What we’ve learnt from growing our team in 2020

Annabel Mekelenkamp
Operations Director
08 December 2020
4 minute read

Since the start of 2020, we’ve seen our team double in size. While this team growth was planned following our Series A back in February 2020, we didn’t expect to be ramping up hiring during the pressures of the pandemic. We’ve hired across all functions and at all levels, with the most growth seen in our Technology, Enterprise, Product and Data teams. This has set us up for what we hope will be a bumper year in 2021.

During this time, we’ll be the first to say we got a number of things right and a number of things wrong! To help our customers or other businesses who are in the process of ramping up hiring and navigating remote onboarding, here are some of the lessons we’ve learnt along the way this year.

Remote interviewing

We’ve largely stuck with the same interview format we had pre-COVID-19, adjusting the process to take place over video. One of the main challenges this presented was really being able to assess the cultural fit and culture-add of candidates. As a relatively small - albeit, fast-growing - team, culture remains a key hiring priority. The way we’ve navigated this challenge has been to introduce additional, informal interviews into the process to give more people around the business the opportunity to ‘meet’ and interact with candidates before we make an offer - and to give candidates a chance to get to know different teams within Superscript and ask honest questions that they may not want to ask the hiring manager. When COVID-19 restrictions allowed, we were able to get candidates into the office to check out the working space and get a feel for the business.

Remote onboarding

The switch to remote interviewing coincided with the need to remotely onboard lots of new Superscripters. Some team members had been with us for a matter of days before the ‘stay at home’ orders were given by the government, meaning they were only part way through their onboarding. Others needed to onboard fully-remotely. Again, we utilised the power of our Superscript community to address this challenge.

One of the hardest things to replicate remotely is the value of organic learning when you’re new to a team - i.e. when you overhear someone talking about a project or new feature and are able to get involved and ask questions. For this reason, we widened the ‘onboarding taskforce’ to include not just a new joiner’s manager and immediate team, but also those in the wider business. All new joiners are allocated a ‘buddy’ to help them settle into life at Superscript and video calls are diarised with lots of different people around the business for new joiners to get a good feel for how different teams operate and where their role fits in. It’s been great to see how this has seamlessly translated into real world relationships on the few occasions that team members have been able to meet up since March.

Introducing hybrid working

Prior to the pandemic, we were an almost exclusively office-based team. Being a small but fast-growing company, this physical interaction and culture has been a big part of our success to date and has helped us bring on board lots of great talent. The pandemic, of course, flipped office working on its head. Superscript is a people-first business and, as a team, we’ve always valued spending time with each other and building strong connections. It’s therefore fair to say that there were some teething problems when we first transitioned to home working during the pandemic! However virtual events and team get-togethers, “donut” calls to facilitate spontaneous conversations across different teams, and ‘quarantine challenges’ which encouraged everyone to get creative allowed us to keep our much-loved company culture.

Fast forward to the end of the year and, in response to what our team told us through a number of employee engagement surveys over recent months, and countless one-on-one conversations, we’ve introduced hybrid working permanently. For us, hybrid working aims to keep the best of office working while embracing the benefits that home working presents for our team. Less time commuting, more time to spend with families and friends, and in turn more headspace which brings new ideas and creativity to our daily work. We didn’t think we’d be ending 2020 with a near empty office, but it’s a change that we’re hopeful will bring benefits for the future of working at Superscript.

We’re hiring!

While no-one quite knows what 2021 will bring, it’s looking to be a brighter year than 2020 with the first vaccine soon rolling out in the UK and signs that normality will ensue. This opens up more opportunities for all and, at Superscript, we have big plans for 2021.

We therefore have a lot of open roles right now! If you’re after your next challenge for 2021 - or know someone who is - check out our roles on Workable and see what our team has to say about working at Superscript on our Glassdoor page.

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