New to working remote? Tech CEO Frank Barletta shares his insight

Are you new to working remotely with your team since COVID-19? Well technology leader Frank Barletta, former CEO of UpTop, shares his insight and experience in this discussion.

Here’s what you can find:

00:27 What do you need to work remotely? 01:45 Tips for working remotely.
03:30 Recommended apps for working remotely.
04:42 The right mindset as a team manager.
07:00 How to track your remote team and manage the workflow?
09:19 How to be productive from home?
12:50 Tips for someone that never worked from home before.

DISCLAIMER: Below is an AI generated transcript. There could be a few typos but it should be at least 90% accurate. Watch video or listen to the podcast for the full experience!

Alexander Ferguson 0:00
Frank, I’m excited to chat with you and hear your insight and how do we work remote. This is an interesting time we’re in right now with pandemic, so many people are pushed to say, just stay home work from home and everyone is having to adjust. Some people are used to this, others not so much. What are your thoughts your work has, we were very familiar with needing to work remote. So what was your statement to your own people in the way you you work?

Frank Barletta 0:27
I think if you have an attitude of wanting to get things done, it shouldn’t matter at what time or what location, the beauty of being in a technology company developing software is that all that’s required is an internet connection, and a laptop to do your best work. I think what has to come with that is discipline, because I think that many of us may see working from home has a stigma of not actually getting things done, kind of relaxing, or taking it lightly. But when you have a good team that actually care about what they do, and they understand that it’s a not just a privilege to work from home, but it’s a part of life, we should be able to do this anywhere, people will perform well and will actually do what’s expected of them. So we were actually very good at that.

Alexander Ferguson 1:16
It’s natural, then for tech nology company, a software company that okay, we can work from home from home, and then you start to get into the routine of it, you know what you can do and the technology around. But for others, this is completely new. So for those that have never had this experience yet, what will be some top thoughts or tips that come to your mind of you should keep you know, here’s a thought, what they can do to make this work well for them.

Frank Barletta 1:45
Sure, actually, I thought about this over the last couple days. So like just freshly, you have to be willing and not afraid to actually do it. Realistically, giving your team the ability to come and go as they please and get the job done any time is very, very important. You also have to really think about what type of company are you. If you’re a restaurant, there are some things that you could do from home. But there are many things that you cannot. So it really comes down to what the type of business you are, what’s the service that you’re providing. And then take a step back. And either surround yourself with people who understand technology well enough that can say, Oh, these tools could be helpful for you do achieve XY and Z, or become full enough to do the research yourself and try to try to come with a mindset of this is what I need to achieve. How do I make sure that I keep everyone well connected. There’s a, there’s so many tools, so many companies out there to deliver great technology to do that. I can name you know, 100 products that I’ve used, I can get various jobs done. But I think it really comes down to first being very comfortable with what you what you’re about to embark on. And, and also be willing to do it don’t just say you want to do it actually be willing to do it and listen to people around you and and get as much insight as you can. Because not all of us know the right ways to do it. But collectively, I think you can come up with the best solutions,

Alexander Ferguson 3:11
some of your favorite technology apps that come to your mind. Obviously, one piece is if we’re in an office, we’re talking we’re seeing other people. So helping communication, be consistent and keeping tabs on projects moving forward. What are some top apps or tools that come to your mind that you like?

Frank Barletta 3:30
Yeah, sure. So really, it starts with the fundamentals of what is the form of communication use the most. And if you use email, I think making sure having either office 365 Or Google Google’s email service, as your primary system of communication is the first the first step. Those tools themselves offer real time communication either through direct chat or video chat. Microsoft has Microsoft Teams, which is a it’s a free tool that people can use. It allows voice and video chat and Google has Google Hangouts the same exact thing. And then you can take it a step further, where if you want to have a bit more organized communication and, and tracking, you can use a tool like Slack, which slack is a very popular name, but it’s essentially just a chat tool that lets you communicate voice chat and access documents from different places that you have it as well as emails. Those are some of the basic stuff.

