Remote First How-to

Developer Testimonials

How to be a successful remote software engineer

This blog post covers how a developer can be recognized, find a remote job, and be successful working remotely. However, it’s important to understand what is in it for organizations hiring remote developers.

*Full Disclaimer: All the views expressed in the blog are solely my personal views and biased based on my personal experience. The best-practices, technologies, or benefits listed are no silver bullets. The article is focused on engineers in the web development space. 

Remote working is not a new concept but working remotely is gaining popularity during these times. Many organizations are forced to rethink how they work. Covid-19, has impacted every person in the world, but with the challenges the pandemic has created comes opportunity.

There has never been a better time to work remotely, especially for engineers. Many organizations have now turned remote-friendly, some have also started hiring developers from regions unheard of – the reason? Untapped potential!!

This blog post covers how a developer can be recognized, find a remote job, and be successful working remotely. However, it’s important to understand what is in it for organizations hiring remote developers.

Why organizations should hire remote developers

It would be unfair to say that organizations do NOT want to hire remote developers as they are bound by government laws which prevent them from going beyond their country to hire a person on their payroll. It’s only possible for large corporations.

Let’s first understand the benefits of hiring remote engineers. As an organization you can:

  • Hire engineers who have untapped potential – these engineers have high productivity and are eager to learn.
  • Hire engineers from countries with lower GDP – allows you to pay people less than you would if you hire local talent.
  • Add diversity to your company culture – allows sharing different ideas and perspectives that you did not have before.
  • Become a 24×7 company – by hiring engineers in varied timezones you can move faster and support customers globally.

Now that you understand why a company wants to hire you, let’s discuss why a developer would want to work remotely.

Why engineers should consider remote jobs

There are many benefits (and few drawbacks) of working as a remote engineer. 

  • Choose your hours – Since you work in a different timezone, you can choose the hours you want to work, though it’s important to have some overlap. (more on that later)
  • Work with people with diverse backgrounds – there is a different thing about people who are well-traveled, right? Why is that?
  • Get paid more than your peers – you can only earn what your industry pays you, what if you changed the local industry? 😉
  • Choose where you work– Home, Coworking office, Coffee Shop? It’s recommended though you have a consistent setup (again, later!)
  • Better work-life balance – Save time traveling, get more time off (remote organizations are usually flexible), be with your loved ones often.
  • Choose your own technologies – though it helps get better jobs depending on the tech you work with, organizations are looking for the skills you’ve developed to help them identify what you’d work on.
  • Immense growth – working with people globally brings a lot of different perspectives allowing you to 10x your growth.

Why would organizations consider you

We have established that organizations want remote engineers, now let’s look at why an organization would consider you? What do you need that makes an organization believe you are remote-friendly?

Open Source Contributions
Organizations want to look at the work you have done. 

  • It increases the credibility of your work
  • It shows that you love writing code
  • It gives them a glimpse into the code you write

Remote-friendly technologies
If you are looking to join a startup, most likely they use technologies that are popular right now. Having experience in current tech is a great way to get noticed. Some of these technologies are (but not limited to):

  • Javascript (Node and React)
  • GraphQL
  • Python (Django)
  • Kubernetes and other cloud devops experience is a huge plus

It usually helps to be able to work on both backend and frontend (Full-Stack), since it’s crucial to be self-driven in a remote environment.

Solid previous experience and profile
Organizations love when they find a person who is a great problem solver. Working on multiple projects and industries, at different roles, are usually indications that you will do well in their company. Companies will also check your Linkedin profile to understand you better. Having an updated profile and strong recommendations from previous employment can go a long way towards helping you find the right remote job.

Attitude
I saved the most important one for the last. Companies hire for attitude rather than skill. Skill can be learned, but attitude takes a long time to correct. Having the right attitude is the only way to get good remote jobs. 

So what do I mean by having the right attitude? 

Display a willingness to learn more about their company, show a genuine interest in the company’s industry and what it cares about. Read the company’s vision, its core values, culture, and apply only if these attributes excite you. It’s essential that you’re a quick learner so that you can developed the required skills to perform at the company.

How to find remote jobs

So, if you have what it takes to be a good remote engineer, the question is, how do you find a remote job that you love?

Apply to a company’s remote jobs (via portals or company website)

If you do a quick search on Google, you will see many platforms like WeWorkRemotely, remote.co, and others.

You can start by looking at the skill you want to target and applying on the posts (make sure you research the company before applying). You need to have a great cover letter. Cover letters are a great way to express why you are the best person for the job they posted. A strong cover letter makes you stand out as companies receive 100s of applications.

Which application do you think they are most likely to open first? The one with the cover letter! You can also search for companies which are remote-friendly and apply directly via their websites.

Freelance

Freelancing is also another way to get jobs. Freelance positions offer more flexibility and let you have a better work-life balance. Freelance work also gives you the chance to choose your hourly rate, but you may sacrifice job security, and you might also waste time hunting for your next gig.

Platforms like Turing, guru, Upwork, and freelancers are good places to find remote gigs.

Personal Connections

Twitter is a great place to build relationships with other fellow developers. These connections will help you find your next job. 60% of organizations hire people that are referred by the people already working in their companies. This means the more people you know in the industry, the better chance you will have to get a good job.

Turing.com 

Turing is a unique platform that bridges the gap between a freelance platform and a job portal. It is truly focused on the developer’s well-being, growth, and tools to be successful in working remotely.

Turing is different because:

  1. You do not have to hunt for jobs – Turing will understand your goals and find you a job that you want. 
  2. You get long term work – You will work with a real company as their team member. You get the benefits of the company you are working for under turing. 
  3. You still get the flexibility as you choose your own hours and your rate.
  4. Turing pays you on time – you do not have to follow up with your clients to get paid or depend on a rating system to get jobs. 
  5. Turing handles issues that may arise between you and the client. 

Turing gives developers peace of mind by allowing them to focus on their skills and their job instead of spending time doing administrative work that reduces their productivity.

Working Remotely

Getting a job is only the first step. There is a lot more that you need to do to be successful at your job. 

Communication
Being an effective communicator is the key to being successful at a remote job. Working remotely means you need to make extra efforts to communicate with your manager.

  • Have regular check-ins with your manager (weekly as well as monthly)
  • Have at least 3 hours of time overlap between yours and your team’s work hours. 
  • Make sure you and your manager(and your team) are always on the same page, and that expectations are clearly understood. 

Turing.com actually does a great job improving your communication with your manager. 

Self-driven
You need to be self-driven. The more you have to depend upon another person on the team, the more difficult it will get to be productive in your job. It certainly helps if you are a full-stack engineer, as this allows you to do both the frontend and the backend by yourself – if it is not possible then you must try to separate (but not isolate) your responsibilities.
The more time overlap you have with your team, the more flexible you can be with respect to separating your work responsibilities.

Setup
Having a decent office and workstation setup is very important. You cannot be productive at your work if you have “pebbles” on the race track you are trying to win.

  • Make sure you have a good (and consistent) place to work
  • Your environment should be distraction-free
  • Good camera and microphones to have calls with your team. 
  • A fast computer that can handle your daily workload

Trust
Remote teams are happy and do more if they trust each other. Here is a great article that would do justice to explaining how important trust is in a workplace. https://blog.doist.com/trust-remote-workplace/

With this, I wish you luck finding a great remote company to work at. It can be hard, but rewarding. I trust that turing.com can help you find the next job that you love. 🙂

By Oct 27, 2020
Developers Corner

Onboarding to a new team as an engineering leader

In this post, Jean Hsu of Range shares some guiding principles and practices that have been helpful to her in navigating this onboarding process as an engineering leader.

Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Jean Hsu of Range.

