Episode #
032

Remote.com: Work and Culture with Greater Freedom with Job Van der Voort | TNN32

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Episode Summary

What is that one thing that everyone that has a job craves for? Freedom, right? When Covid untethered us from our offices, many people experienced new forms of flexibility, and the taste of freedom left us hungry for more. We want our work to be a joyful expression and an enjoyable part of life - and freedom adds to that. Well, that is the goal of Remote.com’s CEO, Job van der Voort. In this episode of The New Nomad, Job joins Andrew Jernigan and Allen Koski in a discussion about productivity and freedom in the remote work environment. Our three nomads shared their experiences and thoughts on the actuality of the laptop lifestyle and how to thrive in it with the tools and technology we have today. Actual work freedom is doing something you really enjoy, but remember: complete freedom comes from complete responsibility.

From the episode

Remote: global HR solutions for distributed teams

        Remote.com

Job Van der Voorts links:

          Medium
, Crunchbase, Linkedin, & Twitter

What You'll Learn

Job's most overlooked place to recommend you discover:
        Portugal

Timestamps

[2:15] The Culture of Honor

[5:59] The World Could Use a Bit More Kindness

[9:48] Work-Life Balance, Is It Really Needed?

[14:53] Working Without Borders: The Remote Work Life

[18:07] The Necessity of Transparency in Remote Work

[19:10] Digital Nomad Visa - Your Ticket to Working Anywhere

Show Transcript

Allen  

Welcome to The New Nomad podcast. We have a really interesting discussion today. We have Job van der Voort of the remote.com. Team co-founder, CEO, is really an exciting conversation today. But before we start that, I'd like to bring Andrew Jernigan in the conversation. And Andrew, one of the things that's become a big issue recently, is the fine line between big brother assisting, or lording over perhaps the remote worker. And the example I've got is, a lot of the remote workers we work with really want to have geo positioning tools on their phone in case they get into trouble or need assistance. I know we have a panic button that we have on our programs. But on the other hand, they don't want somebody checking each keystroke. You know, it's kind of back and forth. I know you've been hearing a lot on that that area, too. Are you hearing the same things?

Andrew  

Yes. And it's it's not just the, you know, when I think of it, having worked remotely around the world for many years, couple of decades, this is one of those things where it's, it comes to trust of the managers, the leadership of a company is as many times it's, they're not used to having employees that aren't reporting to a desk and a supervisor and a manager and, and it's just the the shift of culture that people are having to face. And they're having to look at their own weaknesses, and change that. And that doesn't come easily. But the temptation is, is to implement software that says, Okay, everyone must be watched. And like you reference the duty of care aspect, you know, implements something that people can check in, so you make sure they're safe, so that if there is a cyclone or something, they can hit the check in button. But it needs to be an easy turn on and off on privacy on that. So that it's not a thing of oh, can HR monitor where they are today? If they're actually in the city there? They say they are. So yeah, there need to be parameters. But the ultimate thing, when I hear that Allen, is just building a culture of honor. That's I mean, that's a to many, that's a strange word. I read a book come titled Culture of Honor years ago that because we stabbed the ones that are closest to us a lot of times rather than pulling them up and finding the gold in them pulling the gold out. And I know just some of those phrases can seem foreign to others. I look forward to our guest today cuz he is a pioneer in this area. I just I love what he writes and speaks about creating a culture of kindness. He is one who does pull the gold out of people. And so, Allen, who do we have here today, and what do we have going on? This is, you know the new nomad, the remote worker, formerly,  known as the immigrant, the expats, and all these people are listening from different flavors of life. I think they're gonna love what's happening in today's show?

Allen  

Well, let's bring Job to the conversation because one of the things I'll mention, Job, come on into the conversation, and I thought it was really interesting. I mean, I know we kind of started with a deep issue, but I think you probably would agree that if you can't trust the people you're hiring, you know, having keystroke protected, you probably already made a mistake if you if you feel that you have to do that. But I just I love what you talked about building bonds in culture. And as you build remote.com, certainly you've built a culture there, could you share with our audience, some of your perspectives on what we've been talking about?