Alexander Ferguson 4:24
managing a team remotely as a leader, former CEO of being able to have team members all over the place. What What are your thoughts on on good etiquette and and good mindset to have to keep the team working well together remotely.

Frank Barletta 4:43
This is a very touchy subject because there are different philosophies all over the place. I mean, some some companies go to the four day for work days per week, maximize everything and give a three day weekend to kind of reset no there are some people who allow those to take longer breaks during the day to come To reset and get back into the Mojo, remote is a different beast, because you’re trusting your team. The first thing is you have to trust your team. If you don’t trust your team, it’s not going to work. The second is setting clear guidelines on what your expectations are and having open communication. I think I’ve said to you in the past communications, the number one most important part of the relationship, especially in business, so when you communicate your team and your expectations that should be set in stone. And then lastly, if you have your schedule, and you have your, your management tools or their various tools you can use in various methods to track workflow and to monitor workflow, not to a micromanagement level, but to a degree where you can give everyone the expectations for the day for the week for the month that they can work on their tasks and get things done, and set leaders within your organization to achieve that as well. And most well oiled machines, teams already have these types of systems in place. But realistically, from doing it in person to doing it online, it’s not much of a difference for you and I we were able to communicate very simply by saying, Hey, you want to have video chat? And you saying yes, and scheduling it and having it in our calendar and going through the motions of connecting and doing that. Realistically, it’s the same thing for business, business meetings and communication, there should be no limitations. And while it’s nice to have someone next to you, where you can just turn around, instead of doing that now you’re just clicking a button and saying, Hey, Deborah, Hey, Mark, let’s let’s chat. We have stuff to talk about.

Alexander Ferguson 6:35
If you’re delegating tasks, and you have a team to execute on things you used to be able to see them working and now you can’t see them working, and the fear and the fear or the thought comes in your mind. I wonder I think getting stuff done? Are they just like chillin at home watching Netflix and in popcorn with their kids? What what do what do you say to that type of mindset? And it may just be a thought that’s in the leaders head. How do you how do you respond to that?

Frank Barletta 7:00
If you’re thinking that, then you don’t have the right team. That’s the first thing that comes to mind, you should know that your team is going to get the job done. I will say that it’s it’s human to have second guess, opportunities float around. Realistically, if you have a good tracking tool, there are many tools like Jira, Asana, Trello, that businesses use, I think another up and coming on Monday, comm checking out those tools and managing a workflow gives clear guidelines and clear expectations from team members and the ability for them to track their workflow. If you’re a software development company, it’s a totally different beast, you know you’re doing so there’s nothing that I can say that’s better than what they’re doing. And if they’re not happy to have been talked about that, but realistically, you’re plugging in what your expectations are visually. And you’re allowing your team to accept their tasks, update their tasks, and move them through the pipeline. So you can see the workflow and the status of everything. But again, the really important part here is if you think for a second that your team, realistically, if you think that your team is farting around, something’s wrong, either you don’t have the right team or you’re not, you’re not in the right headspace. The tools are there to make sure that everyone understands what they’re supposed to do. But it’s not really there to, to micromanage. I think that’s a poor philosophy to attract people and monitor that workflow. It would worry me, it would worry me a lot. If I had to feel that

Alexander Ferguson 8:32
way. You make an excellent point that there’s a plenty, a plethora of remote collaboration tools that exist. And if anything, this pandemic will increase the usage of those and the opportunities of those and the adoption of them. Because it allows people to be tracking their progress and as a leader to see where people are for if they’re achieving the objectives. That doesn’t matter how they get it done, or when they get it done. As long as they’re they’re doing it. And I think that’s all really matter.

Frank Barletta 9:06
Yeah, done. Everyone has expectations in a timely manner. I think that goes without saying everyone knows what they’re supposed to be doing. Everyone knows why you’re part of the team. Gone

Alexander Ferguson 9:18
are then on the opposite side as as one who is working from home, and you do have if you’ve never done it before, there are distractions. Family, the chores, the nice comfy couch, whatever it may be. How do you have? How do you have the right mindset when you’re working from home to be productive?

