Best practices of remote work are in use at CKSource. Come join us!
What is the reason why team members spend so many years at CKSource and can’t even imagine working anywhere else? Why do they treat this company like their second home — a place where they feel secure, respected, and encouraged to do their best every day? Is it great leadership, best practices of remote work, the ability to combine team leading and coding, or a candidate-friendly recruitment process, and people-oriented policy in general? Or maybe, effective communication within teams, the atmosphere of transparency, cooperation, engagement, and knowledge sharing, as well as a sense of crafting high quality together? In our new cycle, we’ll try to highlight particular aspects of why it is so good and so beneficial to start or continue a working career with CKSource — whether as a software developer or as any other responsible, open-minded, and creative person.
This time, we take a closer look at some of the best practices of remote work and the way we practice them here at CKSource.
Remote work has been with us for quite some time and, most probably, it’s here to stay when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, at least in the form of the hybrid model. Although as much as 74% of professionals surveyed by Growmotely expect working remotely from home to become standard, not everybody is happy about it, as what had seemed to be a dream before, turned out to be a nightmare for many. Staying at home for too long, with virtual meetings often scheduled back to back and no ways of relaxation available, made some people extremely exhausted, disappointed, and willing to come back to the office any time soon.
On the other hand, many employees got used to working remotely from home and liked this type of employment so much that it’s the “new normal” for them and they can’t imagine returning to the traditional, on-site, model. Even though many employers do want to see their employees in person again, and some even make them come back to the office against their will. But at CKSource, it’s not like that at all. Employees, if they wish to stay at home, can still take advantage of all the benefits remote work best practices entail. We pride ourselves on utilizing them for years, regardless of any external factors.
# 1. Remote work — a well-grounded practice at CKSource
As of 2021, about a third of CKSource’s team work entirely remotely, and every day about 70% of people in total work from home. Employees may simply choose the model of work they prefer. They may work fully remotely, only from the office, or combine these two approaches by performing duties within a hybrid model. “The company has two offices — in Warsaw and in Poznań, but other options, such as renting a coworking space in another city, are also possible if there are enough employees interested in such a solution” — emphasizes Natalia Stachowicz, Senior Technical Recruiter at CKSource.
It’s worth mentioning that the remote work model had been developed even before the COVID-19 pandemic started. And when it did, more people joined the company based on a totally remote working model, including those living in smaller towns who, due to this flexibility, gained great job opportunities. At CKSource, talented employees from every location in the world are welcome, as long as they can work within the CET or similar time zone. Just like people working for Slack or Twitter, they can work from home permanently.
Now, when the pandemic is more under control due to vaccinations, employees can come back to the office, but it’s totally up to them and no pressure is put on them to do so. They should keep in mind, however, that there is a lot of space in the Warsaw office so they can focus on their tasks fully if they can’t or don’t want to work from home. There are separate rooms available and no crowded open space which enhances productivity greatly.
Whatever they choose, they can enjoy the famous CKSource company culture — full of mutual trust, respect, and acceptance but also autonomy and proactivity:
We simply hire good people, and because many developers stay with us for years, the team spirit is maintained and passed on easily, also within the work from home model. We are happy with every addition to the team as they constitute a huge value, and always look at old things differently.
But how exactly does CKSource take care of their people working fully or partially remotely? Let’s see.
# 2. Work from home best practices
During the remote-first times, it is crucial to understand that some rules regarding working in the office should not be uncritically applied to distance employment. In turn, some new regulations, and working from home best practices should be implemented. Here are some remote working tips that CKSource has utilized with immense success.
# 1. Keeping a work-life balance. Flexibility, empathy, and acceptance
At CKSource, employees can work hours that suit them best. They may handle personal matters, dividing their schedules into particular activities. A doctor’s appointment, driving kids to school, or having lunch with a friend is not a problem anymore. Same as working in the evenings if it’s necessary. Of course, this also means that employees may work, and have online meet-ups when being out of town. It’s only important to work the agreed amount of time in total and, in general, be available within the core business hours (between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m.). “It’s all based on trust — employees trust that they won’t be given more tasks than the time contracted, and the company trusts that the employee will deliver what was agreed” — clarifies Anna Tomanek.
