Case Study: Full-stack developers and why they are cool

Katerina Zorina, a full-stack developer at Beetroot, tells how universal specialists can increase a team’s efficiency and gives recommendations for those who’d like to be multifunctional developers.

How it began

I got into hard science when I was in school. I had an awesome physics teacher and I owe him for my fascination with tech subjects. When it was time to choose a university, I sent my documents to a couple of technical institutes without a doubt and ended up at Kharkiv University of radio-electronics. I’ve never experienced any weird feelings about being a girl who studies the automatization of production processes. But, it should be mentioned that there were a lot of girls in my group — around 30-40% of all students. We didn’t feel male dominance looming over us. But our fellow students at a radio-technical faculty couldn’t say the same — they had only three or four girls for the entire course.

When I was enrolling for my studies, I didn’t have the slightest idea of how to write complicated code. Then, slowly, I’ve learned everything and even decided to complete my diploma with Java. I really enjoyed working on the practical part. That was a moment when I realized that I want to keep programming in the future and started digging into C#, which became my main language to work with. Luckily, I had enough resources — websites and books — to learn everything on my own.

Next stop — full-time job

My first job was great. There were very interesting technologies and people who were ready to help me become a better specialist. Six years passed and now I work at Beetroot for the Zwapgrid project. It’s a platform for data streaming between different systems, clients and partners. I’m developing new functionalities and maintain the existing ones. Basically, I’m working with a set of technologies that have remained the same for quite some time. The main ones are ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Core, Entity Framework Аngular JS, and Angular. On top of that, I have experience in working with MS Sql Server and MongoDB.

Full-stack developers and why they are dope

Full-stack developers can work with any part of a project, whether it is related to changing the front-end or back-end. It means that full-stack developers should possess multifaceted knowledge. However, taking into account the specificities of a project and their personal preferences, these multifunctional specialists usually have a deeper knowledge of back-end than front-end or vice versa. When clients start looking for a full-stack developer to join their project, they should pay attention to the ratio between job experience with front-end and back-end, as well as at the specificity of the project itself.

Full-stack developers can become a valuable asset for a team. First, such multifunctionality allows us to get our teeth deep into the code and website architecture, deeper than anyone. Besides, we understand the logic of both front-end and back-end parts. If there is a situation that someone from the team needs to take days off, the entire process won’t stop because we’ll be able to catch it on the go at any time.

For those who want to become full-stack developers

In order to start working with my stack of technologies, you’ll need to learn the basics. For example, you can start with C#. Nowadays it’s easy to find the necessary information on your own if you are okay with this way of studying new things. There is a good resource called Pluralsight — it’s a website that aggregates an incredible amount of different video-lessons about the languages of programming and frameworks. You’ll have to pay for your education, but it’s definitely worth it. If you’re looking for free of charge courses, you should check out Microsoft Virtual Academy.

After you’re done with the basics, choose the direction that you’d like to pursue — desktop, mobile or web development. Based on your personal preferences or based on the rate of frameworks, you can choose technologies for further learning. For instance, if you decided to work with Microsoft in the web direction, you’ll need these frameworks: ASP.NET MVC, ASP.NET Web API, ASP.NET Core. If you want to work with front-end, you’ll have to start studying JavaScript/TypeScript. But don’t waste too much time on theory. The theoretical part is important but we learn faster when we work on real, practical tasks.

Direct communication with clients is very important

At the beginning of working on a distributed team, I faced certain difficulties, but those were positive challenges. They helped me to deepen my knowledge and to continue my self-development. I always liked the fact that our team was built on direct communication with clients. I think it’s a great advantage.

Our clients are located in Sweden, so the time difference between our countries is insignificant. Whenever we have a question, we can immediately get in touch with the rest of the team and discuss it. We have a policy of being honest and transparent. So we can express all our thoughts about the project even if they don’t coincide with the team’s majority opinion. We always try to find solutions that will be accepted by everyone on the team.

Besides, when communicating with clients, we boost our English. People in Sweden have a good command of English because they have bilingual TV and radio-translations. Talking to them on a regular basis allows us to polish our English proficiency too.

Plus, direct communication allows clients to get a better understanding of what’s going on within a team. They can see the progress of every team member, our productivity and the results of our work without the interference of third parties. This way we can build a strong team, where everyone feels in the right place.

By the way, Beetroot has an open vacancy for a Full-stack developer. You can read more about it, Maybe, it’s you that we’re looking for.

Swedishness in business

Let’s imagine for a second a beautiful sunny day back in the 10th century. You’ve just finished doing chores when a local alchemist comes by and asks you: “hey, what do you think about Swedes?”. Probably, at that moment you’d have a micro heart attack because Swedes were associated with savage Vikings wearing those funny horned hats. Modern Swedes do not quite live up to that image. We picture them as tall blonde guys, who like lagom, tolerance, and herring. But these things don’t even start covering all the cultural differences Scandinavian countries have. And it’s not a big surprise that those differences intrigue us.

Now that it is much safer to visit Sweden than it was in the 10th century, the number of Ukrainian travelers has grown significantly. Swedish culture fascinates us, even if this interest shows only in binge-watching Vikings or Bridge. But do we have a clear understanding of what it’s like to work at a Swedish company? Well, we do. And you’ll also find it out after reading this.

Lagom

Let’s get this one straight off the bat. A couple of years ago it became popular to live like a Scandinavian. Hygge boomed first, and when its fame faded out, we discovered a new kid on the block — lagom. It’s a Swedish word, which means “not too much, not too little, just right”. At some point, it became so huge that it grew into a fully-fledged philosophy of living.

The truth is — drum roll — not all Swedes follow the lagom concept in business. It’s not a panacea, nor is it the only right way to do things. On the other hand, keeping a healthy work-life balance is quite a Swedish thing.

Since 2015, Swedish organizations have been experimenting with a 6-hour working day. These experiments were limited to a handful of companies, but the results were encouraging, so Swedes keep looking for alternative approaches to the work schedule.

Even in the most conservative offices, overtime is not appreciated. Bearing in mind the potential outcomes of burnouts, Swedes opt for spending quality time with their families and friends. If their kids are sick, they can always stay at home and take care of them. In Swedish such practice is called Vård av Barn. Plus, Swedish companies encourage their employees to stay fit by promoting fitness hours in offices.

The picture might be different for young Swedish entrepreneurs, who keep working even during third-class train travel (yeah, we’re talking about Beetroot’s founders here). But, in general, working at a Swedish company means that no one will judge you for leaving earlier to see your kids’ school play. Maybe this is the reason why Sweden ranks so high on the list of the happiest countries to work in.

Teamwork

Putting it in an oversimplified way, Swedes love spending long hours on team discussions and making collective decisions. In fact, a lot of Swedish companies are built around the concept of flat, non-hierarchical organizations. For us, people who grew in post-Soviet countries, this approach might be unusual. Although some Ukrainian companies have also tried to flatten their structures, the majority of them still rely on the traditional way of doing things.

 

For Swedes, it is important to reach a consensus when making decisions. They listen to everyone on the team, regardless of their seniority or position. With that in mind, Swedish teams are usually very informal. Traditional borders between managers and subordinates are quite blurred. Seeing an intern interrupting a chief officer with a random idea is a typical picture in Sweden.

