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Tips for Measuring Productivity in Distributed Teams with Victor Vorski

Victor Vorski is a mentor who works deeply integrated with many companies, helping them shape and shift into the necessary roles to accomplish the goals of building fully distributed software teams and startups. With a background in software development and product management, Victor has participated in and led remote virtual and distributed teams for 20 years.

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Luis:

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. With me today, I have Victor Vorski. He is my guest, and Victor is a mentor who works deeply integrated with his client companies, shapes shifting into the necessary roles to accomplish the goals of building fully distributed software teams and startups. With a background in software development and product management, Victor has participated in and led remote virtual and distributed teams for 20 years. Victor, welcome to the show.

Victor Vorski:

Hi, Luis. Thank you for having me. Really great to be here and really looking forward to our conversation.

Luis:

It’s my pleasure and, just based on the introduction alone, we have a lot to talk about. But I guess I’ll start by that extensive experience leading remote virtual and distributed teams. I usually ask the question to my guests, how has remote work changed your job, your career, and how has it made it better, but in your case, you’re doing this for a long time. So, how does remote work relate to your career over all these years?

Victor Vorski:

Yeah. So, it’s funny because when I started really focusing on specializing in learning how to … all of the theory and the ideas around remote work about four or five years ago, I started looking at my work career and realized that, oh, wait. I’ve been doing this in different incarnations and in different forms since my first job after university, which was in ’96 in Poland. I was a software developer at an outsourced office that a German company started. So, this is still very early days.

Then I was through different jobs, but I ended up in Moscow as a arm of a Japanese company I was working for, setting up an outsourced development office there. Then I got an MBA and then lots of other things happened in between and started working on a project where I was still living in Japan and we had one meeting a week. So, we had our Monday meeting, and other than that, I was managing a team that was doing software development for Japanese entertainment websites, but the team was based in Moscow.

Then through more different life choices, I decided I want to leave Japan and I moved to London because I met my wife there. I had actually already by that point, after working remotely, I escaped the city and I realized that escaping the city is really, really great, but not if you’re alone. So, I decided that next time, I was going to escape the city with a partner and some friends. So, I had to take a dip through the big city to find a partner, which I did.

But I took my job and I moved from Tokyo to London, or from outskirts of Tokyo to London, and I continued my job. Right? The team was now in Moscow. I was in London. In the middle, the business owner decided to move from Japan to Singapore and then Hawaii, and we spread out over the years, little by little.

Luis:

Wow.

Victor Vorski:

So, remote work, certainly it’s enabled me this lifestyle of moving, and then I moved from London to here in Portugal and continued my work as I had done for now 12 years on this project. So, being remote has enabled me to work globally. I’ll even mention, it’s a small thing, it’s a personal thing. My father, interestingly enough, has been doing IT since ’65.

Luis:

Wow.

Victor Vorski:

He retired. He’s in his 70s now. He retired late, but five, six, seven years ago. But in the meantime, he started helping on this project that I’m working on. So, I’ve had the pleasure of, for the past six, seven, eight years, working with my father, something that used to be normal in our society, but most people don’t get. Of course, sometimes he’s cranky and he gets upset easily. But still-

Luis:

Is he going to be listening to this podcast?

Victor Vorski:

It’s okay. A bit cranky. But I am super grateful for being able to work with him and spend even a few hours a week talking about this, talking about that. We share something. He lives in Canada, I live here in Portugal, and I think if we didn’t have this work, we’re men, right? What do men have to talk about, right?

Luis:

Yeah.

Victor Vorski:

But work is good. So, remote work has actually enabled me to work directly with my father, which has been a real blessing because I left Canada in ’96 where he lives now. So, we’ve been living in different continents for over 25 years. But thanks to being able to work together, it’s created this closeness for us.

Luis:

That’s really nice and that touches a couple of things. But you’ve really had a globetrotting experience. There were a couple of things that I want to pick that up. I want to start by your experience in Japan because in a previous life, I was the editor in chief for a video games magazine and took care of the video game section of a national newspaper. So, I have very deep ties with the gaming culture, and specifically the gaming culture in Japan.

Once this situation started, this COVID-19 situation, one thing that my people in Japan told me was that a lot of Japanese companies were not getting onboard. They were refusing getting onboard with the remote work thing, that they vehemently believe that it was necessary for their culture for the employees to work there at the office. Thinking off the top of my head, I think that Nintendo did this, one of the most popular video game companies.

