Ryan chats with Zoltan Vass, co-founder of Tech London Advocates, about the big picture of work 2.0.
About Zoltan Vass
Zoltan Vass is a remote delivery and innovation consultant with over 20 years experience in sourcing and growing remote teams. His background in project delivery brings a unique perspective to the logistics of effective management in a remote setting.
Zoltan is a co-founder and active member of Tech London Advocates (TLA), a unique collection of tech leaders, experts and investors who form a combined strength of opinion in tech. Zoltan believes strongly in the potential globally-distributed teams offer to both economic growth and diversity.
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Ryan Purvis 0:00
Hello, and welcome to the digital workspace works podcast. I'm Ryan Purvis, your host supported by producer Heather Bicknell. In this series, you'll hear stories and opinions from experts in the field story from the frontlines, the problems they face and how they solve them. The years they're focused on from technology, people and processes to the approaches they took, they will help you to get to grips with the digital workspace inner workings
welcomes Alton onto the digital workspace works podcast, you want to give me an introduction to who you are.
Zoltan Vass 0:36
Thank you so much for inviting me. So my name is Zoltan. I'm the co founder and co chair of tech London advocates remote working and global together this future of work group. And besides, I'm the founder of future of work.uk. And I'm in the process of launching our new website. And I have a vast experience in remote working tech and digital. I built satellite offices manage large remote to larger software development teams in the past. So all this work 2.0 hybrid working flexible, remote remote working, it's really my sweet spot. So I've been there and done that.
Ryan Purvis 1:11
Yeah, you got an intense passion for it. Judging from what I've seen so far, you want to talk a bit about future of work your your new website, you're going to be launching.
Zoltan Vass 1:20
Yes, thank you so much for your kind words. And so what what I realized is that there are quite so our workplace and workspaces changing and how we work is just generally changing. So all future of work is I what I see is that basically we are redefining how we work and live. And the issues that I'm seeing that many companies don't know where to start, and what's happening, what's going on how everything will look like from the operational perspective, how you can promote employees, how you may make sure that the culture is the right one, how you manage lead real lirio remotely in digital space, when actually you need to get together do actually need to get together if you have an international international team, how you communicate with them. So there is the topic is enormous and huge. And what I did actually is that I managed to capture the big picture. And I broke everything into six sections categories, basically. So I'm seeing that we need to talk about people, leadership, workspace, body and mind learning Deccan digital, and basically based on these six categories, I'm able to help companies to pinpoint their issues, challenges, and come up with the solutions as well.
Ryan Purvis 2:39
Okay, and I mean, you mentioned those six, you want to go through each one in a bit more depth.
Zoltan Vass 2:45
Yes, I could. Yeah, that's absolutely fine. So when it comes to people, so we are all talking about diversity, equality, inclusion. So for example, how we make sure that our company is inclusive, so for example, how we how we can ensure that, for example, disabled people can join our company, because they, it can happen that actually they can't leave their house for various reasons. But they can it can be that they are really technical and digitally skilled, or they have good customer service skills, so they could work remotely. So are we make sure that we can tap into these talents, and how we can build the right culture and engagement in a digital space. So again, understanding the different levels and layers of communication, and how we onboard the junior you know, team member, how you how you make sure that they feel welcomed, and they're embedded in the whole company. So how do you attract global talents, how you promote people, and how you ensure that the productivity stays on a high level without burning out your employees. Then the second section is the leadership. Again, I'm talking a lot about digital leadership and management because leading and managing in a digital space is completely different than in the office environment. So people need to learn how to how to do that. So that's why I'm always saying that thinking is not enough. If you want to work remotely, you need to do both think and do because that's the only way how people will able to see actually what you are doing and are you approachable, you know, the menu or if if you're a senior leader, and you need to communicate changes well that's also important make sure that you know if you are changing anything in the company that all your employees, the junior employees will understand why things are you know, are being done on a way that you are, you know changing and how you build collaboration and networks within the organization internally act and actually externally as well. The third category is the workspace. So, again, my view is that we need to build 100% remote companies and Bute hybrid and anything else on top. So this will enable us to create 100% flexible environment and basically employees can work from anywhere which means that If they want to go to the office, they can go to the office, if they want to go to their local hub, they can go to their local hub, if they opt to work from home, they can offer up to work from home, if they want to work from a different country, they can do that as well. So that's why it's important that actually we understand and, and work, you know, work out, you know, the workspace as well. And when we are talking about national and international hubs, compliance and legal, so when it comes to global talents, it will be again, important to understand that if you are, for example, in a UK payroll, and you live in another country, you are paying basically tax here in the UK, and I see that government started to picking to pick this up. So it's important that makes sure that this compliance and legal the legal side of