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1. Could you please introduce you?
Hi! My name is Tatiana, I’m an HR Lead at Soshace. Soshace is 100% remote company but I was lucky to meet about half of my colleagues in person. We have video calls each day to be closer to each other and meet quarterly on team building events!
We work from our homes or hotels while travelling. We all need a quiet place to work from so that we can talk to candidates without any distractions. It’s a big no for crowded places like cafes or parks.
Our HR team is tasked with recruitment and we focus relentlessly on promoting the idea of the remote job to our candidates.
2. How, when and why did you become a remote team?
Soshace started gathering a remote team almost two years ago. The best part is that we welcomed the possibility of going beyond a single city and even the country.
We work remotely so we can tell our candidates about all the pros and cons of telecommuting learned in practice.
3. Which have been the advantages to become a remote company or having a distributed team?
To start with, remote teams work differently than office teams. It is important that your teammates are good at independent work, setting priorities, and time-management.
We spend less time in meetings, pay great attention to processes and information transparency.
There is no such thing as being late as you can’t be stuck in a traffic jam while working from home. All meetings start on time so no one spends time waiting.
The last but not the least, all tasks can be easily re-assigned to another manager as all information is online and open to every team member.
4. Have there been any disadvantages and obstacles?
Remote work presents a set of challenges for me to surmount. The most daunting challenge is not to overwork to the point of burnout. The work is always there – you just take a look at your laptop and the next thing you notice, you are in the middle of a dialogue with a candidate. It is vitally important to know when to stop!
It is harder to work with newcomers remotely. You can’t be around all the time to help a new teammate. They might feel isolated and alone especially if it’s their first remote job. It’s harder to find out about mistakes in time so that a new manager or the whole team won’t drift into troubles.
Leadership style must be adjusted as well. The Internet connection isn’t always good for a video call so you need to guess the reaction. Most of the communication is written that ruled out the possibility to read emotions and attitude.
Communication needs to be very clear and structured. That is why we have daily meetings with the team – both overall and one-on-one talks.
5. How do you do to operate effectively as a remote or distributed team?
To operate effectively we test and adept best approaches from other spheres.
The model for our recruitment steps structure is a sales pipeline – the set of actions taken by sellers from initial contact to signing a contract. Our recruitment team has a similar approach as we defined specific steps for our interview process – HR interview, online test, technical interview, portfolio, feedback gathering, signing of an agreement. It’s a very transparent process and anyone can work with a candidate starting from any stage.
We hear words Agile, Scrum, and continuous improvement process every day form our candidates so we decided to use some best practices from this sphere. Each month, we review what we’ve done, whether we reached the goals that were set, what shouldn’t be done in the future, and how we might do our work better.
We use online tools like Trello to set team tasks so that everyone sees the progress and the process goes smoothly.
6. How do you do to hire remotely?
I can’t say that there are any particular difficulties in recruitment of remote workers. The process is the same and even slightly easier since we conduct interviews online and can search far beyond a single city. The labour law is adjusted to telework so there are no obstacles from a legislative point of view. Since our recruitment team is from Russia we use Russian job boards and hire under the Russian labour law.
7. What would you say to companies that don’t believe to hire employees who work remotely?
First of all, it’s the best way to reach people beyond your geography and widen the recruitment pipeline. Secondly, it can help reduce costs such as office space rent, equipment and office supplies.
Besides, your employees are energetic in the morning since they don’t spend hours commuting, have more flexibility to plan their working day and usually have a healthy work-life balance.
There is always the other side of the coin so you need to be ready to change the working process. For example, starting with the first remote teammate all meetings go on-line. Instead of gathering in a conference room, all participants open a video conference tool and talk from their working places. As an advantage, you may to invite to a call as many participants as you need. On the other side, all employees must have a stable Internet connection and a camera.
I’d also like to add, that your information flaw has to be transparent and the documentation flaw has to be digitalised. But it’s worth trying!
8. Which are the tools that you use or help you to work remotely?
We keep all the information online so that there is no need to save anything on a personal employee computer. Our candidates base is stored in online CRM, we use Trello for team goals, Zoom for interviews and Skype for video and audio conferences.
9. How do you manage the business, salaries and things like taxes as a remote company?
We work by Russian law and International law when applicable.
10. What advice would you give to companies that are starting to work remotely or establishing a distributed team?
- Start with the right people for the job. You are looking for well-organised people who are good at time management and can work without constant supervision.
- Work on information transparency. Short and long term goals have to be clear for all employees, all changes have to be announced right away, all processes have to be well documented.
- Divide bigger goals into daily tasks as it is easier to manage with smaller tasks. This approach also gives an opportunity to notice a problem or a mistake sooner to fix it right away.
- I’d recommend having one-on-one meetings with direct reports at least once a week. You need to know about their progress and to set goals, as well as check if they are stuck with a problem or are eager for more challenging tasks.