: Ralph van Roosmalen
Juggling three remote offices at the same time


Ralph van Roosmalen calls himself an “innovative Agile enabler”. He’s also a Management 3.0 enthusiast! I talk to him about how his company successfully manages remote offices in three locations: The United States, The Netherlands, and Romania.

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Powerful quotes by Ralph van Roosmalen

You don’t have to change 20% or 50% in a week. But if you can change 1% in a day, then at the end of the year you have changed and improved a lot. And don’t be afraid to say that you made a mistake – or go back to the old situation if that proved to be better. I did not say that new things are always better, but at least you try it out and give it a chance.


I think the most important thing to improve myself is to keep experimenting and to see what does it does with the people… with the team. What can we  try and learn from that? It’s easier said than done, but one of the most important things with remote working is to have an open mind.


The question I always ask during my reviews with people is “how did you become better last year?” People tend to forget about personal development.


Webcam can replace a lot… tools can help a lot… but being able to see each other in person, having a drink at the bar, or going to the city center, that helps build the team so much more. It really pays off in the end.


We went remote because within our department, we wanted to double the output. And you can do that by improving your processes, and some other things. But the biggest impact was adding people to the team, and we weren’t able to find them in The Netherlands. That was our main reason for going abroad. We went specifically to Romania because the traveling there was easy to do (you can be door to door within 5 hours). That was very important for us. So in case of an emergency or when it’s necessary, we can quickly be there or fly people over here.


Every person is unique, and therefore, you could say that every person has a different culture. I mean, for example, you are different than me. I have to approach you differently than another colleague of mine. So for me, as long as you realize that every person has a different manual, there’s no issue.


We try to do all our meetings with webcams. We try to be open and transparent so that everybody can see each other. Doing a retrospective in an Agile team without webcams, that’s not done in my opinion.


We set out to make our teams in two locations as equal as possible. When we have a party in the Netherlands, we also celebrate in Romania. When we go out to dinner in the Netherlands, we also go out for dinner in Romania. We also made it clear to our teams in the beginning, “Hey guys, the tools will not be perfect from day one. We will have some problems with Skype, Link, whatever we’re going to use. But give us time and we will try to improve.” And we did! Week by week, month by month, to where we are today.


If you have a remote meeting, you have to be in 5 minutes early to prepare everything. When the meeting starts, you don’t want the hassle with all the cables, settings, etc.


If setting up the communication takes more than 5 minutes, then people are already starting to think “okay leave it” because it is too much effort. The effort should be as low as possible.

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