things, it's, it's, it's the right one as well. Then the fourth one is the body and mind. So I'm really into embodiment, mental health and resilience, physical health, physical fitness, sleep, how we make ensure that we have a life and work life balance, and why we still work, it's really important that we still have fun. And we know how to detach on a daily basis from our devices from the digital, and from the digital space and from just stepping back from the technology. Because, you know, the tech and digital is basically taking over over our lives. So it's really important that we know how to step back how to look after each ourselves physically and mentally as well, because it's important. And I'm doing a lot of work on myself on a weekly basis for three years, three years almost, again, you know, for example, sleep is really important to make sure that you have a really good night's sleep. And there is a lot of things that can affect our sleep, because, again, let's not forget that we are still in the middle of the pandemic. So there is a lot of things happening personally and at our workplace as well. So that's why it's really important that we put our health to our priority list. So basically, our health should be our top priority, regardless, you know, what we are doing and where we are. And the fifth section is the learning. So digital learning upskilling, rescaling mentoring, coaching the personal development, it's again, it's really important because, again, as I touched on the leadership, that people need to learn how to operate in a digital space and lead and manage in a digital space. It's also important that, for example, we all know that the hospitality industry, the tourism has been affected big time by the pandemic. And for example, I know that I know quite a few people who work in hospitality, they have excellent customer service skills, and a bit of upskilling rescaling, they could become a project manager or an account manager and just join a deck or a digital company. So it's really important that we tap into these industries and talents as well. And we have these discussions, because there is a lot of courses out there. But again, companies needs to pick this up. And you know, make sure that actually we are talking about these things. So when it comes to these six categories, the technology and the digital, so this underpins everything, even just you know, now our call, you know, we it's important, because we wouldn't have been able to have this call without the help of technology and digital. So I see that the augmented reality, virtual reality holograms IoT AI, they will take the digital collaboration or the CMOS working to a completely new dimension. So there is a ton of digital tools and platforms, software sauce, and automations. Again, it's really important that you understand how all these tools and software's can help our work, and make sure that we are more productive and efficient. Because again, there is so much there's so many things out there that it can be overwhelming. So it's important that we drill down and understand how these, our technology and digital could help us. And also, I'm really into green tech as well. So because we are working, you know a lot in the digital space technology and digital again, there's just more and more products are coming out. And, you know, coming out and helping our life we are in the same time we are generating a lot of data. So it's really important that for example, if the data is where where the data is stored is the data stored on a server, which is server farms are being powered up by greentec. So again, this is really important because of the climate change and we need to discuss this as well. And again, the the the other fundamental thing is cybersecurity. So, again, you know, this is really important, like how you share what you share. If you are using a work work laptop, you know what, what's the purpose of that laptop, are you using for personal you know, personal for personal stuff as well or are you just working on it so, and how would you connect you know, to certain you know, servers so again, this the cybersecurity is something that is It will be a it's it is already a big topic, and we just have to discuss the security aspect of things.
Ryan Purvis 10:07
So there's quite a lot there. And in some senses, as you were talking, I was thinking you've pretty much summed up, you know, everything we touched on in the podcast. To the extent we taught, you know, I've never really classify them by these six things, per se. But if I think about it, I got an episode for every single one of these, or at the very least, which is great that we're talking.
Zoltan Vass 10:31
Yes, exactly. I mean, this this, you know, it took me quite a long time to put my head around all these things. And I had a ton of conversation and discussions. And really, the problem is that companies don't know where to start, because the topic is enormous is huge. But what I see is that it's important that people understand, okay, this is the big picture. And now what's next. So the next we'll be, it's the discovery assessment to understand the issues and challenges, goals, and you know, what the deliverables like outcomes, and this is really important that the companies will understand that this is basically transformation is a change. And, you know, it's but the, it's really important that they see the big picture, because without that, it will be just, if you're just talking about, I will give you an example, just about technology, and we are talking about, let's say companies having productivity issues, and they think that if they install the tool, then they view their productivity will be over the roof, it won't happen. Because it's a lot more than that, just then just you know, installing, you know, any kind of tool from the from from the market now. And this is this is what this is what companies needs to need to understand, because productivity can come down to lots of other things, for example, leadership, how your, you know, manager is managing the team, are they, you know, creating the right environment, maybe the employees environment, where they work, whether they work from home, or from the office, or maybe they have some personal issues. So this is why it's really important that the leadership is actually upskilling themselves as well, because they need to, you know, look beyond things and, and then this is just crucial, to be honest.