I recently joined Range as their new VP of Engineering. Over the last few weeks, I’ve ended many days full of meetings feeling energized — grateful to work with this incredible group of humans. And to be honest, I’ve also ended days feeling depleted — feeling a bit bashful about basic questions and overwhelmed by all that I don’t know.

Although I’ve previously onboarded at big companies like Google and smaller startups like Medium and built onboarding programs for engineering teams, this is the first time I’ve onboarded to a team in over eight years. It’s also the first time I’ve been onboarded to a team while everyone is working remotely, not to mention in the middle of a pandemic, while my kids are distance learning from home! With those remote constraints and personal time constraints in mind, I wanted to be particularly intentional about how I spent the first few weeks.

In this post, I’ll share some guiding principles and practices that have been helpful to me in navigating this onboarding process. 

Use Structured Questions to Get to Know Individuals and the Team
One-on-ones are foundational in getting to know people as individuals. You will want to schedule recurring one-on-one meetings with people you work closely with — whether that’s direct reports, cross-functional leads, or your manager.

In your first or second one-on-ones with the team, ask a set of structured questions to guide the conversation. You can give people a heads-up that you’ll be doing so, so they know it won’t be the norm for all one-on-ones. These are the questions I asked everyone on the engineering team:

  • What’s going well at Range?
  • What’s been frustrating, or could be better?
  • If you could have your way, what one thing would you change?
  • What do you want to get out of your time at Range?
  • What support can the team or I provide?

Think of these questions as a broad invitation to share whatever they feel is important. There are few enough that there’s plenty of time to dig into the responses in a 45 minute or hour-long time frame. Delve deeper into each with open-ended follow-up questions like “What else?” and “Can you tell me more about that?”

Without a clear intention, over time, one-on-ones can settle into status updates or pleasant-but-not-too-meaningful chitchat.  By bringing up these topics at the start of a new work relationship, you let the other person know that the one-on-one space is one where these topics can be discussed. One-on-ones are the venue where you want to hear what’s going well, learn about any frustrations, discuss areas ripe for change, what your direct reports want professionally, and what support they need. 

Lean into Your Beginner’s Mind
When you’ve been on a team for years, working day-in and day-out in the same codebase and same team, you acclimate to small changes around you, like slowly increasing build times or that weekly meeting that doesn’t seem to have an agenda. Blindspots emerge that slow the team down significantly.

When you’re the newcomer to a team, you’re the only one with entirely fresh eyes. Take notes on what you notice. Are there product features that seem particularly delightful to you? Do you find any processes that feel needlessly painful? What about obvious gaps that feel important to fill?

It’s easy to tell yourself, “Oh, I’m new, so I’m sure they have a good reason for that. I’ll just keep my mouth shut and see if it all makes more sense in a few months.” It’s tempting not to want to rock the boat and not be the new engineering leader associated with complaints. Quite reasonably, you don’t want to be the person who chimes in at every meeting with, “Well, at Google, we did XYZ.”

To get around being the “problem messenger,” get buy-in upfront from other leaders with whom you work closely. Talk to them about what gaps you can fill in the leadership team, and discuss processes for you to leverage your “Beginner’s Mind” in this critical period to share observations and insights.

Absorb Information, and Let Go of Your Need to Know Everything
At Medium, the previous tech company I worked at, I joined before there was a Medium. I was there through the nascent ideation process, building out of the initial product and every single product iteration after that. 

At Range, I don’t have that in-depth knowledge to lean on.
Suppose you are, like me, joining a company as an engineering leader. In that case, you may be trying to absorb everything you can about the team, the individuals, the processes, the codebase, and the product. Piece together what you can — have conversations with engineers, designers, product people, sales, and marketing. Read relevant docs, and learn from the expertise others have on the team.

And know that you don’t need to have that full historical context to fill your role effectively. I also remember times at Medium when I had no context at all. Once, I helped DevOps scope out a plan for thwarting DDOS attacks, even though I had no prior meaningful knowledge concerning this issue. I scoped out and executed a successful multi-month API project, with little context as well. 

So absorb what you can to get up to speed and let go of your need to know everything. Ask questions when you have them, and ask for help when you get stuck. Trust that you’ll tap into your team’s expertise to get the information you need to lead teams and projects. 

Define Your Role
As you settle in and start to get a feel for the team’s needs, take some time to take a step back and define your role. It can be easy as the new person to help out everywhere as needed, but take the time to think about what you want the position to be — what do you want to be doing six months or a year into your job?

There will be parts of your role that are more concrete and non-negotiable, but engineering leadership roles often have a lot of room to choose your adventure. 

I love to write, so part of my role definition includes external-facing influence through writing blog posts and helping with other content for the product. Someone else may want to carve out time for regularly preparing and delivering talks or play a meaningful role in defining and iterating on team processes. 

When I’ve taken the time to clarify my role in this way, it helps to contextualize the day-to-day tasks and feel less scattered and reactive. It’s analogous to taking the time to define and communicate a team’s North Star and top priorities. Even if individuals are working on varied tasks, it’s essential to know how it ratchets up to the team’s focus — and that also helps individuals be mindful of when their work doesn’t contribute clearly to the team’s priorities. Similarly, taking the time to define my ideal role gives me clear intention and direction — so rather than feeling scattered or overwhelmed, I can see how the disparate parts of my job add up towards a role I aspire to fill.

Joining a new team as an engineering leader can be exhilarating, daunting, joyful, and overwhelming — sometimes all in the same day! You may be pulled in all directions before you even settle in. While you’re getting up-to-speed, remember to keep just a few priorities top-of-mind and communicate them clearly (even if they change every few weeks). I hope these principles and practices help you navigate this transition. 

About Jean:
Jean
 Hsu is the Vice President of Engineering at Range. Prior to Range, she built product and engineering teams at Google, Pulse, and Medium, and co-founded Co Leadership, a leadership development company for engineers and other tech leaders. She’s also a co-actively trained coach and has coached many engineers, tech leads, managers, PMs, VPs of Engineering, and CTOs. She loves to play ultimate frisbee (though not during pandemics), and lives in Berkeley with her partner and two kids.

About Range:
Crafting new ways for organizations, teams, and individuals to unlock their full potential

The team at Range believes that healthy companies aren’t simply better places to work, but do better work and will ultimately be more successful. But that’s easier said than done — it often seems the more humans an organization adds, the less human it becomes.

We think this can (must!) be fixed, and that by putting (awesome) team success software into people’s hands, they can build wellbeing, awareness, and performance into the fabric of work.

By Oct 26, 2020
Smart Slack hacks ultimate guide
COVID-19

The Ultimate Guide to Slack Hacks

Slack is one of the most popular communication tools for remote teams. With the ability to coordinate conversations by a specific theme, within a team or company-wide, there is great power in this platform. Long popular with remote teams, here are some tips and tricks that you might have missed. Use these to make the most of your time and communication efforts.

Slack is one of the most popular communication tools for remote teams. With the ability to coordinate conversations by a specific theme, within a team or company-wide, there is great power in this platform.

Long popular with remote teams, here are some tips and tricks that you might have missed.

Use these to make the most of your time and communication efforts.

We will cover:

Notification Management

Pin important messages

Keyboard shortcuts

Polls and surveys

Star items = quick list

Slackbot Reminders

Include posts

Keyword Notifications

Find mentions quickly

Search Smarter

Quick link to previous posts

Bookmark location in a channel

Formatting for Impact

Deep Work Time – DND

Customized Emojis

Integrate! Apps, bots, and workflows

Notification Management 

    • You may not need notifications for all activity within a channel. Adjust your notification requirements by selecting the settings icon (cog) at the top of the channel on desktop or using the drop-down menu (3 dots) on mobile, then settings, then notifications/notification preferences.