Frank Barletta 9:43
Having a 14 month old child I’ll tell you that it is impossible to work at home with your child there. It’s not possible and I’m not going to pretend it is. If you’re if you’re a parent and you care about your child, the minute your child walks over with a book and wants to read They want to talk to you, you are going to pay attention to them, it’s going to disrupt your workflow. The best advice that I can give is find a safe place that you can go and not be disrupted. If it’s in your bedroom with the door shut, get some noise cancelling headphones that you can get into the right workspace. But also make sure that your family understands that there’s separation that you need to be able to be productive. In New York City, there’s no public places that we can typically use. And by public I mean, restaurants, bars, office spaces are typically closed right now during this time period. And if you’re privy to have a building space, a common areas where you’re able to work or if you have internet connectivity outside working on a bench in a park, somewhere where you can isolate yourself is, is probably a great opportunity. I’ve heard seen some of my friends work in the bathtub, if they have to the door shut and air air air pod pros, just so they can get some some calls or some some emails out the door, but you do what you have to do. But importantly, to do your best work, you do need that isolation.

Alexander Ferguson 11:05
As long as you have to do a video call from from the bathtub, then then then you should be good.

Frank Barletta 11:11
Make sure you have a good back backsplash or backdrop. I mean, that could be your bathtub, I would never know.

Alexander Ferguson 11:19
I love it. And actually you bring up a good point of going outside even though we can’t go to public places I heard that, you know, you can still go to if there’s parks and places where as long as you’re not near another person. Now New York City may be a little bit different. But for other areas, you can take a drive and enjoy nature, if it’s a nice day. And work.

Frank Barletta 11:36
Yeah, take take a driver in that matter, you can work in the backseat of your car, a conference important right. And I think making sure that you have good area to do your best work is very important. And whether that’s somewhere that has access to coffee and water and restrooms and some comfort, I think that it’s important, depending on the job role you have, everyone’s different. So there are some people that may have requirements that are totally different from mine, mine, my minimal requirement is I need somewhere I can extend my arms and extend my legs, that’s the very I don’t need coffee, water, just let me extend my arms and legs and give me some quiet, I’ll get everything done. Um, there’s some people that need need a bit more. But regardless of what it is, try and achieve it as best as you can. And make sure that you understand that you’re part of a team people are depending on you, no matter where you are. And distractions are exactly what they are, and try to minimize them as best as you can.

Alexander Ferguson 12:31
Awesome. Any last thoughts that that come to your mind that you’d want to share with other folks who are now making this transition, they’re not familiar with working remote, and now they’re finding themselves forced into it either as a leader or as the person who is doing the work and having to work from home that you can or want to share?

Frank Barletta 12:50
I think this is a good exercise on how our lives are going to change. While right now is not a great time in human history, I will say that is very possible in the next few years. While everyone should have great health, and that’s what we’re all expecting. With more automation and easier access to transportation and the ability to work more remote, this is going to become more commonplace. So I’m not going to say Get with the times I’m going to say think about the future and think about how businesses will be this is an exercise for that that event and what the expectation of the next generation of work. workforce is going to desire. It’s not living in big cities, it’s having space, having that outdoors that they want being wherever they want to be able to work. This should prepare you and don’t be afraid of it. I think it’s a good opportunity for us all to to disconnect from that office life that nine to five in an office and kind of give us all a better quality of life. I think a lot of people will will appreciate that. I know I will. And I have and I know that the people around you have as well.

Alexander Ferguson 14:02
So get used to it. It’s staying

Frank Barletta 14:08
as best as you can, yes, get used to it. We all know that this is definitely changing perspectives. And so many fun, I think minus the pandemic that’s going on right now. I think that you’ll notice more and more businesses being comfortable with remote work. Businesses being comfortable with the flexibility that people need and wants and a much happier workforce. And then you’re gonna see your kids it’s going to be commonplace for them that they’re going to be able to what’s an office

Alexander Ferguson 14:43
I can imagine the future what’s what’s enough as well thank you for joining and sharing your insight. Appreciate it.

Frank Barletta 14:50
You’ve really welcome thank you for having me as always and looking forward to chatting again.


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