Ryan Purvis 12:16
Yeah, a couple things you said there, which, which resonated with me. So building remote first, or designing for remote first, I think that's a key key step. I think a lot of companies that when pandemic started, and people were forced to work from home, had never thought about remote working, or distributed working, or empowering their staff with the right tools and, and technologies. And then in the same token, a lot of these things have been driven by technology first, as opposed to people first. And I was glad that you start with people first, and you're sort of the clock of options, because it is the person first and what they do and how they do it. That's, that's the sort of system the direction of travel to what you need to focus on to deliver.
Zoltan Vass 13:01
Exactly. I mean, to be honest, you know, people, people sit in heart of all the businesses, right? I mean, people are driving businesses forward, and the technologies is just helps to deliver all this. And that's why we need to look after, you know, people after ourselves. And, you know, because this, for me, this is the bottom line. And that's why again, when I'm when I'm when I'm talking about remote first, it's really all about building the operational resilience, which means that if you know how to operate 100% remotely, if another pandemic happens, or another lockdown, or who knows what, then your company's in a position that they can work from anywhere, right? But you are still in a position to offer office space or hubs for your employees if they would like to. So it's really about creating that freedom and building basically, the the business, basically, we are building our work around our life and not vice versa.
Ryan Purvis 13:58
Yeah, it's funny, you say, that exact phrase, well, I was gonna challenge you on business work life balance, because because work is part of life. So you never balanced them. work should be part of your life. And you shouldn't be you know, when I when I moved to the UK, I was blown away, fascinated, shocked at what people worked in the sense of, you know, long commutes, you know, putting in long hours in the office in the city, and then coming home and basically rinse and repeat all the time coming from South Africa where, you know, I was getting up early working, going to play out, you know, nine holes of golf than going to see some customers, you know, that sort of more flexible way of working. You know, I think people have done that. Now with the pandemic. They've gone for walks more often because I think walking is the most most common activity people do. They've worked like they take a break, they spend time with their families, they'll go for a walk they get it though the health has become a bigger factor. And I think overall productivity has improved not because people are working longer hours which in some cases they are, but because they have it more balanced. It all round going back to your sort of clock of six things, it's not all in one side, which is just work, work, work, work work.
Zoltan Vass 15:07
Yes, exactly. And the other thing that actually people forget that if you know how, if you have the discipline, that you can work from home and you own everything, so you have the ownership that whatever you need to do, you will deliver it, it's really all about, you know, deep focus. So you're always, you know, when you work remotely, you don't have colleagues who will interrupt you and distract you and stuff like that. And you don't have the office politics either, right? If you work from home, so when you work from home, you are in deep focused mode. So that's why if you know how to work remotely, then you are a lot more productive than anybody usually in the office, cause you're sitting there and you are delivering you're doing. And that's your main focus. And this is, again, something that I see that phone and more people are coming coming, picking up and realizing actually that I'm going to do the focus mode. And that's why I'm a lot more productive, because I don't need three hours to deliver something. Because you know, if I work from home, I'm not distracted, I sit at my desk, I just focus and just do it.
Ryan Purvis 16:12
And I still I still think it's an argument for being in an office or a social area once in a while. And whether it's two days a week, or three days a week or whatever, or you know, once every two weeks, whatever it is, I still think there's value in FaceTime, and having those those you know, lunches and drinks and whatever it is, which builds up a relationship. So you can go do the deep work.