So, I’m thinking, when you were in Japan, how did people face the fact that you were working remotely? How did the Japanese react to that? I am assuming you had some Japanese colleagues, even though most of the team was in Moscow. How did that happen?

Victor Vorski:

In general, in Japan, things are given to friends and group companies. In this case, it was a situation where it was a small company, they didn’t have a big budget. They wanted to get something difficult done at a reasonable price. It’s random collection of accidents as things work when you are working freelance. Right? Somebody somewhere at some meetup met me and said, “Oh, can you do some project management work?” Then some things more tumbled and I ended up being where I am 12 years later.

So, in that case, the company did work and they didn’t have somebody who could do it for them. So, they were able to and willing to give it to somebody outside the country, and I was in there buffering the language and culture, in a way, which made them comfortable. Already, that company, like I said, they were having one meeting a week before I met. Right? So, it was already kind of an company in the early days.

But what I wanted to touch and to take our conversation maybe onto the more serious side of what does management of remote work mean? Because I think in this sense, Japan is very interesting as an extreme case. I’ve lived in many places and I really don’t believe that anywhere in the world is special. There are spectrums and certain cultures are more on a spectrum in a certain way than others, but it’s all a spectrum. In every country, you have all of those things expressed, just some things are more common than others. When it comes to management, unfortunately, it’s interesting because the Japanese have a really amazing reputation for efficiency.

Luis:

Oh, yeah. And improvement.

Victor Vorski:

That is completely true when it comes to physical things and manufactured things, and I imagine factory lines. I haven’t been part of that. However, when it comes to white collar work, meeting organization, meeting efficiency, they’re really not very good.

Luis:

Really?

Victor Vorski:

I’m being as polite as I can be on a public podcast here. For modern management, we talk a lot about managing by results, right?

Luis:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Victor Vorski:

Managing by output. Not managing how long people sit in the office. I was born in Poland. In socialist time, there was this idea of ass hours. You were evaluated by how many hours your ass is in the chair. There is a strong culture of that in many companies and definitely in Japan. The more your company is prone to that, we evaluate people by how late they’re staying in the office. Right? If this is your measure for employee performance, then you’re not going to succeed at remote work.

Luis:

No, it’s not great.

Victor Vorski:

Yeah. So, Japan being the extreme end of the spectrum of that measurement by presence, I think there’s some term like this, is at the extreme end of not being compatible with remote work.

Luis:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah. Definitely. Definitely.

Victor Vorski:

So, I think that’s what you’re observing. Similar things, I’m sure you hear from companies in Europe or in America that are focused on measuring people’s presence, not their performance. It’s very hard and I appreciate it as a manager leader of software development teams. It’s really hard to measure productivity. So, I understand how people, just by default, default to measuring presence because it’s very easy to see whether somebody’s in their office at the desk at 9:00 AM. Unfortunately, when it comes to white collar work, that’s really not very relevant.

Luis:

Yeah. I absolutely agree. So, let’s pick up on that trend because obviously, being this, the podcast that it is, that productivity and how to measure productivity is a topic that comes up now and again, and there’s still no science about it. Most people, most leaders still have their own ways, and those ways, they go from all the way across the spectrum, from the edge of the spectrum that’s as ours, as you put it, to the other end of the spectrum, which is an infinite vacation time and non-controlled vacation time and just I’ll see the software as it shows up, so to say.

So, I want to ask, what is your personal method, the method when you’re integrated with your client companies? What is the method that you take to measure the productivity of your teams?

Victor Vorski:

So, great question. I will disappoint you. I don’t have a very good direct answer.

Luis:

Few people do.

Victor Vorski:

Sorry?

Luis:

Few people do. I would be surprised if you had.

Victor Vorski:

I can tell you also, I work with startups, right?

Luis:

Yeah.

Victor Vorski:

I focus on creating good communication and making sure that people are passionate and understand what they’re working on and why, and making or building teams where everybody’s committed and doing the best they can towards a goal, a project, a product that they understand, that they’re emotional about, and that everybody’s doing their best.

