SINGAPORE: It is quite the idyllic setting – you wake up to a stunning sunrise in Bali, but you aren’t on vacation. In fact, you are a gainfully employed person. Except that you don’t need to show up for work in a physical office or meet with colleagues and bosses. You just focus on producing what you are paid to do.
In the latest episode of the Work It podcast, hosts Adrian Tan and Crispina Robert speak to Kailash Madan, APAC head of fintech firm Primer. Madan oversees a team of about 10 and all of them are scattered across the Asia Pacific region. The company itself is completely remote – its nearly 120 employees work in 30 different locations across the globe.
He gives an insight into what it is like to work for and manage an entirely remote team and how different that is compared to being a digital nomad.
Here are some of the highlights of their conversation:
Differences in work location
Kailash Madan: “A digital nomad is a subset of a remote worker who is tied to a particular location. Like I am based in Singapore, so I have a set of visas and I have to abide by employment laws here. But I have the flexibility to work from anywhere – from my house or a co-working space.”
“A digital nomad is not tied to a location – they can spend three months in Bali, three months in Thailand. They take care of their right to live and work in different locations. In terms of employment laws, there are differences.”
We use Employer of Record (EOR) services and that gives us access to a larger talent pool. The last thing you want as a company which has high growth plans is to be restricted by talent. You want to hire the best talent, irrespective of where they are
How to hire someone to work in a completely remote setting?
“You need to hire a certain set of people who are willing to work in such a model … who don’t expect physical interaction in an office. They need to be extremely self-motivated and drive themselves on their own. And that’s what we try and bring into our hiring process.”
“We do have certain rounds in our interview process, which try and see how people react in situations which are very ambiguous … If you’re faced with challenges, how do you bring structure to a very unstructured situation?”
What about visas and contracts?
“There are different types of contracts, and they vary from country to country. If (staff members) want to move to a different country, then they handle the complexity on their end. But we’re increasingly seeing countries opening up on digital nomad visas.”
How to keep track of performance and ensure engagement when no one meets physically?
There are so many tools out there, which make time zones really irrelevant. I can be in Canada and consume the same content as I would do in Singapore with no lack of quality or difference in quality.
“It’s about finding the right balance. We do weekly team meetings where we discuss what the game plan should be for the week. We have Friday hangouts – where we celebrate the wins and losses. Building a sense of community makes them feel connected to the workplace.”
Listen to the full conversation here.
Listen to what its like to be a digital nomad or work 100% remotely