How to Build a Remote Developer Team
James: Hi everyone my name is James Blackwell I am CEO here at Ronald James and today I have Mark Smith who is the director at Epic Industries and Mark's used Ronald James for a number of recruitment hires and he just wanted to tell us a little bit more about his business his challenges and how he's overcome them so welcome to the call Mark
Mark: Good to be on it cool
James: So, Mark would you like to give everyone just a brief run through around your company
Mark: Yeah sure so so epic is essentially a uk-based software development studio so we build front end game clients for other game studios and operators in the gambling space and we have been doing that now since properly since kind of early 2017 and kind of been picking up pace since then really
James: Fantastic so how long you been gone for was at
Mark: 2017 yes is in the background things have been going on before then got the official start was 2017
James: Brilliant so can you describe what our goal within the business Mark?
Mark: So I'm the commercial director so I have been involved with Epic for a little while in the background because the the two founders are close personal friends and I essentially just look after pretty much everything non-technical being a small business so it's predominantly the account management side the commercials and contracts etc for existing partners and bringing on board new partners and kind of spreading the word really of ours in the industry.
Mark: But I also do as you'll know and there's of HR and they're hiring and things mostly mostly on me
James: Yeah so that's what I wanted to get into Mark so tell me a little bit more around before you started using Ronald James what was your initial process in terms of hiring stuff as a start so
Mark: It was um but before I'd started we'll be sort of adverts on the early website or kind of looking on LinkedIn and things like that so he's obviously not being experts in recruitment it was you know just a bit like a scattergun approach really just trying different things and it wasn't successful doing things that way so when I started the kind of decision was made quite quickly to sort of look at and getting someone in who knows what they're doing to kind of accelerate things for us and hopefully take a bit of the pain away and in getting people on board
James: Cool I think like a lot of our clients initially would always try and do some recruitment themselves and sometimes I might get a bit of look and then sometimes a lot frustration and costs end up adding up in time and frustrations and there was a cost that you incurred before starting to engage with us as an agency where you're spending money on adverts it's like anything on LinkedIn
Mark: Not really, I'll be honest that we support I think again the approach was very much just you know the soft matte or victory in the business would just go on to maybe a recruitment sort website and just have a browse around or just do some LinkedIn searches and I know you can read it this out but the whole LinkedIn approach was just disastrous because I see you could pay to advertise on LinkedIn and get people coming through and what the problem is you've got kind of an algorithm or something there that doesn't seem to be particularly intelligent just put in CV just way so you kindly say I really want this and I really want that and you'd end up just getting kind of all kinds of stuff coming through so just being a going reject reject reject so end up wasting more time and costing money in the process.
James: Yeah I was going to say so in terms of from a time point of view especially when you went in projects was what was the impact on the business if like obviously didn't make those highest quite quickly
Mark: Yeah it was because I was small company so I think in the past six months we've more than doubled in siz so we're kind of up to sort up people now and with my hopefully five people I think over the past six months and it's as we've won more contracts originally it was Matt and Victoria with it with the two main developers and we'd use some contractors all sorts of sorts of assist with some of the projects but obviously it got to the point where it really wasn't more any more hours in the day and for me as the sort of commercial person is quite hard to sort of bring in new business when you're kind of struggling to meet the existing and demand book but luckily now with the highest that we've got we starting to sort of get more efficient in obviously how return of delivering on the projects that we're doing and it's become more sort of cost effective overall really because you know just more hours in the day more people
James: It's interesting sailor I mean myself as a business owner as well I spend a lot of time doing mundane tasks and when I went away in a mastermind retreat and one of the things that thought was working out what our impact my impact is on the business and how much my cost value is per hour yeah works out man I think it's about 80 200 pounds an hour yeah now I was doing things that were worth maybe 10 pounds an hour so chases sending out invoices just doing mundane tasks that you think as a business owner you just have to do but realistic yes it's a cost to outsource it well it's the impact of like me not going out face to face meeting clients every day yeah I was costing the business and homeless back because we're trying to save a penny here and a penny there when really the bigger picture was all about generating a lot more income on what good assets