Also, because I work with startups or small companies, I imagine if you have a hundred salespeople, okay, I can measure performance. I’ve got a hundred examples and, okay, there’s some unmeasurables, but there is something. When you’ve got one salesperson and one marketing perspective and two developers and one boss and one operations person, everybody’s doing different things. It’s very hard and what can you even do?

Luis:

To add to that, many startup products are very unique. So, you don’t really have a metric for past performance in many cases.

Victor Vorski:

Yes. Also, I really see building modern teams as a leader, as a company owner, your goal is to hire people smarter than you in their specialties.

Luis:

Oh, yeah. For sure.

Victor Vorski:

If you do your job well, you have a team full of people that are super specialized in certain areas which you’re not an expert on. So, how could you even possibly begin to measure something which you’re not an expert on?

Luis:

Exactly. Exactly. That’s my point all the time, right? I feel that in my own skin because that’s my approach to building a marketing team. Look. When I’m sitting with someone in my marketing team, when I’m talking about the thing they’re supposed to do, I’m supposed to be the stupid person in the conversation. Otherwise, it doesn’t make sense to hire them.

Victor Vorski:

Yes.

Luis:

But to your point, when you’re the stupid person in the conversation, how can you evaluate what they do?

Victor Vorski:

So, this is the thing. In a small team, why would you want to evaluate what they’re doing? Right? You brought in the best professional that you can find that you’re able to afford for function, whatever. You’ve gotten them to understand what your business or project goals are. You’ve gotten them excited about making this happen. All you can do is trust that they do their best. Honestly speaking, if you don’t trust that the people are doing their best anyways, no amount of measurement or control will make them perform better.

There is lots of studies around this. People perform best when they’re excited and truly believe in what they’re working on. I think for remote work, if people aren’t damned excited to do and wake up in the morning and do their work and, yeah, I get to do whatever it is I’m doing because I believe in the cause, the work itself, sometimes, every job has some parts which you don’t love. But if you believe in the bigger cause, we’re helping the world, we’re helping our customers, I’m making some other departments in the company’s work a little bit better, but what I contribute today, I’m excited in the grand scale about what I’m doing.

Luis:

Yeah. I absolutely agree. To your point, that’s something that I always try. When I’m interviewing someone for our marketing team, I always try to look for the shining in their eyes. I want someone who is excited to be working either at DistantJob because of DistantJob’s mission or simply because they really love their work if their work is producing podcasts or writing technical things or stuff like that. That’s what I usually look for because what I find is that it’s very hard to seed passion on someone, to help passion grow on someone at the job.

It’s much easier to hire already passionate people than to try to make them passionate once they’re already in. So, passion and detecting passion really plays a lot in our recruitment process. But I want to get a feel of how do you look for that, those traits, that passion, that will to do whatever it takes when you are interviewing and hiring yourself?

Victor Vorski:

Certainly. If you have a conversation and if you’re listening to people, I guess I make sure to ask people curve ball questions and ask questions about their lives. Right? What is their dream? What is your career goal? What are you trying to learn? Then you can see if it connects with the work that they would be doing on this project, either connects with something they’re excited about or something that they want to learn. Hopefully in some way, the mission of the company, the purpose of the company is something that they can get behind, feel passionate about, at least, but get behind.

I think here is where this idea, I really have in my mind, I’m really working on this concept of I really see the future of work as moving from management to leadership. What I see leadership is as carrying this vision and inspiring people and communicating why what the company, the team is doing is important, worthwhile, and relevant. So, there is certainly a degree of responsibility on the leader.

In some ways, I think this is what makes people scared in a way because it’s no longer, you can’t just task people and be a manager. You need to inspire them. That’s particularly tough if you’re in a position where you don’t feel inspired. It goes all the way up. Right?

Luis:

Right. Of course.

Victor Vorski:

So, I think it’s also interesting, we will see as people move to remote work, will there be a move to people gravitating more towards companies that are purpose-centric, that have a vision or a mission of achieving something in the world or for society. It’s possible that because working remotely or a company that’s uninspiring just becomes that much harder. The draw of Netflix or Amazon or games or whatever, it’s just, you can’t be bothered.