For sure, such way of working has its downsides. Sometimes the decision-making process can stretch out for days or even weeks. Sometimes it’s impossible to find a decision, which makes everyone happy. But this inclusiveness and collective work can become a great creativity booster. After all, not only senior managers can generate cool ideas, right?

Tolerance and equality

Sweden is frequently pictured as a super-tolerant country. Sometimes it’s even mocked for being so. But similarly to the cases with lagom and teamwork, the truth is somewhere in the middle.

Swedish business is not a la-la-land, where people of all races, gender, and age have equal representation. But at least, it’s trying to get there. According to the EU Report, Sweden scores 82.6 points on gender equality, which makes it the highest ranking country in Europe. Probably, the best illustration of this high score can be seen, when some of the Swedish employees are having a baby. Swedish law provides each parent with 240 days of parental leave, and half of these days are non-transferable. It means, that if parents want to receive 80% of their salary during the parental leave, each of them should babysit a newborn for three months. After the introduction of this policy, 45% of Swedish dads opted to take parental leaves.

When Swedes build companies in other countries they can’t bring their homeland laws with them, but they try to create cultures of inclusiveness and equality. If you’re applying for a job at a Swedish company, you can be sure that you won’t be discriminated based on your gender, religion or age.

We can talk about Swedish business culture for a very long time. Seriously, it’s hard to stop once we’ve started. But experiencing a culture is always better than reading about it. Here, at Beetroot, we’ve soaked our working environment with the Swedish vibe. If you are up to dive into it, check out our vacancies or come listen to our CMO during his talk about how Swedishness helps us create family vibe at work and support the teams’ wellbeing. It will take place at the Mental Health & Emotional Well-being Conference for Business in Kyiv on Match 13th.

Case study: “In the modern world of IT logic is more important than math”

Marka Shevchenko, a Front-end developer, speaks about searching for her true self, which led her to Beetroot Academy and then to Beetroot, and shares five recommendations for those who dream of becoming programmers.

Coincidences are not coincidental at all

My previous job had nothing to do with programming. For quite a long time I worked as a lawyer’s clerk. It was going fine but at some point, I realized that I hated my job. It was a moment of existential crisis. I resigned, went home and started searching for my “true self,” as it’s called. I always enjoyed working with computers, so I began reading books on programming. Then, by accident, I saw Beetroot Academy’s ad and decided to go for it.

Among all the courses, I chose the front-end course. This direction attracted me because of its visibility and the visual design aspect. Compared to back-end labyrinths, which no end user ever sees, front-end is always in the limelight. And I thought that it must be cool to create things that are not only useful but also aesthetically pleasing.

We had a terrific teacher, Max Pogrebniak, who has a talent for explaining complicated ideas in simple, relatable terms. These courses were so unlike typical school lessons. Max easily pivoted from the official class itinerary to spend more time developing and polishing our skills. He was equally mindful in helping us gain practical experience outside the classroom and inside a working environment, which is how I landed my first professional role as a programmer.

In addition to teaching, Max worked for a project that Beetroot was managing for WiseStamp, a company that makes easy-to-use marketing tools for freelancers, small business owners and self-employed professionals. By the end of the Academy’s course, Max decided to move on from the project, and therefore, WiseStamp needed someone to replace him. Max recommended me to fill the role. At the Academy, they have a test interview with Human Resources, which is supposed to help students practice their presentation skills. But for me, this interview was not a trial but a real job interview. I went through the recruiting process successfully and joined the WiseStamp team in a freelance capacity.

About the project

WiseStamp is a powerful yet easy-to-use tool for creating dynamic, interactive email signatures. Users of the tool don’t need to have design or coding skills to make their WiseStamp signature. They simply enter their information, links, and photo and choose and customize the template they like best. With WiseStamp, users experience a higher email reply rate, engagement rate, and click rate. WiseStamp also launched a new website building tool called WiseIntro. Similar to their email signature solution, WiseIntro helps users create their own website quickly and easily by entering and managing content with an intuitive editor. Users also can customize the look and feel of their webpage and, within half an hour, create a professional web presence that drives traffic, new business leads, and web authority.

For those who’d like to work in IT

I believe that there are several simple rules for building a successful career. It doesn’t matter whether you want to learn to programming from scratch or just want to change the language of development—the following tips will be still useful.

  • Set precise deadlines

Have you decided you want to learn programming? Great! Now make sure to define a concrete date to complete your studies, otherwise you may find yourself postponing it indefinitely. This map can be very useful for taking your first steps. After you figured out your timeline, start embarking on it step-by-step. If you are a self-learner, test out all your theoretical knowledge by channeling it into practical tasks. Even if something seems to be easy and obvious on paper, it might become a tough nut to crack in practice. So, implementing theory into practice is a key exercise.

Also don’t spend too much on learning theory; after all, practice is the best way to acquire knowledge. Once you have basic knowledge of programming, go ahead and search for internships or freelance projects. This way you can polish your skills much faster.

  • Don’t follow trends

Don’t learn to program just because everyone else is doing it. If you’re chasing a trend and not your own passion, you’re not likely to succeed. Also, don’t try to learn “the trendiest” programming language. You have a better chance of succeeding in the languages that you genuinely like.

  • Think twice about your future career

IT is a huge world and it’s crucial to choose the right path so that you don’t waste your time. I have a friend who fell for the advantages of working in IT and decided to learn Python. He worked hard on literature and online materials and waited eagerly for the moment when he’d be able to draw at least one button. Imagine his frustration when he realized that he’d never have a chance to draw a button because that’s what designers do, not Python programmers. At the end of the day, he dropped Python and started learning UX design.

  • Analyze your skills and personal qualities

In the modern world of IT, logic is more important than math. In your work, you’ll have to think ahead, plan your future steps and see the whole picture. Apart from that, you’ll have to be plodding. After all, programming is about long hours of sitting in front of a computer screen. And of course, you’ll have to be self-organized and self-motivated. If you’re used to sitting and waiting for instructions, you will struggle in IT where self-management is a necessary skill.

  • Prepare for and embrace challenges

No matter how skilled you are, sooner or later you’ll face a task that will stump you. In these situations, it’s important to embrace the challenge tactfully. Don’t try to smash-and-grab it. Break it into pieces and deal with each piece one by one. Also, forget about the so-called “rule of thumb.” Of course, it can work sometimes, but it’s still better to systematically analyze a problem and investigate every function before trying to fix it. Seeking outside help is also a smart approach. Having an outside perspective will help you think differently and often lead you closer to the solution.

  • Explore different learning platforms

If you’ve thought it through and decided to become a front-end developer, you are about to start an interesting adventure. In order to finish it as a qualified specialist, mix up different approaches to education — courses, individual learning, and practical work. It’s not going to be a piece of cake, but you’ll enjoy it in the end.

Apart from Beetroot Academy courses, there are other resources that can help you become a better version of yourself. FreeCodeCamp is one of my favorite resources. It’s also a community where you can learn from and interact with other developers and access helpful and interesting content. I also recommend a great newsletter from HTML Academy. They send website templates that you can use to practice. Also check out the CodeAcademy website to learn the basics of programming, explore different languages and choose the one you like the most.

Types of personalities and burnout

Emotional burnout has many faces. Sometimes we intentionally set the alarm earlier just to have more time for lying in bed and hating our lives. Sometimes we discretely repeat our boss’s hideous tasks in Alvin and the Chipmunks’ voices. And sometimes we don’t even realize the fact that we’ve burnt out.