and I think it's a mindset shift because everyone is just there's a start of business yes I mean you want to save money and recruitment fees on always the cheapest and we understand that and but you pay for value and it was funny one of the other things that happened a couple of days ago in the office one of the guys Dan he was Pancake Day so we started there cooking pancakes in the kitchen and fire went off and there was no fire but was so loud and as there's an insurance coming upstairs as well so how to evacuate for but no one had a clue how it didn't fire an alarm up on a ladder trying to take all the senses off trying to reset the alarm nothing another clue so a rung a electrician that I use for a few different things and he came within 15 minutes and literally pressed a few buttons on this keypad and it was fixed within 30 seconds yeah and then you thing is well I'm gonna have to pay him maybe the best part one hundred two hundred fifty pounds for coal out and coming out quitting school early sentence with a work it's not the time that you pay for it to know where to hit so Nome what to do to fix that problem and nothing that mindset shift for most business owners are me myself is thinking well I could have done that for 30 seconds yeah didn't know how to and I hunt time and a hundred that skills so it's yeah it was quite interesting that so in terms of her how you heard about us originally Mark so do you want to tell the viewers a little bit how you you can Came to use Ronald James and find out about us
Mark: Yeah I think originally it was because of you guys helped me secure a role at Bede so that that's how I kind of heard about you but not I wasn't particularly looking at time and I was approached by you guys and it kind of went from there and I just really like to stand how its dealing with for that position and I kind of just really like the approach that you took as a candidate it was it was it was different to how would this kind of approach things and it was kind of much more I say humorous he's probably the best way to describe it but in a professional way but it was it was a nice way to do it like you know for instance my unveiling me the salary expectation or whatever was done in a kind of comedy way that kind of something like a game show and but I appreciate it kind of worked for me and I thought you know these guys seem to be a bit different and so when we started to need recruitment ourselves I kinda thought you guys thought well maybe we'll take the same approach with all this that you do with me and there I thought I was a good thing
James: Fantastic that's great to hear mark and total views a little bit about because I think a lot of people are going to be hiring developers and the big challenges having really good developers because your model slightly different isn't it continues if you are for home working there developers so tell me a little bit more about that and how that's working for you so we are 100% remote business
Mark: So we don't have any offices anywhere everybody's uk-based and yet just works from home it's it seems to be the best way to do things for us because you don't need an office for what we do and in technology you generally when you're done and any sort of on-site meetings is usually covered by me or the other sorts of directors of the business so it was it just didn't warrant at the additional cost and I think also with the sort of working remote I think when you've got a lot of these companies out there that will offer ridiculous sort of salaries but in actual fact the jobs themselves probably aren't particularly that much fun it was because it was a nice sort of incentive to offer people which was you know you kind of you can work remotely the hours are flexible to an extent it's kind of just like little things you can do to sort of get people more interested in a work-life balance really and I think a lot of people don't realize that I'll kind of waffle a bit now but when living in Surrey we could kind of one of the jobs that I had in central London it's the only time I've ever worked in central London I always wanted to avoid it because if just the travel that etc and then it took me so long to get in every day so long to get out and cost so much money and you see all these incredibly miserable people I'm crammed into the tube comes into chain and onto trains to do it day in day out for years and I think I'm only six months and I thought this is bonkers and I think a lot of people don't realize that you know the effect that has on them the kind of brain just Tunes out that this is the thing I have to do I just have to get through it and then they've already kind of fed up by the time you get to the office and so we do more work and you don't have that you know I'm sat here in their in-home office and just you know much more relaxed and you know it's great yeah
James: I think it's it's a big debate isn't it and to see a lot of state it says on LinkedIn and I speak to hundreds of business owners all the time it's really really believed in home working in flexi time and so are we against it old-school no it doesn't work have the correct processes and there's no correct answer I think I get everything is unique but I think the interesting part is always trying to how do you maintain a culture because especially like there's a smaller business growing with your core values and where you want to get to the objectives for your three-five their goals etc how do you get everyone bought in to feeling like a family or feeling that culture together like that must be quite hard do you think mark
