GitLab Remote Company Q&A
Sytse 'Sid' Sijbrandij, CEO - Interview with Remote.co
GitLab is a code collaboration open-source platform that allows a full workflow to create, review and deploy code. We also have GitLab CI, a continuous integration and deployment tool.
We started remote, since Dmitriy was in Ukraine and I was in The Netherlands. We hired people in different locations and it just started to work out that way. It became part of our culture and a benefit of working in our company.
We can hire better people. We believe in having happier team members by improving their lives. They can work from anywhere and spend more time with their loved ones. They are more productive and efficient that way.
We can find talent anywhere and invite them to join our team. They can do the things that they love the most, arranging their schedules to fit their needs. People are happier because they get to spend more time with their families and don’t have to spend time commuting to work.
We started as a remote company when Dmitriy was in Ukraine and I was in The Netherlands. When we decided to hire people, they were all in different locations. It was working out and everybody was being productive and happy with their remote jobs; so we decided to keep it that way.
They have to be able to work independently. They have to be disciplined enough to be effective and to work without having a manager watching them all the time. They also need to be self-conscious about how to manage time.
We allow candidates to apply no matter where they are located. For some functions there is a time zone restriction. Our handbooks are online so applicants can study them. Our interviews are through Hangouts. We’ve not met most of our new employees in person before they joined.
No, except for calling the references in their Resume.
We only have our daily team call. We have no policies about communication. We do have an emergency channel for customers, but it’s only needed about once a week.
Work is seen by the team. We notice output and their work speaks for itself. We all contribute in everything we can besides our regular job tasks. Everybody shares and we can all see everybody’s contributions.
We make our communication better by having daily calls and hangouts between team members. We get the entire team together at the GitLab summit once a year. This year we are going to The Netherlands, so we’ll also attend Oscon. We recently made birthday hats to sing happy birthday to a member of our team. We meet for drinks when we have co-workers in the same city where we are at.
We don’t frown on people taking time off, we encourage them to take care of themselves and others. Working hours are flexible and it’s all about communicating your needs. We suggest to take the official days off in the country the person lives in.
It started organically. We didn’t know how it was going to be, but every week we add important information to our GitLab Handbook. We like to have everything there and to keep it clear for everybody. We want it to be great, so we fix and improve it all the time.
It’s a lot easier if at least ⅔ of the team is remote. When only a few people are remote, it is easy to make them feel left out. Keep good communication with your team. Encourage them to have face-to-face video calls. Have frequent team calls, where you can share important information and everybody can talk about their day and the projects they are working on.
It’s hard to have visitors. People feel weird about coming to your home. Now that we have an office, it feels like a good place to meet them.
We add issues in GitLab for everything. Everybody comments, we work on the issues and then we link to the Merge Request where the issue is solved. All improvements are added through Merge Requests. We also communicate through Slack / Mattermost.
I take some time every morning to go running with my girlfriend. I organize different fun activities during the weekends.
“Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.”
Any place with slow wifi feels like hell. Being on a beach in Thailand was great, except for the lifetime of my laptop 🙂