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UpTeam Remote Work: Our Standard

When you join UpTeam, you’re joining an organization where options for remote & distributed work have long been the norm. Our success is based on a set of common standards for successful remote teamwork.

We have always seen UpTeam as a one, big distributed office, that welcomes top professionals around the globe,  rather than certain individuals working remotely.  Running as one distributed organization with one set of processes, practices, and set of values (link) means all our employees have equal career opportunities and can equally exercise influence on company-wide processes, decisions, culture, and a balanced work-life. 

In our work with US clients and partners with our employees based in the US and Europe, we run agile. The backbone of our approach to software development is agile: the practices, processes, tools, and rituals. It’s anchored by daily stand-ups with the participation of all key team members and stakeholders. This is what sets us apart. It’s why our clients rely on our expertise to learn and update their own remote processes and practices.  

This success is built on 5 pillars of UpTeam Remote Work (as experts in SaaS software development, we know quite a bit about the foundations of successful distributed work).

  1. Secure Office SetUp  
  2. Regular Team Video Meetings 
  3. Flexible Working Hours 
  4. Written & Automated Processes 
  5. Open Asynchronous Communication 

These pillars have formed our standards for remote work standards since long before the pandemic. They evolved organically as a natural result of the kind of software development work we do. In a nutshell, UpTeam work is remote teamwork.  

Secure Remote Office Set Up

All our employees work from offices, whether from one of our dev-centers or remote offices. Our remote employees have two choices. They can organize a remote office at home; or, they can work from the nearest co-working center. 

UpTeam works with dozens of co-working centers and provides coverage for co-working expenses for our remote employees. That said, if you choose to work from your home office, here’s what you must have:

  • High-Speed Internet connection with approved router model according to UpTeam ISO 27001 standard.
  • Network connection by default over VPN access, using UpTeam VPN Servers as applicable, with Network bandwidth sufficient for full interactive audio and video participation
  • Work in a dedicated Private Room with an Office-like setting, with no interference from other household members. 
  • Office desk/table and chair
  • Either your own laptop (or Company provided laptop offered the UpTeam Equipment Rental Program) configured is in compliance with UpTeam security policy
  • High-quality audio/video peripherals equipment to participate in video calls with the team. 
  • Work from your home city, from where you signed our employment or consulting contract. You have to get a manager’s permission, through a simple request form, if you need to move to another location.

Now, it’s possible that for whatever reason, it turns out you are unable to meet these standards from your home location. In that event, you can apply for our UpTeam coworking cost reimbursement program and switch to the nearest co-working space.

Regular Team Video Meetings

Agile software development holds that teamwork is essential for modern software engineering practices. It is expected that everyone communicates openly during set working hours. IT’s a critical component of ensuring everyone on a team clearly feels collaborative and supported. The clear communication required of smart modern teamwork means clear expectations about shared time on the clock.  

Collaboration is essential when not everyone knows everything all the time. Productive collaboration means more transparency, all the more so when remote work means life without live face-to-face contact. That means live meetings which you need to attend. Let’s be more specific.  

  • Live participation in all scheduled team meetings, usually 2-3x a day.
  • All meetings should be attended via Google Meet or Zoom with your UpTeam login ID and video camera turned on. 
  • We advise all UpTeam staff to wear office appropriate attire and look and behave the same way as you would do when attending a meeting in person. 
  • Seated or standing still at the workplace. 

Of course, it doesn’t have to be a real office environment;  you can use one of the many available virtual video backgrounds. Ask your manager for a copy of the digital UpTeam background to use in any of the video conference tools. 

Stability is important to everyone on the team, wherever you are. Even if your working hours are not precisely 9am to 5pm every single day, it’s expected that you maintain a consistent and predictable schedule on an ongoing basis. We believe in making predictability and flexibility compatible. Need to go to the gym, get kids to/from school, or go out? Set yourself as ‘busy’ in the company calendar and on Slack. If you have daily a routine that conflicts with the team working hours, check with your manager to get a solution that will work the best for you and the team. 

Flexible working hours (and time-off)

A key benefit of working at UpTeam is available support for flexible work hours, subject to the general objectives of “Regular working hours ”. We value results above running the clock to fill the hours in reports. 

Of course, that does not mean you are completely free to work whenever you want, independent of anyone else but you. Here’s what we mean:

  • Availability for video calls from your remote office during defined working hours. You’ll need to set yourself as ‘available’ in the UpTeam online calendar, whether for scheduled meetings, questions, and ad-hoc huddles. 
  • General availability during scheduled working hours, so your managers and team members can reach you anytime during the schedule you have committed to
  • It’s ok to take a couple of hours off during your scheduled regular working hours provided that deliverables and commitment agreed upon during the team planning are fulfilled effectively
  • Personal time should be explicitly marked as such in your calendar so that other team members can effectively plan joint calls and events which require active teamwork.
  • Full days off should be planned and recorded using the UpTeam internal online portal 

There will always be exceptions, as life can introduce surprises. Your best bet in such cases is to ensure that you have communicated it timely and received a written OK (either in slack or on email) from your designated UpTeam manager.

Written & Automated Processes 

We are engineers and we strive to automate everything. If we do the same activity 3 times, we search for ways to automate it. As an UpTeam employee you will have access to our internal portal and can explore many processes, starting from onboarding and time-off requests to pull requests, code reviews and even new ideas improving existing processes, automated or not.

  • Company-wide documents are available and commentable. Everyone is encouraged to contribute, and everyone can see document versions and editing history. 
  • UpTeam Employee App is the gateway to all the company policies, handbooks, Requests, and benefits. You can request from anywhere a new laptop, a day-off or new tools you need to do your job more effectively
  • Make yourself visible. We expect you are also responsible to keep your essential information (a phone number)  up to date in the company systems so that you are never hard to find.

Following company processes is important not merely for the sake of processes. Processes are about results. If you spot a process that inhibits quality results, we want you to show us.

Open and Asynchronous Communication. 

Not all work is accomplished in meetings. Fortunately, there is a wide range of tools that supports a wide variety of modes. In most cases, it’s better that you communicate frequently than you otherwise might in a face-to-face situation. This is particularly important because written communication shows what you are thinking about and working on with the rest of the team.

  • Slack is our preferred messaging tool as well as of means of keeping in touch with your teammates. Use it to quickly resolve or explore ongoing issues and tasks. It can also work when things are stuck. 
  • Slack “huddle” mode is often a  good alternative to written interchange. On the other hand, you may not always be available exactly when a message arrives. In such cases, we expect you to respond to a DM or an explicit @mention within 2 hours or less
  • JIRA (or in some cases a different tool required by our client) to report key milestones on an assigned task either via a comment in the issue, or via an issue status/field change. 
  • If things are stuck, don’t wait. If the process or common sense demands that. Use email to report or resolve a blocker.

The bottom line: written communications is the evidence which shows progress and your investment in the common understanding required to deliver the best possible results for our client customers.

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