Pin important messages

    • You might want to pin the most current update of the project you are working on or your guide to using the channel. You can pin up to 100 messages per channel, but keeping it to crucial information is better.

Keyboard shortcuts

    • You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate around the Workspace, mark a message as read or unread, format your messages, and more. Saving time and giving flow and process to your time in Slack.
    • When all the pictures and GIFs are making it hard to follow the conversation type “/collapse” into your text box, which will leave text only within the chat and reverse this type “/expand.”
    • To see the list of shortcuts hit “ctrl” and “/.”

Polls and surveys

    • Want to get some quick feedback from the team? Or trying to decide on meeting times? Use the command “/poll” and follow the instructions to call up the “Polly” app. Both powerful and fun.

Star items = quick list

    • Click “Show starred items” or use the keyboard shortcut “crtl_shift+s” for a quick list of all your starred messages. This hack can be useful to quickly review essential items and help you to come back to something you might not have time to handle at the moment.

Slackbot Reminders

    • Use the “/remind” command to give you a personal reminder, or to remind someone else on your team. An example is “/remind @Jeff of meeting at 2 pm”, your reminder will be sent at 2 pm to Jeff about your upcoming meeting.

Include posts

    • Where you need to share longer-form content, you can include posts in your Slack messages. You might want to share project plans, or quickly link to your code of conduct, vision, and mission statements.
    • Create a post – (On your desktop). Select the attachment icon (paperclip) → “Create new” → “Post.” From here, you can share your post, edit it, allow others to edit it, format the article, and add images to it—further instructions via the Slack help section

Keyword Notifications

    • While you will get notifications if you are tagged or mentioned, it can be useful to get a notification. Likewise, when someone uses a specific keyword. Go to preferences, then notifications to set up your desired keywords. You will receive the notification, and the channel will display a badge.

Find mentions quickly

    • You can use the @ symbol on the top right on desktop to show, or hide, mentions if you are looking for a recent conversation (or you’re drowning in notifications). Or use the keyboard shortcut “ctrl” + ”shift” + ”m” to show and hide your mentions.

Search Smarter

    • Use modifiers that help you to search smarter. “From:user”, “in:channel”, “during:March”, or “has:emoji-code”, this one is particularly useful if you follow a specific process of emoji usage within your Workspace. You can find a complete list of search modifiers here.

Quick link to previous posts

    • Using the timestamp (time beside your name above a post), you can copy this as a link and paste into a new post, bringing old posts back into the conversation quickly.

Bookmark a location in a channel

    • Some channels require more attention from us than others, if you need to read everything in the channel then use “Alt+click” on the message where you are leaving the channel, it will mark all subsequent messages as unread. On mobile, this should be a long press/hold on the message.

Formatting for Impact

    • Need certain parts of a post to stand out? Then use formatting. E.g., using * either side of a word will embolden it i.e., *here* now becomes here. Or traditional keyboard shortcuts also work. You can also add formatting like inline code or block quotes, very useful to help faster communication of crucial information. More on formatting your messages from Slack.

Deep Work Time – DND

    • DND – You can type in “/dnd” into the text box and then set a time, or use the bell icon to the top left and select a time frame. Stopping you from receiving any sounds or notifications in the time frame you specify, and your co-workers will see a sleeping symbol beside your name.

Customized Emojis

    • Emojis can be useful to speed up communication within your team or to help strengthen branding and team identity. You can add the custom emojis from the drop-down menu on the top left and choose “Customize Slack.” Admins have the power to limit who can edit these.

Integrate! Apps, bots, and workflows

      • Slack supports integrations with 100s of apps. Here is a list of some of the most popular ones. See the Slack help center for details on each and a full list of apps available, follow this linkZoom for SlackStart a meeting, join a meeting and make a call with Zoom phone. Remember, you must register your Slack and Zoom accounts with the same email address.
      • Trello for SlackManage cards on your boards from Slack, add conversations to cards, and update due dates.
      • Asana for SlackCreate new tasks and turn your conversations in Slack into to-dos in Asana
      • Salesforce for SlackSearch Salesforce records from Slack, configure Salesforce alerts for Slack. Send Slack messages to SalesForce, or send Salesforce records to Slack.
      • Twitter for SlackYou can set up mentions on Twitter to feed into a channel that the team can keep an eye on. Follow similar businesses or your suppliers.
      • Google Calendar for SlackView your full schedule and have your status update when you are scheduled in a meeting.
      • Donut for SlackDonut helps to improve team-building; there are prebuilt connection programs in Donut, one of the most popular functions is virtual random coffees. Help to encourage cross-organizational bonding.
      • Loom for SlackMention @person or #channel directly in your Loom videos, and they can watch the clip without needing to leave Slack.
      • Polly for SlackThis Polls and surveys bot lets you get quick feedback. Use pulse surveys directly in Slack.
    • Greetbot for Slack.  An onboarding assistant for Slack. Customize welcome messages and schedule follow-ups.
    • You can also create custom integrations, build your bot, create automated workflows, and much more, read more on this via the Slack help center here.

 

Do you have a workflow or trick that works well for you in Slack? Then please share it with us over on Twitter @Turingcom.

By Mar 31, 2020
COVID-19

A Collection of the Best Guides for the Suddenly Remote in the Time of COVID-19

At Turing, we’ve been focused on remote work for years. To help you out during the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve begun curating the best and most in-depth guides to help you navigate this new and confusing reality.

With so much information out there right now for the Suddenly-Remote, it can be hard to know where to turn or which information is reliable.

At Turing, we’ve been focused on remote work for years. To help you out during the COVID-19 crisis, we’ve begun curating the best and most in-depth guides to help you navigate this new and confusing reality.

We will continue to add to and update this list as additional high-quality information becomes available. Keep in mind that the majority of these guides were written for the immediate application of remote-work basics. They are not intended to provide the detailed information, skills, and best practices required for sustainable remote work or for new companies that are adopting a remote-first paradigm from day one.

With that in mind, here are our initial picks for the best guides to help you and your company deal with the need to go Suddenly-Remote during this very challenging moment in time.

GitLab’s Guide To Remote Work

https://about.gitlab.com/company/culture/all-remote/

Gitlab is the world’s largest all-remote team. They know what they are talking about. Gitlab’s guide is one of the most detailed guides out there and includes the company’s “Remote Manifesto.” They cover:

● How & Why

● Getting Started

● People & Values

● Management

● Hiring & Learning

You can jump into the sections that are most relevant to you and your team and share the link with others throughout your organization to help get them up to speed on all things remote.

Zapier’s guide to working remotely

https://zapier.com/learn/remote-work/

Here is another remote working heavy hitter. Zapier is 100% distributed, with over 300 employees spread across 17 countries.

The Zapier guide includes an AMA for those new to remote, which is available at the start of the page. This guide consists of the following seven areas:

  1. Automation for remote work
  2. Teamwork on a remote team 
  3. Remote work for managers 
  4. Remote work for employees 
  5. Remote workspaces 
  6. Remote work tools The state of remote work

Zapier has also added a recommended reading list. Their guide is downloadable as a file for ease of sharing.

Remote Work Guides from Twist

https://twist.com/remote-work-guides

Twist is a communication app from the wonderful people at Doist. Doist is a remote company with 68 team members spread across 25 countries.

Their guide is a collection of various remote working guides curated in once place. The guides available are as follows:

● The Future of Work: The Guide to Remote Work

● Remote Setup: The Remote Guide to Logistics

● Remote Projects 101: The Remote Guide to Project Management

● Scaling Your Remote Team: The Remote Guide to Hiring

● Leading Distributed: The Remote Guide to Management

● The Art of Async: The Remote Guide to Team Communication

● Designing Without Whiteboards: The Remote Guide to Product Design

There is a great depth of information here, including thoughts from various remote work experts throughout the guide.

