28 May 2020

Hiring during lockdown

On March 11 we packed up our desks as we prepared to work remotely, not knowing when we’d return to the studio. Even with a well established flexible working policy there was a learning curve in terms of figuring out how to focus at home, conduct our daily standups, and run client workshops, but one of the most challenging new experiences we’ve had to adapt to was hiring fully remotely.

Our clients have kept their foot on the gas, they understand that now is not the time to reduce spend on the way they are perceived online, with the whole world now operating digitally in the new normal. So with more work rolling in, we needed to add new talent to Catch.

A month into lockdown Catch welcomed new team members across both our Creative and Client Services teams.

So what have we learned from the process? We spoke with our hiring teams to collect the below recommendations for remote hiring and onboarding.

The interview process

“At this point you may be used to having video calls and are more comfortable with this format than candidates are. Understanding and acknowledging this at the beginning of the call will help break the ice and help make everything run smoother”

Becca Bendelow, Delivery Lead

Ask candidates to prepare a presentation of answers to general questions about themselves and their work experience. This is a great conversation starter and allows them to take the lead of the interview so it doesn’t feel so one sided. It also helps you understand how they present their thoughts and would potentially communicate with a client.

The onboarding process

Usually new hires can lean over to their neighbour and ask questions, or you can stop by their desk and check in. The challenge now is finding a balance between allowing them to work independently and making sure they’re managing everything without being with them in person.

  • Set up a new hire Trello board, breaking out steps into specific tasks with due dates and including pre-booked meeting invites for check ins, taking the pressure off of them to schedule a meeting whenever they have a question. This also helps embed them in your process, becoming aware of typical timelines and stand ups.
  • Arrange for new hires to have one on one calls with a variety of team members, helping them feel comfortable reaching out when a work related question comes up.

While the end of lockdown is currently uncertain, we do know that our ways of working may never go back to what we once considered “normal.” Whether it’s full time remote work, flexible policies, or anything in between, we all have a new outlook on what it means to work from home.

At the time of writing this article, the Catch studio in London is due to reopen, adhering to Government guidelines, on Sept 1st.

08 Mar 2020

International Women's Day 2020

International Women's Day is once again upon us! To celebrate, Helen, our Delivery Director, spent six minutes with six of Catch's irrepressible women from across each of our teams, discussing their experience as women in the tech world and get their views on the future. 

  • Cindy, Design Associate 
  • Michael, Strategist 
  • Omnia, Senior Developer 
  • Gabriela, Developer
  • Gayleen, Senior Project Manager
  • Becca, Delivery Lead

Six Minutes with Six Women

Previously I wrote a post mulling over my thoughts and feelings as to how we try to ensure a safe, democratic and egalitarian working environment at Catch. At the time, the #MeToo movement was garnering momentum and brought the discussion of what it meant to be a woman living an agency life roaring into studios everywhere, including ours. 

For International Women’s Day this year, rather than me waxing lyrical on my own views, we caught up with women from each of our teams, all from wildly different backgrounds and with a variety of agency years under their belts. 

At Catch we focus on working out what drives each team member, so we can help them attain their goals and reach their full potential. For women, often faced with an additional layer of challenges, working out what drives us is key to ensuring we overcome those challenges, so we asked our team about the challenges they feel they’ve faced in the industry and how they overcame them.

There are challenges that I face as a developer but my passion for learning keeps me moving forward

Gabriela Savova, Front End Developer

Gabriela described her first days in the industry, thinking about what’s kept her working in tech for seven years, “I kept thinking ‘Is this for me?’ And, of course, it was. I really enjoy the fact that I work in a dynamic environment where every day I can learn different things. There are challenges that I face as a developer but my passion for learning keeps me moving forward.”

One day, the idea that women need to find a way to push themselves forward should be anachronistic, but, for now, one of our strengths is in the ability to self-motivate, to take strength from adversity. Senior Project Manager Gayleen told us about falling foul of the gender pay gap, noting: “As frustrating as it was, that experience taught me the best way to overcome that sort of challenge was through being extremely prepared to highlight and explain how my contribution has positively impacted the business. I know some people may think ‘you shouldn’t have to work harder for the same reward’, but at least now I am more confident in openly discussing my achievements whenever I need to.”

“I guess the challenge was to be heard and acknowledged in a company which was predominantly staffed by men,” Cindy, the newest member of our Strategy and Creative team said, thinking back to her previous experience.

Twelve years into her tech career, Omnia echoed Cindy’s thoughts, positing that building trust helps ease the way, “I have been working in tech for around twelve years now, and I think it’s always a challenge to work in the tech industry as a woman - it’s still a male-dominated field. You’ll always have to prove yourself, but once you gain trust, you can excel.”

I would love to see more people in senior positions (both men and women) who want to mentor females starting out in their careers. This is critical as we know the positive impact a good mentor can have

Michael Reiss, Strategist

Michael and Becca both touched on the impact of mentorship on their careers, with Becca stressing how important it is for her to pay that support forward to her team, “I’ve had the privilege of being mentored and coached by numerous inspiring and strong women and this has been instrumental in building my career and instilling a sense of self-belief so I feel a great responsibility to provide the same support to my team, to encourage their self-belief and allow them to grow in their careers.”

Michael notes that availability of mentors is one of the underlying issues, “Speaking with other female professionals, availability of mentors is an area where many women face challenges. I would love to see more people in senior positions (both men and women) who want to mentor females starting out in their careers. This is critical as we know the positive impact a good mentor can have.”

Despite the bad rap the tech industry (sometimes deservedly) gets, as Gayleen notes, there are massive advantages to working in an industry that’s still fairly young, “Digital agencies often don’t have the same legacies of gender or race inequality so my ambition has been nurtured and always encouraged to the same extent as everyone else in the business, irrespective of gender or race.” 

Change isn’t something that happens overnight, neither is it something that can be tackled on one front only. “Women’s status in the industry cannot be fully addressed by just focusing on the workplace,” Michael says. “How society raises women, from the subjects we’re encouraged to study to the way we’re educated about finance and the social clubs we’re encouraged to join has to improve for us to gain true equality in every industry.”

Two years on from my last post the idea of representation - of equality - in agencies has taken on a much wider context than just the heteronormative gender divide. Equality means equality for everyone and we’re all responsible for making our industry a better more welcoming place for anyone who fancies joining in. With a greater number of events and meetups fostering more open conversation on the issue of equitable treatment of everyone than ever before, we’re seeing an uptick in tangible change and in the hope for more.  

When asked whether she feels the industry is improving for women, Gayleen muses, “I think we’ve still got a long way to go but it’s clear we’re working to take steps to eradicate gender inequality in the workplace and we certainly should keep working towards that because, well, what would the disadvantage of that be?”

To close, we’ll let Gabriela have the last word: “All ladies in tech, be proud of yourselves and happy International Women's Day!”

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