After having worked from home for a year, saying goodbye to those hallway chats and hello to Teams meetings, we figured it was time to take stock. And since we know that starting a new job can be quite the challenge even in a normal context, we wanted to touch base with Geneviève Bourdeau, manager of the Candidate Team, and get a little update.
Q. How have things been going over the last year?
G-B: Honestly, we’re doing remarkably well. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, but I believe that we’ve been quite lucky. Our products have always had their place in the market, but with the pandemic they’ve become indispensable: whether it’s migrating to the Cloud and remote work with ShareGate or tooling up to keep up with their at-home employees with Officevibe, companies that hadn’t already made the transition have been forced to find answers. So here at GSoft things haven’t slowed down. If anything, they’ve accelerated as new roles and expertise are created. We celebrated our 15th and one thing’s for certain: it won’t be the last!
Q. How is recruitment going? What kind of talent are we looking for?
G-B: We’ve worked hard for several years to identify our key expertise. We’re a product company and that needs to be reflected in certain pillars: product management, data (analysis as much as engineering), software development (front-end/full-stack/back-end) and management. Within those areas of strength, we’ve always been known for our back-end; these days we’re ensuring that our front-end expertise is at the same level, which opens the door for candidates with that particular profile.
Our development experts are surrounded by passionate data teams, creative product designers, innovative product leads and managers who inspire their teams to excel and create. The best product in the world won’t be successful unless all these roles come together cohesively. In short, we want to create an ecosystem in which everyone has their place and where teams complete each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
Q. How are we remote-hiring? What are the steps?
G-B: It isn’t so much the process that has changed since we moved to remote-first, but rather the experience that we want to offer to candidates so that they get a taste of how we work here at GSoft.
In general, the steps are pretty much the same for applying and for the first telephone interview. After that, we use Teams for a virtual interview and if that goes well, we move on to the remote workshop.
In the past, this was a workshop or technical test. Three hours at the office, side-by-side with your future teammates: it was perfect, because it recreated our exact work environment. Now, to offer the same experience to future talent, everything has to be done online, in a largely asynchronous fashion. The team is ready at all times to answer their questions and they’ll meet up over the course of the day, which replicates what days now look like at GSoft!
What the candidate experiences during the hiring process is very much a preview of what their employee experience will be.
“We’re working hard to create that continuity and to offer the best experience, even from behind a screen”.
Manager of the Candidate Team, GSoft
Speaking of hard work, that’s what our remarkable team at the Innovation Lab has put in to create Softstart, our all-new platform for employee experience! With this tool, our goal is to humanize the onboarding experience for our new employees and those of our clients, in the context of working from home or hybrid setups. We know that the reality we’re currently facing will stay with us moving forward, so we wanted to create a product that was up to the task of these new HR demands. We’ve already launched Softstart internally and are in the process of opening it up to external clients, and we couldn’t be prouder of what we’ve created!
Q. Are there still internship postings?
G-B: Our internship approach hasn’t changed since the start of the pandemic. We believe interns are the core of our next generation and we want to make sure that their experiences here are at the height of their expectations! That’s why we don’t differentiate much between interns and permanent employees: everyone works in the same teams, on the same projects. Obviously, we offer them constant support, but without isolating them to work on intern projects that hold no resemblance to the responsibilities they’ll have once they’re in the workforce.
Q. Onboarding remotely isn’t the easiest task. How do we handle it?
G-B: From the get-go, changing jobs is often considered one of the greatest sources of stress in someone’s life. At least in the past, you had the chance to visit their offices, see people in person and create a sense of connection to better envision yourself in a potential role.
To achieve that same effect remotely, you have to start well before their first day. Two weeks before, a member of the employee experience team is already in contact with the candidate to ensure that they’ve got everything they need to get started on the right foot.
Once the big day arrives, there are all the traditional meetings with team members, but we try to push this a little further by starting a cohort of new employees on the same day, so that they’ve got each other as resources.
The biggest challenge isn’t just to create bonds with your immediate team, but to create a sense of belonging to the organization at large. How to create this connection when we’re all miles apart is a question we ask ourselves continuously. We don’t want to become just another company: we love what makes us GSoft, and that’s the way we want to stay.
Q. 275 people collaborating over the Cloud is quite the challenge. What have we put in place to ensure that everything runs smoothly?
G-B: In becoming an organization that’s remote-first by default, we knew that our entire work experience would need an overhaul. At the same time, it was a bet placed on our future: we wanted to be part of the organizations that embraced this change and the opportunity to test new approaches. We want to discover and live these new possibilities; we consider them a motor of innovation. The most important thing was to realize that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We asked ourselves, “what are the winning conditions we’re looking for?”
In developing new Principles for communication and collaboration, we wanted to promote asynchronous work as much as possible and to give our people the power to manage their schedules in the ways that suited them best. We want flexible work to become the default, so that when we do open up the offices again, the people who prefer to keep working from home don’t find themselves with the short end of the straw.
“These changes have to take into account that hybrid future, where working from the office is workable without feeling mandatory; that’s true flexibility.”
Manager of the Candidate Team, GSoft
At the same time, we need to preserve the connections that aren’t centered solely on work. We call them “intentional moments,” the ones we used to have when we ran into a colleague in the hallway or at the café. With these options unavailable, we have to create new ones: personal check-ins before meetings, team coffee breaks, virtual 5-à-7, etc. The last thing we want is for work meetings to be the only time we see each other face-to-face.
It’s also our responsibility to emphasize clear and concise mandates, to ensure that the mental load of our teams is on the work they need to be doing but that once it’s accomplished, they feel encouraged to turn off their inboxes. We’ve also completely restructured our work benefits to adapt to this new working reality.
Q. How do we envision a return to the office?
G-B: We get that many of us are champing at the bit to see each other again, to meet up with those 275 faces and remind ourselves what it is we’re a part of. To finally put faces to the names of the colleagues and managers who’ve joined us over the last year. It’s for this human side of things that we can’t wait to open our doors again. But like we said, everyone will have the choice to return to the office, or not!
Q. We’ve been in remote-work mode for over a year. How has our work culture evolved?
G-B: GSoft’s culture has always evolved. That’s the beauty of it: it has never remained fixed in time and has adapted while keeping humanizing values at its core.
It’s a culture that isn’t tied to a particular office space or the best perks. We’ve always been a company that focuses on relationships, so one of our biggest challenges has been to say goodbye to everyone and work remotely. I remember when, in all that charming naivety, we thought the pandemic was going to be over in three, maybe four weeks tops. (I still go back to those Slack conversations where we made bets on how long this would last! 😉 )
We’ve now recruited over a hundred people since March 2020, every single one of them remotely. And it’s thanks to these wonderful humans that our culture continues to evolve and adapt to this new reality. They bring so much to the table, they’ve in some way been our ambassadors for remote work. They had the courage to join us without knowing what it would look like. They chose us not for our offices or a shiny new espresso machine, but for the same reason GSoft has always been special: the incredible humans behind it.
We love our culture. We want to see it continue to grow and evolve regardless of the postal code we’re working from. Each of us, in our own way, is the beating heart of this company.
The real test of this new flexible culture will be when the offices open up again and people have the possibility to choose. But that’s also when we’ll see the real advantages of remote work. Either way, we can’t wait!