Answers to Common Questions from Engineers in Casual Interviews: Part One

Hi! This is @hana from Merpay HR.
At Merpay, we are still actively recruiting talent for several engineering positions. This two-part article will present answers to some of the most common questions we receive from engineers during casual interviews. Let’s kick off part one. The remaining Q&A will follow in part two. Part one will focus on our work style, including flex time and working remotely.

Working as a Merpay Engineer

Q: What’s it like to work on a flex schedule at Merpay?

A: We originally had a flex schedule with 12:00 to 4:00 PM for core time. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we switched to a full flex schedule without core time. (*We may reinstate core time in the future.)

Employees have the flexibility to work at a time when they feel they can perform the best, adjusting their schedule to accommodate their well-being and anything that comes up in their personal life, including picking up their children or visiting the doctor.

We asked a few Merpay engineers about their actual schedule working on a full flex basis.

Here’s a typical day for @azusa, working mother and Merpay Frontend Engineer.

6:00 AM Wake up and start chores
7:00 AM Wake up the children 
7:40 AM Bring children to preschool (20-minute bike ride!)
8:20 AM Return home and resume chores
8:30 AM Begin work
12:00 PM Have lunch and do some chores
5:30 PM Finish work and begin studying English (30-60 min/daily!)
6:30 PM Pick up children
7:00 PM Have dinner

azusa: Thanks to flex time and working remotely, I’ve been able to spend a bit more time with my kids! I also can take at least 30 minutes a day to study English. Back when I would commute to the office everyday, I would be completely exhausted once it was time to go to bed. However, I don’t feel as tired anymore, and can take time for myself to even watch a movie at night.

We also asked @tori, working father and manager of a team of Machine Learning Engineers, about his schedule and how he and his wife balance childcare responsibilities.

7:00 AM Wake up
9:00 AM Wife brings the children to preschool
9:00-10:00 AM @tori starts working
12:00 PM Lunch
6:00-6:30 PM @tori goes to pick up the children from preschool
6:30-10:00 PM Family time (dinner, bathtime, putting children to school)
10:00 PM-12:00 AM Work (when feeling up for it!)

tori: If I start working after the family time I take in the evening, my work and personal life start to blend together. I’ll work again in the evening when things are really busy, but try to use flex time to keep a good balance. This can mean consciously not working on certain days and setting aside time to study.

Q: Do Merpay members work remotely?

A: We at first did not encourage working remotely, but changed the policy to allow it during the COVID-19 pandemic. Currently around 90% of engineers work from home. (This may change in the future).

Most of our communication at Merpay has always been on Slack, and we have a culture of maintaining documentation for development. As a result, switching over to working remotely was not very difficult. We asked Android Engineer @yhanada what it was actually like to switch to working remotely.

ーHow has your lifestyle changed since the switch to working remotely?

yhanada: My wife is a medical worker and extremely busy. Switching to working remotely has been really helpful as it gives me time to do some chores throughout the day. I’ve used the time saved from not commuting for studying English. I have been studying English every morning from 9:30 since March of last year, totaling 5,000 minutes so far!

ーHas the switch to working remotely changed the team development process?

yhanada: It definitely takes longer to communicate compared to when we were working together in the office. You have to set up a meeting even just for a quick chat! I’d say onboarding new members has also become more challenging. Keeping this added challenge in mind, as a mentor I set up daily morning meetings with new members so that we have frequent opportunities to talk.

I feel that the switch has also helped to promote D&I on the team, even if slightly unintentionally. With more text-based communication, even those that didn’t feel comfortable with their speaking abilities began taking the initiative to communicate more in English.

We also asked Backend Engineer @ktazoe about his experience.

Check out Backend Team member @ktazoe’s room! Looks spacious and quite comfortable!

ーI heard you’ve made some lifestyle changes since the start of remote work. Tell us more!

ktazoe: I moved out to the suburbs, but just close enough to the city center to still be able to commute. I’m now living in a bigger place for cheaper rent. It can be a bit hard to go out in Tokyo while practicing social distancing, but here I’m surrounded by nature and can easily go outside for a quick break.

ーHave you experienced any issues since the switch to working remotely?

ktazoe:: I was worried about whether I’d be able to perform well when first switching to working remotely, even though I never really had this concern when working in the office. As a result I’ve tried to always visualize my tasks for others, such as using kanban to track Sprint task progress. I think doing so made us more efficient, and even helped to solve some of the team task management issues we faced when we were working in the office.

We hope these examples have given you an idea of what it’s like to work remotely on a flex schedule! Together as team members, managers, and HR representatives, we are all doing our best to create a comfortable work environment in particular during these uncertain times. Merpay is full of very flexible people who embody the All for One mindset, and who remain considerate not just of their fellow co-workers but of their colleague’s family members as well

Stay tuned for Part Two! 

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