Luis:

I think there’s a two edged blade there because some people, at least in my experience, some people will get really excited just at the prospect of being able to do the thing they love, but doing it remotely, even if it’s not working at the Netflix or Nintendo or a super exciting company. But if they’re doing the thing that they’re good at, writing or developing or coding, etc., and they get the extra benefit of having the flexibility of doing it remotely, a lot of times, I find that that is enough to get people excited, to get people saying, “I love having this job.”

Victor Vorski:

Yep. Yeah. For sure. So, then, as you say, if the person’s love of what they love doing is something they will get to do a lot or they’ll be able to express in this job, then that’s a good match and passionate. So, I remember what I was going to say, going back to the … It’s not about just, okay, we’ll abandon, we don’t have any goals or anything, whatever. But I see it as more of you’re working with professionals. Of course, things need to move forward.

But I see it more as like, okay, this is the task we’re trying to achieve. We’re trying improve our company’s marketing. What do you think we should do? Okay, this is the list. Which are the priorities? Okay, give me some deadlines that you set yourself for when you’re going to get what done. So, I think there is a lot of value in this kind of not top down, you got to do this by then, but in a more kind of peer and supportive environment. Okay, so by next week, who’s going to do what, and people declare what they’re going to do, and next week, we review it.

I see my role not so much as, oh, why didn’t you do the things you said you would do, but more like, okay, what prevented you from being able to achieve the things that you said you were going to achieve, and what can we change in the company or how do we make our planning process better? So, planning is still important, but I see it as a collaborative group process.

Luis:

Yeah. Oh, for sure. That makes absolute sense. So, I want to grab what you just said, which is it’s important for motivation when you get an expert if you actually let him or her work at the things that they are good at, the things that they enjoy doing. But I also know that in a startup, in a very small company, usually what happens is that you have to fill many roles. Right? We were talking this before we started the show in your own case. Sometimes, there’s no justification for having a full-time role in a business, but there’s more than enough work to do in two part-time roles that the single person can fit.

So, how do you avoid distributing work in a way that will burn out people? Just because sometimes, the startup mentality and the startup culture is let’s all pitch in and do as much as we can, but that could mean that individuals are not necessarily spending a reasonable part of their time doing the thing that they are the best at or that they enjoy doing the most.

Victor Vorski:

It’s a great question. So, I think there is multiple parts to the answer. There is certainly what I mentioned and the way I work, as I mentioned to you, I work with multiple startups as a fractional CTO, fractional product manager, and I’m able to bring to them my expertise in that position and give them all the value that they need in a few hours or in a day or day’s worth of work a week. They get to work with a skilled professional instead of somebody who’s not an expert in managing software development having to do this, and I get the stimulation of working with multiple companies. That’s one side.

So, this is the great thing about remote work is it allows you to work much more flexibly with professionals in certain areas as you need. Of course, people are already used to outsourcing, whether copywriting or website design or things like this. However, with remote work, it’s possible to have people that are part of your team that are also fractional. That’s one side. But I think separately from that, generally in remote work, certainly in startups, it’s important to have an atmosphere of trust and to have this conversation of how are you doing, how overwhelmed do you feel, and of course, it’s okay to feel overwhelmed once in a while. This is normal and certainly in a startup.

But if week after week, month after month, you get to Friday or sometimes Sunday evening because you worked through the whole weekend and you’re just … It’s clear people will burn out. So, having this conversation, asking people, how are you doing, I really believe in starting meetings with check-ins and really honest check-ins. Right? I don’t want to hear how are you doing, you’re fine. That doesn’t help me. Right? If you had a bad day, if somebody cut you off on the way to work, if you’re fighting with your wife, if your dog just died, tell me, because in an office, I can see you much more, so it’s much easier for me to detect. It’s easier for us to detect each other’s mental state.

In a meeting, if I see you just for a moment, it’s much harder, and if you have a sad face or a sour face, you’re like, “Okay, why are you angry at me?” But it’s actually, you’re not angry at me. You just had two days of fights with your wife and you might be considering a divorce. Right?

Luis:

Yeah. That’s a big difference.

Victor Vorski:

So, it’s neat, and I don’t know, right? We tend to assume the worst, right? It’s like, oh, probably something I said, but what did I said, and then we start brooding. So, you really need to create an environment where there is enough trust. Maybe you don’t need to go into the details. You can just say I’m having marital troubles at home and things are not great. So, I’m not feeling very good. Guys, I’ll try and do my best this meeting. But if I’m not quite there, excuse me, it’s home stuff. It’s nothing about the thing.

