First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Job van der Voort: We are doing well. My wife and I welcomed our second child in August. He was born early and had to stay in the hospital for a while. The safety precautions in place for the pandemic made it difficult to get much time together, but he is home now, and everyone is doing well.
Since then, things have mostly been the same. As we have worked from home for years, it was much easier to adjust to working during the pandemic.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Remote.
Job van der Voort: I began my career as a neuroscientist and held various positions at GitLab before transitioning to VP of Product in 2015. In this role, one of my primary responsibilities was scaling our team, which presented a unique challenge and learning experience since our organization operated without traditional office spaces.
While facilitating the growth of our team, I helped take the company from five to 450 employees across 67 countries, which established GitLab as one of the largest remote companies in the world. We were pioneers of this kind of fully remote work arrangement. When my wife was hospitalized before giving birth to our first child, I saw firsthand how incredibly beneficial a remote-first business can be.
Because of the way we structured our team at GitLab, I was able to prepare for the early arrival of our daughter and devote two full months to supporting my family during this critical period. Being outside of the office during difficult times showed me the unique advantages of remote work. Employees can enjoy the freedom to work whenever and wherever they want while prioritizing what matters most.
I personally believe that everyone should have this freedom. That is what led me to found Remote: an international HR and payroll platform that helps companies hire workers from anywhere in the world.
How does Remote innovate?
Job van der Voort: In a completely digital work environment, there is no longer a need for companies to restrict themselves to recruiting only local candidates when they can find and hire top talent anywhere in the world. With our payroll and compliance platform, we’ve simplified the process for businesses to onboard, manage, and pay workers across the globe by removing intermediaries to onboard and pay distributed teams.
When I was at GitLab, we regularly struggled to hire in different countries. Navigating the bureaucracy of international employment law is a steep challenge. At Remote, we take something complicated, slow, and expensive, and make it quick, easy, and affordable. It’s hard to do, but we are succeeding at that goal both for ourselves and for our customers. Opening access to global talent for everyone—when that luxury had previously been reserved for only the largest companies—is necessary work.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your business, and how are you coping?
Job van der Voort: Remote was well-positioned to meet the needs of companies transitioning to a distributed workforce. We founded the company in early 2019, well before the pandemic began. We have seen incredible growth in the past few months, with our customer base doubling month over month and our team expanding from single digits to around 60 employees by the end of the year. We recently secured our Series A funding round and are excited to continue expanding our services to more countries. As our company is fully remote with team members distributed across several countries and continents, we’ve all benefited from the freedom to work from home, surrounded by loved ones during a time of uncertainty.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Job van der Voort: We have to make hard choices every day. Whenever we open a new job position, we receive hundreds of applicants, and they’re all wonderful people. It’s very hard to say no to candidates who would be a great fit, but you eventually have to choose one person. It doesn’t mean the other candidates are bad, but it makes it difficult to give constructive feedback when your pool of applicants is so impressive. We are fortunate to have so many talented people on our team.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety? How do you project yourself and Remote in the future?
Job van der Voort: It helps to have great colleagues who support each other, and I also benefit from having a really great partner. When I feel stressed, I take a break from work, talk to my partner, or play some games. It puts me most at ease to speak with my wife or my cofounder, Marcelo.
When I feel anxious, it’s usually because I feel something needs to be done. So my anxiety is usually solved by checking that specific task off the list.
In my vision of the future, we are a high-growth company. Our goals are simple: to be everywhere in the world with our full suite of global employment solutions. As we work toward that goal, we will unlock the benefits of remote work and global employment for people and companies who previously did not have the option.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Job van der Voort: There are a few companies in our market that focus on improving the global hiring process. However, we are the only global employment provider with our own legal infrastructure in every country where we operate. As millions of companies worldwide are shifting to remote work and adapting to visa requirements—which are constantly evolving—we anticipate becoming the standard solution for organizations looking to hire and retain the best global talent.
Your final thoughts?
Job van der Voort: We founded Remote to make it easy for anyone in the world to get a great job. Companies deserve access to global talent, and people deserve opportunities to showcase their skills and earn a good living no matter where they call home. Our own company is a testament to that: we have a highly diverse team of people representing a variety of backgrounds from countries around the world. With so much great talent waiting to connect to the right opportunity, we are looking forward to helping companies make those connections.
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