Emotional burnout is always about relationships with yourself or with the people around you. You can do your job perfectly, but if you have tense relations with the team, you’ll always feel uncomfortable. Eventually, you’ll start getting nervous, losing energy and, slowly, burning out.

In order to comprehend whether you’ve entered a burnout phase or not, check out these indicators:

  • Reluctant involvement in the surrounding reality, automatic work, robot-like behavior;
  • Constant frustration — you’re irritated by your colleagues, weather, politicians, etc.;
  • Frequent conflicts or, on the contrary, isolation from your team;
  • Self-destructive behavior — alcohol abuse, over-eating or even maniac training for a triathlon;
  • Fictional diseases — you always feel that there is something very wrong with your stomach, so you need to take about 15 days off.

The reasons that cause burnouts are usually related to our personalities. In order to get a better understanding of how your personal kryptonite looks like, check out these seven most common personality types:

Unfortunately, there is no magical way of dealing with burnouts. But there are some universal recommendations that can help you support your emotional wellbeing.

  • Know yourself. Define your personality type and realize what can mess you up. Then dig deeper: find out the details of your epigenetics, circadian rhythms, the specifics of your serotonin-dopamine system and so on. It may be hard to do this on your own, so check out the next step.
  • Get help. We are talking about professional consultations that can help improve your self-awareness and define the best strategy to deal with burnouts.
  • Ecology of relationships. Since burnouts are connected to relations, put some extra attention there in particular. Seek to build harmonious and comforting relationships.
  • Meditate and relax. Here we have a couple of methods that can help you out.
  • Keep an eye on your nutrition and don’t forget to exercise. Of course, these are the basic recommendations but you can’t preserve your emotional wellness without them.

There is always something hidden behind burnouts, as well as behind the personality of those who suffer from burnouts. In order to develop a successful strategy against burnouts, you should go for an individual approach. Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel that you need it.

Here, at Beetroot, we know how important mental health is. From time to time we hold events dedicated to this topic. You can follow us on Facebook to get the updates on the next #beetrootoyourself event.

Mental health: why it is important and how to keep it safe

Once Madalyn Parker decided to ask for sick leave. She wrote an email to her boss, and he totally approved her decision. Madalyn shared her boss’ encouraging response via Twitter, which caused quite a stir. Why did it happen and what was the big deal about it? The thing is, Madalyn asked for sick leave to take care of her mental health.

Soon Madalyn’s boss, Ben Congleton, posted an article, where he sounded genuinely surprised with the fact that people perceived his response as something unusual. “It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace, — Ben wrote, — When an athlete is injured, they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different”.

That eloquent story happened almost two years ago. Have things changed since then? We have become more aware of mental health’s importance, that’s true. Some companies became more tolerant of mental health issues, but their number is still not so big.

For the majority of us, work is one of the most significant parts of our lives. It influences us in both positive and negative ways. Everything that we go through in the office — from strict deadlines to plain bullying — changes the way we feel.

Tetiana Vovk, a social psychologist, provides the following statistics: 31% of employees search for a new job to decrease stress levels, and 46% are looking in order to increase their overall satisfaction with their jobs. “Since we were children, we’ve been told to take care of our physical health — to brush our teeth and to do exercises. But somehow, no one told us about emotional hygiene. Think about it, every office has an emergency kit with pills or bandages. But is there a mental health kit? And do we know how to use it?”

There are several signs that can signal deteriorating mental health. “Among them, one can name accelerating irritability, lack of attention, sensitivity to criticism,” Tetiana lists. “People on the verge of emotional burnout usually start isolating themselves from their teams, run late to work or, on the contrary, stay late in the office, they get tired faster than before, and frequently ask for sick leaves”.

Unfortunately, there is no easy way of solving this problem and a week or two on a sunny beach will hardly help. As Tetiana says, emotionally tired people tend to take loads of days off but they are not recovering because they keep worrying about deadlines and their growing inefficiency.

Resilience

One of the ways to support your emotional well-being is to develop resilience. “Resilience is our ability to restore the initial form after it has been changed,” Tetiana explains. “For instance, when you cope with some crisis at work or in your personal life, you allow yourself to metaphorically sink down to the emotional bottom, feel all your emotions to the fullest, and get back to your normal state. This process of returning and recovering is called resilience”.

Resilience is not a new term, but it started to gain momentum just recently. Before that, we only knew about stress resistance. Unlike resilience, stress resistance means that a person simply skips the emotional part, and quickly adjusts to any situation, without diving deep into a state of stress. Resilience, on contrary, is a long-term process, which allows you to realize your feelings, accept them and learn to live with them. For sure, in order to succeed in some professions, we need to be stress-resistant rather than resilient. For instance, hardly any of you would appreciate if your surgeon would drop their scalpels and started sinking to an emotional bottom during intense operations. But if living through hard moments is inevitable, it’s good to be resilient enough to make your way out.

There are several ways to respond to stress and to recover faster. Apart from basic recommendations, like healthy sleep, nutrition, and exercises, you would need positive thinking and social support, a.k.a. your friends and family who’d hug you and listen to you when it’s needed. Tetiana also recommends celebrating your victories (even the little ones) and completing lists of activities and things that help you recover, stay present in the moment and recharge your batteries (like, avocado bowls, Anderson’s movies or bicycle rides).

Mindfulness

Anastasia Khyzhniak, an HR consultant at Beetroot, offers another way of sustaining emotional hygiene. “I have been practicing mindfulness for almost a year now and I find it very efficient. It helps me realize myself here and now, comprehend my emotions and stop squeezing them into any frames. You can practice mindfulness by yourself or by using various apps, like Headspace. Thanks to this practice you’ll be able to learn awareness, breathing techniques and presence at all the moments of your life”.

Reflection

If mindfulness is not your thing, think of Pacman. “Seriously, Pacman,” says Volodymyr Vovk, HR-consultant at Beetroot and medical psychologist, — We all are very similar to him. We move forward and consume pieces of information as we go. If you dig deeper and imagine Pacman’s stomach, you’ll see tons of information there, which were processed with our mind and stored in long-term memory. In order to deal with all this chaos, try to practice reflection”.

Reflection can become a powerful tool in supporting mental health. It helps to decrease the number of unfinished gestalts and to enhance the productivity of our minds. Besides, reflection is irreplaceable in the process of resilience — with its help you’ll be able to get out of the emotional hole and recover much faster.

“Reflection is quite simple, actually,” Vova explains. “First, you need to choose one memory. Then there goes a reduction stage — you break this memory down into particles (what did you feel back then, what did you do, how did you react). You analyze each of the particles and think of the ways to change your attitude towards it to make it more comfortable for you. When you’re done with analyzing you put those particles back together into a single whole memory. However, after reflecting, this memory will be perceived differently”.

We never forget things that we felt or experienced in the past. Everything that happens to us, is stored and turned into emotional and informational baggage in Pacman’s enormous stomach. With the help of reflection, you’ll be able to re-evaluate past events and help yourself become more flexible and adaptable for the future trials.

Whatever you choose, reflection, mindfulness or a decent amount of sleep, don’t forget about the importance of mental health. Take care of yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help if you feel that you can’t cope with emotional pressure.

This march Ukraine will host the first conference dedicated to mental health and emotional wellness in business. At this conference, you will be able to get a better understanding of mental health in organizations, check out successful case studies of Ukrainian companies and practically apply some tools, which can improve emotional wellness at work. 