The ultimate guide to remote work from Miro

https://miro.com/guides/remote-work/

Miro believes in helping teams to collaborate. Their remote work guide covers:

● Introduction to Remote Work & Collaboration

● Is Remote Work as Great as it Sounds?

● The Most Important Remote Work Statistics

● Guide to Hiring Remote Employees

● How to Onboard Remote Employees

● Building Remote Work Culture & Why It’s So Important

● How to Manage a Remote Team

● Engage Your Remote Team to Keep Productivity High

● Complete Guide to Remote Team Meetings

● 15 Best Team Building Activities & Games for Remote Workers

Remote Work GuideThe beginner’s guide to working remotely from Recamov

https://recamov.com/blog/remote-working-tips-for-beginners

Recamov, which stands for Remote Career Move, functions as a job board. The Recamov beginner’s guide to remote work touches upon the following points:

Remote Communication

● Tech-Readiness

● Workspace Set-Up

● Peers and Community

● Work Style

● Work-Life Balance

● Making To-Do Lists

● Managing Expectations

● Working in Sprints

● Me-Time

But what if you need more than a guide? The extraordinary team at Slack has you covered there, too. Simply click this link: https://calendly.com/slack-customer-experience/remote-consult?month=2020-03 to schedule a remote team consultation.

As more quality information is released, we’ll be updating this meta-guide to help you easily find the best resources from one centralized location.

By Mar 19, 2020
COVID-19

Remote Now! A Quick Guide to Remote Work Best Practices

In a world where so many are going suddenly remote there are things we can learn from those who have been working outside a traditional office. While there are differences in circumstances, job types and personalities, there are also many commonalities for those of us working remotely.   Here is an outline of some best practices to help you, and your team, make the most of remote work. 

Note: This is the second part in our series on Remote Now, a primer for employees and companies that have been forced to become suddenly remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stay tuned for additional posts over the next few days!

In a world where so many are going suddenly remote there are things we can learn from those who have been working outside a traditional office.

While there are differences in circumstances, job types and personalities, there are also many commonalities for those of us working remotely.  

Here is an outline of some best practices to help you, and your team, make the most of remote work. 

We will cover:

  • Communication
  • Social interactions
  • Trust
  • Online etiquette
  • Remote work boundaries

Over Communication is Key

Quick Wins:

  • Have agreed communication processes & schedules
  • Embrace the remote way of communicating
  • Use video in meetings
  • Batch communications where appropriate
  • Edit and review messages before you send them
  • Over communicate = assume nothing – give context and give some more
  • Strong documentation as a rule 

This is the number one challenge for most people going remote.  When working in an office we become accustomed to being able to “swing by” someone’s desk to ask a question.  Communication in a remote role forces us to be more deliberate and think ahead of time what we might need when we send a message to a colleague.

It also forces us to not “scratch the itch” straight away.  You might like an answer from your colleague straight away, but if you are using asynchronous communication then you need to get comfortable with waiting for a response.  But having agreed times that people respond by will help the team to know, and meet, expectation.

And batching communications will help you develop better communications hygiene.  Don’t send off a message every time you have a query, put them into one post and edit and review before sending.  Ask if you could make your message clearer, or do you need this level of information?

Documentation is a huge part of keeping your team and projects moving forward.  Make sure to prioritize good documentation and agree on formats and processes for keeping documents up to date, while ensuring version protection and data security.



Quick definition: Synchronous = real time e.g. phone or video call  vs. Asynchronous Communication = you send the information not expecting it to be picked up straight away e.g. email, messages via Slack.

Social Beings and Trust

Quick Wins:

  • Schedule social time with the team
  • Have the trust talk with team members
  • Set expectations around check-ins
  • Encourage two sided feedback
  • Ensure team members feel supported
  • Build serendipity into the team

We are social creatures which helps us to create bonds, growing trust and improving communication and collaboration as trust is developed.  Without social interactions this can be greatly slowed down on a remote team. Build some serendipity into how the team interacts, using tools like Donut via Slack helps to bring some randomness into team interactions and encourage the creativity and the social strengthening that happens in unstructured situations.

Therefore making social interactions part of your work week is hugely important.  Make time in your daily standup to include time to chat about life in general, while it might feel like a “waste of time” there and then, it is actuallys an investment in improving the team’s effectiveness in the long run.

Schedule in virtual chats, run ice-breakers and when appropriate, organise in person meetups to help your team to bond.

Managers should start open conversations with team members to ensure they feel trusted within their work.  As a manager you may need to “check-in” on a team member, but make sure it’s clear that you’re not “checking up on them”, this can feel like unnecessary monitoring.  Build clear expectations around when check-ins happen at the team and individual level. Schedule them in, use a format like a daily stand-up to help everyone know where they are on a project, what their next steps are and how they are progressing so far.  For individual check-in, ensure that team members know that these are about finding out if they are enjoying their work and feel supported. Make it about you both sharing information and have equal sharing of feedback.

Key to all of this is trust, it can be hard to help people new to remote work to feel like they are trusted.  This is vital in helping that person to flourish in a remote role and should be a core part of the management team’s goals.  Having the conversation about trust helps, also recognising someone when their work is good is very important.

Online Etiquette and Boundaries

Quick Wins:

  • Use video for conference calls
  • Use an agenda
  • Everyone is remote for the meeting
  • Either set specific “office hours” or a set cut off point for work
  • Create rituals to help you start and end the day

Because of the nature of many of the tools we are using we need to be extra deliberate about how we an online meeting.  It is much easier to mistakenly speak over someone in a video conference call than in a physical meeting room. Create habits that help to ensure people are engaged and feel involved.

If you have a hybrid team and are running a conference call, treat everyone as if they are remote.  Having some team members in a room, while your remote colleagues are struggling to hear the conversation happening on site isn’t good meeting etiquette.  Have all team members at their desks and dialling in as if they are also remote. This helps to level the field for communication and gives the in office team members a clearer understanding of what is good practice for an online meeting.

And finally boundaries.  These are important to ensure people don’t burn out.  A struggle for many remote workers is continuing to work late into the evening, or working through lunch.  This becomes a matter of diminishing returns, you are no longer as effective and it can take days to come back from burnout.  Agree a set hours of work where possible, and suitable, or set yourself certain boundaries like “I don’t work after 8pm on a week day” will help to avoid burn out.  It also helps you not needing to wonder if you are ok, or if you could fit in another hour, which is one more decision you would need to make. 

The issue is often being able to switch off after a days work.  You might have just hit on an amazing idea but now it’s “home time”, using rituals to finish (and start) your day helps you to get into the right mindset and wind down from your work brain.  Things like taking a walk outside, listening to a certain type of music, exercise or scheduling a call or coffee with a friend or family member can help to draw the lines around your work.

We all find our own ways of working and are always learning from each other.  We’d love to hear what works well for you and your team. Find us on Twitter and let us know your remote working best practices!

By Mar 16, 2020
COVID-19

Remote Now! A primer for the “suddenly remote” during the COVID-19 pandemic

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard the news. As coronavirus cases explode around the globe, more and more companies are instructing their teams to work from home. For companies that already have a fully or partially remote structure, this is pretty much business as usual. But, if your employer is more traditional, being forced to run an entire business with a team that finds itself in the position of suddenly being remote presents a slew of challenges.

Introduction:

By now, you’ve almost certainly heard the news. As coronavirus cases explode around the globe, more and more companies are instructing their teams to work from home.

