In the era of COVID, companies are scrambling to figure out the future of remote work. In addition, as they have been forced to displace their normal offices, they are scratching their heads trying to figure out how they successfully implement remote working. More importantly, they have to figure out the management of those remote team that are fully remote or partially remote.
The goal is to ensure that we continue to improve productivity moving forward to allow companies to continue to prosper and grow the economy. Ideally, we could also maintain the positive benefits of working remotely.
Whether you’re looking for a guide to remote work or curious about current and future remote work trends, there is a lot to be gained from my interview this week with Liza Rodewald of Instant Teams. We now realize that even though a smaller fraction of the workforce worked remotely before COVID, we now know going forward a certain percentage of companies in the US are going to look at those long term trends moving forward.
What we need are research-based facts that prove that remote teams work. And to do that, it would also help to have the science, technology, and software needed to not only build the teams, but to track them as they grow. One of the most important opportunities moving forward is to figure out how to scale quickly and have the technology to do it.
In my discussion with Liza, she lays out how her technology enables companies to be able to do not only the day-to-day operational tracking of remote teams, but perhaps more importantly, the back end administrative and human resources tracking. If working from home is the future of work, then you definitely need to check out our interview.
Liza also highlights a silver lining in the shifting of our workplace. There is a large portion of professional working women who have left the workforce to start a family. Until we reach a day when supporting a family at home is equally shared between both spouses, women will continue to be disproportionately impacted by professional careers that intersect with the desire to grow a family.
The ability and the flexibility created by companies like Instant Teams enable not only women to maintain a place in the professional workforce, but best of all, they get to keep their family unit and work on a more flexible schedule (part time, full time, or anytime).
And for me personally, as an Army veteran of 20 years, I think their focus on the untapped human capital of the military spouse community is genius. I say it is genius because so many professional women (which comprise the great majority of our military spouses) are moved, not by choice, but by military orders, every two to three years. That constant moving makes it much harder for them to establish roots working with either one company or one region.
No longer will they be digital nomads roaming alone in their job search, they can join teams. They will get to decide whether to work from home, coworking spaces, coffee shops, or on their mobile device.
And finally, if we’re going to be able to improve productivity in the workforce going forward in this new normal of COVID, it’s so helpful to know that tools like Instant Teams give that flexibility. Enjoy our interview. The transcript below will provide details. And please let me know what you want to see in the future of work in your organization and in the ideal organization.
Welcome back to another Catalyst TALKS. My name is Joseph Kopser and I’m joined today by Liza Rodewald and we’re here to talk about her company, Instant Teams, here in this era of remote working. She and her team were already ready for it, but their story of how it happened, how they pivoted and what it looks like for the future. I think you’ll find it interesting. So Liza, thanks for being here and you’re tuning in from Hawaii. So how are you, how’s the family?
Yes. Thank you so much for having me Joseph excited to be here. Hawaii is still a little on lockdown, so they still have restricted travel until the end of July. They just announced that maybe last week or the week before. But we can still go to the beach here. So it’s kind of a nice time to take advantage of not as many tourists being on the Island and that’s kind of getting around. So we’re definitely trying to check off a few social distancing bucket list items for sure.
Well, there you go. Well, there is a silver lining amongst all this. So, you know, you said it right there, which is this fact that we’re still on lockdown, which means we’re still working remotely. Go ahead and tell us the history or the journey you had with Instant Teams. And then we’re going to get into your personal journey as an entrepreneur. So tell us what you have, what you built and how it works.
Sure. So I’m the CEO and co founder of Instant Teams and we are a remote team creation and management software platform that enables companies to build a remote workforce through very specialized talent pipelines. And our focus right now is the military spouse talent pipeline that we have built into the systems. We have two very unique things, the software that enables companies to build and manage remote teams and the people behind it that they might not have access to before. So all of our remote team jobs are built through military spouses and veterans.