How teams work days before the New Year (explained with elves)

It’s that time of the year again. You know you have things to do, but the festive atmosphere is growing on you. During the days and weeks before the New Year, teams deal with the mounting up celebration vibes in different ways. Some of them dive deep into decorating every millimeter of the office, others pretend that nothing is happening and keep coding as usual. Here are six types of teams going into the holidays; which one do you belong to?

Case Study: “Don’t be afraid to work in a distributed team”

After paving a solid path in VR programming, Beetroot developer Dima Kodlubovskii has a lot to share. With quite a few projects under his belt, including a Ukraine 360 app for the Ministry of Information and virtual English classes for schools in South Korea, he has accumulated experience in virtual technologies and is willing to tell us about it.

VR projects

After working with public entities and freelancing, I came to Beetroot as a Unity developer. Here I have crafted several projects and one of them is an AR app. We created it to show the capacity of an ARKit presented by Apple. It’s basically a hide-and-seek game, where one user hides the treasure and the other one looks for it. It’s actually more interesting than it sounds.t I’m hugely inspired by our other app. We are working on a project that helps people overcome the fear of public speaking. We are cooperating with specialists who use scientific methods to help people deal with social anxiety. With this app, users can immerse themselves into a simulation of a real-life public event. They can see an audience and follow the instructions that we’ve developed together with our specialists.

Beyond the boundaries of reality

Virtual reality is a rather new direction. There are plenty of things going on there. It bubbles with new technologies, new devices and new opportunities. In order to keep an eye at all the novelties, I usually watch a variety of conferences and presentations organized by big industry players, like Oculus, Unity or Magic Leap.

Saying that virtual reality technologies are fascinating doesn’t even start to cover it all. It’s a real chance to dive headfirst into a brand new world. I’m thrilled to realize that users can see everything from the developers’ perspective, that they can understand what we’re trying to show them, to step beyond the ordinary and see things in a new light. This is what inspires me the most.

For sure, there are certain pitfalls when working with virtual reality. For instance, I’m forced to use third-party libraries, instead of the official ones. But I don’t think that it’s a drawback, rather a reason to develop. Overall, this part of IT gives you experience that can be hardly found anywhere else.

Distributed teams are all about learning and communicating

We have a very strong and skillful team, partly located abroad. Apart from having the chance to constantly learn something new from my teammates, I also have to deal with some difficulties. It all boils down to the fact that you need to be like a single organism while being actually separated by hundreds of miles. You need to comprehend your own role on a team while maintaining a global vision of the product. This is the reason why I go the extra mile to keep sync’d with my team.

There are some pros and cons to distributed work. First things first, being a part of a distributed team is a priori awesome. You can learn to understand different people and to be ingenious when it comes to extracting information from people you can’t approach and talk to on a daily basis. Apart from that, you gain access to brand new technologies. The thing is, people who work in countries like Sweden are able to get tech innovations straight off the bat. I mean, here in Ukraine, we can’t even buy a new iPhone right after it is released. This is what makes teams in other countries more progressive and updated, which leads to another advantage of working on distributed teams — they are not afraid of taking risks. They are more flexible and interested in trying new things, new collaboration approaches. Compared to a company that cooperated with public entities, for which I worked before, it’s like a brand new world. As for the complications, I would say, it’s the necessity to synchronize all the time. I have to write tons of texts to tell everyone what I’m doing, and to ask, what are they doing. With that said, I spend a considerable amount of time in chats.

Company’s culture should support, not distract

The best part of Beetroot culture is the people. They are open-minded and positive and they accept you as you are. Our client has another culture, which is also cool, but different. They want us to feel comfortable, yet they also want objectives to be achieved. So Beetroot creates this working atmosphere, where we are not distracted by tiny routine things and can fully focus on reaching project goals. At first, it was not easy to adapt to the client’s culture. During our first stand-ups, I saw a bunch of unknown people and had no idea what they are doing or what’s on their minds. But eventually we get to know each other, comprehended how the responsibilities are shared, and everything was fine from then on. I guess, any new team member goes through this turbulent period, it’s just on a distributed team all the tribulations are going on online.

For those who want to work with VR-AR

If you want to get engaged in virtual reality technologies, you should firstly picture the result that you want to achieve, the projects that you want to get your hands on. I would recommend digging deeper into game engines. Currently, there are two main competitors at the market — Unreal and Unity. They are similar, but there are core differences. Once you chose a game engine to work with, you should upgrade your programming language base. For Unity you’ll need C# and for Unreal that would be C++. Also, it’s important to have some devices to test your apps. Luckily, you don’t have to go all-in for brand new devices but just buy the cheapest Google Cardboard VR glasses. They consist of cardboard, lenses, rubber bands, and magnets, and you can make them on your own within 5 minutes.

For those who’d like to join a distributed team, I would recommend not to be afraid of this experience. It can feel unusual at first when you can’t see your client offline most of the time. But this feeling will pass and you’ll realize that new technologies and regular communication erase the boundaries between countries and you can work with people all over the world. I had this existential experience when working as a freelancer. At some point I thought: so, here am I, sitting in Ukraine, talking to a guy in South Korea, and there are thousands of miles between us but we still manage to create something great together. I don’t think that I’d go back to a regular office now. Working without boundaries and barriers feels completely different, it expands your own consciousness and it’s hard to go back to the old way of doing things.

What is flow and how to get into it

Let’s get it clear from the start: we’re not talking about rivers. By saying “flow”, we mean a psychological state that leads to ultimate concentration and productivity. Imagine an athlete competing in an Olympic Games final. He’s concentrated and confident. Four years of preparation pound through his veins. Time dissolves around him and the finish line is the only thing that matters. He’s in flow.

The concept of “flow” was initially developed by Hungarian psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and relevant to many more than just Olympic champions. It can be achieved by anyone, and most importantly, can have significant effects on productivity.

When do you need flow?

Typically, a natural state of flow appears when one starts something new. Think of that time when you started learning programming or thought that an old fridge and a pair of wheels could eventually be turned into a decent bike. You were excited about these fresh projects and jumped into “the zone” with ease. But as time passes, your productivity slows down. Derailed focus can have devastating effects, which means that identifying the signs is crucial. Vera Budean, a certified expert in high performance culture, distinguishes two signs of the utmost importance:

– You arrive earlier or leave work later. Not because you have too much work on your plate, but because you have no opportunity to concentrate during standard working hours.

– You procrastinate until the very deadline and experience additional stress performing tasks at the very final hours. That’s what Vera calls “using urgency planning” and it’s hardly the best way to make plans.

At the end of the day, if you notice that you’re experiencing one of the above, then you should learn how to put yourself back into the flow.

How do you get into flow?

1. Skills to challenges ratio

There are more than 20 different triggers of flow, but the one with the most overall efficiency is called “the skills to challenge ratio”. In a nutshell, this ratio can be found on the border between tasks that bore you to death and tasks that frighten you into sheer panic. The whole thing boils down to the fact that you’ll get into the zone on an achievable, familiar, but challenging project. Without doubt, it’s probably hard to find such a unicorn project, and so you may have to create it on your own.

Let’s look at the example of an illustrator who’s getting tired of drawing basic art. In order to get back into flow, beyond the daily grind of basic artwork, he should walk that extra mile and for instance, look into learning animation. Animating artwork would become challenging, yet an achievable task to put the illustrator in the right mindset.

