Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the Distant Job Podcast. This is your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. I’m your host, just for the day, Lucia Flores. I’m stepping in for Luis this once. And this is another special episode. We usually interview remote managers and remote leaders, but today we’re having another question and answer session. It’s a little Q&A, if you will. So Joining me today, I have a special guest, the president of Distant Job himself, Sharon Koifman. How are you doing, Sharon?
Doing fantastic. Very excited. My God, it’s such a better replacement for Luis. I didn’t say that. It was just between you and me. He doesn’t have to know.
So we’re really excited to have you here. And in case you still have not listened to our first Q&A, which I definitely recommend checking out, this is how this works. These questions actually came from you guys, our audience. We collected the most frequent remote work questions from our social media channels, and now we have an expert to answer them. Bernd has been doing this for a long time. He’s a leader when it comes to working remotely. He even has a book about it. So are we ready for the questions?
Am I ready? But you’re kidding. Let’s do it. I’m pumped. I’m energized.
Let’s start. First question. This user says, I would love some tips for remote interviews. When you’re interviewing people for a remote job. What are some skills you find valuable as a leader? So how would you say you make a great impression in an interview?
Are you asking that on behalf of the candidate applying or the person that is doing the interviews?
No, I think the user is just applying. So you have interviewed a lot of people. What do you think makes a great impression?
Oh, 0, my God. There’s there’s a first of all, the number 1 rule is that I need a person to feel like they’re applying for a real job. The moment that you make me give me that the noncommittal vibe, The freelancer type, the outsourced individual, the I am a consultant. When you use, sorry, I know that a lot of people don’t like to hear it. When somebody comes to me and says, we’re going to work together. Like you’re some kind of my partner. I’m like, what’s up with this guy? Right. I, or with this gal, I mean, I really want somebody who is looking for a job, wants to integrate and be part of
Speaker C [00:02:58]:
potentially the amazing thing that I thought, I think that I build, or at least in my delusional optimism, right? I, um, so, so the first thing first, treat it as if you walk into an office and you apply for a job, come a bit earlier, take advantage of the fact that you’re going to check your equipment, your audio,
don’t make me wait,
Speaker C [00:03:23]:
make really don’t come last minute. I mean, in general, about half now, Zoom kind of made things better, but half of the conversations out there, there’s always a technical issue. The moment that somebody comes right on time, when it’s an interview at 10 o’clock and somebody comes at 10 or 10 or 1, why are you doing that? Why are you not coming 10 to 10? It makes me feel like you’re not taking this job very seriously, that this is just, ah, you know,
it’s so easy. It’s on Zoom. I might just pop up and have a conversation. That feeling is really, really bad for somebody that wants to hire you. So that goes first, when you apply, treat it as if you are going to an office, as to an interview, whatever we knew back in the day. It seems like people took things so much more seriously when they had to walk somewhere, put on a suit, act like a professional and apply for a job. And the moment that it comes to Zoom, people dress like crap, come in exactly on time, do everything that you would never do if this would be a real job. The second thing, which is kind of correlates the first 1, I don’t want freelancers, contractors, consultants, outsourcers. You make me feel like you are that character. I’m not into it. For me, a freelancer is somebody that dreams to sit on the beach and work and the science shows that you can’t be productive on the beach, you can’t be productive in a coffee shop. This entire visionary concept is not appealing for me. And the freelance mentality, somebody’s always thinking about their next job, and next gig, and I want somebody who is there to integrate as part of the company. So, so just pay, pay attention to that. And what make, don’t make the boss feels, don’t start when they ask you why you want the job, don’t tell them all because I would like to travel and I would like to, uh, um, do all the great, all the flexibility. That’s not what the interviewer wants to hear. It doesn’t mean that you don’t get to benefit from that, but don’t talk about that. Right. Talk about why am I, why am I remote? Because you know, it gives me the ability to be more productive, it gives me the ability, even if it’s a lie, just stick to that lie, don’t start talking about I’m going on trips and travels, and I want to be a traveling nomad because this is 1 of the big reason why old school bosses are so afraid of remote because they think that every remote employee is a traveling nomad. So those are the 2 basic things to start thinking about when you go into the interview.