So, we need to create this environment where people are willing to openly share when needed, and also, I really try to create teams when people feel overwhelmed or something, they have somebody who they can … and they have the instinct to go and ask for help.

Luis:

Oh, yeah. Yeah. It’s really good to build the trust, that you have built the trust with people that they feel comfortable going to you for that stuff. Me personally, I find that I try to do that as much as possible in one on ones. Right? Some people are not comfortable admitting those things in the team, at least in the beginning. It’s good that they get there, but a lot of times, it’s nice to have one on ones as often as possible to be able to get those things, to get people to communicate those things so we can adjust and of course help them.

One tip that I try to follow that I’m not always successful is something that one of my previous guests, Jamon Holmgren from Infinite Red. He’s the CTO. He tells me that he tries to ask people whenever he meets, what’s their stress level for the day, one to 10. What’s your stress level for the day? I find that that has been really powerful in my own management. So, because it’s kind of a number. Right?

So, people don’t have to get really personal in things that they might be uncomfortable. But everyone knows that if Louis says that, “Today, my stress level is a nine out of 10,” they don’t need to know the details. Right? They know that, okay, I need to be extra patient with Louis today because something is going on.

Victor Vorski:

Yeah. That’s really good. I like that. As I think about it, another thing that I wanted to add to there, for me, when it comes to future of work, and I really refuse to work with anybody without this, it’s a tool I gotten from agile practices is to have retrospectives.

Luis:

Oh. Nice.

Victor Vorski:

Depending on what it makes sense, it could be weekly, it could be monthly. But really no less than monthly, and it’s a time when we talk about how we work together. So, yes, how projects are going and stuff, but how is our communication? How is our stress levels? How is our workload? Is our workload at such a level that we’re continually not performing and everybody’s overwhelmed? A retrospective would be time to have that conversation.

Luis:

Yeah. yeah, yeah. Yeah. That’s also a good thing. That’s also something that we talked a lot in this show, adopting what works from agile and remote from agile and remote terms. So, that retrospective, how usually is the structure when you host it remotely? How do you usually structure it between team members? Is it a round robin? How do you structure so that everyone gets their voice heard and that the team as a whole take some action points ready at the end of the retrospective?

Victor Vorski:

So, the way we structure it in the main … I work on many projects, so do it in different ways. The simplest way is just to do rounds around what went well. I think this is really important to make sure to take some time for everybody to highlight what they feel is going well. A retrospective is not a bitch session. Right? Also, we have a tendency, yeah, we want continuous improvement and all of this, but it’s also very important for the psychological health of a team to recognize their successes.

Oftentimes, you will see things come out which, oh, you didn’t expect. Oh, Luis, you finished that report and da, da, da, and you made it early and it helped me a lot, and you’ll go like, “Oh, wow. I didn’t even know that that made a difference to your life. But thank you for mentioning that. That makes me feel good.” So, things that went well, and yes, rounds are great, definitely. I use, we have a board tool. We use Asana for it, but you can use whatever, and people are invited to input this beforehand.

I keep this running all the time so whenever things come up, for example, in meetings that are process type of stuff that makes it easy to punt them, oh, like this means we should change our process. Let’s not talk about this because this is just today’s meeting. Let’s put it in the retrospective board, and we’ll just do it when we come to the retrospective. So, things that went well, things that need improvement, and then based on that, from the things that need improvement, put out action items and put it into the usual task tracking system.

One idea that I’ve really adapted from sociocracy, which I really love, for things like this, process improvements, they come with an expiry and review date. I think it’s really powerful because it’s very easy to … and every country has this problem, right? They make thousands of pages of laws every year and it just keeps on adding and adding and adding and adding, and it creates this endless backlog of nobody remembers what we decided three months ago if it just keeps on adding. So, having a backlog of things and putting a review date on the action items is, I think, a really powerful idea.

Luis:

All right. Okay. So, we’ve been going on for a bit now and I want to be respectful of your time. But I want to wind down the podcast with some rapid fire questions. The questions are rapid fire, but the answers don’t need to be. You can expand as much as you like. Okay? So, first off, let’s talk a bit about your daily routine as a remote manager and leader. What are the apps and websites that you open at the start of your day and that stick around?