Job  

Yeah, absolutely. I think it really starts with, you know, building a team that you can trust. And in a lot of ways, you know, trust is something that you build, but exactly as was mentioned, like you don't, you can really start building trust by starting to, you know, record keystrokes, and like, observe people, spy on people, I think, is an appropriate term. So, as a remote, of course, we didn't do any of those things. The way that we build a strong culture was by working together and setting clear goals and being very transparent with each other. Right, I think there's two fundamental aspects that you need to do if you want to build a strong company culture, irrespective of whether it's remote or not. And one of them is, you know, you collaborate. So you work together intensely, you have shared goals, and you do so you know, not transactionally, but like, you actually collaborate and you're transparent with each other. And you, you know, you you gain energy from each other by by, you know, truly collaborating. 
  

And the other aspect is, you know, spending time together out of the context of work, and that, that time together can be in almost any form. I think nowadays especially because of COVID, we had to do a lot of that remotely. And it's totally possible. You know, whatever way you can play games together, you can just hang out and have coffee chats with people, you can even do things asynchronously, it doesn't really matter. But the point is, is that you also spend some time together out of like, direct context of something that you're working on. And if you do those two things, you create at least a foundation, which upon, which then you can build trust. Beyond that, it's about creating a company and like setting values for your organization, and aligning the organization with those values. And that means that one is has to come directly from leadership, it has to come from the CEO, from the founders, from the executive team. And the company really has to be led by example, and led by these values. So for example, I'd remote our values, our kindness, ownership, excellent transparency, and ambition. And we continuously refer back to these. So whatever we do, we always refer back to them. And like, kindness is the first one and explicitly so the first one, because I think we're all tired of working with people that are unkind that I think we've all worked with them in our lives. And so we don't want to have that, like we want that that work is a place where, you know, it's not always fun, because the reality is work can be stressful, there can be angry customers, things can go wrong, it's not always fun. But if you're kind to each other, at least that doesn't add additional tension. And it makes it at least pleasant to be at work, if it is not also fun, which it still should be most of the time. So that I think that that is a good foundation for a strong company culture and subsequent to, you know, starting that and setting those values. It's all about, you know, how do you maintain that and how do you make sure that people actually live up to those values?

Allen  

Well, you know, it's funny, when you could see people having fun working together as a client, you want to gravitate there, I don't know, if you remember, the old Southwest Airlines, flying was kind of a grim experience. And they made it fun, they give their people some parameters to be themselves, etc. And I think that you touched upon something there, there was a study recently, that if you have a really good friend at work, you're liable to stay in that job and do a much better job at it. And and I'd like what you mentioned there, I think you even said something along the lines of that the future of work is more freedom. And if work doesn't seem like work, that's fun too, right?

Job  

Yeah, yeah, I think, you know, when, when talking about that, I think I think there's two parts to this right. One is that like, the way that we are working is transitioning to more freedom. So we come from a place where you have to work from a specific location, and you have to make specific hours and I think, slowly but but very confidently, that model is completely being dropped, right? Both by necessity because of remote work, but also by the demands from the global workforce, like you shouldn't need to work particular hours, because there's no reason to, it's all about the actual output that you have. And so I think that that gives a lot of freedom and and the other side of it is that that is ultimately what works provides. Like it should provide you with money and benefits and support and security that allows you to take up for the freedoms, rights, freedoms, in terms of where you want to live, but also in how you want to live, right. Like I always like to this is an often repeated sentence where like, work should really be a facet of life, and life should not be a facet of work. And I think that's only possible if you are not supposedly stressing about that everything else and you're not also constantly stressing at work. So if you get paid well, that takes a lot of stressors out of life, right? Like a, like a, it's very hard to overstate the importance of just having a job that pays well and it doesn't require you to work insane hours. Those two things will also make the rest of your life much easier and that is essentially what freedom is. Right? It means that you don't have to worry about things that you shouldn't need to worry about. Right? Like you should be able to easily feed yourself and your family, you shouldn't have to worry, worry about medical bills and like great work and great employers can can go a long way in solving it.

