Working remotely at development agency Stanwood
What does your remote company do?
Stanwood is a digital agency of 20 tech enthusiasts, nerds and digital pioneers working together remotely from all over Europe. We are not bound by offices or locations, our passion to build awesome technology is the glue that holds us together.
We highly value our freedom to live and work wherever we want and we create an environment where we can max out our potential and push our limits every day.
Everything we do has one sole purpose: We want to create awesome technology our clients love. And we want to do it in the most fun way possible for us.
Our "Woodies" come from a multitude of countries and cultural backgrounds. Diversity, openness and communication are key to our success. We hire for attitude and train for skill. We prefer diverse, critical thinking over conformity. And we focus on quality, not working hours.
How does your remote company's hiring process for remote jobs look like?
We established a quite long and thorough hiring process over the past year. Candidates have to do structured interviews with five different people at Stanwood, among them future colleagues, team and platform leads and me. We do it because we want to get to know the person as best as possible under such unnatural circumstances. And even more importantly: We want to eliminate personal bias in our hiring decisions. Did you know people decide within ten seconds if they want to hire a person or not? The rest of the time, they subconsciously try to justify their decision.
My tip to candidates who would like to join Stanwood is:
- Don’t get intimidated by our hiring process. It’s for our mutual benefit and it gives you a chance to get to know us, how we work and if you feel comfortable working with us.
- And secondly: Don’t try to impress us and pretend to be someone you are not. It will come out over time and bite you and us in the ass. We hire you with all your strengths and weaknesses. We know everyone makes mistakes, we make a lot of them. The important thing is to analyze those mistakes and learn from them. That’s the only way to become better developers, managers and people.
- Our opinion to videos: They are a nice gimmick to stand out in the first selection round. But for us, skills, experience and personality count. Videos show an image of what a candidate wants us to see. But we want to get to know the whole person, not just the image of who she/he wants to show us.
BTW: We hire by a “Hell Yeah” criteria, meaning all five interviewers have to say “Hell yeah” to the candidate. If there’s just one who’s against the decision, we don’t hire the person. That’s a lengthy process, but it pays off every time. Wrong staffing decisions cost you much more time, money and effort than taking your time until you find the perfect candidate.
Where does your remote team work from?
Most of our 20+ team members work from their homes and have a dedicated room or desk for that. In addition, we rent desks in co-working spaces for people who enjoy working in a more busy, inspiring environment. We currently have desks in co-working spaces in Munich, Berlin, Barcelona, London, Tel Aviv and Warsaw.
For us, working remotely doesn’t mean you have to choose between working from home or from a co-working space. You don’t have to stick to your desk 5 days a week, neither do you have to work from a co-working space all the time. The luxury of working remotely is to choose flexibly where you can work best in that situation. This can change over time or even during the season. Some of our team members love to work outside in their gardens or on their balconies during summer, some do workations and join our weekly video calls with a nasty palm tree and beach background ;-). I have my desk with three monitors set up in the middle of our open plan living room because I want to be a part of family life when my kids are home. That’s not for everyone. My wife for example is a copywriter and locks herself into her home office upstairs to stay focused.
In our experience, working from coffee shops when travelling is not very effective. You have to deal with bad wifi connection, you have to find a comfortable seat and desk, you have to tune out the buzz around you - so most people just aren’t as focused and effective as they would be in a different surrounding.
Effectiveness is important for us as an agency. When we work, we want to focus 100% on the task at hand and filter out all distractions.
That’s what makes us good, it directly influences our profits, and it gives us precious time to spend with our loved ones.
Working with a view. Ubud, Bali. Did you notice the monkey in the background?
How do you communicate in your remote team?
Our main synchronous communication channel are video calls, where we discuss project and company related topics. For FYI topics we use Slack to post our status, share company news, new tech stuff and other fun things with each other. That’s a fun environment to work in, it’s good for the team spirit, for building a remote company culture and it gives us a feeling of belonging.
But to produce great quality code, developers need time slots where they can dive deep into a problem and get lost in the task at hand. That’s a challenge for a software development agency like us with many different projects and clients who want us to respond quickly to their requests.
Our policy is that people need to reply to a message aimed at their personal handle within 2 hours. It’s enough to say: On it, getting back to you in the afternoon/tomorrow/etc. That way we ensure our team members get deep work done and keep in touch with their teammates.
One of the perks of remote work – having the flexibility to spend precious time with your kids. Does that mean they work less? No! But they work differently. If remote work is well-organized, your work is more focused, you're more productive and generate more output in less time compared to an office job with constant distractions, long meetings and daily commuting times.