Zoltan Vass 16:33
Yes, I mean, definitely. So again, you know, I'm not against, you know, people coming together, I think it's just for me, it's really all about, you know, giving the freedom for people to decide. And again, it can be occasions that, okay, you know, we need to get together face to face, let's organize a meeting or something, because we need to because again, when I was head of delivery, when I worked remotely, I had, I still had to go to the, to the London office, and I had face to face meetings, like, once in every two months. So, you know, for me, it was it didn't really make sense for me to push myself to travel and all, you know, everyday, because I was exhausted by the time I got to the office. And you know, it's that affected me to be honest. And so again, that that's why I'm saying, you know, I'm not saying that people shouldn't get together, I would just give them the option. And of course, you know, we are all adults. So if you need to get together and whether whether in an office or in a heart, because we need to discuss something or it's important that we get together, then, you know, we get to get there. And that's it. So it's really all about, you know, being grown up and understand by again, making sure that we are not pushing people to go back to the office just for the sake of it. So it's, it's just really giving the freedom to people, you know, what they would like to do with their life?
Ryan Purvis 17:51
Yeah, yeah, you're right. I mean, it's a it's been adult is trusting your people, you know, being very clear on what what's expected from them. So a results orientated approach, as opposed to a time time and seats approach, which is actually pretty, which is pretty common. And I've seen a couple roles come up recently, where we're most of them are saying remote, but one or two of them are still saying it'll be in the office. And I'm, and I've said to the recruiter that I could honestly say, I don't know, who would actually take the job. Because if if you if you've gotten used to being home with your family, being able to do stuff, being able to work still, you'd wouldn't want to give that up to be in the office five days a week,
Zoltan Vass 18:31
correct? Yes, yeah. And I believe that this will, you know, we'll see, this will also affect how companies will able to attract and keep their talents. Because I just recently read a few articles that actually, there are some surveys and data that talents will just flood to the companies who can give them more flexibility and freedom. And I believe that we will see some interesting trends. How you know, bigger companies will start losing their talents if they won't change their approach.
Ryan Purvis 19:07
Yeah, no, you're right. And that's exactly what I mean, I have seen anecdotally people on groups saying that if this company forces me in the office five days a week, I'm looking for a new job. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. That. Yeah. And it's because of that balance. And, and, you know, when I moved to the UK, as I said, it was it was a shock to me that this this mentality of five days a week in the office, and losing 515 hours a week of productive time. Plus you said you know, the fatigue, you get tired, you know, by Friday afternoon, you can party function. Just checking email.
Zoltan Vass 19:40
You could do Yeah, exactly. And the other thing is that, you know, it's not just the time, it's your energy as well. Yeah, it drains you. And you know, that's why you know, if you're not traveling, that you can, you know, invest your time and you know, do some exercise be with your kids, or just sleep or I don't know, do something and then Can you have the freedom to go to the office if you want? or stay at home or go to your local hub? And you know, it's really all about, you know, people feel fulfilled? Yeah.
Ryan Purvis 20:11
Yeah. Because, I mean, the one argument I have heard categorically is that, that in order to get promoted, or to to be recognized for your work that you're doing, you need to be visible, you need to be in the office, how do you sort of counterman that? Well, this
Zoltan Vass 20:28
is I love this, because more and more people are, you know, talking about this, that you can't be promoted, if you work remotely and stuff like that, which is, I totally disagree. Because I had my own department. And so the thing is, if you go go down again, to the thinking and doing so you need to make sure that if you are a leader, manager, you stay close to your team, so you're approachable, because by that, you'll be able to see how your team communicates with you what they are doing, what are the outcomes, how they are delivering, and, you know, these are really the nitty gritties, that, you know, that matter. And based on that, you know, I'm able to, you know, to promote people and not to promote people. So for me, it really doesn't matter, you know, like, if you're sitting in seeing, seeing each other in, in in the office, because for me, what matters are the results and the outcome, you know, so it's, I'm really No, no, like, it's like, I don't, it doesn't matter, you know, are we you know, spending time to get Of course, in like, again, thoughts and go, don't get me wrong, when it comes to promotion. It's, I don't, I don't see the connection between physical presence and promotion. I mean, I I can't connect why why I mean, like, I don't know why the two is connected, to be honest.
Ryan Purvis 21:48
Look, I could see an argument for you know, if you're seeing people everyday, you build a level of trust, that you won't get talking to each other on a screen. Every day. And, and doing things you know, because you're in the same building, for example, you might go to gym together, you might play squash together, you might go for walks together, whatever, whatever the activities are, and you could add friends, and then all that kind of stuff, I could see that kind of stuff. Now that feed into promotion, well, you know, potentially, you're visible to people that are making those decisions about promotion.
