Blacklane is proud of its beautiful office in the heart of Berlin Schöneberg. Not all of our employees work here, though. In fact, some don’t even work in an office at all! Meet Charlie Team, our almost entirely remote and most-distributed team.
The interview was carried out with five of the team members over Slack – their primary mode of group communication.
Who are the team members and where are you all?
Krzysztof: Spread all over Europe. Fortunately, the countries still agree on a common time zone. Josep & Marcin are located in Barcelona, and Evie, Sascha and Matt are in the Blacklane Berlin office. Rafał and I usually work from the Rebased office in Warsaw.
What is Charlie Team?
Krzysztof: We handle code for pricing, payments and billing, which sounds way more boring than it actually tends to be.
What makes it more exciting than what people may expect?
Krzysztof: Mainly that we’re constantly moving forward, it’s not a static and done thing. For example, our expansion into China will bring new payment methods. It’s also impossible to solve everything – there *will* be an edge case you haven’t designed for. Next, we have a lot of stakeholders. It seems like half if the departments need us for some reason or another to support customers and grow the business.
Josep: I share this opinion about the new things coming. I’m really excited about the new pricing features.
What are your titles and responsibilities within the team?
Josep: The team is composed similarly to other engineering teams at Blacklane: Product, Agile coach, quality assurance and developers. And we work together with stakeholders defining the new features and also supporting operations when needed.
How long have you each worked for Blacklane and which of you have worked at HQ before?
Josep: I joined in summer 2014. Actually, I moved from Barcelona to Berlin to work at Blacklane. In 2016, I decided to move back to Barcelona.
Màrxin: I joined around Autumn 2016. I’ve been to HQ two times so far.
Krzysztof: Same as Marcin, my earliest Blacklane code is from August 2016.
What drew you to the city that you are living in?
Krzysztof: Work, basically. The job market was much larger than in my home city of Gdańsk, same for salaries. But that was ages ago, now things have equalized somewhat.
Josep: In my case, love and more consistent sunshine were the reasons to move back.
Do you work from home, in a coworking space, in an office? Why?
Krzysztof: I think it’s only Josep that actually works from home.
Rafał: I have worked from Warsaw for 3 years.
Màrxin: I work from a coworking space.
How do you communicate best with each other? Are you just on Slack all day or do you call each other?
Krzysztof: Both. One-to-one is the most productive form of “meeting” if you can call it such. In our case, it’s either a short talk about some difficult part, or a pairing session with one person coding and the other reviewing/commenting/advising. But we only need that for the most complicated parts. Usually syncing over Slack is good enough. We work on our tasks solo, too, communicating over slack/GitHub comments/emails.
What are the pros and cons of remote working?
Krzysztof: It forces better communication. You have to be excellent at it. As for cons, obviously less contact with people.
How often are you expected at HQ, if ever?
Rafał: I’ve been in HQ:
– Once for onboarding week
– Twice for onboarding a new person
– Once for our team event (the one from photo)
So, four times in three years.
Krzysztof: Twice so far.
Rafał: Last time was after Evie, our team lead, joined so you can say that every time a new team member joined I visited HQ.
Evie: So now you can count how many times the team changed!