten fortune cookies that much, probably can count by both of my hands how many times I’ve eaten fortune cookies. I don’t think they’re stupid. I think they’re a funny thing. I think every time that you read one, it’s like a horoscope or star signs. There is always something that you can learn from it.

Luis Magalhaes: Great, so here’s my challenge to you, good set up. Since you recognize that there’s always something great that you can learn from them, were you to be the guest host at the Chinese restaurant and you knew top CEO’s from European and American tech companies were attending a dinner centered about remote work and you were the guest host at that Chinese restaurant, what would the message that you would put two these people in the fortune cookie?

Ana Guerra: Whoa, that’s such a hard one.

Luis Magalhaes: I know, well, I built it up.

Ana Guerra: That’s so hard.

Luis Magalhaes: Yes, what is the message that you would send these people?

Ana Guerra: Something like make everyone feel like they’re in the same room or make everyone feel like we’re all together in this or something like that, I don’t know.

Luis Magalhaes: No, I’ll go with that.

Ana Guerra: Probably make everyone feel like they’re in the same room sounds like something that would be on a fortune cookie. If you think about it, it can be applied to many things, yeah.

Luis Magalhaes: I like it. It’s very deep, thank you Ana. Thank you very much for your time, I want to be respectful of your time, but you have a lot of things going on. After your stint at Microsoft, you have your own projects. You run your own podcast for a while. For how long has your podcast been running?

Ana Guerra: One year now, so it had it’s one year birthday in July. I actually did a live stream to celebrate it.

Luis Magalhaes: Congratulations.

Ana Guerra: If you think about how the podcast was in the beginning, has nothing to compare to what it is now because it’s actually a funny story. In the beginning, the early stages of the podcast, I would be recording it. I was in my dorm room while I was doing my Masters in the UK and I was recording it on the toilet in the bathroom, I would be recording the podcast just because the acoustics were better. Other people from other dorms wouldn’t be listening to me.

Luis Magalhaes: [inaudible 00:41:09] I have never done the podcast, I have never done the bathroom podcast. I have done the kitchen podcast.

Ana Guerra: Yeah.

Luis Magalhaes: It has surprisingly good acoustics. Tell people, how can they learn more about you, how can they find you?

Ana Guerra: Basically, my three main projects that I’m working on right now, the main one is the podcast, so that’s The Ana Guerra podcast so very easy to find. If you search it online, you should be able to find it. But if I give you the URL, it would be anchor.fm/anarlguerra and if you go there you get an overview of all the podcast providers that I me in, whether that is Google podcasts, Apple podcasts, spina five, all the places that you’re listening to podcasts, you should find it there.

Ana Guerra: I’m also writing on Medium, so if you search Ana Guerra on Medium, you should be able to find me as well. You can find some articles. Then my recent project, and if you’re a fan of reading content and seeing what’s the newest stuff that is happening out there with trends with marketing, with tech, even with remote work probably, you should enter my newsletter, which the link right now … Let me see? If you go to my Twitter and Instagram or Luis can give you the link, you can enter the newsletter. It’s a WhatsApp newsletter, so don’t be afraid of getting another email newsletter on your inbox. It won’t be bad. It’s different, but I’m sure you will enjoy it. It’s the kind of newsletter that you just skim through it. You enter whatever it is that you find relevant and then you just move on with your day and next week you have another one.

Luis Magalhaes: All right, sounds good, thank you very much for coming, Ana. I appreciate your time and I appreciate your advice, let’s keep in touch

Ana Guerra: Yeah, thank you for having me here and I had a ton of fun. Remote work is always something that … I don’t think we talked as much as we should because it’s something that we see more and more every day, but we shouldn’t see remote work as just something that we’re working from home. It can empower a lot of things, but it also comes with struggles that we, as a company, need to be dealing with and know how to manage correctly because it’s not just someone who is working from home. They have all these other differences between regular employees or something.

Luis Magalhaes: Absolutely, thank you very much.

Ana Guerra: Bye.

Luis Magalhaes: Thanks again, and so we reached the end of another Staff It Right Podcast. If you would like to know more about Ana Guerra, just go to her Medium profile as she mentioned or rank her podcast and there will be links to both of those in the show notes. If you enjoyed this podcast and you would like to contribute to give a bit back, there are two main ways in which you can do that. Number one, share it in social media or just give it to a friend. The more ears we can get to the better.

Luis Magalhaes: Number two, leave a review on iTunes or your podcast service of choice. That also helps us get to more people and spread the word about how to build and manage remote teams. In the meantime, if you have a project, if you have a company, a business and you need to “staff it right,” please consider visiting Distantjobs.com. That’s it for this week, thank you everyone, we’re out.

More ways to listen:

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During her stay at Microsoft Portugal, Ana found herself interacting with on-site colleagues, but doing the bulk of her work remotely, with a team that was physically located in another country. Here we talk about how she managed that situation and her advice to managers who want to integrate a remote superstar into their local teams!

As always, if you enjoy the podcast, we humbly ask that you leave a review on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice – and if you could share it, that would be even better!

Need that one incredible employee to bolster your team? Get in touch and we’ll find you who you need.