Zoltan Vass 22:20
But then it means that you, you are not focusing on the outcomes, you are more focused on something else. And basically, my approach is, I'm focusing on outcomes, of course, and I'm still building relationships. But I wouldn't, you know, promote somebody, just because you know, we are going out and going to the gym and you know, having fun and having pints and you know,
Ryan Purvis 22:42
so so what I what I'm saying is more the the perception of you being in the office. So if you're if the people making the decisions are seeing you in the office, because they're in the office, there's a frame of reference for them that you're always that you're that you're visible in your new around, as opposed to exactly what you're saying and outcomes based scenario. Because if you're, you know, the people that that and I've worked in multinationals as well. And because you don't see the people working, sometimes you got to check to make sure they are working on stuff. And it's harder to sometimes quantify what they're doing, if it's something that's like engineering, where you, you know, in software engineering, you're building so many things every week. You know, you don't necessarily have a totally quantifiable figure, you just know that they either good at what they do, or they're not good at what they do. And that's sort of a, I think the structures have to be there to help you to make those decisions. That's kind of where I'm getting to.
Zoltan Vass 23:36
Yeah, no, you know, and it's when it comes to software development teams. And for me, it was always, you know, we had deadlines. And, you know, I never monitored my team members, you know, when they were I know that, you know, many of them, they had families, and sometimes they just reached out to me, Zoltan, I need to, you know, take my daughter to the to the doctor, or I need to take two hours in the afternoon. And they said, that's fine, you know, just you know, then they were always telling me, you know, like, if you give back the hours and stuff, I said, I really I'm really not concerned about the hours. So we just have the deadline. So you know, you can take you just manage basically your your yourself. And and then that security, you know that we have a deadline. So we are working towards that. And people understood that. And I never monitored them and never asked them, where are you? Or what do you do and stuff? I never
Ryan Purvis 24:28
know. And we're very similar that we currently implemented a thing called okrs. I don't know if you've heard of that, which is objectives and key key results. So delivered UX interface. The key results are, you know, design workshops and implementation let's say you ever used something like that as well or do you have a different methodology?
Zoltan Vass 24:52
A different I heard by didn't use that. So basically what we had, we had my stones and so we were we were basically on In an agile way, and we had, we had hard deadlines, and then we had milestones as well. So when we were delivering a project, which was six or 12 months, then we were regularly on a weekly basis, following off where we are. So basically, we were measuring where we are with the development. And we compared, you know, everything the the progress with the timelines as well, and whether there is any discrepancy. And so basically, you know, like, it came down to the communication. So the communication was crucial that we were discussing on a weekly basis, what's happening on what's what's the progress, whether, you know, like the deaf stuck with something that can eventually affect, you know, the timeline, which means that that could that could cause delays, if, for example, there is an integration issue. And we could not solve this for two weeks. And we see that, you know, it's really problematic. So we were able to react. So that's why when the communication was really crucial. And so we had just an open discussion, you know, like regularly on a weekly basis, and we will be able to, you know, conclude Are we on track or not?
Ryan Purvis 26:06
Yeah, it sounds like, you know, a lot of you said, the communication is quite important. So how do you running a remote team or working remotely, how do you make sure you communicate communicating enough, but not maybe too much, or too little? Whatever you put in place,
Zoltan Vass 26:22
it's a, it's a good point that when you are saying too much communication, or too less, it's a good point. So for me, when it comes to communicating remotely, it's really important that we understand that there is asynchronous and synchronous communication. And when we are using asynchronous asynchronous communication, and why it's actually crucial that we use both. And on top of this, it's really important for us to understand that in asynchronous communication, we have three levels of communication. On the top level, I'm always using emails on a middle level, I'm using a project management tool, where you are tracking basically everything you do. And on the lower level, I'm using, for example, slack for more informal communication and direct communication. And it can be really powerful, because that's where you can build engagement connect with people. And actually, that's where I'm really, I don't believe that, you know, we need to work on flat hierarchies in companies, because, and that's where, you know, for example, tool like slack can build relationships within seniors and junior employees, because you have the tool there, and the junior employee knows that I can directly message the chief exec. And it gives them the, the, the the freedom that actually I have, the my chief exec is approachable, right? And that that's why we need to make sure that these communication channels are working as expected. And you know, when it's hard, I mean, like, we need to put work on all this. But this is why it's important that we discuss all these asynchronous synchronous communication, and how you use these tools, and how you make sure that the team is using as well and they know how to use it. How would you classify a synchronous? So synchronous is basically the video calls. Okay, calls? Yeah, yes, basically, video calls? Yeah. Okay, and it can happen that sometimes, you know, I started trialing sometimes I just, you know, pick up the phone and call people as well. So that that could work as well. So again, it really depends, I understand that sometimes people are busy, and they don't want to pick up the phone. But, again, when it comes to actually, to synchronous communication, the crucial thing is that you have, you always need to have an agenda, and prepare, do your homework and prepare, prepare for that call. Because just to turn off for a half an hour on our zoom meeting, without an agenda. And it's just, it's just pointless. It's just waste of time.