You don’t necessarily have to make dramatic changes in your career to get into flow. Put a new spin on your routine by adding creative details. Ask for help from senior mentors to deal with the potential anxiety you encounter on the more challenging aspect of a project (it happens to mostly everyone). Strike a balance between boredom and pressure and it won’t be long before you’re in flow.

2. Avoid distractions

Your work environment is another factor that may bring you into the zone. Unfortunately, the modern shift toward open working spaces may have a negative effect on this. You should ideally try to find a quiet place, where you can sit undisturbed for a couple of hours.

Sitting alone, however, doesn’t guarantee that you will get into the flow. There is still a truckload of distractions, like a broken thermostat that turns your room into a sauna, e-mail notification pop-ups, or a tiny scratchy patch at a back of your sweater. To get into the zone you need to nest in a comfortable position, prepare a glass of water, turn off all notifications and focus.

3. Avoid multitasking

Whenever you try to do multiple tasks simultaneously, you risk losing both your productivity and sanity. Set your priorities straight, choose one project and focus on it. You’ll have to put the rest on the backburner if you want to experience the state of flow.

4. Know the final goal

You can’t get into flow if you don’t understand why on earth you are working on your projects. Knowing the final objectives of your job will help you find a meaning in day-to-day tasks.

For instance, according to research by Fast Company, nurses at hospitals perceive their relatively messy jobs as a part of a health care system that saves lives. Instead of picturing dirty bedpans and vomit, they concentrate on their final goal — patients’ health. By doing so they stay productive and have an easier time of achieving flow.

What are the signs that you are in flow?

If you manage to explore some of the above methods for flow generation, there’s a good chance that you’ll succeed. There are signs—both physiological and psychological—to indicate that you’re there.

–          Time distortion. You can’t remember if it was a minute or an hour since you started to work.

–          Relaxed concentration. It means that you don’t have to use your willpower to focus—it happens naturally.

–          Higher productivity, better results.

–          You feel there’s a perfect ratio between challenge and comfort. Your task isn’t easy and it isn’t all-too stressful—it’s just right.

–          Clear understanding of what you do. You don’t stop to ask yourself is it the right thing to do. You already know the answer.

Good luck!

The introvert’s guide to a new workplace

The term”introvert” has become quite a buzzword recently. But do we actually know what it means? According to Myers & Briggs, introversion and extraversion are psychological terms, used to indicate where people tend to get energy from. Unlike extraverts, who re-charge their batteries from actively mingling with other people, introverts extract energy from spending time with their thoughts, ideas and dreams as an interlocutor. So, introverts basically have nothing to do with being shy. Which is cool, but also hard, since the majority of us live in the scurrying, crowded world.

According to recent research, introverts have a higher physiological sensitivity to external stimulus. To put it simply, any loud noise or strong emotion would make introverts sweat and salivate more, with their hearts pounding. Bearing that in mind, changing your job and adjusting to a romping sales team or deafening coffee machine can be a hard nut to crack.

We’ve stepped into these shoes and developed a guide to help you stay sane during your first days at work.

How to Beat Procrastination?

Working in a highly-paced business environment can be tough. Sometimes, we all experience an irresistible urge to sit in a calm place and postpone tasks for as long as humanly possible. That’s called procrastination and it can get the better of anyone.

First of all, let’s start with the fact that procrastination is actually a normal state of mind. It even has a scientific name—time-inconsistency preference. In a nutshell, it’s hard for us to embrace the fact that we need to do something now to reap the rewards later. Everyone would like it to be vice versa and receive something worthy before the hard effort’s put in. It’s a biological mechanism of adaptation that urges us to take more today and pay the price later… or even never. And when we can’t have it, we start procrastinating.

One of Beetroot’s Full-stack developers, Back-end teacher, freelancer and entrepreneur, Ivan Karabadzhak, spent some time upgrading his knowledge in time-management. “Some people think that motivation is the best remedy to alleviate procrastination, but it’s not. Motivation comes and goes. Sometimes it comes when you don’t need it. Sometimes it lasts for too long resulting in a burnout. Anyway, you can’t schedule motivation for 5 working days and then turn it off for the weekend. If you want to get things done, your better bet is on discipline”.

We’ve crammed together a bunch of scientifically proven tips to help you become more disciplined and procrastinate less.

Five Minutes Miracle

Let’s say you plan to learn Mandarin. Good for you, but where do you start? It’s a time-consuming project which you definitely can’t accomplish during your lunch hour. But what you can do is to spend five minutes on googling your nearest Mandarin class. Scientists say that if you devote five minutes of your time to working on something, there is a good chance that you’ll keep doing it afterwards. It’s called The Zeigarnikeffect. According to it, we are more likely to roll back to uncompleted tasks rather than to start new ones from scratch. Simply put, by taking one baby step towards a sizeable project and your chances of coming back to finish it are amplified.

One of Beetroot’s illustrators and freelancers, Svetlana Akatieva sometimes experiences urges of procrastination, when running out of creative ideas or having too much on her plate. To remain in the industry’s top ranks, she’s worked hard to find the best techniques to beat procrastination. “There is a joke that pops up in my mind whenever someone mentions procrastination. How do you eat an elephant? Cut it in pieces, of course. It’s basically what you do with huge projects—divide them until their size doesn’t scare you any longer”.

Think of a reward

According to a study in The Neuron Journal, immediate and positive rewards help our brains create habits faster. Using the same example as learning Mandarin, the benefits from completing this task are not imminent. But if you’re searching to enjoy them in the future, you should make a deal with your brain today. For instance, reward yourself with finger-licking Peking duck every time you make it to the lesson.

Svetlana thinks that sometimes rewards can take even more unconventional shapes. “Whenever I find myself on the edge of procrastination I look through all the cool stuff that was made before me on the piece I’m working on. It wakes up my competitive self. I start to think that maybe I can do something worthy, something better. For me, making art that stands alongside those works that inspire me is a very strong reward”.

Understand the reason for postponing the task

Here is a typical picture. You have a lot of important things to do but instead you’re sitting on your sofa watching another episode of Game of Thrones. None of the above methods are working for you. Ivan thinks that this is the moment when you should dig deeper into the reasons for your procrastination.

“Every time you postpone an important task, ask yourself—why am I procrastinating? It could be the task is too complicated or incomprehensible. If this is the case, you should get a mentor, ask for advice or do whatever it takes to make the task understandable and affordable. Also consider whether the task is actually of any importance”.

Don’t put too much on your plate

Look carefully through your to-do list. How many tasks do you have there? Dozens, probably. And how many of them do you really need in your life?

By throwing yourself into too many directions you can make your procrastination even worse. You build up an atmosphere of constant pressure around yourself. As a result, your motivation tapers off and you can’t concentrate on things you really need to do. But if you get rid of the mediocre, unimportant things, your confidence and desires to work will increase slowly and steadily.

Do you need a degree to become a developer?

It’s an urban legend: the stories about people who left universities and managed to succeed. Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates — back in the day they all chose the path of freedom and self-education, thus, inspiring a lot of people to replicate their deeds. Not everyone succeeded, though. Is it correct to assume that a career is possible without a degree, but only if you are a computer genius?