Mark: Yeah, I think we what we do tend to do is like several times during the year we'll have like you know if a contract is signed let's say or a Christmas or just trade shows or events coming up like award sermons and things like that we generally sort of tend to it rule attend those shows anyway and then the guys are sort of invited to come along if they want so there's opportunities to sort of meet up and they'll be sort of nice our bit did nights out Christmas and Brian go to a casino etc so we do a bit of that just to sort of keep some face time but the day-to-day of it is as an agile business we've got stand-ups every day we use to a course a sococo that's one of many sort of remote office solutions where you have like a little office and you have little avatars just sitting there on little rooms and you can just knock on people's doors and walk in and then video comes up and so on and we use that and so far so good it it does seem to work and I think people just accept the fact that they are a bit of a double-edged sword when you work remotely because you can you can literally not see anyone he will not go out and still do day's work but I think that I could say that the benefits outweigh the drawbacks of sort of being a bit more sort of cut off from people
James: I was gonna say because we use quite a few tools and remote workers ourselves so we use tools like slack yes go and today in terms of communication which is really and what are the tools would you recommend so that was interesting that is sacoco
Mark: Yeah so it's something we use slack as well and but so sococo it's a relatively new tool and you can join online and obviously this subscription-based thing per kind of user but we basically gets a picker it's a bit like a sort of Sims game I suppose where you get to sort of pick an office layout on a number of rooms meeting rooms cafe breakout areas and stuff and then you just basically people just have their own little offices in there and you can I obviously have it open all day every day and you can literally just knock on someone's door and then I'll just let you in and in your little avatars in their office microphones Boop webcams come on and you taught you chatting having your meeting other people can jump in stuff like it does work well it's in its infancy really but it's it's been pretty good for us so far
James: It sounds like not gamification as it were but it's a good little tool for just tricking your brain to think that there is someone next door there's someone working there learn the door and the answer and the pop-up and slightly better than just what we know we do is message someone in slack yep this is you link hop on a call how much is that per month subscription Mark?
Mark: I think it is now asking it's a US company I think it's not that expensive God I can't I can't remember what kind of pricey cost these and but it's not crazily expensive to do but if you if you had a look at the site you'll be able to sort of see I think that their pricing models on there obviously depending on scale it drops a little bit per user but night this is that as you say yeah it has been good because I’II don't join stand up some things because I'm not involved in production but I can be sat in my little office with my little round my M&M; a little character and you just see everyone in the kind of stand up area chattin and you can see peep when people talk they light up so you can see who's talking to each other in the meeting and then you see everyone kind of leave there and suddenly reappear in their offices yeah yeah it does it does make it weirdly it makes you feel like you kind not alone
James: That's it does sound actually really good tool and I think it's a good tip that we'll put on the link here because I businesses could see value now at least try it out I think I'm gonna try that on myself yeah so in terms of still stand on a homework in topic Mark for you what has been what has been one of the big fundamental changes for you from commuting and working in a day-to-day environment and obviously you traveling all the time as a commercial director suppose because you go now around the world meet clients what was this has been the biggest change for you that you had to adapt like was a lot of loneliness was it lack of communication like what was anything that you've that you've learned to overcome that
Mark: I think it depends on your personality type I think if you if you're a very sort of social person it can be difficult and your home working doesn't see everybody and but for me I'm kind of much more soft focused on things and block things out so I didn't really have much trouble I don't think adapting I think the hardest thing is finding and we sort of sticking to some routine that works for you and having a decent space to working so you not got a spare room or a home office that you can work from then you're probably going to struggle a bit more because you know it's going to do your back in if you sat at a kitchen table or you sat on the sofa and third years and oh yeah best in a quid off his chair
James: Cool which one did you buy
Mark: And because well I'm in Sweden a lot and the IKEA furniture they do some kind of pretty decent fancy stuff so that that's what we ended up saw getting
James: Cool so we're just at the final point and mark so just summarizing from when you did obviously engage with Ronald James and the process far I think we've done there's a three or four placements now with our source?
