The way we work is evolving. So does the employee experience. At Crossover, we are trying to scale the remote work and reach the top 1% talent around the globe. I’m Mine Dedekoca, Istanbul City General Manager at Crossover. In this interview with Tolgahan Albayrak, a remote working chief software architect, we are taking you to behind the curtains of a remote work life and give you tips on how you can boost your productivity while working remotely.

Tolgahan Albayrak - Full Time Remote Working Chief Software Architect at Crossover
Tolgahan Albayrak – Full Time Remote Working Chief Software Architect at Crossover

Can you tell us the story of how your journey started at Crossover?

I was seeing Crossover job postings on Linkedin. It was very tempting to be 100% Remote, having comfortable working hours, working on long contracts instead of short-term projects and of course a good promised salary. I thought, “This can not be real.” So, I decided to apply. Naturally, I made a Google search about Crossover before applying. The comments that I read were really annoying. So, after reading these comments, I changed my mind and decided not to apply. Then one morning, I was greeted by the message of Sinan Ata, he was the Turkey General Manager back then, on Linkedin. In his message, he was telling that he reviewed my Linkedin profile and thought that I was a very good fit for Crossover. He also mentioned that I was eligible to apply for a job at Crossover and shared his contact details in case I wanted for more details. His message urged me to have a call with him. So, I called him and he was kind enough to share all the details, which shed light on my concerns about the company. After the call, I asked myself “What do I have to lose?” and applied for a job. It’s been 13 months, I’m still working, and I think the best experience I’ve had is working at Crossover.

What was your first role at Crossover?   

My first role at Crossover was Java Software Architect. I’ve actually applied for the Java Chief Architect position and I’ve completed that challenging tests with succeed. However, I’ve not provided detailed answers during the interview and it was the reason that I had a downgrade and I was hired as Java SA instead.

Did you have any adaptation challenges at the beginning?

When I start a new job, I have a desire to try to be the best among all the other employees who work there. I was worried that policy to recruit the top 1% of the employees in their field and working 100% Remote would be the biggest challenge to achieve my goal of being “the best”. In my opinion, if you cannot be the best, you’ll be ordinary. So, the first week I was worried about being “ordinary”. Then I witnessed how much the remote work has increased my productivity. I soon realized that my concern was in fact pointless. When it comes to being the best, yes I did achieve it. I’m the best on my team. I’ve been trying to keep that place as mine. I have to admit that it’s really hard because I have very strong opponents. 🙂

How did you decide to move to Chief Architect position? Does Crossover support career advancements?

Being a Chief Architect means to put the CTO hat on and lead the team when needed. It means taking responsibility for challenging projects.

I already mentioned that I am a competitive person. This requires a strong self-confidence and mine is based on my technical background and experience. If you have such confidence, it is not for you to be a big fish in a small sea. If you are confident in your abilities, doing the work you do with love and are committed to constantly improving and keeping yourself up to date, you should definitely target higher positions. Along with all these skills and merits, my past experiences were also sufficient for me to apply for the CA position and so I have applied.

You can apply for any position you want at Crossover. For example, you can even apply for an open CEO position. No one will stop you. Each application is examined with great seriousness and you are subject to demanding exams according to your position requirements. And you will be recruited if you prove to be a good fit.

Tolgahan Albayrak - Full Time Remote Working Chief Software Architect at Crossover
Tolgahan Albayrak – Full Time Remote Working Chief Software Architect at Crossover

Can you describe your typical day? How do you manage your time daily and weekly as a remote working software engineer?

Working remotely does not mean that you’ll underestimate your job. Employees at Crossover are aware that this is a full-time job. You should have the same level of responsibility as you have while working in a physical office environment. The only difference is that you have the opportunity to work in a place where is isolated from adverse factors that would prevent you from focusing, such as the traffic or other external factors. So you earn extra 4-6 hours in a day for your life by avoiding such that factors. You also have the luxury of working even when traveling around the world, as there is no obligation to work in the office.

With the same business discipline, I start my day early in the morning by checking the unread emails in my inbox. I make weekly / monthly plans to make myself the most efficient.  That plan includes my start and finish hours and also the hours that I will take a break on daily basis. This really helps me use my time most productively.

Is it hard to be part of a global remote team? How do you manage communication? Do you have any miscommunication problems?

Time zone differences can sometimes be a problem. In those cases, we try to reach each other from channels like e-mail, Skype, Slack. As all employees are transparent and explanatory about their work, in cases of emergencies, someone else who is available in that time interval takes over the responsibility and offers a solution for the problem.

How is your work performance measured?

Actually, we work as a software factory by following Agile methodologies in both project management and development. Mircea recently gave RemoteTips a great interview on how are we managing software engineering. The entire process starting from the first sprint and going to release is planned step by step. Task distribution is done weekly basis and performance is measured by whether or not you perform these tasks. We use WorkSmart tool to track our work and also measure our productivity against our metrics. And also your contribution must meet the quality requirements defined by Product QA team. The best performance could be achieved by avoiding rework. And it is the only way to avoid rework is training yourself for seeing the big picture (from requirements & delivery perspective).

Worksmart Dashboard showing Tolga's productivity data.
Worksmart Dashboard showing Tolga’s productivity data.

Is it hard to work from home? How do you maintain your self-discipline as a remote working software engineer?

Actually not. As long as you continue to work from home with the discipline of working in the office, there won’t be an issue. While working at the office, your boss tells you what time you need to work, but there is nobody in the house asking you for it. If you want to work in a discipline, be your own boss and tell the same to yourself. And plan your hours weekly / monthly.

Tolgahan Albayrak - Full Time Remote Working Chief Software Architect at Crossover
Tolgahan Albayrak – Full Time Remote Working Chief Software Architect at Crossover

Do you have any advice for the candidates willing to become a remote working software architect?

Crossover is the best place to work. If you consider that you are a great CA then apply now. You can follow the tournaments for the open job positions on Crossover Eventbrite page. When you decide to apply, it would be great to have following skills and experience to make sure you are one of the best candidates. These skills are:

  • J2EE / JEE old components (If you apply for Java CA position)
  • Spring Framework (If you apply for Java CA position)
  • Persistence
  • Relational dbs / SQL
  • NoSQL / Search
  • InMem dbs / Caching
  • Message queuing / broking
  • Web UI design
  • JS frameworks
  • TDD / Unit / integration testing
  • BDD / UI / Javascript testing
  • Source control workflow
  • Continuous integration
  • Continuous delivery
  • Cloud services
  • Containerization
  • CM tools (Chef / puppet / ansible)
  • Static analysis tools
  • Performance tuning/profiling
  • Production maintenance
  • Architecture patterns
  • Big data analytics
  • Product lifecycle
  • Quality metrics

We thank Tolgahan for sharing his sincere opinion about working at Crossover and sharing his tips for our prospect Crossover partners.