Managing Remote Data Teams with VP of Engineering

remote data team

Valter Fernandes is the VP of Engineering at Carpe Data, a leading provider of data products that help insurance companies automate and streamline their processes. Andela sat down with Valter to discuss how this now office-first company met the challenges and opportunities of going remote during the pandemic.

Find the right balance to promoting productivity

Like other businesses, COVID shifted Carpe Data’s fully in-office workforce into a fully remote operation overnight. Valter notes that the most significant changes he witnessed had to do with individual productivity. Without the pressures of commuting and so-called “wasted time,” productivity skyrocketed for some staff. For others who had increased distractions like children and home responsibilities, productivity dropped. The move to remote also resulted in a loss of everyday collaboration that Valter says happens naturally in an office. With everyone working remotely, teams “put in a huge effort to keep the collaboration going.”  

Now that more people are returning to the office, Carpe Data has shifted to a fully hybrid model, with 150 people distributed evenly between Lisbon and Santa Barbara. They still see themselves as “office first” but are adapting to the changing market and keeping their doors and minds open.

Know your priorities when hiring new talent

The biggest challenge Carpe Data faces as they scale is finding talent close to their Lisbon and Santa Barbara offices. Having an in-office culture is important to the team, and even with a global pool, Valter points out that thousands of companies are still competing for the same talent. As Carpe Data wants to hire and build new teams quickly, they work hard to find “the right people to fill the right spots, considering we want to keep these locations.”

Get creative when designing a remote culture

Carpe Data’s office-first culture inspired how they approached the team’s remote working experience. One initiative was to create a virtual common space: “We had a zoom room open 24 hours, so people could just jump in. Since we have such a small window of overlap with the US office, we felt it was important that the US team could come into this space and just talk with people or ask for help [like what you would do] in an office. We tried to mimic that in a remote approach, and it worked pretty well.”

The team also kept up their habit of having lunch together on Wednesdays. They still broke bread over zoom and then played online board games or found other ways to have fun together. “We wanted to keep the connection, and at least the office culture wouldn’t all be lost just because we couldn’t see each other in real life.” The team also introduced new activities, like online gaming nights. “It was absolutely great because it was stuff that we didn’t do before. We ended up doing more because we wanted to be creative and have people interact a bit more.”

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