Andrew  

Yeah, something you just said cued me to the fact that so much attention went to companies oh five, seven years ago when they started implementing an unlimited time off policy. And it came under a lot of criticism it came under a lot of accolades of well done it also but that's there's that freedom aspect of and trust it's hey if you're doing a great job we're not watching if you need to take every Thursday off if you need to take every you know if you working three weeks out of the month you know and and but yet that's the trust factor, and realizing that people are going to give their best and they're going to do it that work-life balance, which I almost don't even like that comparison because it's there's a there's something off there with that of work-life balance.

Job  

I thought that shouldn't be there. Yeah.

Andrew  

Right. I say that with a conflicting thing. Since, you know, even I poured myself way too much into one role, you're seven years ago and ended up with a heart attack. And that was my fault, not the work fault in, you know, not not honoring timezones and my body didn't agree with that. So, yeah, it's that trust factor when it comes to time off when it comes to time on when it comes to which hours to work during the day, and how many, you know, the four, or the four hour work four day workweek, etc, it's so many factors in that. So this is, it's really good. A lot of these things that we're bringing to mind, because a lot of people are adjusting to hybrid. They're hungry for remote. They're hungry for change, because they've gotten a taste of it now. And wondering, okay, Can I switch companies so that I can so that I can move from one province to another or one state or country? You know, Can I can I pursue some dreams rather than be chained to a desk? And companies are looking at, okay, if if we're going to allow it? What? What tools are there to actually do it from an HR perspective, from compliance from benefits from all legal, etc. It's just there's so many aspects that everyone who's listening have different ears to hear what? What needs to be applied in the season? Yeah, there are a few things on the on the horizon within your world I know. And Allen and I were talking about that recently. Allen what what struck you when you looked at some of the things that...

Allen  

Yeah, I'd like that. I'd like to ask about Job. One of the things I think is interesting is we get a lot of people that say to themselves, I see remote comm has the first global employee API, first off, to the uninitiated, can explain to folks what an API is, and how that supports people. And a lot of us know, it's the sum of the HR and the technology and the tax, etc. But I think it's really interesting because we have remote workers going out there. And they're, they're saying that they need to do they need some payroll, help and tax, etc. So I don't want to steal your thunder. But could you answer for the uninitiated, what is the first global employee API?

Job  

So the core servers that we deliver at Remote is the ability to hire anybody from anywhere. And up until now companies that did this kind of work, it was a pure surfaces thing. You would email or sometimes fax someone, this is an employee I wanted to hire. And it would be a lot of emailing, calling, or faxing back and forth. And we made it very easy by just building an application so that you could just sign up online, etc. And we wanted to go one step further. And we wanted to completely eliminate the need to necessarily use our platform. And so what an API is, is just an interface with which other companies, other applications can can work. And so that means that if you have an application in HR or something in HR, for example, or even just within your own organization, rather than having to have people sign up on remote, let's call them or having to go through our website or use our platform, you can directly integrate with us. And that is what an API is. And so that really means that we're lowering the threshold for organizations to start working with us and to really employ people globally, immensely. Because there's no longer the question is, should we then use another platform and then feel comfortable with that, or maybe even if you're already used, so we're partnering with Rippling to start with this. And it means that if you're a Rippling customer, very soon, you'll be able to hire people internationally, that's powered by Remote that you will never have to go through our platform, you don't have to sign up again, nobody has to go through something else. It's all in the same interface that you were already using. And that's because of this API that we built and Rippling directly integrates with that.

Andrew  

Okay, I get it. It's, it's a one thing embedded in our world embedded insurance so that, you know, when you're going through a airline ticket process, you can go ahead and add insurance. Yeah. Or or going through other instances, you can, you know, through our API, we do something very similar. So, yeah, that makes sense. Now, for those who are listening, it could be you know, the CPAs out there, the accountants those that this is going to be applied in finance around the world. I know with your Rippling partnership, that's that's one of the most recent but this is going to ricochet to go throughout so many different payroll programs around the world because they see the need, as companies go hybrid. They go remote, they find labor outside their local talent pools. I believe that this is the way that they're going to be able to function beyond their, their borders. Currently, whether they're a South African company, HR firm, you know, processing payroll for companies, you name it, this is this is going to transform finance actually, not just HR.

