Interview with Scopic Software

Scopic SoftwareScopic Software is a US-based company that has been providing tailor-made software development services to clients for over 13 years. You can find them through their WebsiteTwitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Medium.

1. Could you please introduce you? 

We are the largest virtual software development company in the world with 250+ professionals located in over 40 countries.

We work 100% remotely because we want to work with the best specialists there are, no matter where they are located. We have employees in North and South America, Europe, and Asia. They work from wherever they feel most comfortable. Most people have set up their home offices; some work from co-working spaces to intermingle with other professionals; and some even rent office space to work with other local Scopic colleagues face-to-face. 

2. How, when and why did you become a remote team?  

Scopic Software was founded by Tim Burr, our CEO, who took the plunge and started an entirely virtual company in 2006. A multicultural company with 100% remote employees was just the easiest way to get the company started since Tim had previous experience working with overseas team members. In less than one year, Scopic’s team increased to five employees located in as many countries. With time, Tim discovered that he could bring employment opportunities to talented IT professionals in remote areas of the world as long as they had access to a computer and the internet. 

3. What have been the advantages to be a remote company?

There are a number of advantages to becoming a remote company. We have the best professionals regardless of their location. Such a multicultural environment also enables people to learn something new every day.

 At Scopic, we believe that trust is everything when dealing with remote workers. Micromanagers need not apply. Once tasks and projects are assigned, employees have the responsibility of completing them, and managers don’t have the luxury of dropping by their desks. When you lead an officeless existence, “face-time” and busy-work are almost non-existent. We value individual and team output more than punching in a time card.

4. Have there been any disadvantages or obstacles? 

Apart from exceptional expertise, all of our employees have strong communication skills. Those two qualities are the basis for company wellbeing and growth, and successful project completion. In addition to discussing complex technical issues in English, our dispersed employees also contribute to a positive team environment and create relationships with colleagues and clients.

We fully embrace diversity and seek to promote a community feel. However, this isn’t as easy as having beers on Fridays or game night on Wednesdays. Remote teams have to be more creative in building teamwork, especially when teams include professionals from different backgrounds scattered around the world. To support a community culture, Scopic arranges fun meet-ups for employees living in the same country.

Another challenge is loneliness. Working remotely isn’t for everyone. Burnout and isolation cause problems for many, especially those located outside of larger cities. Our company newsletter promotes healthy working with actionable tips from seasoned remote workers. 

5. How do you do to operate effectively as a remote or distributed team? 

We have been able to operate effectively for so many years because we have established core values that all employees go by, as follows:

  •  We emphasize clear and honest interactions throughout the development process, both internally and externally. Because we work remotely, we can’t depend on non-verbal cues.
  • We constantly build our expertise not only by mastering the latest technologies, but knowing when and where to use them.
  • We are fair and honest, not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because we value our relationship with employees and candidates.
  • We treat our client projects as if they were our own.

 When it comes to daily operations, we have a dedicated team who makes sure every project is running smoothly and our employees are familiar with all processes and internal procedures. We have a company Wiki page that all employees can access to look for vacation or financial procedures, contact key people in specific situations, and read about company updates.

At Scopic, we want to build more than just great software. We are an international network of professionals, who take their work seriously, but also seek work-life balance. We publish a quarterly newsletter where our employees can check out interesting projects the company is working on, read interviews with their colleagues, or find out about important dates. Local meet-ups encourage our “Scopic family” to get together with other local team members after work – in a restaurant or bowling alley – or sometimes to work together in a co-working space.

6. How do you do to hire remotely? 

Our recruiting process is a bit different than the usual brick and mortar recruiting, mainly because we never meet our candidates in-person. We start with a preliminary chat to gain deeper insight into candidates’ experience, situation, and career goals.

Successful applicants then proceed to technical assessments to confirm that they have the skills required to make meaningful and reliable contributions to our teams.

The last stage is a conversation with a member of our management team, where we identify soft skills and weigh candidates’ careers goals with the role they are seeking at Scopic.

After extending an offer, our HR team starts an onboarding process to help the new employee jump into new tasks at Scopic Software.

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

Our founder and CEO, Tim Burr, believes that it is all about giving people room to make mistakes, especially young people:

“Young people can accomplish a lot, you just need to give them the opportunity to prove themselves. While experience is great, you don’t need a mountain of experience to do really well.”

This motto has allowed a number of individuals at Scopic to grow and fulfill their potential in new positions within the company – whether transitioning from a Desktop Developer to a Technical Operations Manager or a Technical Writer to a Human Resources Manager. This approach has contributed to the company’s success for over 13 years.

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

We use internally-developed tools for communication, tracking hours on projects, and much more, and complement these with other great software like Teamwork. For many years, we have been using Skype for chats and calls, and we still use it for communication with our clients.

We now use a custom tool developed by our team called Kreo for internal calls and chats, as it is very reliable and secure. We also have an employee portal and internal Wiki with all important information related to working with us.

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

Our brilliant accounting team handles salaries, ensuring employees are paid promptly each month. At the moment, our employees can choose between two methods of payment: bank wires and Payoneer.

Because we have employees in over 40 countries, it would be impossible to keep track of benefits in all those countries. That is why we pay our employees gross salaries, and they are responsible for their own taxes, social security, or health insurance. In most countries, our employees set up individual entrepreneurship to handle all those things.

Of course, we do not leave our colleagues alone with the bureaucracy. Our HR team provides guidance as needed, or puts new employees in touch with other employees in their country who can advise them. We believe it is good to have a network of colleagues you can turn to for help.

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

Make sure your employees have access to the best project management tools as it will make project introductions and coordination so much easier.

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