Bright, Gritty, and Good: Remote by Design

In this segment of our Bright, Gritty, and Good Vlog series, we take a closer look at the remote office set-ups of four Voltans, discover what motivates them, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of remote working.

Kelly Yazdani
Kelly Yazdani
April 21, 2020
8
min read
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Bright, Gritty, and Good: Remote by Design

There are many things that have changed since COVID-19 put the world on lockdown last month. Life has s-l-o-w-e-d d-o-w-n dramatically for many of us, bringing a throwback to days of old when travel and transport were limited, and human life centered around the home. There has also been a dramatic shift in work patterns. Since mid-March the number of employed Americans who have worked from home has nearly doubled – sitting at a whopping 62%.

The lives of Voltus employees have been impacted by this pandemic as well. A member of our engineering team literally had to flee Europe, getting on one of the final flights back to the US before the borders were closed. Our New Yorkers have been completely homebound – no walks, no fresh air, no people for over a month. Working parents are homeschooling their kids. People are geographically separated from their partners, forced to stretch even further the definition of a long-term relationship.

We did have one thing going for us when the storm hit. Voltus has always been a completely remote company; Voltans work from home by design. While many companies are scrambling to find ways to keep their employees safe and working during COVID-19, we have been able to proceed, business-as-usual. As a result, our team has remained healthy and productive, allowing us to devote our energy to helping our customers when they most need it.

Being remote by design has its benefits outside of a pandemic-scale crisis. Our customers are evenly distributed throughout the US; having a distributed team allows us to be closer to these customers and serve their needs with more immediacy. The money we would otherwise use for real estate overhead is freed up to directly reward our employees, shareholders, and customers. Being remote also allows us to build the best team, independent of geographic restrictions.

In this segment of our Bright, Gritty, and Good Vlog series, designed to give a sneak peak into Voltus culture, we take a closer look at the remote office set-ups of four Voltans, discover what motivates them, and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of remote working.

Meet Angel Fernandez Amores, Energy Markets Manager at Voltus. Angel ranks among the Voltus employees who live outside of the US. A resident of Spain, Angel shifts his schedule as needed to stay in contact with teammates, all while keeping a close eye on the eastern seaboard’s energy markets.

What is your favorite part of working at Voltus?

AFA: I love the team. Everyone is so committed and driven that it pushes me to not only be my best, but improve. The work ethic, the healthy culture and the companionship the team exhibits are unique.

What is your backstory? How did you start with Voltus?

AFA: I used to be a consultant in the energy and utilities space. I have always loved the energy industry and still do! I pursued an MBA as a way to pivot out of consulting and into the nitty gritty of the industry. Along the way I met Dana Guernsey. When she posted that she was looking to grow her team, I jumped on board.

How would your life be different if you had to commute into an office every day?

AFA: First off, a daily trans-Atlantic commute would probably kill me. In all seriousness, I have always abhorred commuting. Commuting would eat into my free time and my hours of sleep.

Give us a sneak peak into your home office.

Has teleworking limited your productivity in any way?

AFA: Some mornings it’s hard to get focused, but overall, I find I am more productive, as I can tailor my working hours to the hours of the day where I’m more productive. I feel like I probably have more phone calls and ‘formal’ meetings than I would have in a physical space, but overall, productivity is up!

Is there anything else you’d like to add about working remotely from Europe?

AFA: Given the problems we’ve had with my visa, working from home has also given me the opportunity to continue working with Voltus, even though I’m now on a different continent and six time zones apart. I’m a firm believer in the remote culture and the flexibility it brings to teams and organizations.

Meet Françoise Parker, or Frenchie, as we collectively refer to her, Strategic Sales Director at Voltus. She is a force of nature. A sales giant. She could sell a two-wheeled bike to a unicyclist, crutches to an olympic sprinter … you get the picture. She also has the biggest heart of anyone you’ve ever met and is fiercely loyal to her customers and her team.

What is your favorite part of working at Voltus?

FP: Working with and learning from brilliant peers; having the flexibility to be a mom while still crushing my role; meeting such interesting and fun customers; and offering the best demand response products and service in the industry.