For companies that already have a fully or partially remote structure, this is pretty much business as usual. But, if your employer is more traditional, being forced to run an entire business with a team that finds itself in the position of suddenly being remote presents a slew of challenges.

This primer, which will be produced in short excerpts, is intended to help employees and employers get a grip on the essential skills, tools, and best practices that will reduce the problems and stress we’re all likely to encounter during this frightening time.

For most of us, this Remote-Now experience will (hopefully) be short-lived. If we’re fortunate, we’ll weather the coronavirus crisis quickly, and within a couple of weeks, people will be able to return to their offices and normal work schedules.

This primer is not intended to help your company “go remote” on a long term basis. Our goal is to give you the necessary knowledge and skills to enable you to continue your operations with as little disruption as possible during the near term.

As a result, we’re not going to do an exhaustive review of every tool, or of all the techniques that remote-first companies use. Instead, we’ll focus on simple practices and widely available and mostly free tools that will allow you to get started quickly and function at a reasonably high level during this difficult time.

Over the next several short posts, we’ll profile the tools we think are the easiest to learn, the most common (making it more likely your team is already familiar with them), and especially those that are inexpensive or free. We’ll talk about scheduling, give you a list of the most common remote worker shorthand, and go over the best practices we’ve found that will help your team interact in the most seamless manner possible.

To help you get started, here’s a short list courtesy of Lisette Sutherland of Collaboration Superpowers with the simple things your company and employees can do now to help make this daunting and unexpected challenge a bit easier:

  1. Find a dedicated place in your house. Make this an area where you can be productive and is separate from your private life. 
  2. Use video. It’s important that your team members can see and hear you well. Have plenty of light and wear a headset.
  3. Create a team agreement. Talk about expectations for how to work together—templates available here.
  4. Set goals and be enthusiastic. Working remote is all about trust and communication. How will you know what each other are doing? 
  5. Get familiar with the tools. There are great tools available for online collaboration like ZoomSlack, and GoogleDocs that can make this process easier.
  6. Lean in. Start without big expectations, experiment, and grow your skills. Put feedback loops in place to evaluate progress. Regular retrospectives on how the team is doing will inspire continuous improvement and trust.

In addition, don’t forget to be empathetic. Not everyone has worked from home before. Some issues and distractions are likely to make this effort more challenging for some than others (kids home from school or a sick spouse come to mind). 

There’s a learning curve here. Going Remote on the fly is not the simplest thing in the world, especially when that world is freaking out around you. Put simply, be kind to one another. We’re all in this together.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Mar 13, 2020
remote work policy
Management

How to create (or review) your remote work policy

Many companies are finding themselves in position of having to go remote with a very fast turnaround.  We wanted to make some of that process easier by giving some guidelines on creating (or updating) a remote work policy.

Many companies are finding themselves in position of having to go remote with a very fast turnaround.  We wanted to make some of that process easier by giving some guidelines on creating (or updating) a remote work policy.

Here you will find the following:

  • What is a remote work policy?
  • Why should you have one?
  • What should it contain?
  • Creating the policy
  • Free Resources

What is a remote work policy?

This is a HR agreement between the company and an employee on when and how they can work outside the office.  It is also a checklist of expectations and guidelines.

The policy should outline the legal rights of employees that are working remotely and who are eligible to work remotely.  

It should also contain best practices, therefore making the transition easier and reducing uncertainty.  A policy such as this can be temporary or permanent.

Why should you have one?

It’s a legal requirement.  The documents you require will be different depending on local laws, make yourself familiar with what you require and don’t be caught out.

It’s protection for a company from breaches of employment and equal opportunities legislation and helps employees to know what the correct procedure is to follow.  It is recommended that you review your policy at least once per year.

In a great article by Laurel Farrer she outlines these 6 areas in which a company can unknowingly be outside the law regarding remote work:

  1. Work contract – scope of work must match the documentation
  2. Occupational Health and Safety Standards
  3. Information security
  4. Employment and labor laws
  5. Tax regulations
  6. Immigration laws

Also, it helps employees to know:

  • How to handle communication
  • Steps to keep data safe
  • Their legal rights
  • Advice on wellbeing
  • How their interactions with management might change
  • That their career won’t be at risk by being remote

What should it contain?

The contents of the policy should help make it clear what expectations there are for both employee and employer.  While the document is there to protect both sides legally, it should also help in the smooth operation of the business and help the employee to understand how remote working might differ from them doing their role in office.

  • Working hours
  • Legal rights
  • Insurance
  • Cybersecurity requirements
  • Tools
  • Expenses (if applicable)
  • Strategies
  • Termination

Creating the policy:

Before you start to craft your policy take time to consider the following:

  • Audit current work practices
  • Include employees in the process 
  • Use clear language
  • Update the policy regularly

Work alongside HR, legal and financial departments in creating a remote working policy.

  • Outline how different roles will work remotely
    • Different requirements for HR vs a developer
  • Clear rules about working from home
    • Consider various scenarios and plan communication tools and processes for each:
      • Team all-hand meetings
      • Client kickoff meeting
      • Manager 1:1s
      • Performance reviews
      • Employee learning and development activities
  • Supply employees with the right tools
    • And ensure they are comfortable using them
    • Will you offer a stipend or reimbursement so they can purchase equipment?
    • Tools and software have both communication and engagement implications, as well as cybersecurity aspects
      • Tools to include:
        • Team communication
        • Video conferencing – hardware and software
        • Collaboration software

Things to consider:

  • What are the legal requirements around remote working in your jurisdiction?
    • Legislation differs from country to country
  • Is the role suited to remote?
    • If not, how can you adjust to suit this role via remote
  • Are management prepared?  Will they require further training or support?
    • If a manager has no previous experience with a remote team training is advised
  • Are there implications to taxes or benefits?
    • This differs across states and countries.  
  • Give guidelines on the use of Wifi and VPNs
    • Ensure these are tested
  • Make space for work relationship building and maintenance in the policy
    • Have a virtual water cooler and help management with improving engagement remotely
    • Schedule this monthly, quarterly and yearly
    • Ideas to use:
      • Office hours
      • Video hangouts (non-work)
  • If an employee is 100% remote ensure all other relevant policies are also signed, like their in-office colleagues

In a great article by Macy Bayern of TechRepublic she outlines 10 rules for your remote work policy:

  1. Eligibility
  2. Availability
  3. Responsiveness
  4. Productivity measurements
  5. Productivity measurements
  6. Tech support
  7. Rightful termination
  8. Physical environment
  9. Security
  10. Client confidentiality

Free resources:

Remember that your remote work policy should be tailored to fit your company.  Use these resources as guidelines in crafting the ideal policy for you and your employees:

A Sample Remote Work Policy for Employers from Remote.co

Crafting Remote Work, Flexible Schedule, and Working from Home Policies [+ Templates] from Owl Labs

How to Make a Remote Work Policy Work for Businesses and Employees from Smartsheet

Guide to Writing a Telework Policy from The Telework Pilot Project

Telework policy and process from University of Washington HR Department

Telework Guidance from Telework.gov, official website of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management

Resources for companies embracing remote work from Gitlab

Remote Working Policy Template – Local Authorities, United Kingdom

Telecommuting Policy Sample from EnterpriseSeattle 

Handbook of Operating Procedures – Telecommuting from The University of Texas at Austin

The policy is only one part of going, or having, a remote team.  Things like trust and deliberate communication are key in keeping your remote team engaged and productive. 

Ensure you give time to these other areas of how you approach remote, and help relationships and communication to be front and centre of how your team operates. 

