How is it like inside Boldare on remote?
How is #BoldareTeam dealing with “home-alone” syndrome while the company works in a remote mode (no, we don’t watch “Home Alone” more often, at least not during working hours)? In this blog post I’m going to show you the way we’ve got our work organized to continue delivering software, hire new people and communicate with each other in these strange times of isolation.
In the previous blog post I talked about our special ways of using the toolset that helps us be more “us” at work during this compulsory home office time.
This time I’d love to take you to the inside of our remote workflow, describe how our structure and processes make us way more comfortable and ready for rapid changes.
Here, at Boldare, things actually change when we see an opportunity. Without wasting time.
In our philosophy the company policies, structures or strategies are not given once and for all. They’re not carved in stone. Otherwise formalism would eat empathy and smart actions that lay deep in our company DNA.
In such unpredictable circumstances, like we’re facing now, being ready to turn the steering wheel quickly and get things back on track is extremely valuable.
So what exactly helps us stay the way we are?
A “big word” - strategy
Is it suppose to be that big, though? When the entire industry had been facing a twist due to coronavirus outbreak, our co-CEOs Piotr and Anna revealed a simple 4-point-strategy for the upcoming times to the whole crew. One day and it’s done. What does it say?
- Health of #BoldareTeam and our families along with our social responsibility over short term company’s interests.
- Continuity of orders and financial safety of #BoldareTeam as the 1st priority.
- Quality and stability of Boldare’s services over large development plans.
- Turning crisis into an opportunity for Boldare over restrictive savings.
Well, it’s an example of what Boldare is based on. Simple rules that keep things in order. No proxies or long decision making process including many levels, no complicated internal communication policies or ceding these responsibilities in many steps.
Discovering our clients’ businesses & products
There’s no business without clients. Period. And there are no stunning apps without intense and meaningful workshops as an initial phase of product design and development.
It needs to be said, that we’re not a group of developers closing endless list of given tickets. It’s not us. Here, at Boldare the whole team is always engaged in the process of consulting and deeply understanding the big picture of a product. We educate our clients and lead them through the meanders of complex yet effective process of creation.
So in order to deliver products of the best possible quality we always listen to our clients to understand their needs, goals, business surroundings, company USPs and general expectations. Workshops allow us, as a development team, to understand the project better, empathise with the potential end-users, know their motivations, behaviour patterns and what exactly our clients want to achieve with the help of their digital products.
Every time we start to work on a new product - we pick various types of workshops and mix them to prepare a custom session, tailored for each client’s needs.
Whether it’s Product Vision, Impact Mapping, Event Storming, building roadmaps or any other one - all these are valuable tools. Each workshop ends up with a backlog building to make sure, we’ve got everything covered, and we know the priorities and estimated deadlines.
Usually we do the sessions in one of our offices in Gliwice or Warsaw (unless we meet clients from the other side of the world, that can’t afford to come in person e.g. Hong Kong or the US), but now we moved them online of course.
The whole team takes care about facilitation or even prepare small talks or ice-breakers to make everybody comfortable. Hangouts, Docs, Miro, Sprint Retrospective Tool is our alternative for a meeting room with blank walls, boards, and post-its. And it works fine - we’re able to share ideas and do our job in real time from e.g six different locations.
The same candidate experience although 100% remote
Yes, of course we’re recruiting 100% remote now. You can still look up for open positions - go on, take a look at our offers at Career page.
Magda, Kasia and Patrycja - our Talent Selection trio (along with other supporting teammates) continually provide you with extensive feedback, lead interviews, assess tasks and portfolios, organize remote trial days.
But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed at all. It’s the “cultural fit over skills” principle our selection process is based on, regardless of what’s happening and where we are. Your values, mindset, vibes, way of thinking and sociability - these are the winners, even if your CV is not packed with rich experience or top companies names.
How do we check that now? We moved trial days online and organized remote coffee breaks with candidates instead of meeting the team face to face.
Recently I took part myself in a remote trial day for a Creative Designer, when we got a slot for loose talks, questions, getting to know each other. And you know what? It worked perfectly. From the candidate’s feedback we notice that remoteness in our process is not an issue at all.
