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Remote work & hiring

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Future stream at EMERGE Conference had an interesting talk by Amir Shevat about remote work and remote hiring. Amir has a great experience at Twitch and Slack and now he is a co-founder of Reshuffle — an integration platform for your systems within organization. Also he had a great corporate experience at Microsoft and Google working with developers and women in tech programs which were growing fast.

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Re-thinking the remote

We need to re-think not only remote working but also remote hiring in post-COVID-19 world. Many people around the world lost their job in the last 2–3 months and the rest were forced to work remotely. This is the new reality of the post-pandemic world. It’s a really crazy change that was caused by the virus.

Now we are forced to work from home. What does it mean for businesses? There are two questions to focus on in this situation. How do we hire great people in a distributed world? How do we build products that shine in this situation?

First of all we need to define the right roles. We shouldn’t make the mistake of continuing hiring people for the same roles we had before corona. It might be a different role. We need to think about the definition of the role.

There is a Bay Area common practice. You write down the role with several levels and set of requirements for each type of role. You may think of a career ladder for each role. As product manager, for example, you start at L5. At this level you lead a single product of service. Your next step would be L6 becoming Senior product manager. The new level would require to lead 3 products and be the product manager at one of them. L7 would be called Principal product manager.

Well documented definition of the role prevents confusion. Both for candidates, new hires and current employees — knowing what is expected of me is critical to be successful. Good definition makes it easy to reach a consensus whether it’s a good candidate or not.

The second best practice is communicating clearly and coordinating thoroughly. You need to be sure that everybody is on the same page. The best tech companies do 4–8 interviews and reference checks. During each interview the people examine another skill/ attribute of the candidate. At Google/Slack/Amazon there are similar programs (e.g. Bar Raiser program at Amazon) which allows us to answer the question: Is this person better than the rest of the team? Also make sure that you have a diverse team and diverse candidates. You could really benefit from diversity in your company. Don’t forget to clearly communicate roles, responsibilities and requirements. This would help the interviewers to know what is being assessed and what skills they should check.

The third piece of best practice is notifications and reminders in right channels. There is a very strong correlation between actually getting the offer very fast to a candidate and closing the deal. Time is the essence when it comes to hiring. But we need to communicate clearly where to submit the scorecards by interviewers. And this is even harder when working from home.

During pre-pandemic times people have been notifying other people through emails. But sending emails has been hard when we’re in the office and it’s even harder when we’re remote. But during the pandemic lots of people are using Slack, Teams or WhatsApp to communicate in a better way than emails. There is email fatigue and if you receive thousands of automatic emails saying “please, submit your feedback for this interview” it would be very hard. Making Slack or Calendar invites to submit their feedback is much better practice.


Remote work & hiring

Hiring solution

So… How do we rethink a hiring solution? How do we build a tool that shines in remote workflows? Amir presents a new tool called with everything above mentioned in mind. The tool to run an interview loop in a totally distributed environment.

The process goes over Slack. We start the interview loop by making a “card” with the candidate’s name, position and LinkedIn profile. So we can get all the info about the candidate and the role requirements in one place. After that the app creates a private channel in Slack for this interview. This channel becomes the single place where everybody could talk about the candidate and it coordinates the actual interview process itself. Inside the channel there is a set of interviews (leadership interview, partnership interview etc.) and we can assign people and schedule them. The person who is assigned to the interview gets a briefing for the candidate (all information about the candidate, what skills should be tested, sample questions to ask, etc.). It doesn’t leave any ambiguity that would be hard to work around in a distributed environment. The same app inside Slack asks for feedback after the interview with the candidate. After all interviews are done you are able to see all the scorecards and feedback about the person in the single channel. This helps to make an easy decision whether you want this candidate or not.


Working remotely…Forever?

The last thing to think about is working remotely forever in the new world. Twitter announced the employees could now work from home. Google and Facebook have told their teams to stay at home until the end of the year. Working remotely is gonna be a big portion of our life moving forward. The work has already changed and people have realised that they could work from home and be productive. So working remotely is the new norm. This has a major implication on hiring. You don’t have to live in Silicon Valley anymore to work in one of the big companies in the Bay area. Now we can have a distributed team composed of different people speaking different languages. And financial motivation could be a major factor. Level 7 software engineers in San Francisco get $300–400K, in New Zealand — $90–150K and in Thailand as low as $25–50K per year. They all have the same set of skills but live in different parts of the world. So why don’t you hire amazing people from all over the world?

1 Sep 2020


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