Well, obviously it’s near and dear to my heart after 20 years in the army. So thanks for what you’re doing. And by the way, if there are military spouses or just people curious in general, you can ask questions in the chat section, whether you’re on YouTube or Facebook, but tell us about the technology we’ll we’ll nearti out for a minute, what you’ve built.
Sure. So I’m, I’m a software engineer. I can get a little bit into that background when we go over my personal story. So I also really love the technology aspect of it. But what we’ve built is basically an easy tool for companies to use, to be able to deploy a remote workforce. Within five days, we call it ARTY, which is automated remote team innovation software, and it has three main components. One component is the customer dashboard, which she kind of see behind the screen there. So customers can log into Arti, they can add new team members, they can take away team members.
They can build admin teams, marketing teams, or technology teams all through the platform. And it takes care of all the payroll compliance taxes. It has analytics. So, you know, when your remote workers are working, how many hours they’ve worked each day and any of the specifics data analytics, you’re trying to gather as a manager of a remote team, when you’re wanting to stay to a budget, say you’ve got a project or you’ve got something you’re working on and you want to keep on budget. This is the tool, the dashboard that allows you to
Let me ask you about this idea because it’s a hot topic. And everybody’s interested in this idea of knowing when your team is working and monitoring when you’re working. I understand the value of that, but I also stand to understand some people’s concerns might be a little big brother. So what that looked like,
Right? Yeah. So that’s really why we call it visibility tracking because one of the big complaints that a remote worker has is they feel disconnected from the company that they work for. And one of the complaints that companies have is we need to make sure people are still being productive, even when they’re working from home.
So how do you create something that does those two things together without having that big brother mentality in it? And so that’s what we built is just a visibility tool for you to go in and say, Hey, for the last two hours I’ve been working on XYZ managers, see it, they don’t have to feel like they’re micromanaging you asking what you’re working on, what your task are.
We’re not screen grabbing and capturing what you’re doing throughout the day to micromanage. Are you on your computer versus did you go walk the dog for 10 minutes? So it’s a balance between those two things and it empowers both sides and empowers the company to feel like productivity is happening and empowers the worker to know they’re communicating effectively back.
Yeah. Well, you know, it’s great that you mentioned that there are no cameras watching you for instance, because I do know that there are some remote working platforms that literally turn the camera on and watch the people to make sure they’re there. So thank you for clarifying that. So let’s talk a little bit about your team and kind of how you got to now and your personal journey as an entrepreneur, because everybody always wants to know that.
Yeah. So I call myself an accidental entrepreneur. I was a software engineer and worked for a software company and I really wanted personally more flexible time. And so I went to my software company and actually asked them if I could start contracting with them. So I pitched remote work to them and this was 15 years ago now. So a while back. And I started working remotely for that company as a contractor. And then from there, I actually built a software consulting business because I got so much more of my time back and I made more money.
So that’s kinda how I stepped my toe into entrepreneurship and started testing the waters there since then I’ve created four companies. So instant teams is my fourth company in a variety of software and services type businesses, but that’s kind of how I made it from point a to here.
And so it’s always been a passion of mine to enable other people, regardless if they want to actually start a business, to be able to work remotely and have a more flexible lifestyle. Because I think, you know, today obviously COVID just put a whole another spin on it. But prior to that, you know, having work life balance, having dual income families is, is a strain on couples where you’re both working full time and somebody has to go to the schools play during the day or pick up a kid from a doctor’s appointment or things that you know of lifestyles just demand that.
So it’s always been a passion of mine to figure out a way for companies to really harness that and for employees and people to really be able to grab those types of opportunities and have that kind of a lifestyle to where, you know, we’ll add, let me ask you about this.
You talk not only about making it better, more flexible for the worker, but talk for a second about what you have seen at Instant Teams in terms of contributions to companies where companies now have access to a wider range in talent. Number one, and then number two, how do we get more women in STEM specifically in engineering as you have done? Because you know, you look at the numbers and it’s not anywhere near the equity, it needs to be for a fully vibrant workforce,
Right. So I think companies are definitely looking at new ways especially now post COVID to build a workforce that makes sense, bottom line for them. So like variable versus fixed costs, but also how to, like you mentioned, access talent outside of maybe their city, their state and those types of things. So COVID definitely helped open up some more doors for what previously companies might have been like, well, I’m not sure about remote work, but now everyone’s doing it.