Universities raise good specialists

The easiest way to build a career is to finish a university program and receive a diploma. According to figures, there is a strong connection between quality of education and professional success. The reasons are obvious. University graduates are usually smart, able to find information quickly and have been taught by the best specialists in the industry— perfect employees, aren’t they? Some European companies especially prefer graduates of prestigious universities and it is not because of snobbism. Such universities serve as recruiters— they filter through the majority of applicants and accept only the best.

When developing a business, it is essential not to underestimate good education. Ukraine has a decent rating in terms of education, and we know from our own experience, that technical universities graduates have a good basis of skills and perks. According to study results, students have better cognitive abilities, which allows them to deal with the work easier. This is, actually, not a surprise. Just recall your university years when every way possible to succeed was used: either by reading through all the books or by phenomenal cunning. Students often participate in group projects which enhance communication skills greatly. One more detail — students often have a lot of friends. Universities actively develop different sorts of student organizations which build rather broad networks. It is hard to say whether it can be considered a competitive advantage, but actively engaging in such “interest clubs” can open a lot of doors.

Self-educated developers also have a chance to get a job

It would be wrong to assume that companies always focus on developers with diplomas. Everybody knows that sometimes people who chose the path of self-education will grow to become true stars! At the very beginning of this article, we asked a question— if this option is only available to geniuses? No, of course not. Not all developers are geniuses and it is, actually, for the better. Often enough, genius is followed by difficult personality traits.

Steve Jobs, for example, during his pre-Apple period worked only night shifts. It was because his colleagues from the day shift couldn’t bear his aroma. Walter Isaakson, Jobs’ biographer, said that Steve often left hygiene behind because he was busy brooding over one of his ideas. “His colleagues didn’t want to work with him, because he smelled bad and often walked all over the office barefoot”.

Naturally, an awful character doesn’t mean that you have to leave university and build multi-million dollar empires. There are other reasons to leave university. This is what Beetroot marketeer (or the closest we have to a marketing director), Sebastian Streiffert, has to say: “For me, personally, courses at university were abstract, they weren’t sufficiently to-the-point to help me realize the ideas I had at the time. And when you find that you’re making more progress with endeavors kicked off in your spare time than at university, it becomes increasingly difficult to motivate a degree over results. My spare time web development projects eventually landed me both the network and experience to build a career.”

Now, let’s be honest: how many French or Spanish “For dummies” books are lying on your shelves covered with dust? How many times have you started a Coursera course and dropped it halfway? Everyone, probably, knows how difficult it is to force yourself to learn something new when there is no strict professor behind your back and no inevitable exam lurking on the horizon. The fact that self-educated developers made it says more about their motivation and self-discipline than any diploma. According to Jim Rohn: “Formal education will make you a living, self-education will make you a fortune”.

Is there a third option?

Nowadays a conservative university education is not always on par with the ever-evolving IT industry. Thus, coding boot camps appeared. The essence of such an education is that students learn only the skills in most demand. The average lasts up to six months and after graduation students have a decent set of skills to grow further and test themselves in a real working environment. “It’s hard to believe, but with a good teacher and real commitment, complete beginners can become job-ready in a matter of months”, says Denys Serheyev, manager at Beetroot Academy”. “They’ll leave our academy with a good enough foundation to do real work, and can then continue to grow from there.” Of course, university graduates, usually, tend to have a deeper understanding of theoretical topics. But it doesn’t mean that people from boot camps can’t survive the competition. Looking at our own data, around 70% of students are able to begin careers in IT after graduation. That’s not to say that all education is the same, but it definitely shows that in some cases, a market-oriented and practical education can be a very effective alternative to traditional degrees.

The hard school of life

So, can one become a developer without a degree? Yes, clearly. But, one thing beginner developers (not only a beginner, though) should understand is that besides a bunch of required skills obtained in university, in courses or at home, he should maintain a particular lifestyle. You have to grow all the time, be up-to-date with what’s in demand, learn about new technologies and set goals that are difficult to reach. This inner ambition to be better than you were yesterday is the thing which makes the distinction between a good and a bad developer, no matter how has he started — with mantle and diploma, at courses with fellow beginners or with a stack of books, a computer, and a dream.

What You Can Set Instead of Goals

If you ever bought a book with a thousand inspiring quotes, you probably saw that there is a substantial part of it dedicated to goals. Apparently, a lot of notable people have a lot of thoughts about goal-setting. Check this out:

“I don’t focus on what I’m up against. I focus on my goals and try to ignore the rest”. This one belongs to Venus Williams, one of the all-time greatest tennis players in the world.

“Goals transform a random walk into a chase”. This nugget of wisdom belongs to Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a Hungarian psychologist and the author of “flow theory”, which we’ve been citing a lot.

“Everybody has goals, aspirations or whatever, and everybody has been at a point in their life where nobody believed in them”. Eminem, ladies and gentlemen.

With all those great thinkers praising goals, it could seem overconfident to try and shake this. Still, there is a great chance that goals are overrated. At least, there are quite a few examples when goals can be substituted with more appropriate concepts.

Set directions not goals

Let’s make it clear from the start—having goals is a good thing. But sometimes pursuing a concrete goal implies that you need to take control over things that just can’t be controlled. These include things such as other people’s decisions and natural disasters. There is not even a single parameter that you can guarantee will not change down the road. When you zero in on a specific goal and dismiss everything else, you place yourself in a very vulnerable position.

There is a case to make for setting directions instead. Beetroot co-founder Gustav Henman says: “I keep goals in the corner of my mind, while concentrating on the directions that can take me there. It helps me remain flexible and notice other potential objectives or benefits along the way. By thinking of directions I can better trust my gut feeling and have the freedom to choose less risky paths.”

Set for continuous improvement not for goals

Imagine a marathon runner whose goal is to finish a race in 4 hours. The big day comes and he reaches his goal. Isn’t that a success? Maybe. But what if he didn’t zero in that much on his objective and ran in 3:45 instead?

By setting a goal you also set your own limitations. If you opt for continuous improvement you can discover the unknown dimensions of your own potential.

“When I concentrate on a single goal, it usually means that I eventually focus on a single way of reaching it,” Gustav says. “But there is a whole universe of opportunities lying in front of us, right? There is a great chance that by combining and mixing different approaches, we can land on much better results”.

‘Wait a minute,’ you can say, but what if our hypothetical marathon runners would finish in 5 hours without a concrete goal? Human beings are lazy by nature and maybe only challenging goals keep us from doing nothing.

“Having a goal doesn’t guarantee that you won’t be reluctant to spend time and efforts on it. If you decide to improve continuously, you should keep an eye on your progress. Eventually, you’ll develop some kind of a gut feeling, telling you that you’re moving in the right direction or urging you to pull yourself up and get going”.

Set the highest and the lowest bars not goals

With a little imagination, you can come up with all sorts of goals that pop up off the top of your head. You can sign up for a 1000 push-up challenge, for instance, or for becoming the first colonist on Mars colonizer, or whatever. But you should always ask yourself, “What’s the cost of reaching this goal?”

Does it take that many push-ups to feel well? Or wouldn’t you have panic attacks after moving to an inhabitable planet, only to find that Elon Musk is already there?

Instead of setting ambitious goals, it might be better to set the lowest and highest points that you would find agreeable. For instance, doing from 5 to 10 push-ups, or as many as possible till you feel well.