Victor Vorski:

So, the two things which I use religiously is Calendar. I use Google Calendar. It was actually a requirement for my wife to marry me Google Calendar for all of the family stuff, to the point where now I get, oh, are we going to go? It’s like, oh, wait. That wasn’t in the calendar. I didn’t know about it. So, I have everything in my calendar, including my free time, because I used Calendly, which allows people … You use it as well, right?

Luis:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah.

Victor Vorski:

Because I work globally and across many timezones and this just allows me to send a link and people to book into it. But that means my calendar has to be filled in religiously with my availability and not availability. So, that works really well. I use Asana for my personal task tracking. I think the tool doesn’t matter. The reason that I like Asana, it’s got this today, upcoming, and later, and I do, I don’t know if it’s getting things done, but I do a triage.

So, in the morning, I pull in my day’s tasks into today. At the start of the week, I put my week’s tasks into upcoming. That lets me close the other endless list of task, which keeps on growing, and only look at it once, not be overwhelmed by it. I think it’s important. My big realization, I’m a technologist. I came from software. I was a software developer, love tools, and then as I’ve gotten older, I realize more and more how important the human stuff is, that it’s much less about the tools. It’s much more about the human relationships.

Here, the thought that I had is the tool that you use has to allow you to feel a sense of accomplishment. If you have a list of a hundred tasks always open and you complete one, you feel not much sense of accomplishment. So, the psychological, I’ve come to appreciate that these little psychological hooks, if the tool doesn’t provide it, if you have a list of three tasks, you’ve gotten through it, yay, I’m done, right?

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah, yeah. For sure.

Victor Vorski:

No matter that there’s always another hundred in the back there. But if they’re on the screen, so the small psychological things actually matter.

Luis:

Oh, for sure. That’s something that I can definitely relate. What I’ve started doing is instead of looking directly on my huge bucket of my huge digital to-do list, I use it as a bucket, and then for the daily stuff, I actually copy it into an index card. So, the magic of the index card is that you can only have 10 things on each side at most, and often less than 10. So, at the end of the day, you can actually put the index card in the trash or recycling bin or something like that, then you’re done with your tasks. The good thing about paper is that it ends. Right?

Victor Vorski:

Yes. Exactly. That’s great. So, it’s important to appreciate that these tools are supporting you psychologically in getting things done. It’s not just about keeping things stored.

Luis:

For sure.

Victor Vorski:

Then some other tools, I also use Google Docs a lot. Not because I’m some kind of a Google fanatic, but it’s free and it works really well, especially the document collaboration part. I have yet to find anything else that has as good a suggest mode and comments.

Luis:

I agree 100%.

Victor Vorski:

I all of my documents super collaborative. So, everything is shared with somebody. If it’s not shared with somebody today, I pretty much guarantee that sometime soon, it’ll be shared with somebody. So, I just come out with the tool that allows me to most easily collaborate.

Luis:

Yeah. It’s the same. I’m not a huge fan of Google as a company, but I really can’t find better either. I can’t find better than their office suite. The other office suites, there are good office suites. If I’m doing something that I’m sure is only going to be for myself, I like doing it on the Apple apps on my Mac. But realistically, as soon as I need someone else to give input on it, it just needs to go onto the Google suite. There’s no better replacement. So, I’m 100% on board on that with you.

So, next question, if you had $100, or euros, if you prefer, 100 euros, to spend with each person working for you, what would you give them? You can give them anything, but you need to give the same thing to everyone, and it can’t be the money.

Victor Vorski:

Same thing to everybody. I wonder if it might not be a nice webcam for somebody because people have different quality. Same for 100 euros. Okay. I’ll go with a ergonomic keyboard and trackball.

Luis:

Oh, nice. Nice. That’s a good one, and it makes difference. Good suggestion. [crosstalk 00:36:30] Do yo have any favorite brand that you recommend?

Victor Vorski:

Microsoft used to make good stuff. Now, there is this thing called Perixx. I have, oh, actually, but it doesn’t fit within the budget, what I use myself-

Luis:

You can go a bit over budget.

Victor Vorski:

No, it’s not a bit over budget. It’s a lot over budget. What I use myself is the Kinesis ergonomic keyboard. It’s really beautiful, but it’s like 400.