Yeah, that’s amazing. I definitely made the rookie mistake before, trusting technology way too much. And Zoom always decides to not work or meet or whatever, when you have an important interview or meeting. So taking those 5 minutes and being early is definitely the best advice ever. Just 5 minutes.
I say 10. I say 10. Let’s say 15 and that’s it. Look, if you really, really care about your job and you’re going on a zoom call the day before, call your friends on zoom and test all your equipment. If you’re really, really serious. And that’s, that doesn’t matter if you have a, doesn’t the fact that you are on zoom and you have a technical problem it still looks makes you look bad it doesn’t it doesn’t relief the problem it doesn’t it doesn’t when you come in and you have a 5-10 minutes technical problem the person on the other side doesn’t sit there and say, oh, it’s technology. No, it’s like, oh, 0, here’s a person. It’s going to be a headache to deal with them from the beginning. I see this. So the more prepared you are, the better it is.
I totally agree. Okay, let’s go with the second 1. This user says, I enjoy working remotely, but I feel really disconnected from my teammates. Is this normal or are there any activities that you recommend to bring the team closer? So I think you definitely can talk about this because on the same job we do a lot of team activities and just like the holiday parties and all of that stuff. So maybe you can go into it.
No, this is the most important thing. I love that question because I talk a lot about it. First of all, the problem is that 1 of the biggest challenges with a disconnected team, first of all, the question is, is it normal? Yes, it is very normal, unfortunately. And 1 of the biggest reason why this happens is because management is because the managers are not equipped to be to deal with a remote environment and they don’t know how to keep people connected and integrated. And because in the office, it was easy. You see everybody. It works great. Don’t confuse it for a second. On average, in an office environment, on an eight-hour shift, people produce about 2 hours and 53 minutes of actual work. So the story that the summer office is good is not good. They just get, the management just got away with it. It’s easier to get away with it. It doesn’t mean that they’re great, but in the remote environment, you really do need to pay attention to the connection of the people. And 1 of the tricks that I found throughout the years is to have a conversation on an intimate level with each individual. And when the company gets too big, and you’re the CEO of the company, you have a conversation on an intimate level with your management, you lead by example, and the management does exactly what you do on a personal level and everybody gets to know each other’s kids and pets and everything of that sort. Now all the activities that you after that implement, there’s no strict rules. We use right now the app Hangout, before that we use Donut, we try to add games and stuff like that. But it doesn’t matter as long as you understand that the measurable goal is connection. It’s actually how I define company culture. Many people feel that company culture is fun and good times, and you get to show everybody the biggest party in the world, but that’s for the boss’s ego. The real purpose of why you implement activities around culture is about creating connection. And you get feedback from your management and from your team every once in a while once you build great trust is whether people feel connected but Once you have that as a goal that you want your peeps to be connected, you’ll be more focused in the right direction. Right? So again, for us, just simply making sure that everybody hangs out with everybody randomly, we’re using apps to make sure that they hang out and get to know each other on a personal level, immediate creates connection. It’s also the answer to many questions that people have. How do you know if people are working? I don’t know if people are burned out. I don’t know if people need the next raise. How do you know all these things when they work remotely? And the secret is, get to know your people, have conversations. And when you have conversation with your people on a personal level, you’ll get to see if they’re disheveled, if they’re tired, if they’re burned out, if they need something, just talk about games, just talk about food, just about talking about culture, you will get to know where is your people.
