But how were we connected before as a team? What changed, which is the bright side now and how much do we miss being together at the office? We asked these questions to Kristína Smitková, our HR Generalist from our adastra.one office based in Prague. She coordinated the transition of the teams she is working together with and, also from her own home office, she found now some time to share with us some recent insights.
We talked about her work at adastra.one, about the HR processes she is implementing and last, but not least, about what changed in her role and overall in adastra.one in the recent past, due to Covid pandemic.
For us to get a little familiar with your daily work, can you share with us some insights about the onboarding procedures in adastra.one?
To take it from the start, when someone new comes to the company, they get to spend the first day mostly together with me, working on all the necessary paperwork and receiving the onboarding materials. They are then introduced to the systems we use, are given an office tour to meet everyone and in the second half of the day they are already part of their future team. The team leader will assign them a task, if there will be a Junior position, or there will introduce them to the project they are gonna work at, if it will be a Senior.
The trial lasts 3 months and all along this time, there will be regular feedback sessions, both with me and the team leader.
How are these feedback sessions you mentioned structured in the company?
Feedback is one of the most important things in the company since internal communication is really important to us. We have several channels for transferring feedback from employees to management because we want to give everyone the chance to share opinions and ideas and then make sure everything is listened to and absorbed, so we can grow and improve.
Most common feedback sessions in the beginning of the work periods are with me, as I mentioned, in the first three months. Then, every team has weekly meetings with their team leaders, so everyone can provide suggestions that can be then transferred to the management level. Everytime when it is necessary, we also have 1-1 feedback meetings and I make sure anyone knows that they can come and talk to me anytime when there is a problem.
Another important thing we have implemented is an anonymous survey that we run once a year, because sometimes it is also useful to delete all the barriers and take in consideration absolutely every idea and opinion, in order to build a strong and healthy organizational climate.
What are the tools that make your HR life easier at work? What do you recommend for planning and organizing HR tasks?
Definitely good HR software, ATS (applicant tracking system) and, in our case, also attendance system software. To better organize myself and to organize some team-working as well, I also use the Trello management app.
What are you looking for first, when it comes to recruiting? Can you tell what you are following in a strong candidate?
It usually differs from one position to another. I can tell for sure that it’s no standard profile we are looking for, but it is a combination of both knowledge and personality traits. I am going to tell you some simple rules I always follow.
First, seniority is not given by the number of years in the field, but rather by the real experience of the person that can be gained by trying different kinds of projects, with different technologies stack, team leading or mentoring other colleagues. What is equally important is, of course, the passion that the candidate has for new technologies and his willingness to constantly learn more. And then, what I always keep in mind is: never underestimate the match someone can have with the team and with the company culture.
What is the most challenging part for you in working at adastra.one?
Since we talked about candidates, I can tell that for sure hiring and keeping engaged the right IT professionals. I believe it might be the same for every HR working in technological companies. Then, the challenge is also dictated by our growing size. I always need to search for the balance between keeping the flexibility and agility of the startup company and setting reasonable processes that are becoming needed in a mid-size growing company. This balance is not easy to achieve, but you get to know the best of both worlds.
What is the main thing the pandemic changed in your work?
The hardest change I had to confront was the switch of hiring and onboarding processes to online. Even though we ran several online interviews before too, the best option was and still is, in normal conditions, to meet the candidates face to face.
Also, another difficult thing to handle was the onboarding process of the new people, especially when it comes to junior-level positions, with people that had no work experiences before. They need to learn many things, to get familiar with our systems and with our environment and for them it is a little difficult to adapt - they make it, but it might take a little longer than before. I noticed, just to mention, that this thing can happen because people are usually more afraid to ask several questions when they are texting. They feel like they could bother someone and they want to avoid this, even if in real-life interaction they would address all the issues they have. The lack of human interaction can be a burden from time to time.
How was the transition from the office to remote work, for you and also for the team?
We wanted to make the shift as smooth as possible. We tried to mostly recommend, instead of commanding, believe in people and in their self-regulation instead of being doubtful. The transition was not so challenging from the “technical side” - as an IT company we haven't had big troubles working remotely even before.
On the other hand, I cannot say we are enjoying remote cooperation. Most of my colleagues, myself included, are missing face-to-face communication and our company events outside the working hours (such as doing sports together with the teams or attending some common parties).
Did you try to organize some of these events online too or had any remote team-building activities?
Since at the office we had this tradition of having breakfast together every single day, we tried to do it now online too, because everyone was saying they miss it. But I have to admit it is quite challenging to include the majority of the colleagues in this activity.
We are aware of our responsibilities and happy that we can connect and be together like this sometimes, but for sure we are excited to go back to live events. Human interaction can not be fully replaced by the one happening in online meetings.