Article

Russell Goldsmith
Russell Goldsmith 21 March 2022
Categories B2B

Podcast – Interview with Job van der Voort, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote

Part of our special series of episodes that we're recording in partnership with the European PR Agency, Tyto, and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Job van der Voort, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote.

Part of our special series of episodes that we're recording in partnership with the European PR Agency, Tyto, and their own Without Borders podcast, this interview is with Job van der Voort, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote.

Russell Goldsmith and co-host Brendon Craigie were joined online from near Amsterdam by Job van der Voort, CEO and Co-Founder of Remote, a company providing HR solutions for distributed teams globally.

In July 2021, Remote announced $150m Series B funding, which brought their total fundraising to $196m, whilst valuing them at $1bn, making it the fifth unicorn to be founded in Portugal. 

Job began by explaining that Remote solves the fundamental problem of wanting to hire someone that lives in a different country. They have entities all over the world that can provide local employment, payroll benefits and anything else that comes with hiring someone locally.

Job started out in neuroscience but left due to its slow nature to launch a start-up which plateaued because his money ran out very quickly. He ended up at GitLab as a programmer, leading their product for five years, in that time they built the tiny team into a very large company fully remotely.

GitLab had employees across sixty-seven different countries, and the challenges they faced, Remote now solves today.

Benefits of Remote and Hybrid Models

Job said he doesn’t have to convince people about the benefits of remote and hybrid models because the weight of the decision does not lie with the employers anymore, but the individuals that choose to set the standard.

He explained that employers aren’t embracing the ability to hire anybody from anywhere to build a team that is made up of the best people for the job, rather than the best people that happen to be close to your office. He added that those employers will miss out on talent.

He pointed out that ‘The Great Resignation’ is happening, and that employers either go remote in some capacity or they’re going to lose out on a lot of good talent, as that’s the direction he believes most of the world will go in.

Job talked about the options available to those companies where they have some employees requesting to work remotely and some preferring to be office-based.

He said that he thinks the only way for a company to work with a hybrid model is to not expect anyone to ever be in the office, not for day-to-day work or meetings, and if an employee wants to work from home or chooses to be in the office then they can do so.

Becoming a Unicorn

The thing that Job said he is most proud of is the fact they managed to build an incredibly kind, talented team with people from all over the world.

He said the perception of the company changed when they reached unicorn status, and they now get more press coverage and attention. He added that it's also a bit of a vanity thing, but there's no direct impact on the day-to-day of him or his team.

Companies Doing Remote Working Well

Job pointed to WordPress as a company leading remote working, but he said that not that many organizations have done this successfully in the way that he would define a modern workplace to be working remotely.

He said that there have been a surprising number of organizations that supported remote work for many years, some of them for decades. But usually, it was for a particular set of workers in those companies and for a particular set of functions or departments.

Remote Working Trends

Job talked about how exciting Facebook’s announcement about their metaverse was, which was followed by Microsoft a few days later. He said he thinks it’s a step in this direction where we're saying we're no longer bound by a particular physical location.

Job said in the early days he shipped all his employees VR headsets because they wanted to create some form of presence without being present in person, they use them to hang out with each other, to play games with each other and to get a taste of the future. 

Internal Communications

Job said that he does almost everything out in the public or at least internally public. So even if it's communicating with a particular team, he makes sure anybody could read that if they wanted to. He said he sticks to a couple of simple things:  

  1. Try to make it accessible to everybody, whatever it is that he shares, and it means that it's very rarely like synchronous. It's usually asynchronous.
  2. Make sure that it's very short. It's very digestible. Whereas if you work with very particular teams, it's almost the other way around where sometimes you really want to get in deep. It's a very different way of communicating with each other.

Job tries to shy away from too many communication tools. They use Notion for documentation and use Slack very intensively as well as Zoom but try not to use too much else and instead, keep it simple. 

Read Job’s blog: How to run a successful meeting.

What Initial Decision is Most Vital to Building a Successful Business? 

Job said committing to it - you need to make a commitment that you're really going to do it. You can't half ass building your business. 

Job’s final words of advice were to be confident and be yourself.

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