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Remote Work

Making It Work, Remotely: Interview With Iwo Szapar, Remote-how CEO

February 20, 2021
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We recently took part of in the first remote Job Fair organized by Remote-how. We had a chance to learn more about the company and how they enable remote working in general. Remote-how facilitates going remote for companies and individuals through education, community support and consulting. We partnered up to do some great things together, and we are looking forward to it. Meanwhile, we wanted to ask some questions to Iwo Szapar, CEO of the company. Enjoy!

Your tagline is "Make it work, remotely". What do you think is needed for a company to make it work remotely?

There’s no simple answer to it because it depends on the size, industry and current state of company remote-readiness. With that said, there’s no one recipe on how to go remotely. For the beginners, I would just say that you don’t have to dive into a full-fledged remote workforce on day one. Take it slowly, step by step.

What are the biggest challenges when working remotely and how can one overcome them?

While there are many benefits of remote working, for employers and employees, there are some drawbacks that are impacting the workforce. Very often remote workers can feel isolated, which has an impact on their wellbeing and therefore their productivity. That can be overcome by setting up a digital water-coolers or setting up a special fund for employees to socialize and work from coffee shops or co-working spaces. Also, many remote workers report that they have problems with maintaining their work-life-balance when working from home. We’re now more accessible than ever and first-time remote workers always stress to miss out on some company updates (especially when their colleagues are working in different time zones!). Creating a wind-down routine which allows you to finish your work, might be a solution to it. Just like regular workers leave the office at a certain time, you should set such boundaries for yourself too!

What do you think are the key characteristics of a remote worker?

No one is born a remote worker, however, for some people, it might seem more natural than for others. Good remote workers are self-driven and well-organized, they don’t need someone to constantly show them what to do and how to do it because they are able to take the lead. Another characteristic is to be eager to learn and improve constantly. To keep up to date with all the processes, technology and information you have to be open to learning all the time. Lastly, a good remote worker is a skilled communicator able to express his thoughts clearly through different communication channels.

What do you think are the key characteristics of a remote manager?

To all the characteristics mentioned above, I would add the ability to translate the vision, mission, and priorities of the company. That requires a blend of management, communication, and empathy to constantly ensure your employees understand the purpose of their work. Important and often overlooked characteristic among managers is being appreciative. Honest and systematic employee recognition is one of the more important tools at the manager’s disposal.

What would be your advice for people considering switching from office work to remote?

My first advice: don’t go all in if you haven’t tried it before! Remote work, just like everything else needs to be taught and learn. Negotiate one day a week with your current employer, then slowly increase the time working remotely. Learn from external resources about the nature of remote working like for example Remote-how Academy and keep track of your productivity, well-being, how much time you spend on different tasks when you are remote. You will feel when it’s the right time for a full switch and then it’s your choice really whether you want to negotiate a full-time position in your current job or change your employer. If you chose the second option, give me a call.

Iwo is the Remote Work Advocate & CEO at Remote-how. In the last 12 months, he established a fully-distributed company (19 people across 10 countries), raised $400,000 and launched first global education and certification program on remote work - Remote-how Academy. All while living and working remotely from across 11 countries.

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