Remote is here to stay, and companies that implemented it during the Covid-19 crisis should consider keeping it on their teams. While it’s attracting talented devs, it's also an efficient organisation.
Want to bet? We met Neon Internet, a company that has always practised remote work since its creation. Here is their interview!
Can you tell us more about neon and its activities?
Neon is a full-service agency and usually “internet first”. We help our clients establish an online presence providing everything needed from strategy, design, and web development to social media and community building, as well as helping with NFTs and web3.
What levers have been put in place internally for your employees? Can you tell us more about your corporate and managerial culture?
The most important part of our internal culture is freedom. More precisely the freedom to work from anywhere at almost anytime, freedom to express concerns, problems, or opposing views. We try hard to avoid micromanaging and try to empower a culture that focuses on results. We expect our team to solve problems, not spend time. With this freedom, there comes responsibility, of course, which is also an important part of our culture. It’s okay to make honest mistakes, as long as you take responsibility and continue to solve problems.
One more important part of our culture is “Be a consultant, not a salesman.” We want our employees to provide value to our clients, even if it sometimes means less revenue (i.e. “I’m glad your budget is so high, but we do not need that much € to achieve your desired goal.”)
Regarding managing, we operate on a relatively flat structure to keep meetings and overhead at a minimum. Each Monday morning we do a “standup”, where every Team member shortly talks about the main things they did the week before, and what is planned for that coming week.
How do you manage the remote onboarding of your new talents? Can you tell us about your recruitment process?
Well, there is not really a specific “remote” criteria that we are looking for, however, we always try to see how well candidates understand internet culture because it tells us that the person has actually spent much time on the internet. For online gamers, for example, spending time in front of a screen and talking to people in their headphones is normal. So finding such people makes onboarding much easier, because they just get it.
Another important factor is how candidates take responsibility. The freedom I talked about before comes with a huge responsibility.
More concretely in terms of process, we always provide a “welcome letter” in advance, which explains every program, login, and websites the new hire needs to know about.
Is there no limit when you recruit your devs solely based on remote interviews?
Sure, like with everything there is always a trade-off. However, the fact that we can hire anyone from anywhere at any time heavily outweighs the “limits” of hiring remotely.
What tools and methodologies have been implemented internally to facilitate communication?
Our main stack consists of Slack, dropbox, and TeamSpeak. We prefer TeamSpeak to conference software like Zoom or MS Teams because the experience is much closer to an actual office. Then we also use tools like Miro and Notion to organize our tasks, Google Docs and Sheets to collaborate on documents, and discord for community purposes and screen sharing sessions.
Has the Covid-19 crisis upset the codes of remote work? Is the remote part of the morals?
From our perspective, the Covid crisis did not really impact the way we worked, as we never had huge offices anyway ;). In general, I think it’s fair to say that Covid simply accelerated remote work as companies had to adapt quickly, which in return showed everyone the advantages and disadvantages. Now that everyone has had a taste, they can decide if it’s for them or not. One thing to add maybe is also that during Covid times, and especially during lockdowns, the social aspect of your life was very limited, also after work. I definitely think that being able to see your friends in the evening after work in the physical world makes being “alone” when working remotely less stressful or depressing.
What advice(s) would you give to a manager reluctant to implement remote within his dev team?
First of all, I don’t think everyone or every business should work completely remotely. It’s all about understanding what’s helping your employees and ultimately your business. Look around you and read the room. If your employees are miserable because they have to commute 2 hours a day, they might be much more productive from home. Ask yourself why you are reluctant. If the reason is that you have to get out of your way to learn about some new tools, maybe you should reevaluate.
In a few words, how would you define the profession of a developer? Do you think there are any changes with the remote?
Developers are builders, creators. I don't think working remotely changed anything about that, except that you don’t have to move to Silicon Valley to become a rockstar. Basically, anyone anywhere can learn it and make a living from it. It might take some time but it’s possible. So yeah remote culture opens the door to a potential greater workforce and oh by the way: I think open-source and crypto will accelerate this even more.