Special tool for organize your company remotely.
"If the staff has 10 employees, then the employer waste $ 72 thousand a year. " How to track the effectiveness of staff at remote work and why such services will be introduced more and more - Alexandr Protsyuk.
The founder of the remote work service Teamon.live Alexandr Protsyuk is an IT entrepreneur from Yekaterinburg. In 2013, he left for the United States and lived there for three years, and now he lives in two countries. It is more profitable to be in Russia right now, says Mr. Protsyuk: in the States, a lot is still not working, even the first lockdown has not really ended, housing is much more expensive and it is not very clear why stay there now, when people are afraid to meet each other. Many have moved during quarantine or are considering it.
Friends in the USA are very surprised when they see people without masks in my stories - how is this even possible? They take coronavirus very seriously. During this time, many people really did not meet with anyone, stay at home, work remotely, take turns to buy groceries, ”says Alexandr Protsyuk.
In the United States, the entrepreneur opened several companies: zavod-it.com, Adglink, Frisco, CloverR, Cabohub: some of the companies are still working, some are sold, some of them he came out as a founder, so Teamon.live is not his first experience. Mr. Protsyuk told DK.RU what he has learned over the years in the ultra-competitive American market, why companies need to study how employees work remotely, and how the new service can be used to track their performance.
- There is an ecosystem in the West that is not in Russia. Many investors, investing money in a company during a round of attracting investments, already agree on the next round and that they will sell their share when certain results are achieved. In Russia, each round of investment is more like a small miracle, both on the part of the investor and on the part of the entrepreneur. The first does not know what will happen to his investments, what to expect, what metrics to watch. The second one thinks what to do with the money received. Invest in development or marketing?
It seems that in the West it is easier for an entrepreneur to get money, but this is not so. Investors look at the company's performance, the founder must clearly articulate the marketing KPI, and a lot of other things. An investor will only give money when he understands what exactly his funds are invested in, according to what formula the entrepreneur will scale his business. It's unlikely to give money just like that because you liked the idea of the business.
It's easier to get money in the USA if you know the rules of the game. In Russia, it is easier to get them by simply riding the ears of the investor. But since investors are mostly artisanal, they won't give you any introduction or promotion.
Smart money can be useful for a b2b product: an investor not only gives money, but also makes an introduction. Therefore, more often a startup selects him with such an aim so that he helps to enter a certain market, open a certain door.
On the other hand, the gap between Russia and the US is narrowing, many things work better in Russia. Russian and American banks are heaven and earth: in the USA they are still similar to the 90s, but in Russia everything is cool, fashionable and modern.
But in the United States, there is often a suspicious attitude towards Russian entrepreneurs and money.
- Indeed, there is such a problem. If a company is open in Delaware, then the investor understands what to expect from it, how the distribution of shares is arranged there, what steps to take to conduct a share split, what options for employees. There are rules of the game that are clear at the legislative level. There is no legal basis for this in Russia.
When a Russian company enters the United States, questions arise about what to do with it. As a rule, there is a complete legal re-registration. But I would not say that there is a wary attitude towards Russian entrepreneurs themselves. A couple of years ago, an investor friend called the Russians “intellectual aggressive” - intellectual, but very aggressive. When a Russian entrepreneur enters a business, he is very aggressive in terms of capturing market share, makes tough decisions, but does it intellectually. I really liked this definition. It describes Russian founders well.
Another thing is that there is a cool environment. You can plant grain even in the car parking, and most likely it will sprout. Here you can sow in fertile soil, but there are only a few companies that have grown.
How did you come up with the idea of creating a service?
- Usually our employees in Yekaterinburg sit in the office, but two weeks before the official announcement of the pandemic, we let everyone go to work from home. We began to look at services for remote monitoring. When Facebook asked users in our profile groups with tens of thousands of subscribers what they use for monitoring, everyone reacted very negatively, considering it an invasion of their personal space.
But then, when I asked if there was something like that for teamwork, everyone began to think constructively: "It would be cool to have something like that." When people make one product, it is very important to be in context, to know what your colleague is doing. It's easy to find out about this in the office, but at a distance? Ask in chat? Call? So-so topic.
Office work, like teamwork, is effective because people work together and solve problems quickly. Two weeks before the transition to quarantine, we bought several suitable services for organizing remote control, but it was collaboration that was lacking. This is inconvenient: correspondence in one place, look at the employee's screen in another, storage and forwarding of documents in a third, group calls are generally a separate topic. Not everything works in a browser and on a mobile device.
Based on these considerations, we formed a need, invested a little money for a start, created basic things to abandon third-party services and soon began to use it ourselves, constantly improving the product. As a result, we have been using it for 8 months already, creating more and more new features and are now ready to share them with other companies.
Our main feature is monitoring employee screens in real time. At 9 am a person starts the application and turns them off at 6 pm. During business hours, your screen is available to all your other colleagues and management.
Every time we talk about this, there are big discussions about privacy, about control and big brother. But this is completely different. This is primarily an effective tool for increasing productivity, not about control.
