Gaining access to developers is one of the greatest needs in today’s workforce. There is a shift in skills towards more technical roles, and finding tech talent is the number one priority for many hiring managers. This is not just a concern in the US, but across the world.
That’s where Andela comes in. Their entire purpose is to connect top software developers across the African continent with professional opportunities in the US and around the world. Their mission is incredibly important to the evolution of the workforce.
“By investing in Africa’s most talented developers, our goal is to solve the global tech talent shortage while equipping a generation of African technologists to solve some of the world’s biggest challenges,” explains Christina Sass, Andela's co-founder and President.
Levels Of Remote Work
Andela is currently 900 team members strong, spread across four time zones and five offices. Every department is distributed, so the culture has been remote-first since day one. They use tools like Trello and Slack to communicate asynchronously, as well as Zoom and Google Hangouts for team meetings, one on ones, and impromptu video chats.
That’s only the beginning. Each Andela developer works as a full-time engineering team member with one of 100+ partner companies, which are based in 55 cities around the world.
Remote means flexibility, focus, and extra communication. You’ll find Andelans working out of any one of their five offices, from partners’ offices, as well as entirely remotely to focus on projects.
“The biggest part for me of "embrace remote" is trust. Teams and companies that embrace remote must have a strong belief that their employees are doing what they need to be doing and holding themselves accountable. I perform better when I feel as though I'm given this trust, and am given the freedom to work on my own time and in the place that works best for me. Now that I've had it, I will always prioritize this type of freedom and trust over a lot of other perks and benefits.”
The Best Remote Work Tools
Andela strives to create a remote-first culture, which means all meetings have a Google Hangout link, most conversations on Slack take place in public forums or team channels, and they track all updates with tools like Trello so nobody is left out of the loop.
“Embracing remote means that you act like a distributed employee even if you're not - everyone calls into a meeting from their computer so that distributed folks don't feel singled out.”
When Andela partners with a new company, they create a Slack channel for their team lead, their Andela developers, and all Andela support staff assigned to that partner.
Andela uses Slack to stay in constant contact with the team and their partner teams, Trello to organize and coordinate on work with team members, and video calls to build relationships and bounce ideas off one another. They even have always-on cameras that stream activity in the open areas of their offices so team members feel like they’re more connected.
“Andela’s culture is, in part, a compilation of the unique cultures of each of our offices, and tools like Slack and Trello help us highlight that and build connections. For example, we have a lot of new parents in our Lagos office, so you’ll see a ton of baby pictures or wedding photos being shared from our Lagos team members. Given that many of our colleagues are people we’ve only met once (if at all) face-to-face, tools are essential for building close personal relationships and collaborating well as a team,” says Sass.
“Embracing remote is the feeling when you have been collaborating with someone on a project for months and finally meet in person and you feel like you've known each other forever. It's great to supplement working remotely with meeting in person, but the fact that those relationships have already been established is an incredible thing that comes with working remotely.”
Connecting Developers And Getting Feedback: A Continuous Loop
Given that the majority of their teammates are developers, they’ve built their own tools to facilitate remote work.
“Rack City,” for instance, is Andela’s internal Stack Overflow that runs on Slack. All developers who have been placed with partner companies can go to the Rack City channel and ask, “Who’s ever worked with phantom.js and run into this problem with java or seen this postgres error?” and get immediate feedback from one of their peers—Andela’s base of 600+ developers.
Pulse is an internal platform that Andela uses to track the progress of developers placed with company partners and collect feedback from external team leads.
They’ve integrated Pulse with Slack so that whenever a Partner Success lead has a check-in call with a team lead at one of their partner companies, their feedback is pushed to the channel attended by all Andela developers working with that company and the senior engineers who support them. This setup enables the entire team to communicate about feedback and proactively address any issues that may arise.
“Embracing remote means taking distributed team members into account 100% of the time. Companies that embrace remote don't take 10 minutes to set up a dial-in for a meeting, because it is just a part of their everyday practice, the same way that you book a conference room for an in-person meeting.”