By Mar 12, 2020
Hiring developers

Vetting Candidates for Remote Work | Turing Hire

What you need to know about a candidate to make a great long-distance hire Hiring remote, global talent is tough. Most of the usual signals you rely on when hiring someone in the US don’t apply. You may not recognize the school a candidate attended. You may never have heard of the companies a candidate… View Article

What you need to know about a candidate to make a great long-distance hire

Hiring remote, global talent is tough. Most of the usual signals you rely on when hiring someone in the US don’t apply. You may not recognize the school a candidate attended. You may never have heard of the companies a candidate has worked for, and you may not have any idea if the people providing references are genuine. You also can’t rely on recruiters because they’re likely dealing with these same problems.

So how do you make sure a remote prospect is up to the task and won’t simply slow you down?

Overcoming sourcing challenges with rigorous vetting

When the usual means of identifying talent are likely to fail you, a new process is needed. At my current company Turing, we’re working to solve this problem. In this article, I’m going to share with you what I’ve learned during hundreds of technical screens. My goal is to help you identify best practices for vetting prospects and making sure your placements are going to be capable of delivering the results you require.

At Turing, we match developers from all over the world with positions at some of the world’s best and most interesting startups. Every time we make a placement, we put our reputation on the line. In other words, we can’t afford to make bad matches.

Since we are unable to rely on typical signals that would allow us to determine if someone is good enough for our clients, we’ve developed a system that provides unbiased feedback about a candidate’s skills in all of the areas critical for their remote-work success.

Core to our approach is a highly structured vetting process that incorporates sophisticated automated testing as well as detailed, in-person technical screening for individuals that have been able to successfully pass our coding examinations.

All of our testing is intended to help determine key facts about the experience, skills, and capabilities of a candidate. What we’re trying to understand through our tests and interviews will help us determine if a person has the skills they claim to have and whether they’re capable of performing basic tasks, managing projects, and people, or even leading entire projects from conception through implementation.

So, at a baseline, we’re trying to determine if someone can contribute to a codebase in a meaningful way. Maybe their skills only support accomplishing scoped, individual tasks. For example, can this person add a button that does x, y, and z on this web page and build it in a way that takes into account the full technical stack of the application?

Or can this person go in and add unit-testing to some kind of already written back end piece of logic? Generally, can they contribute within an already established structure and do things that won’t upset that structure, if given functional requirements?

Then, there’s a level of complexity beyond that. Can this person take a direction like “Hey, we want this larger-scope feature built?”, and successfully run with it? And can they execute at that level of complexity, something that is going to be composed of many tasks? Can this person, for instance, build a new signup flow, or build a new matching algorithm for some sort of matchmaking service? Can they individually make the sorts of principled tradeoffs in design and implementation that is inherent to successfully building at that level of complexity requires? Does this person have the sophistication to read between the lines and identify functional requirements implicit in a higher level and more coarse-grained specification?

But most critically, at both the task and feature-based levels, we’re trying to determine if this person will be able to contribute to an already established infrastructure, both technically and procedurally.

Identifying coders, leaders, and project architects

For more senior placements we start getting into higher levels of architectural complexity. Can this person start an entire project from scratch if they’re only given a general direction? If they’re tasked with building and deploying a new Android app that does something novel, can they deliver? Or if a company is expanding their product into a whole new space, can the developer take some rough business ideas and some rough sketches about how the company would like to go about doing this, and then build out a full-stack product, from the UI to the backend architecture to the design of the database models?

Can they manage the entire process from system architecture design to writing elegant implementations? Do they possess the depth and breadth of experience, as well just general horsepower, to be skilled enough to implement the MVP from the front end to the backend to the database as well as whatever infrastructure they’re going to use to actually deploy the code?

Even vetting somebody in terms of their technical acumen from a general level that seeks to get a signal on someone’s “seniority” is a really complex thing to do. Proper vetting needs to understand whether a person can design systems at a very high level. Can they understand how pieces fit together and how those pieces talk to one another? And then you start getting down into deeper levels of abstraction. Does a candidate understand how this feature fits into the greater scope of the product?

Can they assimilate to use the tools in a particular company? Can then adapt to the cadences and workflows of the team that they’re on, and work with other people to be part of a bigger whole? And then, at the task level, you need to determine if someone has fundamental baseline computer science abilities? Will they build efficient pieces of code? Do they understand notions of runtime and space complexity, and how that might apply to the code that they write, and the specific problems they are being asked to solve?

Are they able to conceptualize how their code will typically be used and how the stuff that they write will actually be run?

But the most critical thing to keep in mind is that it all comes down to code. Code has

a dual purpose.  It is going to be executed by a computer, and it’s going to be executed at certain cadences and using certain pieces of data and memory. But it’s also the stuff that people are going to read, and have to maintain.  People will have to go in and either edit or understand what your piece of code is doing in order to write their own piece of code, to modify or extend the functionality of a given application. Designing abstractions and writing code that can be comprehended by another human is extremely important.

AI versus Human Vetting

It’s almost an overwhelming list of skills that somebody requires to be considered a “good” software engineer. Trying to vet them all in an hour-long phone interview is very difficult. At Turing, we’ve realized that it’s possible to take the human out of it. To a point.

We do have an hour-long technical interview that we use with some of the most skilled developers that we’ve found on our platform, where we validate and extend upon things that we find through automated testing.

The technical interview allows us to screen for things that we find are very, very hard to test for. Of course, we’re interested in their communication capabilities, but we also like to test some technical things in an interview in addition to an automated test.

 Why Both?

During the course of developing Turing’s platform, we found that automated tests are really good for testing someone’s facility with specific technical stacks. For example, with programming languages like JavaScript, or Python or frameworks like React, or Node JS, or Laravel. We found that we can test someone’s knowledge of how to use those particular things pretty well in an automated test format.

We can get a really good signal as to whether somebody actually knows a particular framework or whether they speak a particular language. What’s really nice is that we can provide skill-validation to clients who are looking to get somebody up and running with the stack that they’re using as quickly as possible.

We’ve also found that we can automate testing of more general-domain kind of format

For instance, we can find out if the candidate knows how to build a server. Do they know and understand how a database is going to interact with a server, and how that server might interact with a front-end client? Do they know common design patterns that might be encountered in software engineering, and how those patterns might best be applied?

Is a candidate familiar with the types of algorithms they might encounter in software engineering? Or, given this piece of code in a language that you purport to know, can you tell us what you’d expect to happen if it was run with a certain type of input? We’ve found that those types of questions are really good for the types of automated testing that we currently do.

And we think that we get a pretty good signal on a developer’s mastery of a specific type of coding, say front-end development or back-end systems development, or mobile development or database design.

There’s really good tooling that we’ve built upon, that allows you to run code in a browser. And this allows us to do things such as automated live coding tests. We can do automated live algorithm testing in this sort of format with a significant degree of success, in terms of being able to test algorithmic correctness and efficiency.

We’re able to test whether or not somebody can write code that fulfills a particular function within a particular amount of time, and with a particular amount of like memory. We’re really excited to expand upon this method and see what further coding-based automated tests we can do.

Where automated testing breaks down

But even in a live coding format, there are holes that we have in terms of our automated tests.

Right now, it’s still very hard to get a computer to tell us what the elegance of somebody’s code is. Or how well it was organized, or how readable it is, or how well abstracted it is.

That’s where I really feel like a technical interview comes in handy. Because then I can present candidates with situations they might encounter during their work and they can walk me through how they’d design the solution to the problem. Doing this during a technical interview can help me understand what a candidate’s thinking is, and what kind of code, organizationally, they’d spit out to approximate a solution. This really helps me get into a prospect’s critical thinking. I can really see how they handle problems with uncertain specifications, how they ask questions about getting required specifications, and more generally a get a clearer idea of what the nature of their programming abstractions and elegance might be.