Yeah, totally. Like we’re just people, you shouldn’t look at it any differently as maybe talking to a friend that you’re getting to know. Amen. Absolutely. Yeah, yeah. And this next question is actually related to this because the topic is connection as well. This 1 is a remote manager, and he says, I am new to being a remote manager. How do you approach complex or emotionally charged conversations when people are in face to face. If you have to talk about any difficult topics, I know it sometimes feels harder to do it in a screen. So how would you approach it?
So I don’t understand why it’s harder. I don’t get it. I don’t know what’s the big deal. So do you feel that it’s harder, Lucia, when you talk to somebody on webcam?
Not really. I feel like if the conversation flows, you really feel like you’re in the same space as the other person.
Make sure that you have, first of all, make sure you have amazing technology. I’m talking about basic things. I don’t know why I’m saying amazing, but make sure your Internet works well. Make sure that your package, internet package with your internet survivors, the next package up for what works. So it’s always connected well, make sure that your camera is good and your headphones are good. So at least there’s not that, that zoom fatigue and people talk about zoom fatigue, but really the reason why there’s zoom fatigue is because our body is used to that our ears, our eyes, our, our mouth is used to have conversation with real people in the physical world and the technology and especially crappy technology kind of adjusts it a little bit and makes us a little more tired and a little more exhausted. So the better technology you use for communication immediately creates a better connection. But throughout the years, people, I’ve been doing this for 20 years and I always have similar questions. And I don’t know what’s the big deal of turning on a webcam and having the same exact conversation that you would have physically. Somehow, less and less, COVID has changed that, but back in the days, I remember people just acted, I talked to companies that had amazing management structure and really great operation. And they done everything right. And the moment I provided them a remote person, it’s like they threw everything they knew to the garbage. Like, Oh, I’m sure a person with us, turn on the webcam, turn on your cat microphone and talk to them exactly as if they’re in the office. So if your management process and everybody is different is to tap on each one’s shoulder and have a conversation and how you’re doing and will show me your work, motivate them, give them inputs, and then go to different employees in the company. If that’s your management style, what prevents you from having all your people in Slack and every once in a while message 1 person at a time, turn on the webcam, turn on Google Docs, which is way better than looking behind the head of somebody who can actually share notes and see, motivate, discuss, do exactly, exactly the same thing. So I think that that question usually comes from fear that somehow the experience is different. And yes, you need to be proactive, right? You can’t, because in an office, you see everybody. So you suddenly, so it’s, it seems is it creates a perception that it’s easier. But in reality is if you organize everybody on Slack or Google or, or Microsoft, Microsoft Teams or whatever tool that you use, you see everybody, you pop up, you have discussion just like you have in an office. In my opinion, there is no difference. There is no difference. So I would like to give this fella a better answer in terms of how you do it better, but I don’t think it’s that much more challenging. Just make sure that you have the right technology. So yes, I did mention headphones, better internet, Get everybody on Slack or Microsoft Teams or whatever tools that you have so you have a visual of all your people. Now there’s even better apps that actually puts you in an office virtual environment. I forgot it’s called, but that’s cool. So, and make sure that the transition, I mean, what I love about Slack that I just happened, slash Zoom, and I immediately go into Zoom. So it’s faster than asking somebody to go to a conference room. Implement the right technologies And the experience should not be that different than the office environment.
Yeah, I totally agree. And if you are going into it thinking it’s different, it’s just going to ruin it for you. And you maybe won’t like the next question because I think it in my opinion, I’m not dissing this teacher, but I think it comes from here as well, which is, I’ve been told remote work has a different effect on your career. Do you still grow professionally while working remotely? I’ve been told this before. I’ve been told when I was going into remote work, people do have that misconception, I think, that it’s going to affect your career different and there are certain skills that you just won’t gain working remotely. I think it’s a total misunderstanding.