So there definitely is, that what we call objection now was pretty much off the table. And so now how do we make it work well? And that’s what Instant Teams is really positioned to give you access to global talent, high quality, vetted, ready to go and help you like rethink companies really rethink how they traditionally hire and form teams and deploy projects and accomplish company goals. And we’re seeing some really great use cases.
We just worked with Walmart, we’ve completed several big pilot projects with them that have been a huge success. So enabling that flexible fractional workforce and then giving more consistent work to the workers in the pools is kind of what we’ve been doing there. I’m just going to say women in STEM. Like I think what you see a lot in that is a fall off for once they start having children.
It’s very hard because normally women who have gone through and done technology degrees are usually married to other professionals or people that are also working. And it puts a lot of strain on the families and in my own personal experience, that’s why I went to contracting. I had my son and I loved my job, but I was traveling like three weeks out of every month. And that just wasn’t sustainable to me. I wanted to still be in tech.
I loved what I was doing, but you know, too much travel, I needed more balance. And so that’s why I went and created it myself. So I think, you know, more remote work, more flexibility is going to help drive more women in technology because a lot of them they’ll even come back. Right. They’re trying to reenter. So maybe they got a degree in computer science, they took off six years and now their kids are in school and they’re like, okay, I can work consistent hours, but I can’t work 90 hours a week. So where’s the balance there. Right? Well,
Perfect way to end this. As we wrap up this discussion around the future of work, you are at the cutting edge of it, not just you personally in your personal journey, but also the technology that you’ve created for folks who want to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do it.
You can go to Instantteams.com or personally, if you’d like to connect with me, please go to my LinkedIn Liza Rodewald. I’m happy to connect and continue a conversation there as well.
Well, we have come in under the wire under 10 minutes perfectly, and I want to thank you for taking the time. Most importantly, thank you. What you do as a role model for not just entrepreneurs, but specifically the military spouse, entrepreneurial community. Thanks so much for joining us Liza.
Thank you so much for having me. I appreciate it.
Liza Rodewald is a 4x entrepreneur and software engineer with over 16 years of technical experience. She has built multi-million dollar enterprise software for government and healthcare industries. Her passion for entrepreneurship came from her desire to have a more flexible lifestyle and lead her to advocate and shape the future of work for companies and workers.
Liza graduated with honors with a degree in Computer Science from the University of South Alabama. She is in the top 3% of graduates from the Founder Institute, and alumni of the Blue Startups Accelerator, named one of the Top 25 SheEO and a published Forbes author. She is also a member of the Young Entrepreneurs Council and serves as a mentor for female founders.
She is currently the Founder and CEO of Instant Teams, a technology platform that enables companies to create and manage remote teams powered by a unique talent funnel of military-connected professionals.
Liza currently resides in Hawaii with her husband and four children.
Joseph Kopser is a serial entrepreneur and expert in energy and national security issues. Currently he serves as an Executive-in- Residence at the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas. In addition, he is President of Grayline after he co-founded and served as CEO of RideScout before it was acquired by Mercedes. He served in the U.S. Army for 20 years earning the Combat Action Badge, Army Ranger Tab and Bronze Star. He is a graduate of West Point with a BS in Aerospace Engineering and also received a Masters from the Harvard Kennedy School.
In 2013, he was recognized as a White House Champion of Change for his efforts in Energy and Transportation. In 2014, RideScout, won the U.S. DOT Data Innovation Award and co-authored the book, Catalyst. He is the Chairman of the Board of Advisors for the CleanTX Foundation, an economic development and professional association for cleantech. Joseph is also co-founder of the non-profit USTomorrow focused on workforce readiness. Joseph’s focus is to help people adapt to the changing future of work.