Business

What It’s Like to Work For a Remote-First Company

When Elisa Rossi was a college student in her home country of Italy, she came to the U.S. for a one-year exchange program—and didn’t leave for more than a decade. “During what was supposed to be my last month in the country, Apple posted a job opening for a natural language processing engineer,” she says. “I got the job, and that catapulted me into an exhilarating Silicon Valley career. I went from the cradle of the Renaissance to the cradle of high-tech.”

Over the years, Rossi worked at various tech companies, moving from engineering roles to operations and marketing positions. She also founded her own company, a luxury accessory brand called Milaner. It was while trying to onboard her contractors in Italy and Spain as full-time employees that she discovered Remote, which manages payroll, taxes, benefits, and compliance for remote and international teams.

“Experiencing the same frustrations Remote solves for its customers showed me just how important this work is for companies everywhere,” she says. “I was struggling to navigate incredibly complex and expensive international employment challenges. Remote stepped in and made that simple.”

Today, Rossi is the VP of Growth at Remote—and thanks to the company’s remote-first culture, in 2020 she was finally able to relocate back to Italy to be closer to her family.

Here, she talks about the benefits of working for a remote-first company, Remote’s new initiatives to help nonprofits and refugees, and the key to managing a team across multiple time zones.

What attracted you to work at Remote?

As I was scaling my U.S.-based company, Milaner, I was struggling with how to convert my Italian and Spanish contractors into full-time employees. I was coming to terms with the fact that I would have to establish legal entities in both Italy and Spain and run my own payroll, tax, and compliance to make them employees and ultimately keep them working with us. I spoke to a few employers of record who sent astronomical quotes and didn’t seem to be interested in my business.

The whole thing turned into such a major preoccupation for me that when I came across Remote CEO Job van der Voort on Twitter he immediately had my full attention. He was just starting Remote after leading product at GitLab, the largest 100% remote company in the world. Job helped build the remote-first culture at GitLab and I was drawn to his vision and mission to enable people to work anywhere. Remote is making relocation and global hiring accessible and simple for people everywhere. Within a month of talking to him, I joined Remote to help build an international HR solution for companies of any size. And of course, Milaner is now Remote’s customer.

What are you responsible for in your role?

As VP of Growth, I’m responsible for all aspects of customer acquisition and brand building at Remote. Specifically, I drive the partnerships, commercial strategy, product marketing, performance marketing, PR and communications, community, and international growth teams at Remote.

How has your experience founding Milaner made you better at your job as VP of Growth?

I believe that starting and building a company from the ground up makes you a better business leader. You have to wear so many hats, prioritize aggressively, experience pain, and be scrappy to get things done quickly. Those lessons apply to any business and will make you a better leader, no matter what field or role you’ll work in.

What are the benefits of working at a remote-first company?

There are too many to count, really. You can check off the usual things, like losing your commute and gaining more time for family and side projects, but working remotely isn’t just working from home: It’s working from anywhere.

For an emigrant like me, remote-first companies make it easier to return home. Now, I can work on both Remote and Milaner remotely, thanks to the increased flexibility and the ability to maximize my own time.

What are you working on right now that excites or inspires you?

I’m humbled and honored to be able to help companies expand internationally and to help incredible talent from every corner of the world find top jobs on distributed teams. What’s more, Remote is going above and beyond, truly helping people live the lives they want to by launching programs like Remote for Startups and our recently launched Remote for Social Purpose Organizations. This newest program makes it even more affordable for nonprofits, charities, benefits corporations, and social enterprises to scale their mission and their team around the world. We are proud to work with a number of amazing nonprofits today that are making a positive difference in the world.

The other initiative I’m super excited about is our work with governments to provide job opportunities to refugees. These are highly skilled, highly educated individuals who have endured displacement and lack of income and meaningful job opportunities. We have an exciting new program in the works to help them rebuild their careers and lives.

What are the keys to managing a team with employees who live in multiple time zones?

Managing a team remotely isn’t actually all that different from managing a team in person. It’s all about being deliberate with how you communicate and how you spend your time. It doesn’t matter whether someone spends eight hours online each day. What matters is whether that person has the support to produce great results.

We talk a lot about asynchronous working at Remote. With team members all over the world, we can’t slow ourselves down by attempting to enforce arbitrary working hours. We trust our team members to do their work well, and they consistently show us why they deserve that trust through the results they achieve.

What can candidates who want to work at Remote do to stand out, and what roles are you hiring for now?

Candidates who want to work at Remote, first and foremost, must be aligned with our values of excellence, kindness, ownership, transparency, and ambition. We look for people who have demonstrated the ability to take initiative and drive outcomes, who are very action-oriented and continuously seeking to grow and learn. We have so many openings in growth, sales, engineering, global operations, international expansion, and more.

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received?

It’s never too late to reinvent yourself. As an emigrant to the U.S., I lived by that advice. I put myself out there, soaked up new skills and experiences like a sponge, observed, changed, adapted, and punched above my weight whenever I could. I always felt like I had the license to fall and get up a hundred times and ultimately understood what I was there to do, even if that meant becoming a new version of myself every few months.

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