Ryan Purvis 28:50
Yeah, no, you're right. And with the extra time we're getting, we should be doing that sort of stuff, which which we usually wouldn't have done because we're always rushing between officers or, you know, getting in front of the traffic or whatever, into the office or leaving to get out to see the kids or something. Yes, exactly. Yeah. And I could see how, you know, face to face meetings would also be part of your synchronous. And then having those sort of dedicated days, maybe where you go into office, and everyone's there for the meetings. So it's a lot more planning in August and an orchestration to get people at the right the right place, right time doing the right things.
Zoltan Vass 29:27
Yeah, exactly. And the other thing is that, you know, having these regular communications in a virtual environment, it's, it's crucial. So I'm always talking about building and creating self operating teams. So it doesn't matter whether we are talking about 510 50 or 100. People, there needs to be someone who is leading that squad, and driving that squad. And it's, it's, that's how I see that you know, all this, this is this is the only way how things could work. So basically, people are taking the ownership and they have the discipline. To deliver and but there is one lead one leader who leads that squat basically. And then you are nicely allowing, you know, old squad leads to get together and communicate and share. And this how you can make sure that actually the information gets to the junior people as well. And they can approach Do you know, like their squad leader and the chief exec as well. So it's really creating that harmony and that flat hierarchy, where it's important that people are taking the ownership and they have the discipline to do what needs to be done.
Ryan Purvis 30:32
Yeah, yeah. And I think, you know, as you said, everyone's You know, when you deal with adults, these sorts of things should be inherently part of the the makeup, you know, self managing the right attitude towards work in the sense of getting things done. Collaborating, talking to other people, what are your what's wrong with this picture? In a sense, this is all sort of good, all the good things, what, what, what makes it not work?
Zoltan Vass 31:01
I do believe there is one really big problem actually, is the Trust's and many people are talking about, you know, I don't trust, they don't trust their employees recline, and they started, you know, monitoring them and stuff like that, which is totally wrong. Because how I work Usually, I always give trust to people so that that's, that's how I start, you know, I trust you, and then you know, off you go. And then if things starts to slip, then I will start questioning. And then you know, I make sure that, you know, I understand what's happening, because I gave you my trusts, you know, I'm not malingering, I'm not, you know, I'm not there to, you know, like, bully you or micromanage and, you know, put the camera and, you know, watch it sitting in front of your computer and stuff like that. So it's really all about more about, you know, us to open, basically, we need to open up and just see, you know, like, what will happen, and it To be honest, you know, it works very well for me, and I see that, you know, this is this is this is, again, this is a really hot topic, and people should change their approach leaders and managers, they should open up and give trust to their employees first, give trust first, because that's the only way how you can get back trust. Right. So I mean, if my approach is, you know, I'm joining a company, or a newer employer employee joins the company, and you know, I will tell them, you know, I don't trust you, because you just joined or, or I just generally don't don't trust people until you don't prove, I mean, that creates a toxic environment, right? I mean, that that's why I start, then, you know, it's just, it's just wrong. Yeah,
Ryan Purvis 32:38
you're totally right. And how do you build trust Besides, so if employee says, Your employer says, you go do the work? You know, there's got to be some level of comfort for both parties. I mean, what are you recommending to people in those sort of situations.
