In December 2018 we were fortunate enough to meet with the "father of money making", Tobias Schildfat. He's a true original Remote Worker and first appeared as a participant in the Swedish tv-show Draknästet. Schildfat is also the author of the book Vägen till din första miljon - alla kan bygga en egen pengamaskin and founder of the company Solentro. In our interview, Schildfat told us about his company and the advantages of Remote Work.
Working remote is a phenomenon embracing freedom under responsibility
At a young age, Schildfat became inspired by the dream of one day owning his own business. In the beginning of 2008, the company Solentro was launched and by autumn Schildfat starred in the tv-series Draknästet where he and his brother received an investment offer that they declined. Instead they invested both heart and time in establishing Solentro that they today run successfully. Through Solentro customers can create their own photo book digitally, get it printed and shipped home. Another "up" Solentro offers, is the opportunity for everyone in the organization to work remote.
"A passion of mine has always been surfing, however the sport does not fit too well in Sweden (especially not during winter). The ability to work remote has therefore always been an ambition of mine. For me, working "remote" is a phenomenon embracing freedom under responsibility, where a person has the potential to decide how their own times is to be spent" - Tobias Schildfat, Founder Solentro.
Schildfats book Vägen till din första miljon - alla kan bygga en egen pengamaskin, is about saving and investing money where Schildfat introduces the word "Pengamaskin" (literally translated to money machine) as a money-making tool. However, the underlying message of his book marks the endeavor of creating personal freedom. Schildfat believes that money itself is a means that in some cases can give personal freedom. Tactfully, Schildfat therefore uses a surfboard on his cover to symbolize feelings of freedom and happiness.
"Many things in life are not centered around money, just as many things are. This was something that came to me very early. During my first summer job I started earning my own money and understood its meaning and the freedom it gave me. As a youngster I could buy what I wanted, and above all be able to pay for the activities I wanted to do" - Tobias Schildfat, Founder Solentro.
Remote work and the GIG economy
Further on in the interview, we went over to talk about "gigs". We asked Schildfat how he viewed the Pengamaskin’s connection to the GIG economy. Schildfat drew a parallel to the background of the GIG concept and explained how its definition originally has been used to explain the booking of musicians for different gigs. Shining a light on the past, Schildfat delineated that all, neither then, nor today, has the luxury to only accept gigs of their choosing. Unless people are financially independent or have chosen an alternative lifestyle, Pengamaskin is a tool that in its own way can create a good "baseline" for consultants to say yes to the gigs they want.
"Imagine if you have your own Pengamaskin, a friend, that will help you say no to the gigs you do not want. Pengamaskin will give you an emotional value, and help you express your own music or your own creativity at your choosing of workplace. That luxury may not exist if you do not have your own Pengamaskin that provides you with a cashflow" - Tobias Schildfat, Founder Solentro.
Critics of the GIG economy state that gigs leads to an unstable cash flow, but based on Schildfat's belief, the Pengamaskin can help remedy that problem.
Moreover, we asked Schildfat how he views the GIG economy regarding shift in power. In the GIG community there will be higher demands of "straight shooting" between both parties. The consensus between both parties is important to have a solid foundation to stand on. Schildfat pointed out a power dimension but characterized the labor market foundation built on common sense. Whatever shift of power the GIG economy will bring both parties will still have to respect each other.
"It's about respecting who the customer is. If I hire you as a consultant, then I am the customer. It is up to the consultant to meet the demands of the customer. The customer is the one buying the consultants time and the consultant must know how to meet and exceed expectations" - Tobias Schildfat, Founder Solentro.
Lasting good relationships are crucial for continued success
Since Schildfat himself works with consultants at Solentro, he means that it’s extremely important to clarify expectations and demands for both parties. A corner stone of Solentros way of working is to "exceed expectations". Exceeding expectations will be a new demand highlighted by the shift in power in a growing Gig economy. Schildfat means that the consultant must know the customer and establish an approach to best meet and exceed all expectations. Conversely, companies need to take greater account of "soft skills" and value the individual in greater sense beyond what is to be read in a resume.
"Players who sit on high horses for having a position of power will not be a part of a healthy long-term relationship, at least not at Solentro. Although the Gig economy is still a fairly "new phenomenon", companies that have been around for a while still think long-term. Within that, lasting good relationships are crucial for continued success," - Tobias Schildfat, Founder Solentro
From a long-term perspective, companies will continue to work with long-term relationships and offer consultants who do well more gigs. As a consultant in the GIG economy, power should therefore be used carefully. No one is irreplaceable. If the cooperation does not work, employers will find others to execute the gigs.
"My own experience with gigs and working remote, is that the way of working rarely is about laziness but mainly about a strive to create a freer way of working and more easily to combine work with leisure. The job-based freedom you seek, however, comes with responsibility. " - Tobias Schildfat, Founder Solentro.
Lastly, Schildfat highlights jobs as a bundle. Between consultants and companies, he concludes that it will always be a matter of give and take. If jobs as a bundle will grow, where the consultant demands more freedom to decide where, when and how they work, they will have to compromise with the customer to meet their needs and be prepared to be more flexible and available within their role in other ways.