At ELSA, the firm developing the most advanced artificial intelligence programme for learning English, Xavier Anguera fulfils multiple roles. Web Summit spoke with the company’s Speech Scientist, Co-Founder and CTO to gain insights into their experiences of working remotely.
Explicitly state the problems you’re facing.
Since its inception, ELSA has been a geographically dispersed organisation, with co-founders on separate continents and a team spread across the United States, Portugal, India and Vietnam. The time difference and remote nature of the business can present a challenge when it comes to staying connected and communicating effectively. To ensure that everyone is kept abreast of developments, Xavier insists on clear and detailed communications, via email or paper. This ensures that all team members are kept informed and up to date, no matter where they are located.
Xavier has informed us that adjusting to the local environment was the initial challenge he faced. It took him three years before he was able to meet his co-workers in person and he is still yet to meet some of them. Despite his enjoyment of personal interactions, he is aware of the difficulties that come with communicating with colleagues virtually.
It’s important to think globally while hiring.
Xavier’s extensive experience with remote working gives him a comprehensive outlook on international recruitment. It is generally accepted that an international recruitment strategy allows for a greater selection of qualified candidates. However, due to the highly specialised nature of our technology, it is essential that we work with individuals who have significant expertise in speech. Xavier believes that the company will benefit from opening up to a global pool of potential candidates.
Xavier underlines the importance of taking into account the legal ramifications of international recruitment. However, he acknowledges that the opportunity to communicate with people from all over the world is an “enormous benefit”.
Embrace change and new opportunities.
Xavier and his co-founder first made contact at a tech convention, and subsequently began exchanging emails prior to launching their business. Xavier was in Portugal at the time, while his co-founder was in San Francisco. He then spent three weeks sleeping on the floor of her apartment in San Francisco, as she took part in an intensive programme that gave them a comprehensive overview of working together and cohabiting.
He learnt the importance of being flexible and adapting to different situations. It is admirable that he is making an effort to fit in at his new workplace, both in terms of personal and professional development. Hopefully, this approach can be taken with all new hires in the future. The ability to work from home and employ people from different parts of the world is a huge benefit and has a significant impact on how we work and live.