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Growing During Lockdown

The Covid-19 pandemic has been a disaster for many businesses and people worldwide. Being a software consultancy though, we’ve been able to work remotely and the demand for software and digital online solutions, if anything, has increased.

Our entire team and the way we work has had to change, but not too drastically, as situations like the current one are something we’ve been well prepared for. Okay, we didn’t predict a global pandemic, but we have had a tried and tested disaster recovery plan in place for a long time, for operating during prolonged periods when the office is inaccessible. Plus we’d already been been working using technologies like Microsoft Teams for quite some time now.

Fortunately, we’ve also been able to adapt, carry on recruiting and get on with things working from home. We do miss each other though.

How Do We Recruit?

Success and growth mean that to move our business forward, we’ve needed to expand our team. Finding high quality candidates is never easy. Finding out what makes them tick and seeing what they’re capable of is another thing entirely, especially when you can’t meet them in the flesh due to social distancing and working from home.

So far, we’ve recruited three fantastic talents to our team during lockdown – two app software engineers Ana and Tayler plus cloud software engineer Henry.

The recruitment interviews were conducted via video calls using Microsoft Teams and they went incredibly smoothly for both the interviewers and interviewees. The only real difference was that the interviews we all carried out online and not face-to-face, which admittedly does give you a better feel for the candidates. We suspect all three candidates did find it easier though as they didn’t have to leave their home and therefore there was no chance of them being late or not finding our offices. We also got a sneaky peep at their wallpaper and pot plants – you can tell a lot from that, believe you me.

How Do We Test Them?

Like buying a car, we like to test drive first. That’s why we set each candidate a series of tests. The first is a “thought experiment” test where we ask them to discuss how they might best design an algorithm for a lift... yes, a lift. Next we have a fit interview to see if their values, beliefs and behavior fit with ours – this is very important to us as we work very closely as a team.

We then go back to the lift algorithm and ask them to code it and send a working version to us (obviously we don’t expect them to code it live during our video call). Finally, we have a technical interview where we discuss the thought experiment and the code they created.

Henry seemed totally unphased by it all “I really enjoyed the recruitment process. I found the challenges interesting and stimulating and the atmosphere in the interview was friendly and relaxed."

How Do We Induct Them? 

This was slightly trickier but technically far from impossible. Helping new recruits to get their mix of different setups working with AVAMAE software and credentials can sometimes be a bit challenging. We do get to talk about things at least as effectively as if we were sat next to each other in the office.

Interestingly, we’ve so far inducted four new starters during lockdown as we’d already interviewed cloud software engineer Tom before remote working came into play. He was actually due to start at the office at the beginning of April.

We start inductions by setting a full first week’s timetable which allowed for plenty of opportunities for contact via video calls. One advantage of the video calls is that Microsoft Teams literally puts names to the faces on the calls.

On the first day, they are welcomed by our Founder Oliver and the candidate’s team leader. Then they are introduced to everyone else in their team via a team video meeting. Candidates are also buddied up with a mentor who is there to chat to them regularly, present and share screens to help teach them – the mentor can even take control of the candidate’s screen to help them, with their permission, of course.

“Having an experienced mentor to go to with technical or even general questions has also been invaluable in making the whole process feel as smooth as it has" explained our new cloud software engineer Tom.

Key staff are then responsible for taking them through everything including our expectations and objectives,  processes, procedures and appraisals, project management and time-tracking, sales and marketing strategy, design and managing client support requests – even our ISO certifications.

“Given the current remote working situation, the meetings in the first week were an invaluable opportunity to start getting to know others at AVAMAE and to feel welcomed into the team” added Tom.

All Work and No Play...

It might seem a heck of a lot to take in, but it works. It’s not all work either. We have a lot of fun, too. Wednesday evening is Beer Breaks where we all join a call and have a drink together, alcoholic or otherwise. Then there’s our Friday morning Coffee Breaks. These are great fun. It’s not compulsory, but the whole company is invited to join. It can be a bit chaotic, but so far so good. Everybody grabs a brew and each week one of the team gives a little fun presentation. We’ve had Lord Of The Rings, the best Simpsons episode ever made, favourite music and also the different types of Rubik cubes. It’s quite random, but it goes down a treat and it’s something we’re keeping going whilst we’re working from home.

All recruits have settled in well, including Tayler “I think for me the process was a bit easier as I had been working from home 2 days a week in my previous job. The process for me has been just as smooth as if it was in person. I feel like a part of the team already.”

Got a Software Project in Mind? 

Want to work with us as a client? We’re now fully staffed up and have the capacity to take on new software projects. If you’ve one in the pipeline, feel free to call Rob McEwan on +44 (0) 20 7509 6992 or email us.

26 June 2020
Blog Author
Linsey Pluckrose
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Companies we have developed software for:

CO-OP
All So Pro
Marshall
Alliance Boots
Novartis
Manoto 1
Iceland
Grazing Events
UTC Aerospace
Good2Bid
Skippy Scout
Great Eastern
4D Model Making Materials
LSE Lighting
Buyfair
British Airways
Capita
Jaguar Landrover
Capital Medicare
Saudi Aramco
Imperial College
Faber and Faber
Trait Online
Criteo Live
Strengthscope Ltd
11 Cavendish Square
Click Research
Harris Hill
Criterion
Companies Markets
UCLH
Centrica
Yell
eGigger
TSI
Experian
HSBC
Virtus
Informa plc
Compare Hospitality
Nine Avenue
Reed Business Information
Michael Northcroft
Phones 4U
GetSet4PE
Enigma Quests
British Safety Council
Grazing Food
Asit
Service Monitor
Vulpine
Saikou
Scottish Court
Horizon Leeds
Fan Quake
British Gas
Argos
Homebase
ASDA
King's Fund
SmoQue Grill
Millerhare
Dober
Gaimerz
Pauline Books & Media
Foyles
Petainer
Think we need to talk?
Got a software development project or app in mind? Let’s hook up, chat things through and we’ll come back with a free no-obligation quote. Call us on +44 (0) 20 3855 0690 or fill out the short form on our Contact Us page.