We are engaged in the development of international software for Russian and Western clients and have trained a lot of programmers over 10 years of work. But it is not very clear how a person can master a new profession of remote control. In the office, when a beginner sits next to a middle developer, he will master the technology in a few months. Last year we recorded a development course, people took it in our office and in two months they were ready to carry out our industrial projects. With this mode of intensive training, in a year or two, juniors become middles and seniors and move to Yandex and other large companies, including international ones.
Because when you work in a team, and not just learn something from textbooks, delve into industrial development with people who have already done it, you very quickly become a specialist. But when remote, the learning process breaks down. A person is often embarrassed to ask a person on the other end of the fiber, and there are a lot of questions to ask. The junior is usually not very confident in his abilities and usually asks questions only in exceptional cases. But with the introduction of our product, the remote learning process starts to work effectively again. Proven.
That is, this service allows anyone, not just a manager, to look into a colleague's monitor? Directly see what and how a person is doing, including learning in this way?
- The product itself allows you to configure rights quite flexibly. We have a development team, they all see each other's screens. The manager, the leader sees everyone, but sometimes he can turn off his screen. He handles financial issues that developers don't always need to see. I see all screens, including the manager screens. You can customize access based on your needs, make a shared coworking space when everyone can see everyone. An application is written for each platform: Windows, Linux, for MacOS. My child has our application installed, and I can connect to his Zoom lessons to check if he has turned on the camera during the lesson, because this is required by the teacher, and for some reason he does not like to turn on the camera. I can check if he is playing on the computer or watching YouTube when he has to do his homework.
The service can be used from different sides. Both for training and for collaboration, as for calls, for the general broadcast, when everyone can hear everyone. But sometimes you can press a button and turn off the microphone, and if you want to say something, turn it on.
Another problem is storing and sending files. At a remote location, it is often completely incomprehensible where employees drop files. Cloud services, which do not know who belong to, store a lot of screenshots with passwords and bank codes, and if desired, attackers can use this data. We have a cloud storage where the data of employees is automatically transferred, where they are encrypted and safe.
Our main motto is to feel like in the office, to get all his usual things online. IT companies have been doing this for many years and work remotely from time to time. Facebook sends its employees off work once a week. But still, the employees here are missing a lot. We want to bring remote work closer to a real office.
When it comes to screen recording, in Russia a lot of people treat it as a violation of personal boundaries and are not very willing to agree to such experiments. How can you convince them of this?
- This could be talked about at normal times. Now it is a matter of survival. Many companies went bankrupt, the people who worked there ended up on the street. Someone works at Uber, but Uber has an ambitious plan with Google to introduce self-driving cars. Yandex is developing in this direction. Where will all these people go to work, what will they do? The question is not whether the person will agree to monitor the screen, the question is where he will work tomorrow. With the help of these technologies, we help people to find a job, with the help of competent employees to join the work, to perform effectively the tasks that are assigned to them.
We already hired new people after the pandemic and at the start asked: "Are you ready to install such a program?" Everyone answered yes, because people have nothing to eat, and companies need to efficiently spend their remaining resources.
According to our calculations, in ordinary life, employees spend about 30% of their time at the workplace ineffectively. For Moscow, the normal salary is $ 2,000 per month, in the States it is much more, $ 5,000, sometimes $ 10,000 for developers. If there are 10 employees on the staff, then it is already $ 72 thousand per year, which the employer, roughly speaking, pours out.
If this is the usual time when the company is doing well - approx. But now everyone is counting their remaining crumbs, the markets have fallen ... the world is different. Employees are willing to do whatever they want to stay at work. From a legal point of view, everything is clean, the employee only needs to sign an agreement that he does not mind monitoring the screen.
Our own employees have been doing this for 8 months. We interviewed them and they do not feel negative. Also in our Roadmap there are tasks on this topic that need to be solved so as not to show, for example, personal messengers or employee social networks. They need to be solved with the help of artificial intelligence.
On the other hand, if I, as an employer, pay all taxes for an employee, we have an agreement that in the allotted time he works for me, then this is fair.
When we have agreed so and with the help of the application are sure of this, we can move to the next level. We can talk about how to effectively solve a problem, grow up the career ladder, and deal with more complex projects. The stage of mistrust has passed, when we doubt whether we will work together or not. And we will definitely work together if the person is in touch. In the morning, when an employee turns on the computer, he immediately starts the tracker and I understand what he is doing.
We have an intelligent system that alerts you when a task takes longer than estimated. From past experience: for example, an employee came to us and said: "I worked in another company and I was fired." Why? “They gave me a task and after 4 months they said that I had done the wrong thing.” As a result, everyone is unhappy. Now we need to become more efficient, reduce costs, make the product cheaper, but employees also need to be paid normally, because they are productive and learn quickly.
On the other hand, a person cannot constantly work with the same efficiency, he is distracted, he needs to reboot during the day. How to consider these points?
- An employee can disconnect at any time, we do not have a strict requirement that you must be online. Many work after hours. Our employees often work more than 100% of the time and receive additional bonuses.