Luis:

Wow.  That’s a luxury keyboard.

Victor Vorski:

It recently broke after, I think, 12 years or something, of 12, 13 years of me using it. I need to get it fixed. But basically, when I was in university, I met a friend of a friend who was doing high powered consulting at IBM, da, da, da, spent all of his time on this tiny little ThinkPad laptop, this is ’94, ’95, and ruined his wrists completely to the point where if he used a normal keyboard for an hour, he was in pain for a day. By in pain, I mean not being able to touch a computer. If he did it for a day, he was in pain for a week.

Luis:

Wow.

Victor Vorski:

He had to work through his secretary.

Luis:

Wow.

Victor Vorski:

I was like, oh, my god. I’m going to make sure, because this is my livelihood, right?

Luis:

Yeah.

Victor Vorski:

I could lose many things. But my wrists, my hands are my livelihood. So, when my friend got this Kinesis keyboard, I was like, 400, whatever. It’s my livelihood. A professional should not skimp money on their tools. You can skimp money on many things like desk. You don’t need an expensive desk. Doesn’t make a big difference. But the keyboard, a good chair that has you in the right position, a good monitor that’s easy on your eyes, you should definitely buy a little bit more expensive than you think you can afford.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah. For sure. That makes absolute sense. My pro tip or the budget conscious people is to look into gaming devices because I tell you, I have about 10,000 hours in World of Warcraft, and what saves my wrists was my gaming keyboards and mouses, because let me tell you, 10,000 hours of World of Warcraft is not a healthy number. So, that’s a situation.

Victor Vorski:

That’s a great tip and I think it’s definitely, it’s also something all companies should make some effort is to make everybody who works from home aware of their workspace, aware of their sitting position and all of this, and yeah, we need to be aware of this.

Luis:

Yeah. For sure. For sure. So, I think you kind of already replied to this, but let’s see if we can find a different answer, a second answer maybe. But what purchase has made your work life easier or more productive? If I just leave it at that, you’ll say the keyboard. So, I’m going to add in the past year. In the past year, because I know the keyboard is 12 years old.

Victor Vorski:

My work life more productive.

Luis:

Or easier or balanced. Has had a positive impact in your work life.

Victor Vorski:

I’m trying to think. There’s so much. So much of the software that I use, it’s all available for free at the entry level. I think, yeah, I did get for my monitor a nice webcam. I got, but I happen to have sitting around, a light to make good light.

Luis:

Nice.

Victor Vorski:

Yeah. Again, it’s a hard question because I’ve been doing this for over 10 years. So, I’ve assembled my work environment over this time. Also, for me, because I think closeness to nature is important, there is sitting on my desk is an arrangement of dried grasses that my wife made sometime when we were going for a walk.

Luis:

Oh, nice. That looks lovely.

Victor Vorski:

It didn’t cost any money, but it made my life nicer. Okay. I got a bonsai. Okay. I’ll go with the bonsai. I got a nice bonsai sitting here. So, whenever I look up from my monitor, my eyes follow the bonsai.

Luis:

Awesome.

Victor Vorski:

So, bonsai and some air plants. So, nature. Definitely.

Luis:

Very nice.

Victor Vorski:

There’s nature.

Luis:

Okay. Good answer. So, what about books? What book or books have you gifted the most?

Victor Vorski:

I think the Reinventing Startups. The whole world of the future of work is really important for people to be aware that remote work is part of the bigger future of work trend and there’s many developments in this area. I would say if it’s okay, I will switch the question from book to article, and that’s easy-

Luis:

That’s good.

Victor Vorski:

… for your readers to read. That’s the Project Aristotle by Google. I think it talks about what is important to make teams effective, and I think that is deeply profound, and anybody who is working must read this.

Luis:

Interesting. Interesting.

Victor Vorski:

It’s really, to me, if you have not read this, you should not be a manager. Everybody has to read this. Also, it’s short. They’ve done some really great science. Google has an incredible amount of money. They put a serious scientific team on this and there is some profound findings that come out of it in terms of what’s important to make good teamwork, everybody must be aware of this. I’d put my chips on that one.