Win-win here. You know with whom you’ll be working, and the team can remains part of the decision making when it comes to hiring new people.
Onboarding - remote check in!
All the newbies who join #BoldareTeam are beginning their 3-month trial period as new members of the Onboarding team. They become a team whose aim is to complete the agenda week by week - learning our internal processes, getting the know-how, addressing questions & tensions, sharing thoughts and updates on their progress in becoming fully operational. Our Onboarding Guides are ready to help with all the formalities and answer questions too!
Our newbies go through meetings with founders discussing our vision, internal trainings in tools and processes, and setting their further development goals. This way “onboarding” becomes their responsibility and the first project to accomplish in the company.
How does it work online? I think the words of Agata, Scrum Master, who joined us in February, is a fair testimony:
“Onboarding at Boldare rocks! The successive completion of the entrusted tasks makes the employee begin to move efficiently in the organization and understanding the holacratic approach, get to know people and their roles, define their development goals and place in the organization. Personally, I managed to spend 4 days in the Warsaw office, after which we all started working remotely due to the prevailing epidemic.
What does this change mean for the implementation process itself? Well, for a company so well prepared for remote work, not much. All working tools are available online. We run the meetings virtually, both formal and coffee-social ones. We are looked after by Personal Growth Guide and have access to all kinds of support from People Supporter. It turns out that with a well thought out and prepared implementation process, you can spread your wings in the organization - even remotely, from the comfort of home.”
Who do I have in mind here? Scrum Masters and People Supporters - these are the ones whose accountabilities have become even broader, responding to the internal changes and the need to feel psychologically safe.
The first one is key to ensure the efficiency of a development team, facilitate its work, take care about implementing remote-work best practices, track progress, manage risks and work on bottlenecks in development process (if they occur).
But there’s also one accountability advantageous in times of remote or any crisis. Scrum Masters at Boldare are the ones who you might take to a 1-on-1 session to talk through your doubts regarding the project or the team morale. To support each other our Scrum Masters have formed a “chapter” (a space for all the Scrum Masters across the company) to share their daily issues and work them out for the benefit of the teams they take care about.
In case of the latter, holacracy again comes to the rescue. If there’s a need, an action goes in response. Without further ado, we’ve created a People Supporter role who’s open to talk through any possible issues related to staying remote (i.e. parents looking after kids), motivation, focus, priorities etc. Just book the time slot to talk. And you’ll find a way to mitigate your tensions together.
Holacracy is the key that opens all the doors at Boldare. It’s a set of rules that allow us to manage ourselves not vertically, but horizontally, in a flat structure.
What does it mean exactly? In one word - self-organizing and being transparent in what you do and how. It means you’re responsible for yourself, not your manager.
Examples? Let’s see - would it be possible in a huge corporation with a multi-level structure to offer your overtime to help teammate catch up in the project? Gather 100 people on an online meeting and let them discuss the strategic directions of the company? Change teams just like that to use your competencies where they are mostly needed? Or form a new team and start off a CSR project supporting medical personnel fighting coronavirus outbreak?
You’re free to change the reality around you if it’s along with the company priorities, helps your team and yourself become better, and doesn’t trigger any serious objection or harm to the business. Find a place for yourself, change or add new accountabilities or even create roles & teams - whatever works.
Alright, enough processes - be spontaneous!
Sometimes there’s no need for formalism at all. There’s a “need for speed” and fruitful actions.
Our philosophy is to engage all the specialties in the decision making process regarding new products development, be proactive, propose our own solutions for the sake of better performance of these products and their potential improvements. There’s no way we turn our back on any client who needs support in making one’s wise business choices.
A group of 20 Boldare teammates spontaneously joining our client’s brainstorming session on an app development? That’s our recent case. The best thing is that it all happened… within a day. What a surprise it was for our client who gained another valuable perspective and made the decision faster, based on our know-how and propositions.
Well, it’s just another picture of the mindset that drives us and helps to move forward.
Hope these few examples of how Boldare looks like from the inside (especially in times of remote) make you feel at home and that they are worth sharing with your friends! Spread a word about it, so our hearts grow.