When you work remotely, with collaborators teleworking on two continents, you have to manage time zones and organize your time well. But the crisis has also shown a great capacity for adaptation and resilience for small businesses, which are now able to recruit in geographically more distant areas. The video testimony of Sébastien Bisch, General Manager and Head of Publishing at Novaquark, and his good advice for teleworking.
: How do you organize yourself at Novaquark, between remote and face-to-face work?
Sebastien bisch : Novaquark has the specificity of being a company of 85 employees which has a studio in Paris and Montreal. I am originally French, but I have been living in Canada for 12 years. I am responsible for the Montreal development studio and I also take care of everything called the publishing division, that is to say everything that is marketing, sales, consumer support, development of the community and web team. Since my beginnings at Novaquark I have had a whole part of my team in the publishing division which is based in France. So I already had a long-distance relationship with part of my team for a while, and with confinement, we have moved to a generalization of remote work with all the employees of the Montreal studio.
Did you already do some telecommuting before the pandemic?
Sebastien bisch : We already did a bit of telework in the past. And a week before the start of the pandemic, we were finalizing our work policy to expand teleworking in the company – at least for the Montreal studio, and give employees the flexibility to work up to two. days a week by telecommuting. The arrival of Covid and containment simply accelerated this transition, which we had already planned, and which we were able to experience on a large scale. But this system was in any case already somewhat set up with the particularity of working between two sites, in Paris and in Montreal.
What have you put in place to ensure this transition of all remote teams?
Sebastien bisch : In terms of tools, we were already well equipped. We were already in the cloud a lot, and we mostly had software used for day-to-day management, as well as Google Doc which is very collaborative for example. For communication, we mainly use Slack, which we already had before. We really have an ultra flexible policy that adapted to what the employees wanted. We’re a company of less than 100 people, so it’s easy to adapt. On the other hand, I don’t know if what we have put in place could adapt to a larger structure, because it would require a more systematic organization.
What does your desktop setup look like?
Sebastien bisch : I evolved with the Covid, starting with a fairly powerful laptop which allows us to play our game. Then, seeing that the situation was going to last, I finally brought back a desktop computer because at home my children also needed a computer for their distance learning lessons. I also went to take the screens I had at the office. Now, I have like an airplane pilot organization with multiple screens, and I also brought a microphone from my desk that was lying around in a meeting room, for better audio quality, since I spend a lot of time in video conferencing.
How do you manage daily exchanges with your remote employees and on two continents?
Sebastien bisch : This does not add any additional difficulty, but it requires better organization because we have 5 or 6 hours of jet lag depending on the period of the year. We need to establish a work culture where our people are aware of the different working hours and time slots. In my case, for example, my morning is devoted to Paris and the afternoon to Montreal.
Did teleworking make you realize that some intercontinental business trips can be avoided in the future?
Sebastien bisch : Yes and no. As far as I’m concerned, last year I made the effort to spend a week in Paris, and then I have family there. I went there at least once a quarter to spend time with my Parisian team, especially during the big launch weeks, to experience certain things with them and to be able to talk to them face to face. We need to get to know each other in order to establish personal connections, and not just professional ones.
Would you be in favor of the generalization of telework or do you think that this is not an ideal situation?
Sebastien bisch : Within Novaquark, we hired employees during the Covid who did not work near the offices. For example, we recruited people here in Canada based in the province of Ontario, and others in Toulouse, France. We also have a lot of international employees in Germany, England, and collaborators in the United States. As we have seen that it works, we will rather go and look for the right talents, even if they are not in Paris and Montreal. With my colleagues, we believe that the Covid period will leave a lasting mark on working habits in companies. We will not go back to the way we worked before. At Novaquark, we intend to make room for a more hybrid mode. We’ve learned a lot about what works and what doesn’t.