Tim Koschützki is one of the co-founders of Transloadit, where he wears many hats at the company. These includes working on its API services, bots and scaling algorithms, handling customer billing, and much more. You can find more about him on his twitter or GitHub.
1. Which are the main advantages that you find that remote work has?
Our pool for new talent is practically infinite when we can hire people from all over the world. Not being restricted to hiring people who are within travelling distance of a specified location is a huge benefit. We also don’t require our employees to commute to work, and that saves them a lot of valuable time otherwise wasted in traffic. Another great thing is that work can go on around the clock, which is particularly helpful when it comes to customer support. Having support engineers in different time zones means that we can guarantee quick response times at any time of the day. Lastly, being a remote company means that everyone has a lot of flexibility when it comes to their schedules and private lives. A genuinely happy, healthy and energized team is, after all, one of our most significant assets.
2. Do you think you have disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?
Not seeing each other regularly is somewhat of a downside. The great thing about working in an office is that you can just wander over to your colleagues for a chat or some brainstorming. We are also unable to get together for a few beers after work on a Friday. That is too bad since it would certainly boost team spirit even more, and allow us to connect on a more personal level as well. We try to overcome this by making good use of our various Slack channels, which function as virtual offices. Furthermore, we are pretty strict in our regimen of weekly Skype calls in which we can discuss the progress of the various projects we are working on. Lastly, we try to get everyone together for some face‐to‐face time at least once a year. That means selecting a somewhat central location and flying everyone in for some good old fun, as well as a few days of working together in the same physical location.
3. From which cities or countries have you worked from since you have become remote? Which has been your favourite one?
I have always worked almost exclusively from Berlin. That said, I also regularly meet up with my co-founder, who lives and works in Amsterdam. We both feel that meeting up face to face every few months is extremely important for being able to run our company properly. We usually try to meet somewhere in the middle between Berlin and Amsterdam, to save us both some time and money on travelling, so I have also worked from various towns and cities in Germany and the Netherlands. But, to prove that we aren’t always this sensible, we also actually managed to get some work done during a long weekend surrounded by the splendid decadence that is Dubai!
4. From which type of place do you prefer to work from? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others?
Working from home has always had my preference. It’s where I am at my most productive. Working from home also gives me a lot more freedom in how I can balance my work and private life. I recently became a father, so any time spent at home is even more valuable to me at the moment. And you can probably imagine that an extra pair of helping hands is more appreciated than ever around here!
5. Which places would you like to travel to while working remotely or working from?
None, really. As I said before, I quite prefer working from home. And home – for the foreseeable future at least – will definitely be Berlin. We set up Transloadit as a remote company, precisely because we both loved our cities too much and didn’t want to relocate anywhere else. And seeing as business has been great over the past few years, we see no reason to change a winning formula.
6. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?
Get with the times, grandpa! All kidding aside, as an employer, restricting your hiring to a small geographic region means you are not getting the best people you can. Also, it is extremely beneficial for your employees to be able to manage their days according to their own needs and those of their family. We work in an industry where it usually doesn’t matter when ‐ as in, which specific minute or hour ‐ the work gets done. All that matters is that it gets done. If that is the case, then why should your employees commute to work ‐ only to be there during specific hours? I also recommend reading https://37signals.com/remote for plenty more reasons to consider having your employees work remotely.
7. Which tools do you use to work remotely?
We primarily rely on Slack, Github, Skype and Google+ Hangouts. And, not to forget, buying everyone plane tickets!
8. How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?
Just like any other company really, with bank accounts and tax accountants. And, of course, with the help of the tools mentioned above. What does deserve special mention is that we prefer to hire freelancers who invoice us for their work, as opposed to hiring them as salaried employees. Transloadit is officially based in Berlin, and the reality is that hiring people from other countries as full employees with health care and other benefits can be quite difficult and sometimes even impossible. So, hiring freelancers can help to keep the paperwork to a minimum when you have people from different continents working for you.
9. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies doing the remote switch?
My best advice is from an employer’s point of view. So, to any employers who are thinking about ways to effectively introduce remote working to their workplace, I would say: Make it a habit to do one video call every week. This habit will be your weekly standup meeting in which everyone will be able to get up to speed quickly. Since meetings can be time-consuming, one of these is enough, and they shouldn’t take too long either. Each employee should only get around 2 minutes to present what they have been up to during the last week, and what they plan to take on the coming week. Other than that, use Slack. Use it rigorously and use it appropriately. Make sure that it has enough channels so that people only need to read whatever is interesting to them. Of course, you don’t want to have too many channels either since that, too, can become frustrating and tiring to follow.