Zoltan Vass 32:56
So again, it will come down to the communication, so I'm always having regular meetings with my team on a weekly basis. And it's really important that you build a relationship with them, you know, and you need to invest time and energy. And this is the other thing that people think that, you know, we have a tool and then that's it, you know, like we are sorted we don't need to deal with and this is actually how you build relationship trust. And you know, that culture within the company as well. Basically, your you stay close to your people. And they can always ask for help, they can always raise their hands. And but you need to invest your time and energy and make sure that you're constantly communicating with them. So having a weekly meeting, and then they know that they can reach you on Slack, and stuff like that. So it's really important that you are managing expectations from all sides.
Ryan Purvis 33:47
Yeah, yeah. What do you do about the fun side you mentioned fun as part of your one of the things you said, how you instilling fun in the workplace when everyone's remote.
Zoltan Vass 33:57
So for example, I am using this as I used to, I mean, like I'm using slack like a dedicated channel for fun, and where people just can just, you know, like, share something we used to have just for example, a travel channel. And sometimes you know, so when it when it comes to I recently experimented with with a new tool, online tool and that was a really interesting one. And I see that more and more products are coming to the surface, how you can actually enjoy the fun online. And so that's one thing the second thing is that basically no people can just you know, detach themselves and do whatever they want. It's just really make sure that we focus on on fun as well on the on non non non fun. So it makes sure that people don't forget that they can have fun while they work. So it's really important they understand so whether they are doing that video with their team online in slack or in any other tool or they just you know, like step away from their computer and they just have fun with Their flatmate friends or they go out is really just the make sure that they, we they will, that we will stay human. Because we just need to have fun. So it's really the the, the the fun element, it's making sure that we don't forget to have fun. It's really regardless, you know how you do that and how you, you, you, you make sure that you know, it works. I know that, for example, there was one of my friend, they, they had an online zoom meeting, and there was a llama as somebody so there was a company who was organizing basically, team building. So the The aim was that all the so the the company or an owner who had llamas in a farm, dialed in to these zoom meetings to basically to the team meal team building. And they were basically just, you know, looking around the llama and doing some stuff. So they were, you know, like various things that companies try. So at the end of the day, it's really more about, you know, like breaking that work, work pattern is is really important. So that's that basically, that's my point when it comes to fun. Just not to forget to have fun. Three regarding you know, regardless, what do you do, and how do you do it?
Ryan Purvis 36:14
Yeah, I think you're right. I mean, we were talking about it this week, or last week, at least, that there needs to be. We have like a bi weekly team meeting. And we're talking, we're saying we need to do something in there. That's a little bit more team building fun, you know, is it telling jokes? Is it playing games? Is it a? Is it a quiz night, whatever it is, just to break that monotony, as you say? Because it becomes a bit a bit dry otherwise? Yes, exactly. No, I totally agree with that. Yeah. Yeah. I had another question for you, which I've just lost in my head, as I was saying that. Oh, time zones? How do you handle working with multiple time zones, different cultures? Those sorts of things, different languages? Even if English isn't the primary language?
Zoltan Vass 36:59
I think this is again, you know, like, it's a really good question. So, when it comes to time zones, I know that there are few companies who are basically having 24 seven, you know, workforce. Again, you know, it means that, you know, when you are having mostly, you know, like workforce in different sides of the globe, then basically, if you know how to create the operations, then it means that, you know, if, if you're in the UK, or finishing at four or five o'clock, then you know, on the other side of the globe, they can take over what we just, you know, finished, and they can carry on working. So I think this is really important that again, you know, like, we open our open up our mind, and we try to take advantage of the timezone, rather than, you know, approaching it as a disadvantage. When it comes to cultural differences. Again, it's a lot about, you know, our self awareness, and we need to understand that different cultures, they work or behave differently. So I'm coming from Eastern Europe, and I know that sometimes we can come across a bit too direct, and that can that can come across, you know, too aggressive as well. So for example, I had I had a client two years ago, and so I was always involved in most of the communication, if so, most of the time, I was just, you know, looped in, I really, I always wanted to make sure that I understand what's happening. So I always ask all my team members, just please just see see me, you know, just just just for me for for for just to make sure that, you know, I know what's happening on the ground. And I know that one of the project managers sent an email and which was quite direct, and I knew that there will be a problem. And when she sent the email, the client called me up and said that your project manager is rude. And I said, Yeah, I understand. And I saw the email, but you just need to understand that it's a culture. So the email was really direct. And then I explained this to the client. And then he was saying, oh, okay, he did. He was not aware of that. And then he said, this is absolutely fine. So again, you know, like, I apologize. And I had this conversation with the project manager who said, Zoltan, would you like me to send an email? I said, Yes, please. And then when the project manager send email, just to say, Sorry, I didn't because you know, like, I didn't intend to, you know, to offend you or anything, then the client, you know, understood that. And straightaway, we managed to build a really strong relationship with the client with this small thing. So, you know, when, when actually when we are talking about this culture, it's it's really important that people understand that cultures, you know, work different differently. So it's really important that we are aware of this, and we are talking about weird that we are talking about these things. And it's it shouldn't be a taboo to be honest. Yeah, you're right. I mean,
Ryan Purvis 39:47
I South Africans are similar. We also quite, quite blunt, direct. So yes, you know, we get on very well with Eastern Europeans, the Russians, all effects. You know, I've had some good jobs in Russia with over there like, you know, they sort of appreciate it. bluntness. So I don't know how it goes. I mean, you know, in the same token, it took me a long time in the UK to get used to the difference with not as blunt as a lot more polite and sort of circular as I call it around the Bush era. You got to be, you know, thinking they're the same as you when you work with Indian cultures, they always say yes, or they will say no, yes or no, those sorts of things. He's gonna it's battle experience, I guess.