Indeed, in the rush of achieving extraordinary goals, sometimes we are forced to sacrifice a lot of things, like the quality of our projects or work-life balance. By outlining several possible aims, you can decrease the tension and concentrate not on the aim itself, but on the quality of reaching it.

***

Setting a goal just for the sake of having a goal isn’t a good thing. If you have a strong feeling that a concrete aim will make you more motivated and productive, then go for it. But if you have a powerful intrinsic motivation that pushes you forward whether you have goals or not, it might be a good idea to listen to your inner voice and keep your eyes open for new opportunities along your way.

Expanding businesses into mid-sized cities

We reached out to two long-term Beetroots who have been part of the process for changing our outlook. What we actually mean is, they got us to change our gaze from the traditional IT hubs in Ukraine and encouraged us to look into smaller cities around the country. The reasons for moving away from expensive metropolitan areas can range greatly, from cost-savings, to convenience through to reducing competition, yet the core motivation in our case has been to unlock a previously inaccessible and potentially huge workforce. This workforce holds the budding possibility of being quickly tuned and trained to international standards that can cope with high volume needs. A mid-sized city in this text is defined as having a population of around 200,000, and examples include cities such as Kramatorsk, Ivano-Frankvisk and Poltava.

Find below two independent conversations we had with both Uve Poom, Partnership & Fundraising Manager at Beetroot Academy, and Andreas Flodström, Beetroot and Beetroot Academy Founder & CEO.

What is Beetroot doing in mid-sized cities?

Uve: Basically, we open IT academies and teach people. From an individual perspective, we create new & professional opportunities. The economies in mid-sized cities are outdated and salaries are too low. So from the global perspective, if we want to modernize the economy, we have to modernize people’s skills in all of our cities. It is a well-known fact that the modern economy is digital and knowledge-heavy, so we are helping underdeveloped towns make this leap into the new age. We work as a catalyst to the marketplace. Since we entered new cities we bred new blood in the IT industry. We created a talent pool using practical and quick education. And we work as a link between old and new. We bridge between bulky higher education and fluctuating market needs; between the old way of doing things and our new economy.

Andreas: What we aim to do is to create new job opportunities by developing local IT fields. But the whole thing is much more complicated. If you think about Maslow’s pyramid, there is a basic layer there, right? That’s what we do at first – we give people a job and decent salaries to buy items of necessity. But then we go further, to the next level of the pyramid. We give them purpose, we teach them to think of the big picture and not just about making money. Today in Ukraine you can easily find expensive things and cheap things – but nothing is in between. We teach people to want to create the middle ground, strive towards developing a better lifestyle.

How leading business in mid-sized cities differs from leading business elsewhere?

Uve: In three ways. Firstly, it’s the cost of doing things. The further you go from the centre, the lower the prices are. So starting a company is cheaper. Secondly, it’s the risk of doing things. The risk is usually higher, mostly because you’re not just trying to start a company, but you’re revolutionizing the whole environment. Thirdly, it’s the impact of doing things. Working in the intense atmosphere of huge cities, surrounded by competitors, startups and innovators, it’s really hard to see your footprint. In smaller cities, you can definitely see the impact of your business and it inspires to do more.

Andreas: Frankly speaking, the outsourcing industry is based on disbalance to a large extent. The same work is valued differently in different locations. For instance, the work of developers in mid-sized cities would cost less than the same work in megalopolises. We don’t pretend that we are saints and aren’t using this to our own gains. But while building a business around this, we also decrease the gap. Just imagine this, now developers in Poltava (a mid-sized city in Ukraine) are educated enough and have good opportunities to compete with developers in Sweden. Actually, they can compete with any developers in the world. It opens up a new field of opportunities for them, chances to change their lives and the lives of their societies.

Why did we start doing this?

Uve: Mostly out of inner strive for balancing the development of the country. Ukrainian business is focused in a handful of cities, while others remain underdeveloped. This creates a vicious circle. People fly away from smaller cities, cities receive fewer taxes and fail to develop, so more people leave them for good. The only way to break the cycle is to provide attractive opportunities in those cities and persuade people to stick around. In broader terms, this applies on the national level as well – so that people wouldn’t need to leave their home country for purely economic reasons.

Andreas: The reason why we are opening academies in mid-sized cities is to develop these places. We come with a very specific offer – practical courses that will land you a job in the IT sphere. We underline that we welcome people not only with basic skills or education but with a specific mindset and values that hopefully make them more interested in developing their societies with us

Uve: By opening a company we obviously generate job opportunities. But it doesn’t stop there. For every new IT job created, a couple of surrounding jobs are also created. In the western countries, the ratio is around 1-2 new jobs for every IT post that’s formed. However, in Ukraine, where the salary gap between the IT industry and other spheres is ridiculously big, every new job in IT creates 3.8 new jobs. The impact is huge!

How it influences IT and the Ukrainian economy?

Andreas: We decided to do this mainly to rejuvenate the middle class in Ukraine. 80% of Ukrainian IT is working for export and the Ukrainian economy is much weaker than the ones where it exports. By offering new job opportunities within international companies we create an inflow of currency. We do this not only to strengthen the economic situation but also to change people’s mentality and teach them to take social responsibility.

Uve: We can see that the creation of new openings in mid-sized cities influences the IT industry as a whole. We don’t only increase the talent pool, but we increase competitiveness. We build stronger loyalty from people in smaller cities, which makes a lot of sense from a business perspective. And we actively work with gender discrepancy, because two-thirds of our students are women. Donor funding helps us offer scholarships to engage more women. By doing so we attract a further 50% of the population into the IT industry, shaking up the male dominance that is in play.

What challenges do we face?

Uve: Young people still have a belief that they will have a better life if they move away. Which might be true, of course, and might be not. But it’s hard to find students in mid-sized cities, willing to learn and to stay. Another challenge is the mentality. Big cities, somehow, have a more progressive way of thinking. It can be seen in people’s independence, ability to self-manage and to take responsibility. In mid-sized cities, people seem to have less of an independent mentality. They are still choosing more passive roads, hoping to have someone to tell them what to do. This is a legacy of the Soviet period when the state took care of everything, but also took away individual autonomy. But we think that this will change once they see emerging opportunities and a new way of doing things.

How international business benefits from this?

Uve: I believe that by building new academies in mid-sized cities we acquire huge opportunities to change the way business functions. Let’s think of the existing patterns. For instance, Google decides to open a new development office in Europe. They would partner with local universities to train people for this new function. The process can take three, four or even five years. We are doing something very similar but on a smaller faster scale – our Beetroot customers can partner with Beetroot Academy and can quickly start a four-month course that fits their needs. The companies don’t have to develop their own curriculum now – they just want to hire developers, and that’s what we do. Beetroot with Beetroot Academy commands a powerful talent pipeline. We pick only those people, who are motivated enough to study, and that ensures the quality of future hires.

Andreas: The workforce nowadays becomes more global. What we do with the Academy is create opportunities for gaining enough competence in these locations to join the global competition. In the long-term, we believe that one day there will be a perfect capitalistic world where everyone will compete globally and equally.

How to balance work and family

Yoga class beginners know that maintaining your balance is tough. As do people who build a career alongside a family. Professional and personal lives call for a truckload of our time, our effort and targeted attention. So why not look at the following lifestyle tips? It may help you on your way to mastering the coveted work-family balance you’ve yearned for:

Make plans

Earl Nightingale, the so-called Dean of Personal Development, once said: “All you need is the plan, the road map and the courage”. He was obviously referring to self-development, but why not transfer the same inspiration to balance work and family life?

