The Impact of Trust in Remote Hiring, with Marissa Goldberg

Gabriela Molina

Marissa Goldberg is an innovator with a passion for efficiency, design, and ingenuity, and the founder of Remote Work Prep, where she trains businesses in remote best practices.

Remote advocate

Read the transcript

Luis:

Welcome ladies and gentlemen, to another episode of the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. I am your guest Luis, as usual, and today, my guest is Marissa Goldberg. Marissa is an innovator with a passion for efficiency, design, and ingenuity, and the founder of Remote Work Prep, where she trains businesses in remote best practices. Marissa, welcome to the show.

Marissa Goldberg:

Hi, Luis.

Luis:

It’s an absolute pleasure having you. Without further ado, let’s jump into the meat of the conversation which is, tell me about your coming to remote work. How did you come to remote work and how did that influence your career? In what way did that influence your career?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yes. So, I started remote work job in 2015. My background is in software engineering and product management and I was in a very toxic and person tech position, and I just took the first job that fell into my lap. It happened to be remote and I completely fell in love with it. I loved having the agency to choose where I work, who I worked around, everything. So, I fell in love with it. I decided this is how I’m going to work for the rest of my life, almost immediately, and I just experimented with it because when you first switch to remote, you don’t really know what you don’t know. This is an entirely new way of work and it’s very different.

Marissa Goldberg:

So I was experimenting. I was trying new things and people started asking me like, “Oh, how’d you do that?” And I was like, “Oh, maybe I can do this on the side. Maybe I could help others go remote too.” So in 2018, I started Remote Work Prep. We offer fractional head of remote services. It was just supposed to be a side business, it was just something small, and then we blew up in 2020. So that’s now my full-time thing. Yeah.

Luis:

Wow. Wow. That’s great. I wonder what happened in 2020 for you to move up.

Marissa Goldberg:

Who knows?

Luis:

I guess we’ll never know. I guess we’ll never know.

Marissa Goldberg:

Right.

Luis:

It’ll be forever a mystery. Definitely a situation of being in the right place at the right time. Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Absolutely.

Luis:

The right place being the planet earth.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yes.

Luis:

So, yeah. So, yeah. Okay. Let’s talk about how does that look like? Obviously it blew up, there were a lot of people in 2020, a lot of companies that were forced into remote, wanted to make it work. Some wanted to make it work temporarily. Some saw a chance to shift the way they work permanently. I’m sure that you’ve had hundreds of conversations. So in those hundreds of conversations, what are one or two stories that stand out about challenges that people have and how did you help them solve them?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah. So the biggest challenge we see is that because people don’t know what they don’t know, they attempt to replicate what they did in office. And that just doesn’t work because it’s a very different environment. You’re dealing with different things. So, understanding that this is totally different and that replicating what you did in office, isn’t going to work remotely is kind of the first place that we start. We go through the differences, we go through the main bit of remote work, which a lot of people are just like, “Oh, it’s so I can work from home.” It’s not. So what remote work is all about is giving agency to the individual. So instead of the company deciding where, when, or how you work, it’s you as the individual getting to make that choice for yourself. So you see a lot of companies not wrapping their head fully around that and not taking full advantage of that. So that’s typically where we start.

Luis:

All right. So, let’s drive a bit more into this situation about agency because it really is very counterintuitive. Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Right.

Luis:

You usually accept. I mean, we’re formatted for that. We go into school and we accept. We are taught that in school, there’s a set of rules, that everyone needs to abide to in order for the system to work. Doesn’t even need to be an authoritarian power game, it’s just that if people don’t abide by the rules the system will break. And then we get out of school, out of that conditioning, and we arrive at the workplace where we basically expect the workplace to be something akin to school for adults. That’s more or less the place where I’d say 99% of everyone is.

Luis:

So it’s a big shift. It’s a big shift when you say that, now suddenly, it needs to be about personal freedom and the evil twin of personal freedom, that’s personal responsibility. When I face situations like the one you described, people talking to me about that, I feel that there’s a certain infantilization of the workforce. That, a lot of companies, a lot of employers, don’t really believe that people can be trusted to do a good job if left to their own devices. So, when you face these objections, what do you usually bring up?

Marissa Goldberg:

So I like to start from a place of trust, and I think it’s incredibly important in remote work to start from a place of trust. And to me, if you can’t trust your employees to do their job, that’s a you problem. That’s not a them problem. You hired them. So, that’s on you to have a hiring process where you build trust into that hiring process, and to onboard, and to give them the resources, and to actually hire people that will do the job. So to me, that’s the employer’s problem. That’s not the employee’s them. And instead, they’re trying to shift that blame onto the employee and set things up like tracking tools and things of that nature that decrease the quality of your work. So to me, it’s all about starting from a place of trust. And so we first start with their hiring process so we can kind of build that trust process into it and then we will work from there. Because it really should be on the employer side that they take this action and they don’t place that blame or that burden on the employee.