Job  

It's that's definitely our hope. Right? I think a good way to think about it is like payment processors, right? Do you have a stripe, for example, that if you buy something in an online shop, then it's stripe that process your payments? Now we do something similar, but then with global employment and payroll, and of course, that there's a lot to that, and it's very complex. That's why it's the first the world's first API like this, because it is very hard to build.

Allen  

So So quick question on that. So, you know, in the international space, we hear a lot of folks going overseas and having to go work through a partner and the employer of record space. Is this, so to the uninitiated, is this is this tied into the employee record space? Or is this an employee of record type of offering, and maybe for our audience, when a play record, you know, the US, a lot of times the term is PEO, professional player, organization, etc. But it's when somebody goes overseas, they functionally get hired by a firm, so you can get some tax technology, etc. It sounds like what you're doing here is something even better than that it a little more, a little more flexible, am I correct in my, or if I'm incorrect, that's also fine to straighten me out. So

Job  

So remote is an employer of record. So we offer among other things, employer record services, and we do that directly. So we have our own entities in all the countries in which we're active, which by the end of next year is going to be all countries in the world. And so we built this API on top of our own services. So we run our own services internally, we build software to power that and this API, this is another way to access those. So exactly that. Yeah. So you can through this API, and through one of our integration partners directly employ someone in let's say, Portugal, for example. And their text forms will indeed then say remotes Portugal.

Andrew  

Okay, so go back with us a little bit. I think you even you are a global citizen, you've you've lived around the world, and before this, you were with a company where you were working remotely and they they had this need is that, you know, why? Why? Why did you build this?

Job  

Yeah, before, before I started remote, I was at GitLab, since its founding team, where we hired people in 67 different countries. And so we encountered this problem very directly. And what we found was that it's not really a great experience for anybody involved for us as an employer. Nor for the employees themselves, what we found is that, even if you work with global employment of record companies, they tend to work with third parties locally. And it means that there's a lot of, you know, communication happening over very little work. So it's very slow to work with them. It's very opaque to work with these kind of organizations. And it was generally a bad experience. And so I started remote specific dissipating more companies going to work remotely. I started remote specifically to solve this problem. And specifically to remove all these barriers and all these phone lines. This is where between different parties that were trying to communicate with each other. And that's really how remote is built. So we build the infrastructure. And on top of that infrastructure, we provide services that either you can integrate with or you can directly purchase with us.

Allen  

See, I think this is this, this adds so much flexibility to the remote workspace. We've been getting a lot of questions about the digital nomad visas, and some of the opportunities and we also see governments a lot of different governments trying to work on that space and make it easier for people to live for a year or two. That seems to be one of the outgrowths of COVID. You know, trying to get people there. Maybe you could comment quickly, you know, in the last year COVID has changed a lot in the remote space. Would love your comments of what you see in the near future as we come out of that, and maybe even the digital nomad visa space, too.

Job  

Yeah, I think, well, there's a few interesting things happening. I think the first one is that the massive move to remote work, and we're only seeing this accelerate, especially now that like, essentially, the whole world knows you can work remotely. And so it's not so much whether employers decide whether you can work remotely, it's more on the individuals that say, Well, I don't want to work from an office or I don't want to work from all of us in this particular location. And if you can't accommodate to the office, in a place where I want to work, then yeah, then I'm going to leave and so that is something that we see accelerating. So with that same move we see a lot of people starting to move, move abroad move to countries where they might not have citizenship or where wherever else and so visa and immigration is really very big thing. And these digital nomad visas play somewhat of a part in that right being a digital nomad is actually quite complicated in the sense like paying taxes and doing this compliantly, both for the individual as well as for the employer, and so moves made by governments to make this simpler, extremely welcome. I think what we see right now is there's about 35 countries that have digital nomad visas ready. I think that's really awesome. I do think it needs to be much larger than it is today. Right? I think in particular, Western, well, off countries, they do kind of poorly in this, in this aspect, they don't really have a strong incentive to attract people to directly start working there as a digital nomad, they would much rather have people stay there longer periods of time, or forever, completely relocate there. And I would love to see much more movement on that. And I, I kind of expected more of that is going to happen in the future, although governments move very, very slowly. And it's essentially what we've seen, right? Like, if you think about, like, the kind of things that we're looking at the remote for in terms of compliance, like how do you hire someone, not much has really changed, it's mostly the same over the past year.

