How a software house manages many remote employees

How a Software House Manages Many Remote Employees

Małgorzata Pająk, Aleksandra Trachim
4 minutes read

At Polcode, we’ve been working remotely from the very start. As a result, we have over 12 years of experience in managing developers in various locations. We established our first office in Warsaw but soon realized we could just as well cooperate with people who worked outside the office.

By expanding our team this way, Polcode now has many outstanding specialists scattered around Poland. We currently have 5 offices: in Warsaw, Katowice, Cracow, Lodz, and Bialystok. Still, about half of the team work remotely, usually from their homes.

On-site employees also work from home from time to time. In addition to workplace flexibility, we guarantee flexible working hours. Although sometimes the specificity of a project requires sticking to rigid working hours during product implementation, generally everyone sets their working time individually. We believe our teammates are able to reconcile their personal priorities with company goals.

What makes it work?

Sharing Common Values

Some time ago, we brainstormed about what’s important to all of us at Polcode. We set core company values: the already mentioned flexibility along with people and development.

Flexibility means we introduce a minimum of rules. We use procedures only to describe things necessary for maintaining the company’s unity. When and where you turn on your computer is of no importance. Of course, you’re obliged to work on assigned tickets, participate in regular team meetings, appear during a call with a client, but we trust that you can plan your day yourself and complete both your professional and personal tasks.

Valuing people means being fair to ourselves and others. We keep our commitments and hope others will keep theirs—we know that you will choose a working space allowing you to be effective when working remotely.

Taking employee development seriously also facilitates off-site work.

The workplace of individual teammates doesn’t really matter when the team is focused on completing each project better than the previous one. We don’t waste our resources to control the place, we focus on the effects instead. Click To Tweet

Using Technology

There’s no doubt that our generation is the first one to experience the full benefits of remote work solely thanks to technological development. Access to high-speed internet is now the everyday standard, but just 10 years ago during interviews, we were discussing a stable internet connection with our candidates.

Currently, it’s the software that guarantees our scattered team is able to deliver a project. Good software streamlines company operations and is crucial to working remotely.

As every software house, we strongly depend on software repositories. GitLab is one of the main reasons behind our enthusiastic approach to remote work. Google Docs, too, proved to be very helpful in knowledge exchange between teammates.

We use project management tools, e.g., Trello, to get all project-related details in place, building a solid foundation for every product we make. PM tools greatly facilitate the planning and execution of work by scattered teams.

From the very beginning, we’ve been relying on time-tracking tools. Thanks to the automatization of tracking, overall project implementation time as well as individual tasks, we don’t fill out reports manually either for our internal needs or our clients.

The communication app minimizes the feeling of alienation when you work remotely: you’re acquainted with project matters, get urgent tasks from your supervisor, and take part in everyday jokes and banter, as if you were physically in the office!

Communicating Online

You can’t sense sarcasm in a written text. Also, some jokes are only funny when spoken aloud. It’s obvious, but things get much subtler when you chat in a professional manner.

When talking with people you don’t see, you have to be ready not only to ignore corny jokes but also give and receive feedback. At Polcode, we focus on constant feedback, believing that only in this way we can develop fast: use the strengths and fix what needs improvement.

Discussing the effects with a person who is not in the same room is far more difficult, regardless if you want to talk about your work or others’. It calls for honesty and tactfulness, well-thought-out statements, and particular consideration of the other person’s point of view.

Each of us faces one decision several times a day—write or call? Describing complex topics in writing takes more time than talking about them during a call. On the other side, the very process of establishing a voice connection with several people may take longer than the following discussion of a trivial topic.

To simplify internal communication to its maximum, we’ve introduced one of our few rules: all team members must use the same communication app—currently Rocket.Chat and Zoom for video conferencing.

We also use a number of other communication apps according to team preferences, but by setting a basic tool, you won’t waste time looking for a person you don’t work with every day.

We try to minimize formalities—you call each team member by their name even when you talk for the first time. You can also use a chat before opening a ticket or submitting an official letter.

Getting Together

Nothing makes remote cooperation easier than spending some nice time together in the offline reality. The biggest annual event for the whole company is our three-day trip in June. All team members scattered around Poland meet in one place.

Twice a year, in spring and winter, we organize a formal lunch in all five cities where we have our offices. Every remote employee who can get to the city joins us at that event.

We also organize a variety of other team-engaging activities. Among them is Sportcode, which is increasingly gaining in popularity. It’s our internal contest where we split into random teams and compete in the number of kilometers ran or cycled. Endomondo keeps track of the results of all teammates, regardless of their location in Poland. The contest takes place annually in May. This year, almost half of Polcode took part while the other half followed the rivalry closely.

Why Working Remotely Works at Polcode

I believe we can work effectively in scattered teams thanks to the responsible, independent, and impassioned people who make up our team. Trust and innovative software tools further help our cooperation to result in projects with worldwide reach.

Polcode is an international full-cycle software house with over 1,300 completed projects. Propelled by passion and ambition, we’ve coded for over 800 businesses across the globe. Feel like we could get along? Contact our HR department. We’ll be happy to answer all your questions and even happier to welcome you aboard 🙂

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