9 Insights on Remote Work from the Team at OLX Group

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, our team at OLX had to begin working from home. As we’ve built a remote work culture, we’ve stayed true to our mission: to shape the future of trade by unlocking the hidden value in everything.

Over this time, we’ve learned a lot about what makes remote work successful.

Recently, Enrico, Director of Engineering for Seller, Buyer, Growth (CORE) at OLX Group, sat down to highlight what we’ve learned so far. Here, you’ll find seven of Enrico’s insights on remote work, along with three other tips from other members of our team.Let’s begin…

1. Stay awake!

You spend a lot of time building relationships when you’re in an office together. You have coffee breaks, walks, one-on-ones, and more. And you even travel with teammates.

“When you go to a physical space and work with people, you spend a good portion of your life with one another,” says Enrico.

“With COVD-19 and the move to remote work, building relationships requires that you stay awake and pay attention. You must make a conscious effort to establish connections and build valuable relationships.”

2. There’s a (remote) culture to build

With 20+ brands worldwide and more than 300 million users, we’re working to shape the future of trade at OLX Group. We understand that, now more than ever, platforms like ours are needed for people to easily, safely, and conveniently find their perfect home, buy or sell a car, find a great job, sell things they no longer need, or strike a great deal on something they need.

For us to be successful, Enrico believes having a remote work culture is vital.

“The fallacy is thinking this is just a work from home situation. We have to build a remote work culture and bring everybody together. It is a challenge,” attests Enrico.

Working from home and Remote culture are not the same. We have to address questions such as what’s expected with communication, how flexible can we be with work hours, and how can the team bond. With the right remote work culture, we can achieve so much.”

3. Find a new way to sit down and have a coffee & Develop new habits

Ask Enrico about the frustrations of working from home, and you’ll get a wise answer.

“I can’t just walk up to somebody and say, ‘Would you like to get a coffee and discuss work?’ It’s harder to just sit down with a teammate and look at a script. There’s a big difference doing these things remotely and physically,” states Enrico.

“Working remotely is about the habits that you have and habits develop in different ways. This part was a challenge to overcome. Simply put, you need ways to collaborate and communicate informally that fit in with your remote work processes.”

4. Recognize communication has been stripped down

“With working remotely, communication is stripped down to the bare minimum of chat and voice. You lose all these aspects of communication that matter,” notes Enrico.

For Enrico, this makes it all the more important to listen and double check things while working remotely. Because if you’re not actively reaching out, you could miss something.

“Many people won’t directly express their wishes or needs. As a leader, we have to listen even more carefully and understand that we may miss things as virtual communication isn’t as complete as in-person communication. This means we must continuously reach out to our team and make sure they have all that they need.”

5. Do trial runs

Eventually, the COVID-19 pandemic will come to an end and many of us will return to working in offices. However, if we’ve learned anything, it’s that things can change at the drop of a hat. We must be ready.

“If I could go back to before the pandemic and prepare for this, I would simulate remote working with my team at OLX. We could do it for two weeks to a month, collect feedback, and see what we could improve to make the experience as good as possible,” says Enrico.

Going forward, OLX Group plans to apply this strategy of simulating unexpected scenarios. It will help the team stay prepared for anything and everything.

“We can simulate other scenarios too. After all, anything can disrupt our workflow so we shouldn’t take things for granted. For instance, we could simulate a situation where access to all our live servers is compromised. We could enable that issue and analyze how our team deals with it.”

6. A home can be many things

For remote work to be successful, Enrico stresses that we must be aware of everybody’s situation. Because each person has a unique living environment.

“Some people treasure their homes while others just view it as a place to sleep. Some live alone while others have roommates or a whole family. We have to make teams aware of everybody’s situation. This will change the way we perceive people and we can be more empathetic to their situation,” believes Enrico.

By understanding someone’s home setting, we can also gain a better understanding of what will make their home office more comfortable. That could be an office chair, a more proper ergonomic setup, or even the occasional delivery of chocolates, coffee, and other treats.

“Remote work has compelled us to learn a lot more about how a company looks after their employees. We have to focus on what really matters to employees. It begins with doing small things to make work from home more enjoyable. It also involves being more flexible with work hours, implementing better ways for employees to take holidays, and overall helping folks manage their life better.”

Now, let’s get a few more insights on remote work from other team members at OLX.

7. Have gaming sessions together

Pedro, Head of Engineering, Car Parts at OLX Motors, has come up with creative ways for the team to stay connected during the pandemic.

“Since COVID-19 started, we’ve begun gaming together every Friday for an hour or two. We love to play Call of Duty and Apex Legends,” says Pedro.

For Pedro and the team, these gaming sessions have great importance.

“We need to go to battle together, maybe disagree with one another, but win together. This is one way we build trust and camaraderie. We have to stay engaged and enthusiastic about work. Gaming together has become a source of energy for us.”

8. Adapt like it’s 1999

Martin, Direct of Product Management at OLX Motors Europe, emphasizes how crucial it is to adjust to changing circumstances. He has ideas on how a transition to remote work can happen successfully.

“The workplace transition during Coronavirus has kind of been like moving an offline store to the web in the 1990s, or a desktop site to a mobile one,” states Martin. “We can’t mimic everything we did in the office. And we also must focus more on loyalty. Team members have to see the greater purpose of their work.”

Martin believes that, when big changes happen, you must make sure you learn and understand the new landscape. Because the rules and ideas are still being written.

“With a remote workplace, it’s important to experiment and discover before implementing processes. From health checks to allowing for flexible work hours to making communication more simple, there’s a lot you can do.”

9. Listen to all the stars

As Lead Research Designer at OLX Group, Matylda has discovered some surprising advantages with remote work.

“COVID-19 has forced us to work remotely. Remote work has allowed us to include a way more diverse pool of profiles in our research. Research sessions done only at our offices are now managed remotely, which means users from all across Poland can participate,” states Matylda.

As the quote from The Little Prince says, you should listen to all the stars! Remote working brings us a unique opportunity to make our workplaces and the products and services we create more inclusive. After all, location doesn’t matter when working virtually. We can and should be more inclusive.

Winning in the age of remote work

Hopefully, these nuggets of wisdom from Enrico and other members of the OLX team can give you solid direction as you navigate through this new world of remote working. Take the advice to heart. It will help you and your team achieve more — both personally and professionally — during the era of remote work.