Luis:

Okay. So let’s talk a bit about the trust situation, because that’s also an interesting conversation to have, especially in remote. I mean, as far as my personal belief, it is that trust is something that you built. And it is a two way thing. But the employee also needs to build trust in the employer. It needs to be kind of a dance between both parts building trust, back and forth. Now of obviously when you’re hiring someone, you haven’t had a chance to build that, we could a little bit during the hiring process. But mostly we need to rely on proxies, like CVS, references, looking at previous projects, et cetera. It kind of lays the foundations for trust. But then after that initial hiring period, how do you usually see trust developing in a remote setting?

Marissa Goldberg:

So, there’s a little bit of something I disagree with, what you’re saying in the beginning.

Luis:

Sure.

Marissa Goldberg:

I don’t think-

Luis:

This is a disagreement friendly zone. Please do.

Marissa Goldberg:

… Yeah. I think it’s a common mistake that people make that they start from a trust level of zero instead of starting it with it at 100, when they first hire someone new. So, the typical way that we go about this is in the office. We hire someone and they have to build the trust over time. Then we trust them and can do all this work with them. I think it should be the opposite. So you start with them and you think I have 100% trust with them because I trust my hiring process, and then you go into it and you give them expectations. And then if they don’t meet those expectations, then that trust decreases. But you still start from a place where you think you can trust them because you trust your hiring process.

Marissa Goldberg:

The other thing that is a common misconception is that we should hire the same way when we work remotely then when we do in person. So we should use things like resumes and CVS and things of that nature. This is another thing I disagree with. We’re in a very different kind of work where instead of it being about our external measures that we’re judging people on, so judgment is very different. So in the office, we would judge based off external measures like, “Oh, how they looked, how they talked, how they presented themselves in person.” Versus working remotely, we’re not judging based off external measures. We’re judging based off quality of work. Because most of the time we can’t even see the external measures anymore.

Marissa Goldberg:

So when we judge based off of a CV or from a resume, we’re still looking at external measures like, “Oh, where they went to school, where was their last job?” Versus if we go from like a project where you’re given, “Hey, this is my ask.” You respond with your answer or your project or whatever it is, then we can trust based off the quality of their work, which is what we’re judging remote work off of anyways.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So that’s typically where I start is changing the hiring process so you can trust it to find great candidates.

Luis:

So, I actually have a little bit of a wrinkle on that. Personally, when I’m hiring for my team, I don’t care that much about the CVS and experience and et cetera, but I do place a high value even probably more than in projects done in the past, in the communication. If you write me an email that I have to put some real effort into understanding, if I have trouble communicating with you during the video call, which happens surprisingly often with people applying for positions, then those are real red flags in my book.

Marissa Goldberg:

Absolutely.

Luis:

Because it turns out that… Even lack of experience. I deal with junior people all the time. Very happy to take on the role of helping them upgrade themselves, but communication needs to be the baseline for that to happen.

Marissa Goldberg:

Absolutely. But that’s proof of work. That’s not an external measure.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So that’s absolutely something I’m advocating for is how do they respond to the email? Are they professional? Can they get their point across without overloading you with information, but also not just replying with one line? All of those are proof of work things that should absolutely be part of the hiring process.

Luis:

Yeah. It’s a really big problem that I’ve identified with people that are new to remote work. Very often this is a disaster in management because then it trickles down is communicating in a way that like, “Did you do the thing?”

Marissa Goldberg:

Right.

Luis:

Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Right.

Luis:

Did you do the thing? What did you thought about that situation? Which is like, ” I don’t know. Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

I guess possibly. So, yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

And honestly, this true both in person and remotely where most managers don’t go through any training in order to lead their teams. They kind of just get promoted and they’re kind of thrown into the fire and they don’t have that kind of background. That’s actually why I created my course, which is mastering remote leadership. It’s a cohort based course. It’s four weeks long and we basically go through how do you lead a team remotely? How do you be this leader that can effectively communicate, that can keep the team culture up? All of these different things that you’re just not told. No one was told they were just kind of thrown in and said, “Okay. Go try do it and figure it out yourself.”