“Automated testing establishes a bar that filters people out. The in-person interview confirms the testing and tests the candidate on critical things that are currently hard to measure in an automated way.”

In general, what we’ve learned at Turing is that a well-designed and comprehensive automated testing facility is very cost-effective when you need to screen a large number of applicants blind. If I had to do an in-person interview, or even review and background check every candidate that wanted to work with Turing, there wouldn’t be enough hours in the day or enough days in the year.

And as our testing capabilities continue to evolve it makes our ability to find the best candidates and then invest our time where it’s most productive; doing technical screens for the top-tier applicants only.

What to do if you don’t have automated testing

In my next post, I’ll talk a bit about what you can do if you don’t have an automated testing facility. I’ll also dig into the way you can make the onboarding process simpler, and how you can spot early signs that a remote hire is struggling or even failing. Stay tuned!

By Feb 5, 2020
Hiring developers

How to Become a Remote Developer | Turing Jobs

My goal with this post is to tell you how to prepare yourself to get your first serious remote gig.

Thinking of becoming a remote developer and also want to work for a top tier company – hopefully, one based in Silicon Valley – but you don’t live in the US and you haven’t been able to secure a visa. Don’t despair. More and more of the latest valley startups have discovered that there’s a ton of talent offshore. This means that today might just be the best time in history to become a remote developer.

As someone that’s been working remotely about as long as it’s been possible, my goal with this post is to tell you how to prepare yourself to get your first serious remote gig. Today, I work for a company called Turing that places developers with opportunities all over the globe. We have some of the most advanced developer testing and vetting of any company in the world. What I’m about to share with you are key insights I’ve developed first, as a person that’s gone through Turing’s testing and vetting process as well as someone that now works on making that process even tougher and better.

First Things First, Be Prepared to Show Your Work

If you’re a developer applying right now, make sure that you’ve got a portfolio of some work that you’ve done before. It could be code you’ve submitted to GitHub. It could be some art design work that you have worked on. Maybe some websites that you’ve worked on, or maybe applications on the App Store.

Being able to showcase completed work is a very good thing. When we’re evaluating candidates that have passed our tests look at prior work. Additionally, many Turing clients want to see examples of the work a potential match has completed. The other thing that can help you stand out is if you have a good CV. But be careful! Attention to detail is critical. Make sure there are no errors in any documents you share to showcase your skill.  Nothing will shoot you in the foot the way an obvious mistake can. Believe me, I’ve seen so many people with errors in their CVs. To me, it’s a red flag if someone submits such an important document with mistakes. It says you’re careless and don’t take the time to check your work. So, no errors on CVs!

It’s also really important to have relevant information included in your portfolio. If you say that you have a particular skill make sure that there’s a corresponding project where you have actually used that skill. You’d be surprised how often someone will say they are proficient at coding in a certain language but then they don’t provide a single example of their work in that discipline. If you say you’re good at something, impress me by showing me an example of your great work!

Another critical skill for someone remote that wants to work for a high-profile US company is to have strong English. I know there are many people that are not native English speakers so it’s always good to make sure that your English is very concise. If this is a weakness, don’t ignore it. Do whatever it takes to make sure that you understand English very well and that you’re proficient in communicating in English, too. It’s the language your team is going to use, it’s the language you’ll be using to comment your code, and it’s probably the language of the people that will be using the product you want to help build. It’s easy to think people will overlook weak English skills, but if there are two candidates that have the same experience and have performed equally well on the automated tests, the one with better English skills will perform more strongly in a live technical screen.

How to Ace Your Automated Testing

The key to a superlative performance on automated testing is to be very well prepared.

Ensure, for example, that if your area of expertise is Python, you have prepared yourself in terms of the coverage of the topics in Python.

Be sure you’re prepared to cover that language end to end because the questions will try to test your coverage. The exam will cover your in-depth knowledge as well. if it’s algorithms and data structures that you work on be sure you know everything from the most basic concepts all the way to graphing algorithms and runtime complexity.

How Long the Automated Testing Should Take a Skilled Developer

For a skilled individual, I estimate that our current automated testing will require about eight hours. So, maybe a day. But of course, you may not want to put all that pressure on yourself to finish everything in one day. My recommendation is to allocate two hours per day and give yourself roughly a week to do just about all the MCQs in the qualifying exams.

Technical Exams – Where You’ll Sink or Swim

Just like with the automated MCQs, your performance during the technical interview will come down to how well you’ve prepared yourself. During a technical screen, we want to understand your in-depth knowledge. We also try to validate your performance on the MCQs and to understand if you have good working knowledge of design patterns.

For whatever programming language you use, it’s critical that you know everything from the basics to some really advanced techniques. And since we only pass the top 1% of developers you need to be prepared to talk about the projects that you’ve worked on in a little bit of detail.

You also need to be able to answer system design questions. System design questions are very important for a screener to understand how you are able to visualize a product from an architectural point of view. You should also be able to go deeper, all the way to the code, and even how it is going to be deployed on the final environment where it’s going to run. So, you need to be prepared to discuss all those things related to end-to-end software development.

For example, if you are a Python Django developer, you should be prepared to answer any questions relating to that language in depth. It’s also good if you’re capable of answering questions about system design and also planning as well.

Where Developers Get Tripped Up in the Technical Screen

During a technical screening, most people are not prepared to go into detail on algorithms and data structures. Again, it comes back to preparation. We often have people complain that they don’t need to know this stuff for the work they do but being competent with both algorithms and data structures is very important for high-level work. Another thing I see a lot of candidates struggle with is when we ask them to explain various concepts in English. I’ll emphasize again, that having strong English communication skills is vital to ensure placement with top-tier US opportunities.

Final Words of Advice

To wrap up this post, I want to emphasize a couple of the key points I’ve made above. In Silicon Valley, it’s very competitive to find good work. If you’re trying to get into this market as a remote engineer, you have to be truly exceptional. Turing’s tests are designed to filter out all but the best candidates to be matched with our clients.

If you’re really serious about securing one of these most in-demand positions, my advice is as follows:

  • Preparation is critical. If you have a weakness, work to improve it
  • Don’t underestimate the importance of understanding algorithms and data structures because if you do, you’ll fail the MCQs or the technical screen
  • Make sure your ability to communicate in English is up to the task. If it’s not, take action to improve it
  • Be sure to have a portfolio that includes projects related to the languages you claim to know
  • Polish your CV. Scrub it of mistakes because if you don’t, we’ll notice them and that will hurt your chances

Next Time

In my next post, I’ll be talking about what you should expect once you’ve passed the MCQ and technical screens, how candidates are matched with opportunities and what you should do to ensure that your onboarding process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

 

By Feb 5, 2020
BoundarylessEnterprise

The #Boundaryless Remote Distributed Teams Podcast with Murray Newlands:

In today’s episode of our podcast, we meet Jonathan Siddharth, CEO and Co-Founder of Turing. Jonathan built his last successful company, Rover, using remote, distributed teams. His new company, Turing, is based upon the idea that talent is global, while opportunities are not. Please tune in to discover how to hire remote employees and what it takes to build your company with a fully distributed team.

The #Boundaryless Remote Distributed Teams Podcast with Murray Newlands:

In today’s episode of our podcast, we meet Jonathan Siddharth, CEO and Co-Founder of Turing. Jonathan built his last successful company, Rover, using remote, distributed teams. His new company, Turing, is based upon the idea that talent is global, while opportunities are not. Please tune in to discover how to hire remote employees and what it takes to build your company with a fully distributed team.