Tania Tanina, our HR Manager and mother of one, tells us, “My week always starts with planning. My husband and I have become strategists. We try to consider everything. Who’s going to drive our son to school? Who’ll bring him back? Which day, and at what time? We also have backup plans for emergencies”.

Tania continues to tell us, “I never hesitate to engage other people in my plans —the important thing is to let them know that you need their help. Sometimes, we just expect people to give us a hand, even though they might not even realize that we need it. Whenever you require help, say it straight away. When you schedule your day, let other people know that they are part of it—you don’t need to handle everything on your own”.

In one of our previous articles, we said that scheduling your day will make you happier. However, it will also shave some time off for you to spend with your family. Once you found your feet with planning, you’ll be surprised, how many things can be fitted into the schedule. Wise priorities and collective efforts will make your work-family balance problems lighten.

Combine work and family

Chaos is not always a bad thing. If you find it hard to separate your work life from that of your family, mix them up! There is a good chance that you’ll find a much-needed balance within all of that mess.

“I’m a lucky person, I work for a company with strong family values, —Tania Tanina goes on to explain. When I brought my son to the office, no one minded. I gave him puzzles, coloring books and toys and was able to work as usual. It was amazing, how smoothly everything went. Once, whilst interviewing a potential candidate, my son entered the meeting room to ask something he considered to be really important (of course, it wasn’t). He acted so naturally, with a serious expression on his face, that even the candidate was unfazed by my child being a gatecrasher at the interview”.

Center for Creative Leadership states that parenting makes better employees. In both cases—at work and with kids—we leverage similar skills, like multitasking, focusing on details and dealing with stress. So why divide these spheres if they can coexist in harmony?

Outside-of-the-box hours

The majority of people begin their working day between 9 and 11am. It traditionally ends somewhere near 6 pm. But when you need to balance work and family, it may not proceed as it should.

“When we moved to the countryside, I realized that I spent a heap of time driving to work and back home—Andrei Grynko says. With all the traffic jams I was wasting 4 hours a day just sitting in my car! Obviously, when I came back home in the evening I was completely out of steam and just wanted to go to bed”.

The research shows that we spend approximately 50 hours per year in traffic. Just think of all those fun and interesting things you could do instead! But here you are, locked in your metal cage, watching life passing you by. If you have problems with a work-family balance, these wasted hours will get you especially frustrated.

For sure, you can make a couple of weekly calls, listen to your favorite tunes, while waiting in jams. Yet wouldn’t you be better to eliminate your time spent gazing at traffic lights? Free up some moments to enable you to relax and indulge in reading useful articles like this one? Andrei came up with a smart decision to enable this to happen:

“I wasn’t happy about my schedule, so I came up with the idea of getting up earlier. I started to leave for work before the majority of commuters did. It was tough, because I’m not an early riser. But I’ve got used to it, and now I spend two hours less on the road. I also come home earlier now, again before the end of day rush hour, which means I can play with my daughter and do other interesting stuff”.

Fight the stereotype

Even in the most progressive societies, there’s many that firmly belief, that the role of a mother is the greater of the two. This conditioning can result in difficulties concerning shared responsibility of child care, rendering it a struggle to combine work and family life. This unbalanced burden can weigh heavily on either one’s shoulders.

“There should be no division on a working parent and a stay-at-home parent. You’re a family, so you need to do everything together, —office manager Oxana Malynoshevska says, —I came to Beetroot in 2014 and in 2015 I became the mom of a lovely girl. Now I feel like I have two kids—my daughter and my company. Probably, this is the reason why it’s easy for me to balance everything out. But then, I think that the greatest secret is in shared responsibilities. When I went back to work, leaving my daughter with her dad, I felt a bit awkward. I was raised with a fixed belief, that small children should stay with their moms only. But, it turned out that when you change roles, nothing falls apart. This experience has helped me to balance work and family. It also made our relationship stronger than before”.

Find your way

Young kids aren’t a career obstacle, in reality, it’s the other way around, careers shouldn’t steal your family time. With a certain amount of input along with sheer determination and vigor it’s possible to keep everything balanced.

If you feel that you’re stretching yourself to the limits, whereby the fusion of family and work life isn’t a harmonious blend—give yourself a break and change your strategy. Then dust yourself down and carry on!

“The coolest thing a client ever did for me…”

Building a good, warm relationship with developers is crucial, both when it comes to in-house or extended teams. Communication shouldn’t zero-in on discussing work things only. There’s a lot of soft factors around the core business that also affect the end result. Teams that treat each other like friends, teams that engage in genuine, informal chats (about hobbies, for example), compliment each other, participate in team-building activities and share happiness-increasing internal culture which, effectively, adds grease to any processes they pursue. All these soft factors affect how smoothly we can cooperate on the hard tasks, how easily we’re able to sync on important questions. We asked some of our developers to recount their coolest moments concerning cooperation with international clients.

Work-life balance

Robert Gres, Middle Web Developer

“There is one thing that is exceptionally cool about my clients. Actually, it is inherent to all Swedish people. They have their priorities right. They know that work is just work, so they are chilled about it and don’t let it loom over their personal lives. And they show real understanding when it comes to our work-life balance. It creates very comforting and encouraging working atmosphere, which I appreciate.”

Atmosphere of friendliness

Yevhenii Kriuchko, Content Management Team Lead

“During my first year our client invited us to Sweden to get to know each other better. Before we set off, they sent us t-shirts, hoodies, hats and Swedish books—all branded, naturally, but still looking cool. We were overwhelmed with such a warm welcoming. But even that was not the end of the story. They took us to the Vasa museum—the one where sunken ships rest. So there we were, wearing new hoodies, holding onto our new books and staring at giant remains of formidable ships—that was amazing!

But I would say that all those things are not as important as the atmosphere of warmth and friendliness inherent to all our meetings with the client. I mean hoodies and t-shirts are cool of course, but I feel more moved by the way they congratulate me on any occasion—my birthday, my wedding and so on. It proves that presents are only material embodiment of genuine concern and support we enjoy from our clients.”

Hackathons

Artem Utkin, Senior .NET Developer

“Our clients nurture us in an intellectual way. Every couple of months they organize hackathons in Malmö for all team members. The next one will be about machine learning and it’s really exciting to be a part of it.”

Food Exchange

Ivan Lebediev, Software Developer

“My clients are young, enthusiastic and energetic people full of different awesome ideas. They have a dream to make it to Chernobyl and to stand at the shield of Mother Motherland (which is a giant statue in Ukraine). They also have a dog in the office, which is pretty cool. We have a good tradition of exchanging national treats. They send us traditional Swedish food, we send them Ukrainian food. So it’s like an evergoing international turnover of good food to keep us all full and happy.”

Project management

Vitalii Utkin, Front-End Developer

“I’d say that the coolest thing our client are doing constantly is their amazing project management. They treat us like we are a part of the family. Once they invited us to Sweden. Of course, we accepted the offer and set off, expecting to stay at hostel or something. Imagine how astonished we were, when we found out that we are staying in the best suit of the best hotel in Gothenburg. We felt like kings. And then these guys showed up and taught us to play Shuffleboard. So this stay in Sweden didn’t feel like your typical business trip. It was like we came to visit our old friends…and do some work, of course.”