For­get work­ing from home. Lead­ing by ex­am­ple, Igor Trninic wants his staff to make the world their desk

BC Business Magazine - - Front Page - By Mar­cie Good

One morn­ing in early March, Igor Trninic was set­ting up in­ter­views for a po­si­tion in his fast-grow­ing startup, Break­through Academy. A key ben­e­fit to join­ing the com­pany, he told ap­pli­cants, is the abil­ity to work from any­where.

Case in point: while mak­ing those calls, the 28-year-old was ly­ing in a ham­mock at a guest house on the lush, rolling grounds of a cof­fee plan­ta­tion in south­west­ern Colom­bia while his girl­friend read by the pool. As he scrolled around on his lap­top, a pea­cock wan­dered by.

“For a long time I've loved travel and en­joy­ing different cul­tures,” says Van­cou­ver-based Trninic, who was born in the for­mer Yu­goslavia. “When you think of a job with two or three weeks of va­ca­tion a year, and you think about the num­ber of years of life you have, you're like, `Wow, it could be very dif­fi­cult to see ev­ery­thing that there is to see in one life­time.'”

This spring Trninic spent five weeks in Colom­bia away from his col­leagues, rent­ing an af­ford­able lux­ury apart­ment in the city of Medel­lín and so­cial­iz­ing with a group of North Amer­i­cans. It's ex­actly the life he imag­ined in 2015 when he and Danny Kerr founded Break­through Academy, which of­fers busi­ness train­ing to home-ser­vices com­pa­nies. They de­signed the startup to be lo­ca­tion in­de­pen­dent. Coaches, whose job is to help en­trepreneurs in in­dus­tries such as land­scap­ing and ren­o­va­tions im­prove in ar­eas in­clud­ing plan­ning, bud­get­ing, sales and mar­ket­ing, con­sult with clients via the web. Staff use tools like Slack and Go­tomeet­ing to keep in touch.

Of Break­through Academy's 10 cur­rent em­ploy­ees, two work out of Calgary, one is in Vic­to­ria and an­other re­cently spent three months work­ing in the south­ern French city of Mont­pel­lier. “When you're not ge­o­graph­i­cally bound, you're not lim­ited in the tal­ent pool that you're hir­ing from,” Trninic says, adding that lo­ca­tion free­dom is a big perk for po­ten­tial hires, par­tic­u­larly mil­len­ni­als.

Tem­po­rary re­lo­ca­tions— Trninic hopes to visit an­other Cen­tral or South Amer­i­can city in 2018 with a group of his em­ploy­ees—goes a step fur­ther than telecom­mut­ing, a trend em­braced by many North Amer­i­can com­pa­nies, in­clud­ing Telus Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. and even the BC Pub­lic Ser­vice Agency.

How­ever, some or­ga­ni­za­tions have pushed back: IBM Corp.'s new chief mar­ket­ing of­fi­cer re­cently or­dered work-at-homers to re­port to the of­fice. Trninic says no tech­nol­ogy can re­place face-to-face con­nec­tion, and his com­pany plans events for all em­ploy­ees four times a year. He's also build­ing a “proper” Van­cou­ver head of­fice.

There's a down­side to work­ing in ex­otic lo­cales, he ad­mits. In Medel­lín, which of­fered an abun­dance of cheap, high­qual­ity food and a cul­ture that is “known for fun,” it was hard to think about work. “You're in this in­cred­i­bly beau­ti­ful place, and there are his­toric things to be seen. You're in 12 hours of meet­ings and you're like, `What the hell am I do­ing?'”

LAP­TOP OF LUX­URY Trninic, co-founder of Break­through Academy, work­ing in Medel­lín, Colom­bia

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