Luis:

Yeah. There’s a different dynamic because it is remote. Because if we’re presentially, and I’m speaking with you face to face, even in the same room, and I say, “Hey, what did you think about the thing?” I can immediately detect from your expression and body language that, oh, she didn’t understand. I expressed myself poorly. So you can kind of not get away with it but you get the immediate feedback to correct it. Whereas if you are working in an async situation. It might happen that that just lengthens the conversation, in the best case scenario. In the worst case scenario, especially if we’re talking about a manager employee situation, the employee could go like, “Oh my god, I should know what they’re talking about and I have no idea.” And then it creates a lot of unnecessary stress. So I do see as something that’s a prevalent problem in remote work is really the expectation of mind reading that’s much, much higher than in location work.

Marissa Goldberg:

So to me in person, you still had all those same troubles. Because a lot of times the employee would maybe hide how they’re reacting, because they didn’t want to set the other person, or you would even misread. There’s so many studies out there that we misread other people’s body reactions and assume, make assumptions, that we then take action against and make a whole mess out of. So we had that issue plus, we were putting that burden on the employee to have that right reaction for us to perceive it correctly and to change course that way. Versus upfront, having the communication skills to, say, speak in the correct tone, to an effective way, to have already set those expectations so they knew what to expect, to have resources to over communicate. So there’s a lot of practices. Where in person, it wasn’t really working as well as people think, but now remote work is now shining a big, bright spotlight on it because it’s very different and it highlights those kind of things, and I think that’s actually a good thing.

Luis:

Yeah. All right. So let’s dive a bit more into the remote hiring situation. What do you think that is fundamentally different in hiring for remote that you should do? We’ve already talked about that, that there are things that people use traditionally when hiring that don’t make sense. Like relying on where they went to school, or relying on what’s on their CV, et cetera. But in my personal view that’s not optimal even outside of remote, but what are some things at that are specifically for remote hiring do view as very important?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah. So I still maintain that the very first thing is judgment. So instead of judging based off external measures, this happens in interviews where they will have a video call with the person and they’ll just throw random questions at them that they probably wouldn’t even get in their job and then they’ll just have to respond. And that’s an external measure like, “How can you respond on the spot to make yourself look good?” So that’s an external measure versus quality of work like let’s say sending them an email that they would actually receive in their role and seeing how they respond to that. So that’s the very first thing is trying you alter your interview process so that it more accurately reflects the job that you’re actually hiring for.

Marissa Goldberg:

Another thing is to try to replicate the experience. So if you have an async first environment and you’re spending all day on video calls and interviews, you’re not actually seeing what they would be in your in environment, because they’re not going to be on video calls all day once they get into that role. So what you would do instead is kind of introduce them to your slack channel, have emails back and forth. There’s some hiring processes that I’ve set up that are entirely written, like you don’t even see the other person and then you don’t have these biases because you can’t see them. And that just sets you up for success. If you’re actually replicating what they’ll actually be experiencing.

Luis:

Got it. Got it. So that’s interesting, replicating what they’re actually be experiencing. I know that you’re big on async but you also stand that there are places where sync is very good. So, would you actually think that there’s a lot of those situations where people shouldn’t be on a call because they’ll never be on a call? I would expect most people in a well functioning remote organization to be on a call. Just not as often as a lot of people are doing.

Marissa Goldberg:

So I take an async first approach, which means that I think a lot of the different things that we do should be asynchronous but we default to synchronous activities because it’s what we’re used to. So in this case, if we’re talking about interviews, what I was saying before is that a lot of people will solely focus on having these video calls. When maybe they’re in Slack more often, or they’re doing emails, or they’re working in their own time, can you rely on them to be able to work on their own? And instead they’re just doing video calls, anyone can be on a video call all day.

Marissa Goldberg:

That’s what I’m saying is that they’re relying on solely synchronous activities instead of doing it in kind of like a percentage matter. Most of the companies I work with are at least 80% asynchronous and then maybe 20% synchronous for the core things that should be synchronous. So if your interview process is 80% synchronous and 20% asynchronous, that doesn’t reflect accurately to how you’re actually going to be working and you’re judging based off things that they wouldn’t typically use.

Luis:

Yeah. That makes absolute sense. Thank you for the input there. What are the arguments to push more people toward async communication, or companies toward the sync communication? I’m a big fan of that approach, in fact, ever since I started managing teams remotely. It’s funny because I started doing it before there was widely available video chat.

Marissa Goldberg:

Great.