Moreover, newly admitted people can choose to work remotely on their own devices, or ones belonging to CKSource. And these are not only high-quality company laptops but also things like headphones, or computer mice — all arriving by mail right at the doorsteps of the new hires’ homes.
At CKSource, the attitude towards employees is open and full of acceptance.
We like one another, we are open and transparent, and we learned to feel one another's moods even when being online. Thus, if you don’t feel good, somebody will probably ask you if everything’s fine. You don’t need to be perfect all the time, and admitting weaknesses and failures is accepted and understood. There’s an atmosphere to ask questions, dispute freely, and share ideas for improvements. Employees simply feel like someone is waiting for and listening to them.
# 2. Providing regular feedback
Within the remote work model, it is crucial to maintain regular communication, as it’s sometimes harder to obtain some information than when you meet in the office or chat over coffee in the company kitchen. The communication should be tailored to the needs and should happen on the fly, without accumulating difficult emotions. 1-on-1 online conversations — regular communication with the manager that is safe and employee-oriented — help a lot as participants tend to stay very focused.
At CKSource, however, managers don’t overuse the possibility of holding meetings online, as they are aware that the virtual meeting overload may be a serious problem. People are given freedom to work freely, uninterrupted by endless Zoom gatherings, especially huge ones. The challenge is to carry over the positive sides of group offline meetings into the online ones and eliminate the barrier that some, especially shy, people feel to speak out when sitting in front of their computers.
And being accustomed to giving and receiving regular feedback can help trace the problem and tackle it efficiently. “If anyone cannot cope with the workload or has some personal issues that affect their productivity, feels burnt out, and needs relief, we are here to help them. This requires honesty and trust, and open communication, transparency, and acceptance help greatly in this regard” — emphasizes Anna Tomanek.
# 3. Enabling smooth communication within the team
What’s also crucial is keeping in touch regularly with one another despite being physically distant. The intensity of this contact should be well-balanced as both shortage and excess are inadvisable. At CKSource, there’s extensive Slack use with many channels available, some of them dedicated to particular teams and given purposes, which makes both communication and integration easier. There are also online Zoom meetings, everyday Agile stand-ups, retros to discuss processes and regular team and company meet-ups. Team knowledge sharing, remote coffee breaks, after-work beer gatherings, and board games meetings, are also on the agenda from time to time.
To succeed with a remote work model, it’s important not to create differences between the newly-hired and “older” employees, the “legends”. Everybody and their contribution should be appreciated, according to their possibilities at a given stage. A good practice is pairing team members: new and older ones simply work and build the CKSource history together.
Developers working remotely also take advantage of both asynchronous (via GitHub) and synchronous code checking — during phone calls and teleconferences, and through code reviews, screen sharing, live reviews, and pair programming. In general, they are advised to avoid organizing online meetings that are over 30 minutes long as well as scheduling meetings on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Fridays as those are “Maker days”.
And there’s another online tool called Bamboo HR used where all employee-related issues may be addressed easily. It enables finding out contact information, who’s out today, and how many days off we have left, as well as requesting time off (including fractions like a 0.5 day). Slack also makes communications smooth. It’s good to let others know if you’re off for more than one hour — on the #leave channel.
A smooth flow in communication really worked out at CKSource and it also enables remote integration in social terms that makes working together easier and more pleasant. This includes:
- coffee breaks — held online, on random, non-work topics
- small talk during regular meetings
- using the per-team #random channel on Slack that is private, invisible to the rest of the company. Pictures with kids and pets are abound there as well as any other life stories that team members, including more introverted or shy ones, are willing to share
- face-to-face meetings with the whole team held offline for informal exchange of information (unconference) — working together in the office for a few days talking over problems with processes, organization of work, and work-life balance, as well as catching up, dining out and having fun together in the evenings
# 4. Well-designed remote onboarding
In many cases, the whole recruitment process is held 100% online, including interviewing for a job, signing a contract, and the entire onboarding phase. It’s best when the company’s support starts at the very beginning of the remote collaboration. And it’s like that at CKSource. Be prepared that a lot of people will contact you as the newly hired IT person, to support you, offering online or on-site 1-on-1s:
We’re doing everything to make the onboarding process as smooth as possible. Juniors can use Slack, and their problems are addressed quickly. Mentors are here for them, and often they get a buddy who supports them in the first few months. I contact them regularly, too, within this period. A lot of doubts can also be clarified with the help of huge resources available at GitHub and Notion.
