Corona Special: Hiring and Working Remotely – Getsafe Team Stories

Ana, Nicole, Anthony and Jacob talk about their remote experience: It’s all about the team

3 minute read2020-08-07
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It is not the office that makes the company what it is, but the corporate culture, the tasks and, above all, the people. Applying and starting the Getsafe journey at home: This was no problem for our new colleagues.

How do you decide on a company as an applicant if you have never been there before? How do you as a recruiter decide on an applicant whom you have not met personally? And how do you work from 7,000 km away? COVID-19 has turned our working world upside down. Getsafe also moved its operations to remote settings at the end of March – and nevertheless hired 25 new employees during this time. We asked four of them what it was like for them to conduct the job interview at their own kitchen table and get to know their colleagues via Zoom. Their conclusion: It went better than we thought.

Nicole, you started on the 4th of May as an intern in Customer Service – now you are Associate Customer Happiness Manager. What was it like for you to have a job interview via video call?

Nicole: I was pretty nervous, like you usually are with job interviews. And I also dressed up a little bit – but only from the waist above. The circumstances were actually comfortable: I could stay at home and prepare everything at my own pace. And I didn't have to worry about whether to go there by car or by train. After my first phone interview, I had further talks via Zoom with four colleagues over two hours. That was a bit bumpy in the beginning because I had some technical issues with my audio, but I was able to fix it quickly and everything worked well.

Was there anything that couldn’t have happened in a normal job interview?

Nicole: Yes. At that time, I was living with my boyfriend in his one-room apartment. We were both working at the same table. But he was sitting across from me and he could hear all my answers. That was pretty unusual. Despite this, there was a positive side to it. Afterwards, he could directly give me some feedback and we could discuss if I said something over the top.

Ana: Yes, that’s nice as long as this attendee is not disturbing your interview. I once had a really funny interview: This guy had a super clever cat and she was opening the door all the time. Time and time again, he stood up and apologised: “Oh, I am sorry, I have to close the door once more, the cat opened it again.”

That’s indeed really funny. So a video interview can lead to surprises and has its comfortable aspects as well. How was it for you, Jacob? You are working as a copywriter at Getsafe since July and were recommended by a colleague.

Jacob: Luckily my first informal get-to-know lunch was still in the time before Corona, so we could meet in person. We chatted for about one hour about the company. Afterwards, I was shown around the office. When it came to my “real” job interview, that was via Zoom. I wasn’t sure how it would work at first, but it turned out to be really good. In my case study, there was a lot of writing – and that was even easier for me via Zoom, because I could prepare a presentation and show it to the others on my shared screen.

Ana, you started working from home for Getsafe at the Corona zenith in April as a recruiter. How was it for you – recruiting for a company that you yourself had just started working for – completely remotely?

Ana: I wanted to do interviews from the first day at Getsafe. I immediately said to my team lead: “Hey, just let me start.” And since then I think I had about a hundred interviews via Zoom. Before Corona, HR had phone interviews with the applicants as a first contact. Now, we use Zoom and for me that’s pretty cool. You can see gestures and facial expressions, you see the excitement in their eyes when they talk about things they like. All in all, you can just better estimate if the person fits or not. I especially enjoy doing interviews with people all over the world. This is also simply a matter of cost: Calling Canada is just more expensive. The only thing that can be difficult is when people don’t have a good internet connection. This disturbs the flow of conversation.

Apropos calling Canada: Anthony, you are a backend developer since the 4th of May and working under very special circumstances – from Canada. How are you coping with the fact that due to the different time zones you can’t work parallel with the others?

Anthony: It’s definitely a bit of a challenge, but also has some advantages. There is a bit of an overlap: My morning is your guys’ afternoon. So I have all my meetings lined up for my morning and have a lot of conversations then. In the afternoon, I have my quiet time. Then I kind of get my head down and work on stuff. It’s nice to have these separate blocks of the day, especially as a developer .

Are there any difficulties that come with the distance?

Anthony: Apart from the fact that you can't be present for the company photo shoot and your face has to be cropped into a photo first? But sure, I had some trouble, especially during my onboarding. Sometimes I had questions, and there was no one to answer them because it was already night in Germany. But we quickly found a solution: Now I just make a list of all the questions and ask them the next day. Of course there are always some questions you don't want to raise on Slack and you should have a good reason to make a Zoom call. It’s not like a passing comment, and I surely miss some interesting spontaneous discussions. But despite being so far away, it was not really a challenge to integrate into the team. It feels like I already know everyone’s personality.

Ana: I totally agree. After a while, you are already very close to each other personally, even if it’s only via Zoom. But what you don't know is how tall someone is. It was often very funny when you met someone after two months in the office and he or she was pretty tall or much smaller than you thought he or she would be.

Anthony: Yeah, I also had a moment of confusion after the partial reopening of the office: During onboarding I felt I knew the others by their Zoom backgrounds like the different rooms of their houses. And when everyone started to go to the office, that was kind of confusing for me – just like it was harder to determine who was who.

When you come into an office in person, you get an impression of the atmosphere in the office and a feeling for whether you could fit in there. How do you actually know that the company suits you and is the right one, if you haven’t been there? What was it that finally convinced you to start at Getsafe?

Anthony: I think at the end of the day it’s the people in the office that kind of make the culture and the atmosphere. So a lot of that came through in the interviews. It was really great to talk to everybody in my team and other Getsafees. This gave me a really good sense of what the company was like.

Nicole: I was actually quite convinced that I want to start at Getsafe before even applying. I read a lot of positive things about the company on the Getsafe website and looked at the evaluations on Kununu and Glassdoor. That really stood out to me, and I knew beforehand that there are nice people at Getsafe doing great work.

Jacob: I was also very convinced by Getsafe at an early stage. The people and the office seemed great. But also very important for my decision was my job interview experience: When I first saw my case study and the individual interviews would take three hours, I was like “Whoa! That sounds heavy via Zoom.” By the time it was done, I was even more enthusiastic about Getsafe. My interview really highlighted and made clear that Getsafe was a great fit for me and vice versa.

What did Getsafe from an HR point of view learn from Corona and the switch to home office?

Ana: Since Corona we got even more flexible as a company, regarding working from home, but also hiring people remotely. It showed us that we can be faster by using Zoom and still make really good decisions. Some people we hired fully remotely – before Corona we only used it occassionally. Now our pool of people we can take on board is bigger, because we are now open to hiring really good people, who don’t want to leave their cities. And the Getsafees learned that working from home is a real possibility for them. We saw that everyone was still working really hard to reach their goals and do their tasks. All in all, this time revealed our strengths rather than our weaknesses.

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Author: Carina