When I left Salesforce and joined Layer in early December 2016, one of the things that was most attractive to me was the immediate rapport I felt with every engineer I met.
In just a few months since starting at Layer, my respect for the team has only grown as I’ve gotten to know people better. I think the engineering team at Layer is special—from the folks who have been here from the very beginning (hey Nil and Klemen!) to the people with just a few weeks of tenure under their belts (what’s up Arun?).
But now that I’ve spent so much time with the team, I’ve wondered what exactly makes the team so special. There are many reasons, but here are a few to give you an idea of who we are and what we’re all about.
Working Together—Even if We’re Not Together
The bulk of our engineering team is located in our San Francisco headquarters. While there are a ton of benefits to having an entire team working together in one office, we have a healthy remote contingent that makes up about a third of the team.
The team’s willingness to embrace remote workers says a lot about our mindset. It’s not just about being under the same roof. We focus on finding the best people for the job, which has led us to embrace the distributed team model. We’ve grown to include people far and wide—Boston, Austin, Portland, San Diego, Denver, Colorado, and Kentucky in the U.S., a cluster in Slovenia and Nigeria!
Technology has made it easier than ever to work with a group of remote engineers. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t challenges.
Communication is the biggest hurdle for remote engineers. At Layer, we tackle communication mainly through group messaging (never email) and thorough documentation. However, neither of these replacements for an overall culture of openness, transparency, and a willingness for everyone to jump in and help out when someone has a question.
Even as we work to improve our remote collaboration, a few times a year we bring the whole company together in San Francisco for an “On Site”—a week of working shoulder to shoulder, building alignment as a company, opening ourselves to new ideas through hackathons, and generally bonding over fun events. Embracing remote work is important, but these On Sites are invaluable to the overall success of our engineering team.
How We Work Is Part of Who We Are
Our engineering practices are built around giving as much context and ownership to the individual engineers as we can.
We stay very light on standing meetings, preferring to use only a brutally efficient mid morning daily standup meeting (10 minutes tops for the entire engineering team!) to get a quick gauge of what people are working on and what might be causing problems.
We rely on bug/user story tracking and collaboration tools for the rest. Again, the goal is to completely avoid our email inboxes—and we’re pretty successful because they’re almost never used.
Our story tracking is part of a simplified version of agile development, which helps us prioritize and track bug fixes. This approach helps us all save energy for more thorough reviews of product and tech specs, code reviews, and unit testing as we move further down the production line.
Layer Engineering in a Nutshell
Need a TLDR version of all this? Here are a few highlights about the Layer engineering team:
- There’s a lot to do and not a lot of time to get it done. We work hard and always focus on prioritizing the most important projects.
- We balance work with fun company events—happy hours, communal lunches at picnic tables, video games, cheese and sausage breaks.
- People come for the snacks…they stay for the engineering thrills.
- We love the impact we have on our products (and we’re always learning more about our customers).
- There are no egos here. There’s always something we can learn from each other.
If this sounds like an interesting place to work, we’re always interested in finding more people to join the family!