The latter is a great knowledge-sharing tool. For instance, it gathers all company policies, an internal knowledge base about the company and its products, notes from meetings, and juniors may access it freely remotely and read about whatever they need to find out about. Moreover, newly-admitted developers are encouraged to click through everything on the CKEditor website. They even get acquainted with other employees by clicking information within the Team tab — to get to know everybody better despite working remotely, as well as projects they’re involved in, their roles, and trivia about them.
From the technical point of view, onboarding is even easier to be performed online — by sharing particular files or screens. “Within the CKEditor 5 Development Team, we have a written-down presentation that we go through together during a call and an action plan for the first weeks and months. New hires are also informed about the company history, the timeline of CKEditor 5, the processes, and CKSource’s other products” — emphasizes Anna Tomanek.
Online onboarding starts with new hires receiving several emails with extensive information about what and when is to be performed during the first days on board, where to look for detailed information on team structure, workflow (like tackling issues, reviewing, creating new packages, and handling security issues), releasing, coding, reviewing but also useful tips & tricks, dictionary, recommended further reading and anything a newly hired developer might dream about. There is an extensive knowledge base in Notion, covering all those areas.
Also, new hires are shown an all-encompassing presentation on the company, answering all issues that might arise. Within the first two months, there are regular meetings with various staff members scheduled (including Mentors, Project Managers, Engineering Managers, and HR people) so that all issues and doubts can be addressed. And on-demand meet-ups are possible whenever needed.
# 5. Taking care of employees’ health, well-being, and growth
It’s also important to take care of remote employees’ health, well-being, and overall growth within the company. At CKSource, this is being done on many levels. For example, every week, employees are sent an online pulse survey that assesses key metrics of employee engagement, including recognition, feedback, happiness, personal growth, satisfaction, wellness, ambassadorship, alignment, and relationships with peers and the manager.
Moreover, there are various events and initiatives taken with employees’ well-being and growth in mind. One of them is the CKSummer Challenge that is to help take care of health and fitness together, as well as to compete and integrate. Another one is the company Hackathon — with participants taking part in it both online and on-site. And there’s the ongoing Personal Development Fund, offering employees up to 5 additional days off per year for further training or professional development. And career paths are still being designed for, and with, employees working remotely.
Procedures are important at CKSource but what’s crucial is a fair amount of intuition, emotional intelligence, and empathy. As well as responsibility — it’s your people, you have to take care of them right.
# 3. Remote work — great advantages and some challenges
For CKSource, remote-first times are not something troublesome or unwanted, as we’ve been well-aware of the great advantages they entail for a long time. First of all, the benefits of remote work include huge time savings — we don’t lose it on commuting, or traveling to meetings. Family duties are also easier to combine with remote work. Also, the number of possible distractions gets reduced when performing solo work — it’s often easier to focus in one’s room than in a busy office with other people working nearby.
For instance, when you’re alone, you can turn off notifications in applications that you’re using, and be fully productive. “At CKSource, we advise our employees to mute as many channels as they can. But also, if they need some quiet time, they may work offline for a few hours or even the whole day if they inform coworkers in advance” — adds Anna Tomanek.
When working online at CKSource, talented developers create and shape remote workspace for millions of people using its products worldwide. They can count on getting more and more challenging tasks and greater responsibilities once they feel they are ready for it, and help the development team push web browsers to their limits, with enough time allowed for tests.
Want to join us? We are hiring! You may find all current openings here.