Luis:

So, in a sense, I was very comfortable with the management via text situation. But there was a big push to video communication specifically, in the last five to 10 years, I’d say. I wasn’t a big fan but I was pulled into it and now for the past three years, I’ve been trying to cut back. What are your main arguments when you meet those companies that feel that they need to be most of the time in video? A couple of years ago, I was even introduced to this app that’s basically a virtual office where everyone is on video all the time and you have your own video room and people can knock. To me, that just sounds like a dystopian nightmare.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah. So the way I think about it is that a lot of people don’t recognize the benefits between asynchronous work and synchronous work. So they’re not adapting what they’re doing to like which one would give them the most benefits. So, for synchronous, it’s like you get an answer right away, there’s that timing, that quickness.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

And for asynchronous, you have a lot more benefits in that there’s like fewer interruptions and there’s greater efficiency because each person can work in the way that works best for them. So when it comes to asynchronous work, it works really great with creative problem solving, with thoughtful decision making for deep work. And these are all thing that are a big part of your role, or they should be, in a lot of cases. So if you’re a coder, you’d love to have as much deep work as possible in order to actually code instead of being stuck in meetings all day.

Marissa Goldberg:

So with asynchronous work, there’s so many benefits that come along with it. Like you have this great documentation because everything now is written down. People can unblock themselves autonomously because they can do so in their own time because they have these resources. Again, you’re respecting everyone’s time, so now you can have this goal global workforce because you’re not relying on everybody to work the same exact hours. And then also there’s this thing with writing where it refines your thinking. So instead of it being, I’m saying something off the top of my head and then two hours later I think about it, I’m like, “Oh, I was so wrong on that. That’s not actually what I think.” You’re having that time to form your thoughts and write down your opinions and get it out there in the best way possible. So it’s really amazing for brainstorming too.

Luis:

Yeah. No, and I doubt so. I usually like to push an idea that you think better with your fingers and with your tongue.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

Which is that, writing stuff out actually lets them go through the ideas at the higher resolution level than speaking the things. Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Right. You kind of process it.

Luis:

Writing is kind of outsourcing thinking.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

So, yeah. All right. So I want to shift gears a bit and I want to talk a bit about, well, the way you work and also some countercurrent approaches that you might have to work. Something that really draw my curiosity was when I was doing the research on you, and when I was looking at your profile, I went to Remote Work Prep. I was going through the blog articles and you wrote a blog piece recently that caught my attention. That was about how it’s wrong to try to separate a specific part of your home to do remote work. Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Luis:

That really interested me because it felt very counterintuitive. It felt that it wouldn’t work for me because I’ve tried it and it didn’t work for me, but I’m always open to listening about stuff that doesn’t necessarily work for me, but might work for other people because we’re all different.

Marissa Goldberg:

Of course.

Luis:

So, on my own, I do feel that I have a bit of an OCD personality. So I do need that situation where if I’m on my bed, it’s bedtime. If I’m at my desk, it’s work time. If I’m on my sofa, it’s leisure time. Those are just like little Pavlovian triggers that my mind works around. Well, I read the article, so I know a fair bit about your thinking on that reasoning, but I thought it would be interesting for you to share with the listeners. That kind of thinking that I think that is characteristic of your writing and the content you put out there, to give them a taste of what they can go and look for more.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yes, absolutely. I think, what did I call this article? Is like the popular remote work advice, what was it?

Luis:

I have a note here, you don’t need to guess. It’s this popular remote work advice that is wrong and you’re probably following it.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yes. So typically, the very first piece of advice that remote workers get is that they create a separate place, like a home office, where that’s for work and then the rest of your home is for living. This is, to me, as just another example of us replicating all office work. So in the office, the company would only have so much space, they’d have 100 employees and every employee would get one desk because that’s what they had the space for and they wanted to save all that money. And then that’s where you worked from. But it wasn’t really because that’s where you do your best work. One desk doesn’t necessarily mean that’s where you do your best work.

Marissa Goldberg:

So this is me kind of putting the question out there like, “Where do you do your best work and how can you do it without replicating this idea from office work?” So, one of the first things that comes from this is that one desk doesn’t optimize for different types of work, so a lot of people have different types to work in their job. So let’s say deep work, let’s say brainstorming, let’s talk about syncing, meetings, and then one off tasks. So I give those four as an example.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So like this desk that I’m currently at, it has the lighting. It has the multiple screens. It’s got the sound, all of that stuff. But if I’m in deep work mode, those kind of things are going to be more distracting than helpful. So one desk is not optimizing for these different types of work.