What is your backstory? How did you start with Voltus?

FP: I’ve been in energy sales almost my entire career in various capacities. I believe Voltus CEO Gregg Dixon is truly a visionary, so when he asked me to come to work at Voltus, it was an easy decision. Gregg said he wanted to galvanize the demand response industry and that was exciting to me!

How would your life be different if you had to commute into an office every day?

FP: Quite frankly, not only would commuting make life less than desirable, it wouldn’t be feasible. As a solo mom, the flexibility that my role at Voltus provides is invaluable. I can really maximize my time working from home.

Give us a sneak peak into your home office.

Has teleworking limited your productivity in any way?

FP: The opposite! There are days I drop my kids off in my PJs to school and then immediately head to my desk (still in PJs); I lose track of time working until it’s time to get the kiddos from school. Sometimes I have to juggle screaming kids (as I dive into a closet to take a customer call), but I’m so thankful I get to work virtually. The weeks I don’t have the kiddos, I cram my schedule with as many in-person meetings as possible across North America.

What are you most grateful for during these challenging times?

FP: I’m very thankful to live in Charleston and provide my children the life that I am. If it wasn’t for Voltus and our amazing customers, I potentially couldn’t do that.

Meet James Gill, Energy Markets Manager, at Voltus. James is an analytic powerhouse, understanding the inner workings of the US energy markets. James is not only exceptionally smart, but is a supportive teammate, always willing to lend a helping hand. James calls San Diego, CA home.  

What is your favorite part of working at Voltus?

JG: The people. Unequivocally. It is not possible to put into words how special a group of people there is at Voltus. It’s a genuine honor to work side-by-side with this team day in and day out.

What is your backstory? How did you start with Voltus?

JG: I always wanted to get my PhD in Mathematics. When I graduated undergrad, I took a “year-off” and worked as an Energy Analyst at Itron. After a year, I went off to work on my PhD in Oregon and Irvine, but I soon realized I wanted to go back into industry. I went back to Itron in 2015 and worked on some great projects. Soon after that, Itron acquired Comverge and I had the opportunity to work on DER product development and data science projects in the utility industry.

In 2018, Itron was going through a major overhaul and I was offered a new position. In order to vet that offer, I reached out to some friends about their work. One of those friends was Jenna Masuda – who is the best Voltus brand ambassador you’ll ever meet – and she introduced me to Dana Guernsey. The rest, as they say, is history.

How would your life be different if you had to commute into an office every day?

JG: When I was in grad school at Irvine, I commuted 2 hours each way, every day. I was a miserable cur!

Now, I get to walk my dog twice a day. I get to cook dinner for my wife. I have time to exercise and meditate. Those things wouldn’t be possible if I had to commute into an office each day.

I also avoid the stress and discontent of sitting in traffic. I get to spend that energy making the lives of my family/friends and those around me better.

Show us your daily POV.

Has teleworking limited your productivity in any way?

JG: When I first started at Voltus, I had a difficult time figuring out how to get people’s attention. In previous roles, I would just show up at someone’s office and wait for them to be available – they couldn’t avoid me!

It took me a while to get comfortable picking up the phone and calling my co-workers. Within a few months though, I actually felt like my productivity improved. I’m so focused at home that I get more and more done.

In your mind, what is the biggest advantage of a remote team?

JG: By being remote, we’ve been able to bring together some of the most amazing people you’ll ever meet. I get to work with easily the brightest, grittiest, and good-est team everyday, despite only seeing them a few times per year.

Interested in learning more about life as a Voltan? Email us at info@voltus.co or chat with us by clicking on the green conversation bubble in the bottom right hand corner of your screen.

Kelly Yazdani
Kelly Yazdani

Vice President Of Marketing

I am excited to be a part of a high-speed gritty community of Voltans determined to affect the world in a positive way! Outside of work, you’ll find me hanging with my husband and three kids – driving carpool in my minivan, exploring children’s literature, cooking a semi-healthy meal, hiking, traveling, or volunteering. I love building new friendships and creating a positive community wherever I go.