Meet Andy. He joined Leadfeeder in December 2019 as our CMO. Previously, Andy has helped other SaaS businesses including Exponea and Emarsys to transform their demand generation strategies. He is driven by defying the odds. Now, he’s on a mission to help other companies adapt to the “new normal” of working from home. Andy is a dad to a 3-year old and 6-month old puppy. He and his wife reside in Austria.
Remote working - a relatively new concept in the general scheme of things, and something there is a lot of differing opinions on. I have seen it from a few angles, having worked remotely a decade ago, versus doing so today.
Between 2009 and 2011, I worked remotely from a small apartment in downtown Vienna.
Back then, it was the general impression that "working from home" meant a free holiday day. I knew plenty of people that "worked from home" on Friday afternoons, for example.
For me, it was tricky, as I had numbers to deliver, whilst at the same time, all my peers and friends assumed I didn't have to work, due to this unwritten working from home rule.
Everyone's impression was that I had it easy, whereas, in reality, it was quite a struggle. This perception versus reality really wore me down and was probably the reason why I never saw it as a long term solution.
The core issue was that this wasn't a tried and tested concept. There weren’t the collaboration tools available. Slack alone has been a massive game-changer here.
But I think the biggest problem was people. We don't do ourselves any favors. Employers didn't trust employees to work from home because the general impression was that people didn't do any work when they did so. And employees proved the employers' point - they didn't work when "working from home" on those Friday afternoons. And employers allowed it. It was a perk to certain jobs.
Between 2011-2015, I was based in an office, expected to be at my desk every day at 9, and finish up by 5. A concept that everyone will be familiar with. The 9-5 thing isn't something that I have any qualms or problems with. I actually think it's good to have a standard timing structure across an organization.
My problem lies with the concept of where you need to be sitting to ensure maximum productivity. For me, sitting in an office is fine sometimes, but I tend to get most work done when I'm isolated from the outside world. And I think that most people are similar in that respect. No distractions = more work = greater productivity.
Then I entered the tech scene...
Since joining the tech scene in early 2015, I have gone from working from home occasionally, to a minimum of twice per week, to 100% remote.
Leadfeeder is a remote company, meaning that nearly two-thirds of the 85+ employees are working from somewhere that's not an official Leadfeeder office. The fact that companies like Leadfeeder are building their business around having people based everywhere is a sign that you can get max productivity and efficiency by enabling staff to work where they like. After all, if someone is going to be a slacker or lazy, they will show those signs regardless if they're sitting behind a screen in an office somewhere, or working from home.
As a senior leader, it is somewhat expected that the time you get with your family is compromised. Or at least in the past, this has been the case.
I can only speak on my experience, but the difference in being around, even if it’s just for short moments during the working day, has massive effects on the relationship with your kid(s).
Being the father of a young child and being gone from the family home from 7am until 7pm usually means you get 30 mins in the morning or evening to cram in some parenting. This was my reality until I started working for Leadfeeder. I was stressed, typically from a tough day at the office as well as a long commute, and as a result, during that 30 mins, my mind was elsewhere. I may as well not have been there.
Now, however, I get to speak with my kid a few times a day, for example, when grabbing a coffee. It’s only a short interaction, but these short interactions have yielded great results.
All-in-all, I believe that remote workforces are the way forward. It’s just up to employers to enable (and trust), and employees to embrace this (relatively) new way of working.
Enable collaboration technology. Start with Slack, Zoom, Google. They're FREE!! (to a certain threshold). They're literally making you money for nothing. 😉
Make sure to encourage regular check-ins with the team. Digitally AND in person. You still can't beat face to face contact when it comes to alignment. Senior leadership should spend at least a few days each month in each others' presence.
There's no such thing as over-communication. Employees can feel left in the dark very easily, so it's crucial that senior leadership is very vocal. This is obviously the case regardless if you're in an office or not, but remote working companies need to make sure they are making an extra effort here.
Get the teams to bond digitally. Sounds mad, I know, but it's essential that team members have a rapport with one another. There is a task which I do with the team called "Timeline." In this task, you need to break your life up into 5-year slots, talking about where you were during that time, what was important to you, and what were your key influencers. It's amazing how much you will learn about others just through this exercise, and it's a fantastic team bonder.
Trust! Trust is the most vital one. You need to trust your staff to get the job done, regardless of where they are sitting. It's key to hire the right people here — self-starters are key. Again though, hiring the right people is the key to success in any organization, regardless if they're remote or not.
Have a specific place at home where you work, somewhere you can get away from during non-working hours. Have that as your dedicated working spot. Move around if necessary, but when you're in that one spot, you're working. If you have a small apartment, then work out of one specific corner. Just make sure to leave your work in that spot for a couple of hours each day.
Structure is really important. You will need to be self-motivated as you won't have your peers around you to support. Make sure you plan your day meticulously. Make a list and work through that list. I am not the biggest fan of fully flexible work times, mainly since it doesn't really encourage collaboration.
Embrace technology. You need to make sure you are speaking with people the same way as you would if they were sitting beside you. Connect with your peers not only on work-related things but also try to get to know them personally.
Keep the head down and get the job done. It sounds very simple, but you need to be focused and disciplined. There will be plenty of distractions at home, or wherever you are, and your boss isn't breathing down your back.
If you would like to know more about Leadfeeder and how we operate as a remote company, please connect with me directly.
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