Hey, my name is Rhys Black, and I’m Head of Remote at Oyster, the People platform for distributed teams. The narrative around remote work is often over-simplified and sensationalized. Until now, people have been running remote teams like in-house teams without taking the time to appreciate the nuances.
As Head of Remote at Oyster, the fully distributed global HR platform, I want to help change that. Remote Work is the future, but we’ll only get there through sharing our learnings along the way.
Current Computer, Mobile, etc.
Where can we follow you on the Internet?
Describe how you work in 10 words or less?
Focus work in the mornings and calls during the afternoon slump.
Tell us a little bit about your background & how did you get started with remote work?
I have a Product Management background in B2B SaaS, mainly Fintech. I ran remote developer teams for years, particularly across Eastern Europe. I then started my first business, Trade Nations, a company working with governments to increase its exports internationally. This was a fully distributed team with employees across Europe and Latin America.
I learned a lot about running distributed teams doing this. I then sold that business and started Delocate to consult with companies to help them operate better as distributed organizations. We started working with Oyster as a client in early 2020, and Oyster acquired Delocate at the beginning of 2021.
What job responsibilities do you have?
My job is to make Oyster the best-distributed organization in the world, one day. I break my work down into two main areas. Firstly, the tactical things that need to be done to allow us to operate well as a distributed organization.
This essentially boils down to streamlining processes and ensuring a solid Knowledge Management framework around our documentation to allow asynchronous work. In layman's terms, the ability to answer your questions to continue to work without needing to rely on others (who might be ten time zones away).
The second area is the People. We all know some amazing things about remote work - flexibility, control over the work environment, etc. However, there are also many challenges - potential isolation, lack of bonding or company culture, over-work leading to burnout.
My job in this area is to ensure that we have an Employee Experience strategy that ensures that we're maximizing the great things about remote work and minimizing or mitigating the not-so-great stuff.
What’s your workspace setup like?
Well, I've been on the road for the last 9 months, so no fancy stand-up desks for me (I miss mine back home a lot). However, I have a reasonably good mobile work set up consisting of my Mackbook, an iPad as a 2nd screen, and many peripherals, including Logitech Streamcam, Magic Trackpad, and Magic Keyboard, Logitech MX Master 2 mouse, and hyper juice multi-charger. It sounds lame, but the charger is a game-changer.
I can charge everything up to 100w from one plug, which is enormous when you're traveling. When I get back to London next month, I've got a Rode NTG VideoMic and LumeCube light waiting for me to complete the digital nomad setup.
What apps, gadgets, or tools can’t you live without?
Alfred. This app has probably saved me days in time at this point.
How do you recharge or take a break?
I’m religious about my morning and evening runs/walks. Also, reading fantasy at night is helping me switch off more.
Aside: We also recommend following a daily routine and maintaining a to-do list while working remotely. You can turn the productivity ship around by following simple tips.
What’s your best piece of advice you have received?
Money is a means to get wealth, not the wealth itself - Akala.
What are you reading currently? What do you recommend?
Fiction - The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, Non-fiction - Do Purpose: Why brands with a purpose do better and matter more by David Hieatt.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Well, right now, I’m taking in everything Montenegro has to offer (can share pictures)
Advice for someone who is looking to switch to a remote job?
Get geeky about personal productivity and prioritize self-care. All the fancy organizational-level stuff on distributed operations is useless if individuals don’t master their organization.
What qualities would you recommend are a must-have for a person seeking a remote job?
Self-organization, deliberacy in their intention and actions, proactive socializer, documentarian by nature.
Want to work remotely like Rhys? We recommend going over the list of top remote companies hiring. Still facing issues searching for a remote job and don't know where to look? We are a remote job board and have the latest jobs posted in various categories to help you. Join like-minded people at our LinkedIn community