Artis Rozentals is the CEO of DeskTime, employee productivity and time tracking software with more than 200k users worldwide. He has nine years of experience managing his team and a decade of exploring workplace productivity patterns and best practices. He likes to do productivity experiments and write articles using interesting data gathered on the DeskTime platform, analyzing the productivity habits of the platform users worldwide. Artis is always happy to share his experience in management and business with others. Moreover, being a CEO of a rapidly growing company during the pandemic has given Artis many valuable business lessons worth sharing. He’s also an amateur cyclist, biohacker, and father of two.
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Thank you so much for giving us your time! Before we begin, could you introduce yourself to our readers and take us through what exactly your company does and what your vision is for its future?
Artis Rozentals: DeskTime is an automatic time tracking and productivity tool for teams and freelancers, based in Riga, Latvia. The tool was first created as an internal application to help manage Draugiem Group employees. Soon, we realized that such a tool could be helpful for many businesses and professionals. Tracking time with DeskTime helps our users to improve their productivity and efficiency. The tool’s many features ease various management processes such as employee scheduling, invoicing, project cost calculation, and more. DeskTime’s best quality measurement is more than 200+k users worldwide who have chosen to keep track of their work hours with our software.
Regarding the future vision, we’re looking to expand to more markets through localization – earlier in 2021, we launched DeskTime in Spanish as the first step, and more languages are to come. We’re also working on several new DeskTime features that will expand the usage of our product in 2022.
Additionally, providing educational content on productivity and time tracking benefits is a big part of DeskTime’s vision. We’re already providing such content via blog posts, Youtube content, on-demand videos – educating people about the importance and benefits of time tracking is as essential to us as growing our business.
NO child ever says I want to be a CEO/entrepreneur when I grow up. What did you want to be and how did you get where you are today?
Artis Rozentals: When I was about 6-7 years old, I wanted to become a pastor. I don’t really remember why but my participation in a church choir and performing at Christmas concerts in the church may have had something to do with it. When I was a teenager, I wanted to become a dentist, which definitely resulted from parental influence. But in the last year of high school, I realized that I’d be going for marketing and business studies at the university as I was too lazy to become a doctor.
Business management provides a certain degree of freedom to plan your time and business processes. The ability to plan, manage, and influence business development is my biggest motivation. During my college years, I began working in marketing – first at a pharmaceutical company, then five years later, an opportunity to join the startup world through the Draugiem Group appeared, and I happily accepted it.
Tell us something about yourself that others in your organization might be surprised to know.
Artis Rozentals: DeskTime’s team actually had similar activity in one of our company’s online team-building events last year – to surprise other teammates with a fact about yourself they don’t know. I revealed the fact that I used to train in equestrian sports as a teenager. But a thing that my team would be surprised to know about me now is that in 2022 I’ll participate in the Cross Triathlon XTERRA, combining preparations for it with leading my company and spending time with family.
Many readers may wonder how to become an entrepreneur but what is an entrepreneur? How would you define it?
Artis Rozentals: I’d define entrepreneurship as taking responsibility. Therefore, as an entrepreneur, I’m directly responsible for the whole company: our mistakes, employees, their safety and comfort at work – whether they’re in-office or remote. So, it’s quite a lot. But at the same time, I get to enjoy all the many rewards such a responsibility brings.
What is the importance of having a supportive and inclusive culture?
Artis Rozentals: When it comes to doing business and leading a team, having a friendly and supportive workplace culture has somewhat unexpected — and massive — benefits. For example, our team is more open to different perspectives and experimentation, paths that often lead to new, successful discoveries. In addition, inclusive cultures tend to have happier employees, which are proven to be more loyal and productive. I feel this in my team as our employee turnover is very low, and most people we hire stay with us for good.
How can a leader be disruptive in the post covid world?
Artis Rozentals: When the pandemic finally recedes, we’ll find ourselves living in a world that values health – both physical and mental – more than ever before. When I myself fell ill with Covid-19, it made me realize what matters most – the happiness and well-being of the people I care about, including my team. I began looking for new ways to reassure my team and support their well-being.
Before COVID-19, we had a program, which besides benefits like free gym membership and paid lunch, included one paid day off for any health-related reason, including mental health. During the pandemic, I realized that mental health requires more attention, so we added ten paid therapy sessions to our employees’ health insurance.
In the context of work-life balance, at DeskTime, we’ve decided to keep a remote or a hybrid work format after the pandemic. I also encourage my team members to plan flexible workdays that include a walk or a run during work hours. Our own time tracking software lets us keep an eye on how many hours we’ve worked each day, allowing us to follow our individual progress and fill in the necessary work hours when we feel most productive.
If a 5-year-old asked you to describe your job, what would you tell them?
Artis Rozentals: It’s not that simple in my case – I don’t, for example, build homes or provide medical treatment. But my six-year-old daughter says that dad goes to work to talk to people 🙂 And generally, it’s true – I talk to people and participate in various meetings.
Share with us one of the most difficult decisions you had to make for your company that benefited your employees or customers. What made this decision so difficult and what were the positive impacts?
Artis Rozentals: Deciding to work with outsourced professionals (instead of hiring only in-house) was a difficult decision, as initially, I thought that all my employees needed to be in-house and full-time. Now I know it’s often smarter and more cost-effective to hire outsourced agencies or freelancers, like social media experts, designers, SEO, and content marketing specialists. Each of these teams is an expert in their own field, therefore they don’t need much onboarding, and my company can learn a lot from them.
Today, some of these outsourced teams have become an integral part of DeskTime – some of them have worked with us for 4 years and more. When the situation allows us, we try to meet up in person and have an informal gathering once per year on Christmas to foster the sense of being a united team.
Leaders are usually asked about their most useful qualities but let’s change things up a bit. What is your most useless talent?
Artis Rozentals: I have a uniquely useless talent to load the dishwasher when it seems like there’s no space left anymore!
Thank you so much for your time but before we finish things off, we do have one more question. If you wrote a book about your life until today, what would the title be?
Artis Rozentals: “Artis Rozentals – 2 personalities”. I’m turning 38 soon, and I could divide my life into two parts – childhood and going to school in Jelgava, Latvia, and my life in the university and afterward.
Mike Weiss, VIP Contributor to ValiantCEO and the host of this interview would like to thank Artis Rozentals for taking the time to do this interview and share his knowledge and experience with our readers.
If you would like to get in touch with Artis Rozentals or his company, you can do it through his – Linkedin Page
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