Marissa Goldberg:

The other thing is, it doesn’t really optimize for your personal mode. So if you’re feeling sleepy, if you’re feeling distracted, you’re still working in the same space as when you’re feeling like your best self. And you can’t optimize for both of those feelings at the same time from one desk. So what I say I do is that I use different areas of my house. And one thing I talk about is that it doesn’t have to be just your house, it could be outside the house too. This is just me.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So, I use different areas of my house as I’m going through different modes of work. Let’s say I’m writing an article, first, I’m in brainstorming mode and I’m chatting with others. Maybe I’m on calls like this where I’m getting ideas. Maybe I’m working from this office, but then once I’m trying to get my first draft out, I’m wanting to be in a deep work mode. I’m wanting to be in like this quiet, cozy environment away from screens because I find them distracting when I’m writing. So, I’ll maybe work from my bed, or from the couch, something like that. And then once I’m in distribution mode, which requires mindless tasks, where I have to do it, it’s not really my favorite, but I have to do it, so in that mode I can be distracted. I can have the TV on in the background. I could be taking a walk. I can have multiple things going, because it doesn’t require my mind to actually focus.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

And that’ll help me get to a better place. So I actually experimented with this where I tried that method where I used different spaces to write an article versus just from my office, with all this lighting equipment and all the screens and whatever. And it took double the amount of time when I was working from one desk because I wasn’t optimizing for these different modes. So I don’t think this is for everyone. I’m not saying this is how you have to work, that’s never any of my advice. This is just me saying, “Hey, have you questioned this?” Like, “Are you thinking about this from, “Oh, I’m just so used to working from one desk. This is how I have to do it.” Or are you thinking it from, “I experimented with that, that didn’t work for me.” Next.

Luis:

Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. That is a key thing No one fully knows how to do this remote thing. It’s something that I always say. And if someone says they know how to do it with a 100%, certainly they’re lying. Right?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

There are some of us that have more experience than others, for sure. But at the end of the day we are still doing… The most experience us have been doing this remote thing for maximum 20 years. So regular work has about 100 years at start.

Marissa Goldberg:

Right.

Luis:

There’s definitely less known about what we’re doing.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

That’s something.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

Please go on.

Marissa Goldberg:

That’s why everything I teach is not coming from the perspective of, “Hey, this is the only way to do it. This is how you have to do it.” It’s never any of that. If we go back to what remote work is all about, it’s about giving agency to the individual. And that’s awesome, but it comes with this overwhelming freedom that people just… they shut down. They’ll revert to what they’re used to or they’ll try one thing and just stick with it because they’re not going to experiment with anything else and maybe break it. Or they’ll copy someone else, how they’re working, how my husband’s working, how my coworker is working, that’s how I’m going to work.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

And then they get stuck in this mode that isn’t really optimized for them, so it feels just as poorly as when they were in office and they don’t really get the full benefits of remote work. So what my work is trying to do, is just to question the default. So you’re very used to this, this is the one way you know but what can we introduce? What can we say, “Hey, have you thought about it this way?” And then allow people to experiment for themselves.

Luis:

So, what have you found for yourself apart from what you just described about having good specific locations that are more suited for the kind of work that you’re doing at the time? Why don’t you take me through a typical day in your remote work life or a typical week? If that’s more interesting.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah, absolutely. So I’m actually pretty obsessed with the workday design piece of it. I love optimizing.

Luis:

Oh, great.

Marissa Goldberg:

I love trying new things. I actually have a series going where I highlight people who have untraditional workday. People who aren’t just working Monday through Friday, nine to five, because this is just something, I think, that a lot of people just don’t know what’s possible yet so that’s why they haven’t totally optimized for it.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So for me personally, there’s a lot of different stuff and I want to remind people before I get into it that I’ve been working remotely since 2015. If you’ve just been working remotely since 2020, you probably weren’t introduced to all of this. It takes time to get used to this. Just know that I’ve been doing this for a long time and hopefully it just gives you some small ideas.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So, a couple things. One, I only have two meeting days per week and then I typically have three non-meeting days. I work in sprints instead of in a marathon. Typically, people work nine to five, pretty straight through. Maybe they’ll have a little break for lunch. I will work in sprints. So I’ll work for like two hours on one thing and then I’ll take maybe a two hour break. Little sprints throughout the day.

Marissa Goldberg:

I also don’t think that the 40 hour work week is optimized for us individually and I think that we try to do time management instead of energy management, which energy management can be a lot more effective when working remotely. So one hour, where you are totally focused and your best self, is going to be very different from one hour where you’re distracted, you feel tired. Those are very different things. So if you optimize for getting as many of those focused hours as possible, you can spend less time work because you’re not working during those unoptimized states.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

So that’s another thing that I do. I’ll typically take a half day on Wednesday and a half day on Friday because I have kind of like this rise for Monday and Tuesday and then I start to dip on Wednesday. So I’ll take a little half day just so I rise again for Thursday and my half day on Friday. So there’s that.