Andrew  

Well, you know, we've, we've come to the point where this is a question we ask everyone that comes on the show, and we love to hear your your response to this. There's so many types of people that listen and from your background, from your experiences around the world. What is the one overlooked person place experience book, quite broad that you say that people should know about?

Job  

So I, I don't think it necessarily overlooked or unknown, but I would still strongly recommend it because it's still has the same properties, even though it is gained significantly in popularity, which is Portugal, the country. I've lived there for the past five years, we've just moved to the Netherlands. There, Portugal still has almost all of the things you could possibly want from like a country to permanently live in or spend long periods of time, it's almost always good weather. The people there are friendly, and then to be able to speak English. And outside of Lisbon, it's incredibly affordable and even Lisbon is is quite affordable. So you have good weather, they have great people, it's affordable, the food is great, the culture is beautiful. They have amazing beaches. And and if you want to work there, there's a reasonable startup ecosystem. There was this big startup conference happens there now every year at the Web Summit. And beyond that the internet is cheap and fast. So I had a fast internet in Portugal, Xavier and Netherlands. It's really great country and it's it's, it really has everything and so, especially if you start to look outside of Lisbon, most people traveled to Lisbon. If you start to look outside of Lisbon, you basically get it all like it's almost too good to be true. So yeah, Portugal, I would say, you know,

Allen  

Excellent answer because I've been to the Algarve a been to the end of the earth, where Henry the Navigator sent the ships off thinking that they might fall off that flat earth and drank a fair amount of port while I was there. So excellent answer on that. So as we tied together, Could you could you share some places where people can catch up with you and learn a little bit more about remote.com As I think that you're onto something that's really unique and important for folks out there in the remote work environment.

Job  

Yeah, it's I mean, it's the answer is gonna be remote.com. That's, it's really the best place to go. You can find me as well I'm an active tweeter on Twitter. So JOBVO is my Twitter username. But yeah, if you go to remote.com you'll you'll find me and everything about the whole company.

Allen  

Geez, I like that. That's very simple. See, that's, that's, that's, that's customer focus. That's important. That's That's great. So no, thank you for joining us today. Not only a great conversation, but a lot of smiles here is where we're talking about the future. So So Andrew, as we tie things together today, we always come back to what did we learn today? What did you learn today, and then I'll pick up once again, I already learned that he's got good taste in Portugal and other things. So we're halfway home there about yourself.

Andrew  

Oh, motivation to go to Portugal. I'm fluent in Portuguese, just you know, my, my partner, my wife is Brazilian. So it's been on my to do list. I've spent my time and everywhere else in Europe, but not Portugal yet. But now my biggest takeaway from this today is living those values out. You know, the, the heart, the integrity that I heard, that was expressed, just lit a fire in me that I believe is contagious to everyone that's listening today. To say yes, let's, let's live out treat those in our sphere of influence with that kind of passion.

Allen  

So Andrew, I just want to tell you in this time of COVID the word contagious is something that we try to leave out of most conversations, but we know your heart is in the right place. Really, really great conversation today. I recommend to folks to look into remote.com. Just want to remind everyone The New Nomad is not just a podcast, it's a community of people, ideas and spirit taking advantage of that location independent lifestyle. We hope your travels are safe, and please stay in touch. It's been a great conversation today. Stay well and we look forward to the next podcast and talking to you soon. Thank you.

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Remote.com: Work and Culture with Greater Freedom with Job Van der Voort | TNN32

About the Guest

Job van der Voort

Job is the CEO and co-founder of Remote. Job previously worked as a neuroscientist before leaving academia to become the VP of Product at GitLab, the world’s largest all-remote company, where he hired talent in 67 different countries. Job is a sought-after presenter, speaking on topics related to scaling a remote-first startup, remote culture, and the future of work. Job has two kids and five hundred hobbies.