About the Boundaryless Remote Distributed Teams Podcast:

The world has changed. In the past, companies were built with locally-hired teams, operating out of the same office. But today, entrenched competition, brutal commutes, exorbitant real-estate prices and more global distribution of talent have upended this practice. Now, billion-dollar companies are now created with teams working remotely and distributed all around the world. Creating #boundaryless companies is hard but we will give you the tools to succeed.

By Feb 4, 2020
Management

10 Traits of the Best Remote Managers

A recent Inc. article recalled a time back in 2002 when Google tested a hypothesis that managers were a “necessary evil” and weren’t important. This hypothesis wound up being incorrect, but it ultimately led to Google’s discovery of ten traits of highly effective managers. Interestingly, these traits seem to be even more critical for managers of remote employees…. View Article

A recent Inc. article recalled a time back in 2002 when Google tested a hypothesis that managers were a “necessary evil” and weren’t important. This hypothesis wound up being incorrect, but it ultimately led to Google’s discovery of ten traits of highly effective managers.

Interestingly, these traits seem to be even more critical for managers of remote employees. Here are the characteristics and why they matter for boundaryless teams.

1. Be a good coach.

While coaching is beneficial for in-office employees, it’s even more crucial for remote teams who don’t meet and influence each other in person. The best remote managers coach their employees by helping them improve their productivity. They also help their teams sharpen their career skills and coach them toward staying self-inspired and self-motivated.

2. Empower teams and don’t micromanage.

While micromanaging is ineffective in the office, it’s an absolute death knell for remote teams. Constant emails and Slack messages to the same employee regarding every aspect of their work reflects a complete lack of trust by a manager. It means the manager has no confidence in the employee’s talents.

The best managers trust their remote teams. They empower their staff with the tools and coaching needed to do excellent work on their own.

Operating with a high level of trust requires good hiring practices. So hire the most skilled people on earth (an ability made possible by remote work) and then trust them to do what they do best.

3. Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.

Many companies have a mix of remote teams and in-office employees. Managers need to foster morale and a strong sense of community. If a distant team member feels left out of the company’s social structure and culture, their sense of isolation will make their work suffer. Managers can’t let this happen.

4. Be productive and results-oriented.

Traditionally, a primary measure of employee performance has been the number of hours spent in the office. But managers of remote employees need to shift this standard to one of results. As long as an employee is performing well, when and where they work should be of little concern.

5. Be a good communicator. Listen and share information.

Communication has always been important in business. But with distributed teams, it becomes even more important. As a general rule, managers should do what they can to communicate overly. All staff must be receiving the right communications at the right time, regardless of their location.

6. Have a clear vision/strategy for the team.

As the Inc. article pointed out, “with no North Star, employees sail into the rocks.” Especially with a remote team, a manager should involve the entire employee base in the creation of the team strategy for success.

7. Support career development and discuss performance.

I already mentioned the mistake of neglecting remote employees and allowing them to feel isolated. It’s also essential to help them grow in their careers and make sure they know they’re appreciated.

Help them work through their weaknesses, point out opportunities, and acknowledge them for their strengths. When employees aren’t physically present with their manager and co-workers, career development needs to be an even stronger effort than it is with office workers.

8. Have the expertise to advise the team.

The best managers are highly proficient advisors who gain trust and admiration from the team. These characteristics are especially important for employees who don’t often (if ever) see their managers in person. The leader of a remote team should be even more skilled in their trade than the highest-performing team members.

9. Collaborate.

The need to collaborate is magnified with remote teams. Team leaders should be aware of the latest apps for messaging and video conferencing. Managers should also encourage their people to test tools and suggest new ones.

10. Be a strong decision maker.

Boundaryless teams must have someone to count on for quick, proactive decision making. Otherwise, the “out of sight, out of mind” nature of a distributed workforce will lead to attitudes of “it’s not my job.”

Remote teams need to know a project’s direction, and everybody should understand who is doing what. Managers should be trustworthy, quick-thinking, and decisive.

By Jan 14, 2020
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Interviews

A 7-Point Checklist for Remote-Employee Success in 2020

Forbes contributor Diane Mulcahy recently interviewed Krystal Hicks on the topic of “why companies don’t trust their employees.” (Krystal Hicks is the founder of JOBTALK – a resource for career-curious professionals throughout every phase of their journey.) When I read Krystal’s observations in this article/interview, it occurred to me that they were so good, they could easily serve as… View Article

Forbes contributor Diane Mulcahy recently interviewed Krystal Hicks on the topic of “why companies don’t trust their employees.” (Krystal Hicks is the founder of JOBTALK – a resource for career-curious professionals throughout every phase of their journey.)

When I read Krystal’s observations in this article/interview, it occurred to me that they were so good, they could easily serve as a Checklist for 2020 Remote-Employee Success.

So I decided to organize them into that list! Here are some highlights from the interview, along with my added seven checklist points (in bold headers.)

1. Do You Trust your People?

Diane Mulcahy asked Krystal why so many companies are slow to implement remote or flexible work policies. Krystal’s response? “It’s trust. There’s no trust. And the mistrust stems from leadership.”

To quote Krystal further,

“Companies that are attracting incredible talent demonstrate that they trust their employees. They provide people with a choice about where to work, and the tools, like video conferencing, to make sure that they’re successful… Trust is the new currency, and the best talent wants to work for a company that trusts them.” 

2. Do You Measure Productivity Effectively? 

Krystal told a story about a client of hers who was concerned that remote workers wouldn’t work as hard if they were unsupervised. Her response to this fear is excellent:

“The real question for companies and leaders considering remote work policies is: How do you measure productivity when employees are at their desks in front of you? And if you do not measure them in the office, then it’s difficult to assume that people are going to be less productive at home. Companies need to figure out how they can implement metrics to measure productivity for everyone, no matter where they are working.”

3. Do You Have The Right People Managing Your Remote Teams?

“The Achilles heel of most organizations is promoting the wrong people into people management roles,” Krystal said.

“I think we have this epidemic of people who were great producers who received promotions into management, and they are terrible managers. There was an assumption made that because they were a great performer, that they would be a great people manager. And I think those are two starkly different things. And I’ve seen it be such a devastating move at so many of the clients that I’ve worked with because bad managers will chase out great employees.”

4. Have You Shifted from Blockbuster to Netflix?

 Diane Mulcahy asked Krystal what she means when she uses the term Managerial Darwinism. Krystal explained that what she’s saying is “adapting or dying. It is the understanding that there is Blockbuster and there is Netflix – you have a choice about which one you’ll be.”

5. Do You Accept That You Have Less Power/Control Over Employees Than You Used To?

 “Employers have less power because they no longer have the same level of control over their employees. Most importantly, they don’t own the financial future of their employees anymore. More employees have side gigs and no longer rely on their employers for 100% of their income. They’re earning money outside their full-time job, and that changes the power dynamic.”

6. Do You Hold Retention Interviews?

According to Krystal,

“I’ve heard of a lot of people say that they do exit interviews, but I believe there is such good information in retention interviews, where you talk to people that have been at the company for 3, 5, and 10 years and learn: What has kept them? Companies have amazing employees that they are not leveraging as a source of information.”

7. Do You Budget for Consultants? 

Krystal has observed that companies are thinking about consultants differently.

“They’ve either already had success working with a consultant, or they hear about other companies that have had a good experience, or they’re watching their high-performing employees leave to become independent consultants. Companies are realizing and recognizing that consultants are a reliable source of talent.

I’m also now seeing companies start to budget for consultants, which is a significant shift, and a strong indicator of demand, because when a company has a budget, they’re going to spend it.”

One more quote from Krystal Hicks helps conclude our checklist:

“The stakes are high for companies to figure out remote work because employees are really demanding it.”

By Dec 6, 2019