Luis:

All right. That’s a good place to put your chips. So, my final question, there’s a bit of a setup for this. But let’s say that you are hosing a dinner where you’re inviting all the top CTOs, hiring managers, CEOs of tech companies. In this dinner, there’s going to be a round table about the future of work. Now, the twist is that the dinner happens in a Chinese restaurant. So, you, as the host, get to choose the message that goes inside the fortune cookie. What is your fortune cookie message for these people?

Victor Vorski:

Fortune cookie message for the future of the technology leaders, yes?

Luis:

Yes. The future of work for technology leaders, leaders in tech companies.

Victor Vorski:

Other than just Project Aristotle? That would be a good

Luis:

Just right, just they open the cookie and it’s written Project Aristotle there.

Victor Vorski:

It’s great. I love things that make people think, right?

Luis:

Yeah.

Victor Vorski:

But let me think. The message is, I think the message is that … I will say it as a paragraph and then maybe you can make it into a line that’ll fit into a fortune cookie.

Luis:

Okay.

Victor Vorski:

Tech is really, the time has come now where we are shaping society.

Luis:

Okay. The time has come now.

Victor Vorski:

We are shaping the society that we see around us. The experience that Zoom has created for us today has shaped our conversation to some degree in our relationship, which means that need to step up and take responsibility. We’re really seeing this with the whole Facebook outbreak now of their role in shaping the public dialogue is such that it’s no longer play, right? It’s no longer fun. It’s no longer shopping. This is shaping society. You need to be aware of that and need to take responsibility for that.

Luis:

That’s actually good. The time has come when we are shaping society. Step up and take responsibility. That sounds like a very good message to finish on. Thank you so much. Okay. So, Victor, it was a pleasure having you. Now, obviously, the listeners will want to learn more about you, learn more about your business, what you do, and continue the conversation with you. Where can they find you and more about you?

Victor Vorski:

I invite everybody to connect with me on LinkedIn. I guess you’ll put on the link for it.

Luis:

Yeah. I will. I will.

Victor Vorski:

[is, I guess, just to connect with me in LinkedIn and say hello. I accept all chats and I love to talk with people. So, anybody that’s interested in building distributed startup, building distributed teams, building software products, as part of distributed startups and distributed teams, I’d love to have a conversation.

Luis:

All right. That sounds great. I highly encourage people to get in touch with Victor. He’s a wonderful person to have a conversation with, as you can see. This was great, Victor. Thank you so much for coming.

Victor Vorski:

Thank you.

Luis:

So, ladies and gentlemen, this was the DistantJob Podcast with your host, Luis, and my guest was Victor Vorski. Thank you so much for listening and see you next week on this podcast that’s about building and leading awesome remote teams. So, we close another episode of the DistantJob Podcast, and if you enjoyed the episode, please, you can help us out by sharing it on social media. That would be great. It’s how we reach more listeners, and the more listeners we have, the more awesome guests I can get in touch and convince to participate in these conversations that are a joy to have for me, and I hope they’re a joy for you to listen to as well.

You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast indication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners. Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast, click on your favorite episode, any episode really, and subscribed. By subscribing, you will get a notification whenever a new episode is up and whenever we get the transcripts of the episode up so you can actually peruse the conversations in text form.

Of course, if you need to find a great employee for your team, a great remote employee, you should take the whole world into consideration and not just look to hire locally, not just look to hire in your country. Look around the whole world because that’s the talent pool that contains the best talent. To help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who you need and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate 40% faster than the industry standard. With that, I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode of the DistantJob Podcast.

 

More ways to listen:

There is a big debate about what are the best strategies for managing distributed teams. Some say that they only measure their employees’ productivity by their outputs; others say that it goes beyond that.

In this podcast episode, Victor Vorski shares his tips on measuring productivity in distributed teams by revealing a different perspective on how to manage remote teams. He shares that the key is not to be a manager who continuously looks over how employees perform, but to be a leader and inspire them to do their best.

''I really see the future of work as moving from management to leadership. I see leadership as carrying this vision and inspiring people and communicating why what the company, the team is doing is important, worthwhile, and relevant.'' Click To Tweet

Highlights:

  • Tips for measuring productivity in teams
  • The importance of strengthening trust
  • How to motivate and inspire your remote team
  • How to find passion in candidates during remote interviews
  • The difference between manager and leaders
  • How to avoid burnout in employees
  • The benefits of implementing retrospective meetings

 

Book Recommendation:

 

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