Interview: Devsdna

Devsdna was founded in 2015 by Yeray Julián and Beatríz Márquez. They are a small mobile applications design and development company from Spain.

Devsdna Remoters InterviewYeray Julián is Devsdna tech lead. They are specialized in native mobile development using Xamarin and they are focused in craft quality apps, both at code and user interaction levels.

The company was born in 2015 in Seville, Spain, but Yeray and Beatriz live today in Tenerife, Spain. One of the main advantages of working with a remote first approach is the geographic mobility if give us.

Currently, they are 6 teammates in Devsdna. Yeray and Beatriz work from Tenerife, Ciani from Las Palmas, Marcos from Seville, Marco Antonio from Madrid and Chema from Cádiz.

You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or see visit their Medium or Website.

1. How, when and why did you become a remote team or distributed company with employees working remotely?:

From the first moment, when we were thinking about founding the company, we thought it was possible to work in remote and get the same or better results than with a traditional company approach. We believe in people and confidence in the power to get the best results. Don’t believe a distance of 2m or 2000km is going to modify the desire to make things the right way and the team rapport. If someone wants to gamble you, it doesn’t matter where you are, is going to gamble you, so we choose to put confidence in our people.

2. Which have been the advantages to becoming a remote company or having a distributed team?:

At a professional level, not being geographically limited to find new teammates is a big advantage. This allowed us to work with people we admire and to shape a varied and powerful team.
But the biggest advantage for us is a personal one: Yeray and Beatriz were raised and lived in Tenerife for almost all their lives. They moved to Bilbao and then to Seville for work, but now they were able to return to Tenerife with their family.

When you get to some age, being able to see your parents and being able to let your daughters enjoy their grandparents, is priceless. We have another mate who is from Cádiz, lived in Lleida and Madrid, returned to Cádiz and now had returned to Madrid again because he loves the city. Even some mates travel to other cities because their partner is located there, and they are not limited by an office in the middle of a city. I think everything comes down to being able to live wherever you are happy. And if you are happy, things are made in a better way.

3. Have there been any disadvantages and obstacles? How have you overcome these challenges?:

Nothing is perfect out there. At the first days of Devsdna we tried to work with people from Mexico and LATAM, good friends we known from events and community. But the bureaucracy, currency exchange, and cable transfers price, made it very difficult. At the end, we were pushed to work with some mates with lower rights than others, and we don’t like that. Maybe it was our low expertise in this kind of things, for sure, but was so difficult that we decided to focus for the moment on working with mates living in Spain.

Another one disadvantage is when, as in our case, you work with mates you have a great personal relation. Sometimes you would like to get out have some pizzas and fantas… and is not possible. Is something you learn to live with and make every in-person meeting more remarkable and special.

4. How do you do to operate effectively as a remote or distributed team? Have you modified the processes, tools, organization and internal activities?:

We try to make decisions based on common sense. A lot of communications: Slack to talk everything you want, text mode and async. Skype for voice conversations, pair programming or simply to take a break and take some coffee with a mate. In our case, VSTS to manage projects… and as low email, as we can 🙂

We try to follow SCRUM for our day to day, not going crazy with it and applying again common sense. Every day a 15 minutes daily meeting to know what each one did yesterday, what is going to do today and any impediment he/she is finding.
Every time we finish a task and is ready to push to the code repo, we follow our DoD (Definition of Done) including testing in real devices, pair review with a random mate available, functional review, code review, specifications, and if everything is ok, is pushed, if not, we return to fix it and repeat the DoD. This works great to share the knowledge and to add an extra layer of quality in the deliveries.

5. How do you do to hiring remotely? What’s the process that you follow? :

We are very basic in this. We firmly believe technical skills in a new teammate are important but not the most important thing. How he/she really is, if there is a good fit in the team at an emotional level, is much more important for us. So we try to have the first contact with Yeray and the new teammate, if there is a good feeling and he/she have enough technical skills, we made a Skype with all the team, not about tests and stress, but to know each other.

All the team has vote rights, to enter the family you need to get a resounding yes from all the team. If the candidate gets the yes, it starts working with an indefinite contract with a test period, if you get to pass it, everything is fine, if not… well, we can see each other in the pub then, no remorse 🙂

6. What would you say to companies that don’t believe to hire employees who work remotely? :

You can’t live constantly thinking people are going to gamble on you. Is time to, in Spain, as is the country I know, we change the mind from the old “Boss wants to slave me, Employee want to gamble me” thing. Trust in your people, stop making them feel like numbers or resources and give them the freedom to make decisions. If you want to hire people smarter than you and don’t let them flow… why do you hire them? If you are able to change the chip, you get to see you can work remotely without problems.

7. Which are the tools that you use or help you to work remotely?:

Slack for 80% of async communications, as low email as we can and lots of Skype to talk every time is needed. VSTS for the organization.

8. How do you manage the business, salaries and things like taxes as a remote company?:

Really, as we are all from Spain, is very easy. We are a Spanish Limited Society, pay our taxes as any other company and every teammate has an undefined contract standard. All payment are made with bank transfers.

9. What advice would you give to companies that are starting to work remotely or establishing a distributed team?:

Is important they stand at the remote work option as something they can combine with the traditional way of doing things. It adds value to diversity and tranquility to the team. Is important to switch the focus from hours in the office to objectives and results. Maybe this is the first step, to establish a culture of work by objectives and open their mind to a more flexible environment for work.

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