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

There’s a lot. I could go on forever about all of this, but if you have anything specific.

Luis:

Nice. No interesting that the off day is on Friday. I’d imagine it would be more intuitive to have it on Wednesday. We’d still call time for it.

Marissa Goldberg:

So I have it on Wednesday and Friday.

Luis:

Oh okay. Okay. Got it. I missed that part.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yes.

Luis:

Missed that part. So, yeah. No, that that’s… I do want to ask, more centered around tools, what does your virtual office look like? I don’t know if you work from a laptop or a desktop, but when you open your virtual working environment, what does that look like? What are the apps that are on as soon as you reach it? What are the tabs in your browser? What does it look like?

Marissa Goldberg:

I think that people kind of put too much emphasis on tools, they think it’s going to solve all the issues. I like to put more emphasis on processes and experimentation and that kind of stuff. When I give my answer here, it’s not going to be anything wow factor or anything. So from this office, I’ve got multiple screens, desktop laptop, all that stuff. But typically when I’m working from other zones, I’m working from my laptop, I’m working from my phone. So it depends on what zone I’m working in. What else? So for tools, I use typical things like a Zoom. What’s unique about my job is that we’re working as a fractional head of remote, which means we go into a company and we use whatever tools they’re using.

Luis:

Got it.

Marissa Goldberg:

So I’m going to be on things like Slack, I’m going to be on maybe Teams. Whatever they’re using is what I’m going to be using.

Luis:

Let’s say that you have the possibility of offering one thing. Could be an experience, a digital tool, a physical tool, et cetera. But you could offer one thing right up to, let’s say, around 100 bucks to everyone working for you. The twist is, of course, you need to buy in bulk and you can’t give them cash or a cash equivalent like a gift card. So what would you get them? Assuming that the intention is of course optimizing their work life design.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah. It’s so hard because like I said, it’s so individual. I’m like, “I don’t know anything I would give, absolutely everyone.” I did recently come out with a work from home gift guide. So there’s a couple of things that we could talk about from there.

Luis:

Sure.

Marissa Goldberg:

And I think an issue that a lot of people have is they try to optimize just their office space instead of optimizing things around their office space too. So one of the top clicked-on ones was the service called rid well, which gets rid of things like batteries, and light bulbs, and clothes, and things that just tend to clutter the house because they’re not easily recycled. They’ll actually pick those up.

Marissa Goldberg:

So that’s something that I like, because it’s not necessarily like a service you would think of for remote work. It’s not like, “Oh, this is specifically for remote work.” But it is for your home, and if your home feels more comfortable then you feel more comfortable. So that’s one of the things.

Luis:

I agree.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

I gree.

Marissa Goldberg:

When it comes to audio, so this is like an office thing that you would typically hear from people, my pro tip is I don’t like in ear headphones, they drive me insane-

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

… especially for longer calls. So, my pro tip is to actually look at gaming headsets because gaming headsets were made to be comfortable for a long periods of time plus they’re typically great in audio and the tech involved. So like this one I’m wearing right now is a HyperX headset, I think it costs like 60 bucks. So it’s definitely under 100 range you were talking about, and this is incredibly comfortable. This is Great.

Luis:

That’s so funny. It’s so funny because I’ve been beating that rum in this very podcast for about two years.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

Yeah. Headsets made for work suck. The gaming ones are the good ones.

Marissa Goldberg:

Excellent.

Luis:

Are the good ones.

Marissa Goldberg:

Absolutely.

Luis:

Yeah. I would add to that, that that’s a bit over 100 bucks, but if you can afford-

Marissa Goldberg:

This is 60.

Luis:

… Yeah. Yeah. No, no, but a bit over, I have also a recommendation that’s a bit over 100 bucks, but if you can’t afford it, which is, if you can get a nice noise canceling microphone, like the one I have the blue Yeti, in cases we, you can actually get rid of things in your head all the time, it feels great. It feels very, very, very freeing. The people are listening not seeing I’m actually using headphones right now because we had the slight technical issue before starting, but usually the Yeti eliminates complete audio from the other side. So it’s also a great solution. If you don’t like stuff in your head or your eardrums.

Marissa Goldberg:

Honestly, I have two Yetis are sitting right over there. I thought like, “Oh, if I got the fancy setup, that’s what I’m going to be using.” And I have like fancy lighting and fancy mics and all that stuff and then I end up just using these headphones. Yeah.

Luis:

Yeah. You wanted to keep it simple, I respect that.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah.

