Building a house – phase 1

Born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia, and now living in Slovenia, Dario Jazbec Hrvatin is a man with family responsibilities. He wanted the security of having a steady job to provide for his family, but also the satisfaction that he’s doing a job he enjoys. He’s been working remotely for OnTheGoSystems for over 5 years. He’s super-productive because he recognizes that working remotely gives him a measure of flexibility, but also requires self-discipline. This was especially true in the spring of last year when he embarked on a major project; building his own home. The family moved in exactly one year later.

Dario, working remotely sounds ideal, but what are the realities and how do you get the most out of it?

I would like to start by saying that there’s one important thing you need to have to be able to successfully work remotely; personal responsibility. It means that the company you work for and your colleagues can depend on you and know that you’ll do your part of the job. It means they can trust you and nobody needs to keep checking on you.

I believe this is the foundation on which the best remote work experiences are built, and this is how OTGS works. It starts with mutual trust and this is the best asset both parties have in their relationship.

How has remote working impacted your life?

Working on island Cres, Croatia

Between starting to work for OTGS and today, my wife and I had a beautiful daughter, so I experienced remote work with and without having a child. For me, it’s a win-win. I see much more of my family this way. For example, we can have breakfast and lunch together. And if there’s an emergency, I’m already there.

Of course, this does come with some challenges, especially when you have a small child. Everyone in the family needs to get used to the fact that when you’re working, you’re working. It takes a bit of time and effort but it’s not really a problem. Also, if on very rare occasions my daughter crashes one of my meetings, I just take it calmly, explain quickly that I’m in the meeting and it’s okay. My OTGS colleagues are warm and understanding people, so this is really not a problem.

Finally, you save so much time working remotely and it’s great for the environment. I honestly hope I never again have to spend two hours driving to and from work every day. It just doesn’t make sense to me today if you’re working in software development (of course, there are exceptions).

Do you take your PC with you on vacation or when traveling?

Flying high with his family

When I’m on vacation, I’m on vacation and I’m not working or using the laptop for that. And this is how it should be. This year, working remotely allowed my family to go for a one-month vacation. I was completely off for the first week, and then the other three weeks, I worked as usual. But after work, I was able to go swimming and enjoy the seaside with my family. Things like this are only possible when you work remotely.

As a homeowner what about taking breaks during a working day to handle errands/chores/ house improvements

Last year, we started building a house and moved in this spring. It’s a huge project that takes a lot of time and energy. You need to be there and watch over things, answer a gazillion questions and make a thousand decisions you never thought about before in your life. Also, at that time, our daughter was only two and a half.

There are two work-related things that made this much easier for me (besides having the best wife in the world, of course). The first is that I work remotely, and the great support from OTGS. Secondly, when I had any house-building errands to run, I could take a longer break and simply make up the time later that day. I just had to make sure my duties are taken care of as usual and that I’m here if my colleagues need me.

People who don’t work remotely also build houses, but I’m sure I had a lot of advantages.

Your work environment – can you work in the family room? Do you have a dedicated space for work?

Dario’s office

I have a dedicated room for working. It’s important because my wife and daughter are at home and I would distract them too much. Yes, I believe distraction goes both ways.

Also when I work while we travel, we just make sure there’s a room I can work in. Having separate rooms helps everyone.

As a team leader, are you able to handle your main responsibilities even if your schedule needs to be flexible at times?

I usually work on a fixed 8 AM-5 PM schedule. This helps me keep work time separate from my personal life. It’s just a positive type of routine.

On the other hand, it’s really liberating knowing that when needed, I can make my schedule more flexible. For example, we’re having the main house insulation done in a month. If needed, I’ll be able to take a longer break here and there, without worrying about work. I’ll simply make up for the time in the afternoon or the evening.

As the leader of a small team, my team members have the same remote working luxury. The only thing that I find important is for them to notify me beforehand so that we can organize the work properly.

Making time for socializing with colleagues, friends, and family

During the latest WP Meetup in Zagreb, Photo by Goran Gluhak

Recently, I started attending “local” (in 150km radius) WordPress meetups on a regular basis. This allows me to see some of my teammates in person, which is really nice. Also, it’s wonderful that OTGS takes advantage of the annual WordCamp Europe event to arrange a team meetup. It’s really a great feeling seeing my colleagues in person. 

Another advantage of being flexible with where I work is that it’s often easier to go and visit my hometown and family there without taking extra days off.

In closing, I would say that the key to successful remote work is to be conscientious and make sure your tasks are completed on time so your colleagues can depend on you. Trust your colleagues, give them the benefit of the doubt, help them out whenever you can and everyone will look forward to the start of a new workday!