Mark: Yeah I think so yeah yeah yeah yeah
James: What would you recommend to other companies that are a bit unsure around using an agency like what would you say about why they should reach on to Ronald James
Mark: I think reaching out to sort of recruitment agencies in general I think it's what we've already said earlier which is a lot of people kind of think something's easy and we'll just do it themselves No you know I've had that in the past project management where it's like well everybody manages their lives so why do we need a project manager but then you move along on and make a mess of it but then you get someone who's actually good at what they do and then you kind of see really that you know actually are so it does make a big difference when someone is someone who's dedicated to the task and he's someone who knows about how to execute on the task I think with Ronald James it's been more about the sort of the fact that you guys are more personable I think and more sort of flexible in you know arranging interviews and the times and just being yeah it's not like dealing with a sort of big corporate it's it's dealing with someone on a more personal level which I think has been good for us
James: Great and in terms of one of the biggest challenges you see on the horizon for the for your industry until maybe the Hiring part as well what do you see is one of those challenges what's over the horizon for you
Mark: I think really it's it is quite livable we predominantly hire developers and it has been quite difficult to find developers of the right sort of caliber to join the team bear in mind we are such a technically focused business and obviously cause we small it's hard to you know we can't kind of suffer fools so to speak to everyone needs to come in and needs to be a star and so the process has been more difficult and taken longer than we thought, I think in the future the only thing I can see is obviously as the larger companies sort of you know almost like I want to say we're being booked it's it's like yeah I think people can kind of get quite complacent in what they do and in what they understand and what they learn so it does seem to be harder to sort of find the right candidates so I just wouldn't do it all the time if that will kind of get worse or not really especially when you've got the big boys who obviously you just throw salary at stuff and that's it and you know people then I just view that as the goal where it's like
I said earlier they don't kind of view getting involved with something that's more interested in having more depart something so it's kind of hard to sort of pull people away from the big lights and that and the flash
James: Yeah and that's where I think our service comes in has been that middle person that's aging for you represents your brand yeah you really understand what you guys do your ethics you growth plans etc to instill in the candidate process so they're really brought in because you hit the nail on the head there Marcus there's always gonna be bigger and better tech companies than you guys because there's always bigger and better around they're gonna get more money it's the little tiny noticeable things that you guys do differently that could help stand out to a developer and it's how that process is communicated to the candidate in the right way at the right time and that's what helped that that's where we were the glue that sticks up together otherwise it's just putting another jobs back out and sin do you want to roll here at 60,000 pounds a year you work from home on the front of it but there's a lot of other companies do that so what else is different and it's how we we communicate that with the audience that twisters mm presented in the right way and I think that's all it's always gonna be harder the biggest challenge I think over the next two or three years is it's only going to increase particularly with software engineers developers etc yeah demand huge and what I'm terrified now this will there's a lot of developers already made that move for a couple of times and on a really really good salary no great tools and tech they get in flexi time work from home and omit holidays what next and it's all those little personal things that I think make a difference to make sure that they're the right culture fit and it really bought into the project that really excites them as well
Mark: Agree yeah
James: Great well listen thanks for your time Mark and if anyone wants just wants to reach out to you and to maybe look at your services work what's the best way to reach you
Mark: The best thing to do is just to kind of reach us through the website or you can just always email me firstname.lastname@example.org and yeah I'll get my LinkedIn to good stuff all right really
James: Okay mark anyways Cheers
Mark: Thanks very much okay bye
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We are a leading niche digital & tech recruitment specialist for the North East of England. We Specialise in the acquisition of high-performing technology talent across a variety of IT sectors including Digital & Technology Software Development.
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