Luis:

Keeping it simple. Simple doesn’t break as often as fancy.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah. This was quick. It’s easy. Yeah.

Luis:

Exactly. Exactly. Exactly. Absolutely. All right. So, let’s get into it for… Could be tied to what we just talked about, but what about yourself? What purchase? And that can be a bit higher budget. What is the purchase that you’ve made in the past 12 to six months that really improved your work life design?

Marissa Goldberg:

Oh gosh, 12 to six months. I’m one of those people who iterates on one area and then once I find the perfect thing, I think I’m going to stick with it for years. So that 12 to six months is like, “Oh, what did I actually buy in the last year?”

Luis:

Yeah. I feel you. I feel you. I like that. I only switch tools when they’re absolutely completely broken and useful and are not going to do in the minimum. I stuck to YRC for over a decade.

Marissa Goldberg:

If we get rid of the timeframe, I could talk about a couple.

Luis:

Sure. Let’s get rid of the timeframe. Not picky.

Marissa Goldberg:

This chair is the most expensive thing probably in my office. So typically, when it comes to lighting, when it comes to headsets, I don’t think you need to spend a lot of money. 95% of people don’t need to spend a lot of that money to get 80/20 of the results. However, when it comes to chairs, that’s the one area where I’m like, “Splurge, splurge, splurge it all.” Because it ends up being really worth it.

Marissa Goldberg:

So a couple years ago, I think it was 2017, about two years into my remote work journey, I was just having tons of back issues. I hated going to my office so I would never go there because of how uncomfortable the chair was. And I finally started to do some research. This is the LIFEFORM Executive Chair, the high back version, and it has so many options to customize it so that you can sit ergonomically and sit comfortably.

Luis:

Yes.

Marissa Goldberg:

So, I splurge big time on this. I think this was like 3K or something like that. And then I’ve kept it since 2017, so it’s now almost the end of 2021, it’s been over four years or so. So yeah. I think that’s entirely worth it. What else? I think that there’s a lot of-

Luis:

That’s definitely a great investment.

Marissa Goldberg:

… Yeah. Yeah. Exactly. Exactly. Other things would be… My laptop right now that’s facing me is on a laptop stand, so a lot of people put it on their desk and then they like hunch over. Laptops stands are not expensive and you just put them up to the height so that you’re looking straight at it while you’re sitting straight up and that can be a big help too. And like I said, I think this one I’m using I put it in the gift guide, but I think it was probably around 40 bucks. I don’t think it was very expensive if I’m remember or incorrectly. So that’s another thing.

Marissa Goldberg:

But honestly, most of the upgrades that I like to do are for my lifestyle. So it’s like the clothes I wear, what am I going to feel most comfortable in? It’s like the things I have around me, it’s about having processes to take a walk. So one of the things I do is I integrate rest into work. So if I’m coding and I’m hitting a bug, I’m not going to sit here and try to work through it and get myself really frustrated. I’m going to go for a walk. I’m going to go take a shower. I’m going to let it sit in the back of my mind, and then when I sit down again, it’s like, “Oh, that was the answer. It’s right there.”

Luis:

Yeah.

Marissa Goldberg:

It was just because I was so frustrated and trying to push through that frustration that I couldn’t get to it. So instead of just focusing in time, I focus on energy and optimizing for that.

Luis:

Yeah. Big fan of that process myself. There’s actually a name for that mental process that I completely blanked on. But leaving stuff to rest while you go do something else, there’s actually a name for that mental process and I’m a very big fan of that. It’s somewhat related to Pascals. I guess it has to do with Pascal’s back, but I’m not absolutely sure about what it’s called. I should look it up and maybe include in the show notes as well.

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah, absolutely.

Luis:

So, speaking of that, I don’t know if you’re a book gifting person? Maybe I’m being biased because I am, what books have you given out the most?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah, I love books. I’m a huge reader, I’m reading constantly. So, the three books that were in my gift guide this year were, one was When, by Daniel pink. And this goes back to something we talked, about energy management over time management. So this is optimizing for like, “Hey, if you’re an early bird or if you’re a night owl, when is the best times for you to do different things like creative work or deep work? Or those kind of things?” And I think it’s best to align your workday to that. So that’s one of the ones that I suggested. Another was Think Again, Think Again. Yeah. That’s what it is, by Adam Grant.

Luis:

Okay.

Marissa Goldberg:

So this goes back to what we talked to, you’re very used to doing things in a certain way, and it’s important to get into the space where you can change those things so that you can optimize and experiment and create the best from remote work environment for you. So this helps you rethink how you used to do things. Maybe if you had a set opinion for a very long time, this helps you think again like, “Oh, Hey, maybe that’s not the right way to approach it and I can change my mind.” Because a lot of people get really said and like, “I can’t change my mind ever.” So that’s another book that I recommend.