But yeah. It’s not a misunderstanding, Lucia. It’s actually very, very true, right? That your opportunity in remote work is much worse than local, But that’s because the management and the CEO, right? Because at an office environment, I had this discussion with some very successful, really great CEOs that run brick and mortar companies. And then COVID came in and they shipped some of their people home, and they were honest, out of sight, out of mind. I mean, how do you get promotion? You get promotion by always being in the boss’s face, showing that you’re great, and lots of offices are very political and very bureaucratic and, and suddenly they disappear. And the ones that show their face more because bosses are not perfect people, um, and unfortunately suck up more and, uh, being more in a, in an environment, they usually end up getting the promotion.
Make no mistake, not in our company, Lucia. That’s not, that’s not how it is. I’m talking about my experience on, on this same job. Like I feel like since we’re fully remote, there are no skills that you’re… I’ve learned a lot from this company, even though we’re working remotely. I don’t feel like I’m missing out on certain skills that I could have gained in an office.
No, you’re not missing anything. The challenge is, and at the end of the day, is the management. I think at least you, Thank you. If it’s not true, thank you for lying to me and complimenting me all the time and complimenting Lewis. I will do that. Right. But with us, we do everything in our power to have this connection and productivity that You don’t feel on the outside and you get to learn and be mentored and feel like you’re part of a real something, a real substance. But in many, many offices and in many companies, the remote job loses that substance, loses that connection, and it’s completely the management’s fault. It’s not unavoidable, but it does handicap remote workers quite a lot. I mean, part of my mission is to fix that. It’s not that there’s no reason, there’s no reason why not to have a fully productive, not just productive, a fully learned and a fully proactive and a fully opportunity-based operation going through remote, but you just need to have, you can’t have old school management, unfortunately. Right, and you can’t have a lot of politics in companies where a lot of companies do come with politics and do come with bureaucracy, especially bigger old school companies that the person who gets the promotion is not necessarily the most deserved person, but is the best politician. But yes, I think the world is changing more and more, and more and more remote people feel fully integrated with the opportunity to learn and opportunity to grow.
Yeah, I really like that answer. I think it’s a different point of view. So next question. This is kind of a general 1. So maybe let’s just give some general tips on this. It’s our most frequent asked question, obviously. I want to work remotely, but I have no experience, 0 experience. What is a good place to start? So if you would do it all over again, maybe, what are the first things that you would do?
Okay, So 0 experience remote, but hopefully huge experience
at the skills that that person has. Yeah. I think it depends on the career you’re going for, of course. Let’s focus on the remote part, but obviously if you’re applying to be a developer, if you want to be in IT or whatever, you need to have
those skills. So here’s the deal, right? Majority of remote jobs, even today, before COVID completely, this was the rule. It kind of changed a little bit with COVID where people appreciate remote jobs. But part of the key to get a remote job is to be very skilled at your core skill, to be very good at your core skills. Most employers hire remote people and they want something in return. Unless you’re a fully remote company such as ourself, there’s no other alternative, when a company who is not completely remote gives you a remote job, they want something in return. They want, okay, or they wanted more affordable employees, or they want the person to be absolutely a superstar. And most importantly, they want the person to be more independent. The key to be a successful remote employee, especially in the tough market that we have right now, is that you need to develop skills on how to be independent. It’s not necessarily, again, in a well-run remote machine such as DistantJob, it’s not a problem because we mentor, we motivate, we work, we integrate, no less than an office environment. But in certain places they say, oh, you want a remote job? Show me that you can handle it. So the focus that you need to put on is the ability to manage procrastination and to be productive by yourself. If you do not have those skills, I believe you can develop them. I, I teach that a lot to how to, how to be more productive. They, the quick, the quick, easy rule among many of the other rules out there. But my favorite rule is don’t touch in prepare all your hardest tasks at the end