We do not position our product as a service for experienced specialists, we are more focused on working with beginners, because there are a lot of them and they need help - novice programmers can solve the same problem for a week, and with the help of an experienced one they can cope with it in 10 minutes.
And for an employer, this is an opportunity to get a resource cheaper anywhere in the world. It is not necessary to pay the capital's salaries - you can hire a person from the provinces if he does the same effectively. This is a cool task for keeping costs down.
In the States, companies have begun to pay employees based on the cost of housing in the place where they live.
- This is just the first signal of optimization. In Silicon Valley, employees are paid $ 10,000 a month, $ 120,000 a year. Why, if a person can be paid $ 10,000 a year? Many of my Russian-speaking friends who own successful companies in the United States maintain product development in the CIS: in Ukraine, Belarus, Russia, because it is 5-10 times cheaper. A precedent has now been set when companies can think massively and dissolve their offices. And half of the Valley feeds on Google campuses: the company has a lot of money, but a lot of costs.
Do you already have sales examples? Is someone testing your services from other businesses?
- We have those willing. We are open to third party companies from December 8th. In the meantime, we are testing and making our own wishes, and more and more of them appear. We have invested 4,000 man-hours in the development, which is 2.5 man-years and have done many tasks, but we still have the same amount in our road map.
What are these companies? Software developers or not only?
- The solutions are suitable for different companies. One of the clients is a furniture manufacturer. He has office employees: sales managers, employees of the tender department, who do not always work effectively.
Are you planning to sell the product not only in Russia, but also in the USA?
- Since we have an English-speaking company, we initially did everything in English, for the American market, but immediately everything was broadcast in Russian. Everything works both in the USA and in Russia, and we will sell in both countries.
About competitors. This is primarily who?
- In the West, the market is larger, and, accordingly, there are more competitors. But there is no such complex product, we used different ones. Kickidler and Bitcop only allow monitoring the [working hours of employees], but there are many restrictions, for example, you cannot view screens from your phone, there is no API for integration. There are about 3-4 monitoring services, but as a product development company, this was simply not enough. We are interested not only in monitoring, but in efficiently creating products remotely.
On the other hand, there is Zoom and Skype for calls, where you can temporarily share your screen. But you will not be constantly on call, this is not about efficiency. You distract a person, he may not answer you, it is not clear what he is doing. Everything works for us in one window: monitoring, virtual rooms, and group calls.
There is also a time tracker and a task manager, we have made various integrations with large services (Jira, Trello, Clockify), which everyone uses just to collect everything in one window. To understand how long a specific task took, what exactly the employee was doing. For example, it is interesting to understand why he spent 5 hours on a task, but it was not completed. You can watch the recording of this time. A separate cool feature for the future: see the past experience of other employees in solving a similar problem.
Are there many differences between remote locations in Russia and the USA?
- The freelance market is growing every year around the world. In the West, they like to hire permanent remote workers. That is, you go through many levels of interviews and tests in order to work in the company remotely. At the same time, until recently, you should have been fine with an American work visa. Many companies, for example, Google, for one or two days send employees to remote control, Facebook actively hires remote employees, but mostly in the availability zone for offices, so that they can be transferred there if necessary. But many companies said they might not return to their offices at all.
In Russia, if we talk about the IT market, one-time work from freelancing is more common, and remote work is associated with slippers. I woke up, sat down on a chair and started to work, tired, fell asleep. In "Yandex" some divisions have a remote site. It all depends on the company. For those who do not work in the IT segment, this is probably still alien. And now they had to somehow solve this issue, and companies spend a lot of energy on slipping.
How expensive will the service be?
- Some things are generally free. The minimum rate for an app that shares the screen costs $ 5 per month. It can be bought for both business and personal use. For example, a person is doing something and wants to quickly show someone his screen. It is not always convenient to call, to take a screenshot - it will turn out incomprehensible. In our application, you can generate a link and send it to a person, and he will see the screen.
All. If you no longer need it, you can block the impression and the link will stop working. There isn't even any monitoring here, it's just a convenient way to see the screen. You can record your screen with a voice and quickly send the person a link to the video. Works cool for video tutorials. We have a lot of these tutorials ourselves. I repeat, we made each of the decisions in the product for ourselves, because there was such a need. We also want to try machine learning to use artificial intelligence to identify interesting repetitive patterns and create algorithms based on this. Somewhere to replace a person, somewhere to help him. This is how we want to develop in the future.
Are there any plans for expansion already?
- In Russia, we now have two pilot companies: the freight forwarding company "Gruzved" and the cabinet furniture factory PC "SpetsMebelTorg". Both companies do not belong to IT-shny and during the pandemic, some of the resources were transferred to a remote location. In Europe we are launching a pilot with a Belgian company.
Globally, the goal for the next 3 months is to collect feedback from customers and identify growth areas. We focus on employers who look further and in the current conditions are ready to quickly re-assemble and become effective now, and not wait for the crisis to end.
This is a billion dollar market. The number of people around the planet who make money with a computer is constantly growing. And tomorrow, computer office spaces will seem like a stone age compared to the completely transparent and efficient conveyor belt production of products online.
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