Marissa Goldberg:

And the last one is Out of Office, and this book is very new. It just came out. I was lucky to get a very early copy. And this is, again, it’s about approaching remote work, not just about your work, but about how you’re living and how it can absolutely change your life. In terms of getting more involved with your community, in terms of forming deeper relationships, in terms of just everything, so it’s about more than just your work.

Luis:

Awesome. Some great suggestions. So I want to move on to the final question because, again, I want to be respectful of your time. This one though has a little bit of a longer setup, so please bear with me.

Marissa Goldberg:

Okay.

Luis:

So let’s say that we’re in a situation where it’s absolutely fine to go back to dining with huge groups of people and having a very good time. So in this context, you are setting up hosting a dinner where in attendance are going to be the top execs, the decision makers from tech companies from all over the world. The topic of the dinner is remote work and the future of work and here’s the twist. It is happening at a Chinese restaurant, so you, as the host, get to pick the message that goes inside the Chinese fortune cookie. So what is your message?

Marissa Goldberg:

Yeah. That would probably be my tagline.

Luis:

Okay.

Marissa Goldberg:

Is, revolutionize how you live by changing how you work.

Luis:

Revolutionize how you live by changing how you work. That sounds lovely. Very good. Good message. Great message. Thank you so much.

Marissa Goldberg:

Thank you.

Luis:

Okay. So this is it. This is it. It was an absolute pleasure having you. Marissa, before we go, I would like you to tell our listeners, where can they follow up with you? Where can they continue the conversation? Where can they learn more about you and what about your company can provide to them?

Marissa Goldberg:

Right. So it’s actually funny because before 2020, you couldn’t really find me anywhere. I consulted one on one with people, I was through word of mouth but once 2020 hit, I had so many people reaching out to me that I started building an online following and trying to share publicly so that I can help more people without tying it to my time. So you can find me in a couple different spots. I’m most active on Twitter. My handle is mar15sa, I’m sure you can put it in the notes.

Luis:

Will do.

Marissa Goldberg:

I did start a newsletter, it’s called Remotely Interesting. So if you’re interested in rethinking how you live and work, and you’re interested in seeing different work days featured, like we talked about, go ahead and check out Remotely Interesting. And if you’re looking for fractional head of remote services, if you’re a manager looking for training on how to lead remote teams, or if you’re looking just for general research resources, check out remoteworkprep.com, that’s my company. And yeah, wishing you the very best remote work experience.

Luis:

All right. That sounds fantastic. Ladies and gentlemen, please get in touch and thank you for listening. Marisa, thank you for being a guest on the DistantJob Podcast.

Marissa Goldberg:

I appreciate you [crosstalk 00:46:33] inviting me, Luis.

Luis:

It’s a pleasure having you.

Marissa Goldberg:

Thank you so much.

Luis:

It was a pleasure. Great conversation. Thank you ladies and gentlemen for listening, this was Luis with the DistantJob Podcast, your podcast about building and leading awesome remote teams. And my guest today was Marissa Goldberg, the Founder Remote Work Prep. See you next week.

Luis:

And so we close another episode of the DistantJob Podcast. And if you enjoy 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 there’s a joy for you to listen to as well. You can also help a lot leaving reviews on iTunes or your podcast syndication service of choice. Reviews are surprisingly helpful in helping the podcast get to more listeners.

Luis:

Now, another thing that you might want to do is go to distantjob.com/blog/podcast, click on your favorite episode, then any episode really, and subscribe. 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. And 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. And to help you with that, again, distantjob.com is the perfect place to start. You will tell us who we need and we will make sure that you get the best possible candidate, 40% faster than the industry standard. And with that, I bid you adieu. See you next week on the next episode for DistantJob Podcast.

One of the most common advice managers receive is building trust in a remote environment. However, during this podcast episode, Marissa Goldberg reveals that it is a common mistake that managers hire employees with a trust level of zero with the belief that trust is built over time.

Trust is something that leaders should focus on since the beginning of the hiring process. Instead of hiring someone and hoping to build trust in the future, they should trust their hiring process.

Episode Highlights:

  • The role of trust in a remote environment
  • Misconceptions about trust in the workplace
  • Why companies need to change their hiring process when hiring remotely
  • Hiring remote vs in-person: Main differences
  • Benefits of asynchronous work
  • Tips to optimize your work time when working remotely
  • Advice on becoming an efficient remote worker

Book Recommendation:

 

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