A few weeks ago I sat down with Visiple's CEO and Founder (and my boss), Evan J. Andriopoulos, to see what he thought about the future of working remote, how companies can incorporate it more successfully, and what made him interested in it in the first place.
This is what he said.
Can you introduce yourself and give us some of Visiple's history?
My name is Evan J. Andriopoulos and I am the Founder and CEO of Visiple. Visiple was started as a tool to provide easy to use video and audio conferencing services targeted specifically to those whom would benefit most from them... road warriors, coworkers, telecommuters etc... and that wanted to use their own tablet, smartphone, PC/Mac to connect to others without the hassle of everyone downloading, signing up etc...for a service. The basis of Visiple is our Miits platform which allows us to provide the ultimate user experience for those joining our family [and] setting up and joining meetings. We say from sign up to meeting [takes] two minutes or less. As Visiple evolves we have some great new services coming all designed with the user in mind. Easy to use and at the right price.
Everyone at Visiple works remotely - what is your personal experience with distributed teams and why did you want to make Visiple a remote workplace?
I have personally worked more or less remote for more than five years. I can meet my colleagues, customers and partners in the US, and Europe and still be ready for dinner at 5 with my family. I can join meetings from coworking spaces or the neighborhood coffee shop with the click of a button. I save time, money and stress by avoiding traffic and logistical issues of picking up the kids, getting them to hockey practice and more. The technology is and has been available for years [so] why not use it! I decided that there is a great deal of talent found around the globe that can join the Visiple team, why pack your family up and move them so they can be close to me and the rest of the team when we have video conferencing available. Our model is a model built on lifestyle, attracting top talent and eliminating churn. Everyone can benefit from the Visiple way of doing business and we have a track record of success to show it.
How does working remotely impact your ability to collaborate with your team and accomplish goals?
Working remotely and the use of our services positively impacts collaboration [among] our teams. We meet "ad hoc" and have planned meetings. We meet across borders, time zones without leaving our office. I find my teams to be more productive and more focused and dedicated than those I had to manage "on site". I wrote a great article some time ago where I said that the only place that stops you from doing your work is... your office.
What tools make it easier to work remotely and manage a distributed team?
Without a doubt video conferencing... with the ability to meet with one or several people same time. I would [also] say a decent broadband connection and a nice chair to sit in. Sometimes I use my MAC, other times my iPad or iPhone. Each one is super easy to connect to a video meeting.
What do you look for in potential hires that indicates they might be a good fit in a remote workspace?
For one those that have worked remotely or at the least traveled a lot e.g. Road-warriors. They understand the value of working remotely. Those that have vision and can work independently. There are lots of smart people out there. I see no better way of working with them and keeping them. It was once said..."a plant does not grow as well if you uproot it and replant it somewhere else.." and this is true for people as well. Some thrive, most don't as they or their family's' networks are destroyed adding needed stress.
What do you see as the future for remote work - will more companies offer it or is it just a fad?
I see a lot of companies embracing remote work. Statistics show it. According to a Gallup study in 2015 37% of Americans work remotely "sometimes" and the wave of co work spaces like WeWork and Makerspace among others prove this point. As collaboration and innovation happen more and more in the basement, coffee shop and coworking space, the cubicle is becoming less important. There will always be a need for some staff to be onsite and yes, team building is critical, but many meetings and communication can be successfully done via video (face to face). Reading body language in a meeting is a tremendous help to "getting stuff done". Companies are cutting down the size of their "campus footprint" and by offering remote work options they save lots of money too plus retain key employees.