of the day and prepare and take that most challenging task and do it first thing in the morning and what I’m saying first thing in the morning, do not touch emails, do not touch social media, do not even prepare if, let’s say, you need to write a blog, make sure that that word processor or the Google Docs are ready on that page with the title. So you run in the morning into that computer and you just do that. And your entire day is gonna go into an insane productive flow. You will produce more in those few hours in the morning that most people produce the entire day. If you go and you do that. There’s many other rules to manage procrastination and being very productive. I do write that a lot in my book, but I want to keep it short. The point is that you, being a good remote worker, is about being able to produce things by yourself without somebody pushes you or busting your chops. And if you’re not gonna be successful, then even if you get a remote job, and you don’t have good management, which again, a lot of companies are not built to be remote very well. They just are remote because they don’t have a choice, or they want to find that superstar that only works remote. You need to, they will eventually get a feeling, ugh, this person, you know, we hired him for something, but he’s not really producing. And you will lose the job like this. I’m snapping on the radio. I don’t know. It doesn’t work. You know, here we go. Yes. So that, so that’s what you need to pay attention to. Be a specialist in being productive. Also I hope you’re very good at whatever your skill is So you can make a case why you should be working remote. But again, if you produce more, nobody is gonna take you to the office. That’s all the bosses care about. They care about how well you do your job. And I think, if I’m not wrong, Elon Musk brought everybody to the office, but I don’t think he brought everybody everybody. He actually said, he actually gave a proposal to people showing that if you really are good and productive at your work, show me, I will let you stay home. So even somebody as difficult as Elon Musk was willing to let people working at home, if they prove that they are actually more productive. And it’s worth it, it’s worth it because you gain, you know, remote work you’re getting, when you do remote, you get so much more hours in your day. So it’s worth working harder and it’s worth learning how to be the most productive you can be.
Yeah. Sometimes we only focus on the benefits like I can sleep a little bit more. I can skip traffic. But procrastination can definitely be a real issue. So learning how to manage that is definitely a must. And as you said before, I think communication is also a very important skill to have. Some people just don’t have that trained enough. So just feeling like there’s a connection with your team, you need to work on your communication skills.
So, there’s more, you know, people have a misconception that the time saved is just about the driving and about certain little dynamics. It’s not just that. Every time that you get distracted in the middle of a project and any kind of work, it takes you on average to get back to focused work, on average about 20 minutes. So every time you get distracted, you’re wasting immense amount of time. Even worse, when you get distracted in the middle of a project and you need to finish the next day. Whoa, 20 minutes is the average, but sometimes it takes 40 minutes. It takes an hour to get back to focus. And when you work in an office environment, you always need to go to lunch, especially with your friends, there’s a specific time for lunch and you need to get home to get for supper. That means there’s 2 times during the day that you, if you have not finished a specific task or project, you need to cut in the middle. It’s an insane, insane waste of time. Insane, this is not about traffic here. It’s a, you’re really losing a lot of time. You’re also losing time in general in an office environment. That’s why you only produce 2 hours and 53 minutes, because you continuously get distracted in meetings and cubicles, somebody tells you a story. With the science of remote work, we were introduced to this idea of asynchronous work. And really the reason why this asynchronous work is because the theory behind it is, let me message you in between your tasks and you’ve been doing your projects. So I don’t distract you in the middle. And That’s why remote work is significantly more productive. Significantly. Because the remote managers, professional remote managers, put immense amount of effort in not distracting you. And That’s how you get a winning formula. Amazing. That was a great answer. So let’s go with the final 1.
Let’s go with the final question. It’s just recommendations. What is your favorite app or software and just technology in general to using an organization in a remote team?
So I’m basic. I’m basic.
I love my Slack. Basic is usually better. Yeah. They’re very weird apps now.
