When you start a family, it’s much easier to be able to work remotely from time to time because every minute that you can save is valuable.Sibylle Greindl
Head of Acquisition at Accountable
Sibylle Greindl has years of experience as a freelance journalist and now lends her writing and storytelling skills as Head of Acquisition at Accountable, a Fintech mobile/web app that helps freelancers with tax and financial issues in Europe.
Welcome back to another week of Success Stories, our fortnightly podcast minisodes on The State Of Work, where Maddie chats to individuals about their experiences working remotely or in distributed teams. Joining us this week is Sibylle Greindl, Head of Acquisition at Accountable, a tax solution app for European-based freelancers. Sibylle chats to Maddie about working in a distributed team, how they were well supported by their cloud-based technology to pivot seamlessly during Covid, the benefits and challenges of remote recruitment, as well as both working for and with freelancers, team rituals and hybrid working.
Bonjour Sibylle. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Of course. I am from Belgium and I work for Accountable, a company that created a web and mobile app that supports freelancers in doing their taxes. I am responsible for both paid and unpaid acquisition.
How long have you been working for Accountable?
I have been a part of the team as an employee for two years now. Before that, I worked as a freelance journalist myself, for about five years. I actually was one of the early testers of the app, and that has led me to eventually becoming a full-time employee.
Is this a remote position?
Currently, yes, I am working from home full-time. But we do have offices in Belgium and Germany and before COVID broke out, I was in the office full-time. However, working from home has always been a part of our company’s DNA. We could work from home once a week and since we communicate with teams from different offices, we were pretty used to having video calls and organising our projects online. So making the switch during the pandemic has not been as tough for us as it maybe was for other businesses.
Do you think it will stay this way?
I am not sure yet. Maybe only certain teams and departments will have to go to the office in the future or maybe we will all end up in the office more or less full-time. We haven’t figured that out yet. Personally, I would prefer working from home for maybe three days a week and then spending two days in the office. This way, you get the best of both worlds. You can focus on tasks at hand and work uninterrupted at home, but then have meetings and discussions with your colleagues for these other days. I think that would be my ideal scenario.
Do you have a remote work policy in place?
Not really. I think it is important to communicate expectations around work hours to new colleagues and also lead by example. And in bigger companies, a written policy could really help with that. But we are still a young company, a start-up, and I think the overall understanding and objective is that you don’t have to work long hours to be productive or finish all your tasks. Work smarter, and not harder. And if you have a non-work-related appointment during the day, you simply inform your team and everything’s fine. From my personal opinion, these things flow rather naturally for us.
What tools do you use to manage your everyday work life?
We use Slack to communicate and Google Drive to share documents. And digital video call tools of course. These things have always been part of our worklife, so I think again, that gave us an important advantage from other companies that maybe weren’t as well-prepared when the pandemic started and they had to change their whole set-up.
During the pandemic, we also started having weekly calls with the whole team, with all employees from everywhere. That’s where we discuss company goals and achievements. This is something we may want to continue in the future, even if everyone is back in the office, as it is a good way to connect people and the different teams.
What is the biggest advantage of remote work for you?
The work-life-balance is definitely the biggest advantage. Especially with a child (I just had a baby not too long ago), it is so great to save the time of commuting to work. And I love being able to work for three or four hours at a time without interruptions. You just get so much more done! Ultimately, it’s not just about saving time, but also about how you can use that time. For example, I would plan my tasks around where I am working from that day. If I am in the office, I will probably focus on organising and planning a bit more, whereas if I am working from home, I get more creative and do all my copywriting or more in-depth analysis.
And what’s the biggest challenge?
I definitely miss the social aspect, even though I must say, we are pretty good at maintaining that. I don’t feel like I have lost touch with my colleagues at all. But what is quite tricky is onboarding new team members, as it is a bit more difficult to reach out to somebody via Slack than in person. That is something I would prefer being in an office together for sure.
How have you been handling the onboarding process so far? Do you have an HR tool that helps you with that?
No, unfortunately, we don’t have specific tools for onboarding, but we do use a virtual signature system when necessary. But other than that, we have basically just guided them through our workflow via video calls or Slack chats, and we use a project management system that acts as a good introduction as well.
What has been the best part of working from home for you?
With my team, now that we don’t see each other that often, it just feels like party time when we actually do meet each other in person. Before, you would meet at the coffee machine and there was nothing more to it, but now, seeing a colleague in real life is just so much more exciting. I think that’s pretty awesome.
Interview by Sandra Redlich
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