If you are interested in Remote Work and want to get to know our view on this working world, then this post is for you.
What is remote native?
This means that there is no location, no headquarters where employees work together on a regular basis. We are sure that this is not a disadvantage, but an important success factor for a successful remote company.
Contrast this with a company where, on the one hand, there is a team that works daily in the same room and, on the other hand, individual employees who work remotely, the latter will always be an appendage in corporate communications.
Of course, there are some very important things to keep in mind with a remote native company. Read on to find out more.
“Remote work is not about working from your HomeOffice. It’s about finding a remote culture.”
Henning EmmrichCOO and Co-Founder
Why remote native?
We decided to start Frontastic as a remote native company. There are three main reasons for this:
We’ve personally had very good experience with remote work.
We build a product that inspires not only customers, but also ourselves and all other employees. This is the ideal basis for a remote company.
We believe in diversity; we believe that we need the best people and that we can’t find them in a single country.
In addition, remote work is very ecological because we don’t contribute to jamming the streets every morning and polluting the air with emissions.
“In the last 20 years of my professional life I have learned about many companies. In the end, the companies that succeeded in inspiring their employees for their work were successful.”
Henning EmmrichCOO and Co-Founder
Our guiding principles
We believe in diversity
Although we founders are white men, we’re sure that a good team is made up of very heterogeneous people. We relate diversity to very different things: it can refer to beliefs (belief in a God or belief in technology), but of course also to skin color, origin, age and gender. Different political views can also be helpful for a good, successful team. However, we do not tolerate racism, narcissism, etc.
“We are convinced that different personalities are an essential success factor for Frontastic.”
FrontasticTeam of Founders
How we organize our remote work
We are not dogmatic about the way we work. We use the methods that seem most appropriate for each situation. When we realise that we need more structures, we create structures. Not before ;-)
Most of our communication is on a written basis. At the moment, we are using a Slack-bot for regular agile artefacts like the standup meeting: our daily standup meeting is just a bot inside Slack. It asks us every morning about our plans, so that our colleagues have the chance to know. In the evening it asks us about our results and our mood.
In preparation for each weekly meeting (which we organise as a video meeting), everyone briefly tells the Slack bot what they want to share with their colleagues. In this way we’re wonderfully asynchronous; if you’re on vacation, for example, you can easily pick up the most important things you’ve missed in the meantime.
Sometimes it’s just nice to work together with others in the same room. We often get together spontaneously. To do this, we simply use Google Hangouts, for all those who have the inclination and time to work together. If you want to have your peace of mind or take a call, just go out again – quite uncomplicated.
It’s also a great way to learn about new topics or just pair programming. And, of course, it also stimulates a sense of being together.
Meeting in the real world
Currently we meet every two weeks in person. This works because we don’t live too far apart. We will probably adjust the frequency when we become a more regionally distributed team.
Retrospective / Socials
Every eight weeks we do a retrospective. Of course, this also takes place as an in-person meeting, at least at the moment. After that, we do some kind of social event, because a good team has fun together. That’s certainly something that’s easier to accomplish if everyone goes to the same office every day. But we know many offices where it nevertheless doesn’t happen…
Twice a year we meet for three-day company retreat. Most of the time we have a common theme to work on. Alternately, we just take some time to talk and work together in the same room. In between and in the evening we do something enjoyable together. Just as it should be ;-) The retreat always takes place in a beautiful, attractive place that is easy for everyone to reach.
English is our internal communication language
Our team is growing continuously, and by now, the native language of most of our team members is different from German. We have started early on to communicate in English as our default language. It is essential to us that information flows freely and unrestricted and no team member feels left out for any reason. Therefore, recently, we have committed to always communicate in English, no matter if written and spoken communication.
“It was a long discussion. But in the end we agreed to switch to English as our default language – although we were all Germans at the time. Now, with the majority of the team being non-Germans, our decision has served us better than we could have imagined.”
Thomas GottheilFounder & CEO
From a developer’s point of view
Technology that inspires
Frontastic develops a pure cloud-product that inspires customers, partners and software developers working with it. Therefore we not only pay attention to features and UX but also to an outstanding developer experience in our Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) component “Catwalk”.
Our product setup covers an innovative combination of Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) components, the Catwalk PaaS and some micro-services to decouple both of these in an eventually consistent way. Our self-organised and end-to-end responsible development team not only implements these components but manages to keep the complexity of this distributed application landscape low.
A tech stack in balance
Without going into too much detail here is a glance at the technology stack we are working with:
Our front-ends all work with ReactJS, React-Router and React-Redux. The SaaS component is based on Material UI while our PaaS component (Catwalk) brings its own SCSS framework that provides a slim, scalable and highly extensible basis for the custom projects of our customers. The framework is modeled after and makes heavy use of BEM IT and ITCSS (using InuitCSS under the hood).
Both front-end stacks are supported by slim back-ends on the basis of PHP 7.2+ and Symfony 4.1+ backed by data storage in either MySQL and CouchDB. With these rock-solid technology decisions in the back-ends we are able to focus on innovation and cutting-edge experience in the front-ends.
In addition to that we have some small daemon components running on PHP + Symfony or Go.
On all levels of our stacks we work with automated testing (unit, integration and front-end acceptance tests) and full build-automation using Apache Ant. Provisioning and deployment is fully automated using RedHat Ansible, which allows us to spawn new customer environments and on-board new developers in no time.
Our technology choices are oriented towards delivering extensive scalability, awesome monitoring and rock-solid back-ends on the one hand. On the other hand we put a top-notch front-end (developer) experience built with newest technologies on top of these.
Development that matters
As you can probably tell, we are absolutely passionate about our technology and try to achieve the best possible developer experience without becoming dogmatic. All of our developers have the chance and responsibility to influence the technology stack to make it better every day. This is expressed in our constant refactoring efforts, master-based development and shared production responsibilities.
Last but not least – our current job offers
If you didn’t already know, we are a remote native company.
We are currently still mainly active in the Europe/Berlin time zone.
Therefore, locations close to Germany are preferred to make our regular in-person meetings easier.