That’s it. I love my Slack Zoom combination. 7, 8 years ago, before you were with us in the company, we had, we the, the 10 best conferencing software. And even back then when, uh, zoom was a nothing software, it won Back then there were a bunch of big, big corporation from Cisco and, and, and our tail even back in the days that there were some conferencing tools that just kind of disappeared or been used by big banks and big things. But. Zoom, not only the quality of the communication was there, the ease was there. So you had less of that technical issue every time you pop up and you have a conversation. And the fact that I was introduced to Slack, which was far better, such much better pleasure to work with than Skype back in the days we used to use Skype to see all the team. Now we have an internal product called Slack where you see everything, but the fact that there’s this integration that I just up in Slash zoom and we pop up into zoom and not need to set up an account and everything I feel like hey, Lucia, let’s go to a conference room slash room and Everybody’s there in in 30 seconds That is the experience that I wanted now The truth is that that there’s many technologies that I’m still waiting for. I mean, the question is what technologies that I like, but I’m looking for technologies that will make the entire interaction feel as much as possible like the real deal, like a physical experience. I’m waiting for, I’m waiting for the holograms. I’m waiting for the, um, for the virtual reality, but, but not this massive beast, but you literally put your glasses on and you feel like you’re hanging out with somebody. This is the missing component that not everybody done right. Nobody has even done the headphones right. I’m waiting for the right headphones. The ones that I put on my ears and they’re comfortable all day long, so I don’t need to remove it. And the audio is absolutely superb and the quality of audio, the quality of audio, there’s already plenty of quality of audio. We don’t miss audio, But the microphones are never perfect yet, right? Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t, but the comfort and the ability to just have this on your head all day and it’s not a big deal. And every time that I’ve conferenced, I literally put my sunglasses and interact with you. I don’t know why it’s taking so long, but that’s my hope. But for now, I, for now, the best technologies that I found, um, for comfort and quality are they Jabra Evolve Technologies or the Platronica. I forgot the name of the Platronica ones, but those are the 2 companies. We will leave it down in the podcast description. Those are the best headsets and that matters a lot. And with good headset and a good Slack account and Zoom, I think you can do 90% of the thing. Then you need to decide in your project management software, because it’s good to have somewhere to plan your day, to plan your week and have everything written. We use Basecamp, it’s not perfect. It’s the best for us, the simplest for us and really implement asynchronous conversation in the most ease possible. But I’m not, again, headphones and project management softwares, none of them are, I’ve reached my standards of what I really, really wanted to do,
but for now, Slack and Zoom are rocking it. The best combo. Well, amazing. So that was the last question. We talked a lot about being remote and different levels of experience. I just wanted to mention that if you have a company and you’re transitioning to remote work, or just looking to expand the team, DistantJob can definitely help you out. Because the candidates that we find for your company are experienced remote workers. They already have the setup. They know how to work from home. They know what the expectations are. So you can skip a lot of the learning phase. Sharon, if you want to talk a little bit about just in Java, what we do, definitely the time.
So it’s not just the people that we provide, although we do provide amazing people within 2 weeks of searching. We start from scratch and we really find people that directly fit well for what is it that you need. But also the experience that you have with this job, the customer service, the way that we treat the candidates to make sure that they’re just happier and more productive. And of course, drastically increased retention is really what we do special. And I really would love people to experience the HR love experience as we call it in the company. We’re soon going to trademark it, I think. HR love, it’s good. And yeah, this is, you just got to give us a shot, then I believe that you will not turn back to any other recruitment agency.
Amazing. So if you’re considering hiring remote, check out distantjob.com, Let us know your needs. And also you can follow us on AddDistantJob on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. We are very responsive there and we would love to hear more of your questions. If you’re a remote worker looking for daily advice as well, also consider following us on AddThinkRemote on every single social media channel except TikTok where we are Fingry mode official. So yeah, Sharon, I think it went great. Thank you so much for being on the podcast today. I think it went great. Yeah, I’m very happy with this. Great! It was fantastic.
Thank you. Thank you for
bringing the question of the people to me. It was very good! Amazing! And finally guys, if you enjoyed the episode, you can help us out by sharing it with your friends and subscribing. And with that, we say goodbye. We’ll see you guys on the next week on the next distant job broadcast episode.