Zoltan Vass 40:25
Yes, exactly. But I think again, you know, it's really important that so whenever I'm working with new cultures, so I open up and digest, you know, share how I work and what I expect. So I always expect that people are transparent, honest and direct. So you know, just they just, you know, say, say, because if they start sugarcoating and going around things and not seeing then that can that will cause you know, more more issues than then you know, then then then good things down the line. And I know that people appreciate that. So that that's how I always work to be honest.
Ryan Purvis 40:59
Yeah, radical candor, as corny as the famous investor who said that, but they work that way. And, you know, it cuts it cuts things down. Because you're not, you honestly aren't loading up what the problem is, you know, either it's good or bad, or whatever it is, and
Zoltan Vass 41:15
exactly, exactly, you need to deal with it, you know, so there will be always issues challenges in the company. So what I'm always saying, you know, I don't like cuddling pink elephants. You know, that's why we just need to talk about issues challenges and see how we can you know, solve those problems and come up with solutions and communicate this. So you know, it's just absolutely crucial.
Ryan Purvis 41:39
Yeah. Spot on. And maybe in closing up the the association that you're involved with the tickets? Yes. How does it go about ticket mobile tickets? Yes. Yes. How does? How does that work? And if someone wanted to get involved, how would they get involved.
Zoltan Vass 41:58
So if they just google tech, one advocates remote working, or global tech advocates future of work, then they can join our working group. Anybody can join our working group. So it's a it's a global Think Tank, and we are looking to share best practices help people and connect people. Basically, we are against trying to make useful introductions, help talents, to find the right, you know, opportunities, companies to find, you know, global talents. We are looking to go global and have various have chapters in various countries across the globe. So it's really rewarding, you know, creating collaboration, connecting people, and sharing, you know, and then because that's what I believe that the drives, you know, our careers, economy and ourselves forward. So it's all about, you know, what we can learn from each other.
Ryan Purvis 42:49
Fantastic, fantastic. And if you want to get a hold of you, what's the best way to get hold of you?
Zoltan Vass 42:54
So the best is, if they can, they can email me at Zoltan at azote and woz.com. Or just Google, my name is Zoltan Voss. And I'm sure that you know, you will be able to find me on LinkedIn, or my website will come up or if you come across any other article, I'm sure that you will be able to find my details there.
Ryan Purvis 43:13
Yeah, we'll put it in the show notes as well so people can get all the super, thanks very much for for coming on the podcast.
Zoltan Vass 43:19
Thank you so much, Ryan, for it was an excellent one. Thank you so much for inviting me.
Ryan Purvis 43:23
pleasure. Thank you for listening today's episode of The Big news app producer, editor. Thank you, Heather. for your hard work on this episode. Please subscribe to the series and rate us on iTunes or the Google Play Store. Follow us on Twitter at the DW w podcast. The show notes and transcripts will be available on our website, www dot digital workspace that works. Please also visit our website www dot digital workspace that works and subscribe to our newsletter. And lastly, if you found this episode useful, please share with your friends or colleagues.
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