Remote Work At Trade Conductor

100%

Remote

3+

Team Members

Copenhagen

Headquarters

* As of January 2017

Trade Conductor Team

Trade Conductor Team

Trade Conductor Remote Company Q&A

Soulaima Gourani, CEO - Interview with Remote.co

What does your remote-friendly company do?

Tradeconductor works towards world peace through trade.

Did you switch to remote or start out that way?

I have had offices for many years. But because I traveled more and more, it became clear that an office with no CEO is not good. So we went all remote. I see my team members 2-3 times a year. We use Skype, FaceTime, and mail. It is perfect and much more efficient.

How important is remote work to your business model?

It is critically important. We need to cover worldwide and all time zones. We need to give people flexibility in order to claim their flexibility!

What do you consider the biggest benefits of a remote workforce?

Personal freedom, time optimization, global reach, lower costs (no offices), and fewer meetings (I really dislike meetings). And I like that we are constantly connected.

What were the main reasons to integrate remote work into your workforce?

Because I want MY freedom. It is MY preferred work style. That impacts the way I design and lead my org.

I want to be able to work from where I want. I like/need to travel and do not want to sit in an office.

As an example, I have had the same PA for three years. She used to be in Copenhagen. This last year she has been traveling in Asia. I have no idea where she is. I really don’t. I have to go on Facebook or Instagram to see her pictures—to know where she is! She responds to my emails and that is good enough for me.

I do not need to see people to know that they work.

Do you have remote communication protocols for your remote workers?

Everyone responds very fast. But again it depends on your time zone. For three months one of my employees was in HK while I was in Texas. It was not easy to communicate real time. But we managed it.

How do you measure the productivity of remote workers?

Clear goals and targets. And a time management system.

What elements are key to successful working relationships with remote teams?

The right mindset. You have to stop thinking in “office hours” and forget all about witnessing physical presence. You have to understand that you all now work without walls. Be clear on goals and expectations and make sure you still talk to each other. People need human contact and it’s not easy to create a team spirit if you do not meet at least a few times a year.

What is the hardest part about managing a remote workforce?

I do not find it difficult. But you have to pay more attention to how you communicate. People don’t often see your face and therefore only see the written word. It is my experience that thank-you notes, short sweet messages, and birthday acknowledgments get much more relevant and important when you are all remote.

How do you keep remote employees engaged and feeling part of the bigger picture?

Well, by giving them a lot of responsibility. They need to feel needed and wanted.

What is your time off policy for remote workers?

You write me when you need (weeks of vacation). You do not have to tell me if you are sick, not working on Wednesday, etc. I only need that information if it is for a longer period of time.

How did you implement a remote work policy?

Over the past 7-8 years I have been traveling more and more, and therefore I needed people to be more and more flexible. When I hire people I am upfront with this. It is all about finding the right people. With a little training most people love it.

Can a remote-friendly company have a healthy culture?

Yes, sure. It is all down to how you communicate with each other.

How do you nurture your company’s culture in a remote work environment?

The way I act impacts how people act. It is very simple.

What advice would you give to a team considering to go remote?

You have to go all in. And you really have to be good about telling people what you expect from them. They need to be able to clearly understand what to do and have clear deadlines.

Not all people thrive working like this. I have had some employees who did not like it. They felt very lonely because they never saw me. You need to find the right kind of people. And make sure people do not work all the time. It is my experience that people easily work too much. Again, find the right people who can handle all this freedom.

It is my experience that people are much more productive working from home. But you have to trust your people. If you do not, it will never work out.

What challenges have you encountered building a remote team?

To find the right people who can live with having a remote boss.

What are the most effective tools for remote team communication?

Emails. We work in all time zones. Emails are great. People can open them as they wake up. Telegram Messenger is good for chat groups.

What is your personal remote work environment?

My “office” is my computer and my phone and my flight and my suitcase.

soullaima

What are the biggest benefits of being a remote worker?

That I do not need to sit in a car and drive. As an example I can walk my 10,000 steps a day while walking around Lady Bird Lake in Austin while I am on a conference call.

I get up in the mornings and can have a really nice morning with my kids. I have hired my husband too. So it is a family business.

How do you personally manage work-life balance?

As a mom finding time for family, business, and leisure, it is a huge challenge. I used to travel four days a week—now a little less since I moved to the U.S. For over 7-8 years I have been working in over 30 countries a year. Technology is my best friend. It is creating opportunities for new forms of collaboration, changing not only where we work from, but how we work, and who we work with.

What is your favorite business book?

I listen more than I read (I write books myself so I need a break from reading). I listen to podcasts. Right now I am on this.

Do you have a favorite quote or bit of business wisdom?

“I know how people work best. Give them their freedom.” – Soulaima Gourani

Where is the best or worst place you’ve worked remotely?

On a Greek island a few years ago. No Wi-Fi at all! Impossible. I was running around like a crazy person to find Wi-Fi. It was impossible.