We sat down with two members of Unqork’s HR team, Chris Cordes and Mary Griseto, to talk about how the no-code mentality influences our innovative internal culture (and how that innovation comes into play during a pandemic).
Can you start by telling us a little bit about what you do at Unqork?
Chris Cordes: I’m the head of Human Resources. I’ve been here for a little over eight months now, and we’ve grown rapidly in this time—we’ve added over 150 people since I started. From an organizational standpoint, my immediate responsibilities are building out Unqork’s framework, core policies, and processes. I also oversee all employee relations, benefits, and things of that nature. I’m working on building out Unqork’s overall people strategy and finding ways to intertwine it with our company strategy.
Mary Griseto: I’m an HR operations specialist with Unqork—I joined in October. I’m really focused on our new joiner experience, which means everything from onboarding to ensuring that our new employees’ processes are smooth in regards to payroll and benefits. I’m also working on some cultural efforts related to our diversity and inclusion initiatives.
I’m also getting excited about an internship program that will be formally launching soon! Despite our office working 100% remotely due to the pandemic, we are still formally launching an internship program for this summer. Our leadership and the managers who elected to take an intern are still dedicated to inviting junior talent to join us remotely for the summer and are thrilled to have the additions to their team. They are confident they can make the experience phenomenal despite the obstacle of working remotely.
Having previously worked in HR at various other tech companies, what do you think are the key differences between Unqork and those companies?
C: We definitely consider ourselves different from other companies in this space, and a big part of that is going through the Unqork platform training. Everybody goes through it, regardless of what your job title is. Everybody in the organization should have an understanding of what the Unqork platform can do, and everybody has a baseline understanding of how to use it. I’ll speak for myself—I’ve gone through the platform training and I’ve actually used the system to build out some basic internal processes for HR. It’s definitely an exciting thing to be able to do even if you’re not a typical “software engineer” coming in. You still have the opportunity to get involved and understand what the platform can really do.
M: To piggyback off that, I am not technical at all. I will be the first person to say that, but on day one I built something with the Unqork platform. We pride ourselves on the fact that you can jump in and really get started right away. Our technology is complex in the back-end, but it’s also super user-friendly and agile in terms of what we can create with it.
What are some things that the spirit of no-code and Unqork culture have in common?
M: I think our core values—fearlessness, optimism, diversity, empathy, and partner in platform—are really threaded through both the no-code product and the culture of the company.
C: We’re charting this unknown path with the no-code revolution, and because of that we really rely on our core values of fearlessness and optimism. We’re going into areas where people don’t understand what no-code is. But you need to be fearless. We believe in diversity of thought and we really aspire to bring people into our community who can tackle any challenges that we come across.
To expand on that, how do you think Unqork’s product influences internal culture and the type of people you attract to join the team?
M: At Unqork, you can walk through a room and you can feel people collaborating and creating solutions—you can honestly feel the innovation. We have a very strong product and the power of what Unqork does is very exciting, so there’s definitely a buzz around the office. Everyone wants to be a part of it and wants to see how we can be the best we can be.
C: Oftentimes, I think, especially in technology, we get caught up in the term “culture.” We get caught up in hiring people that are “cultural fits” and not “cultural adds.” We’ve bucked that trend. We don’t really believe in hiring cultural fits. What we really want to do is find people who will really help us grow and help our culture change as we add more and more people. We look for people that think differently, that will challenge the status quo and challenge how we’ve done things before. And the fact that our product itself challenges the status quo helps drive constant culture development within our company.
M: I would also say that we’re really looking for people who are as excited about what we have to offer as we are. It’s a wonderful guiding point for who might be successful here.
Does recruiting for a no-code company also help prioritize soft skills in the hiring process in a way you might not at other tech companies? Does this allow people from more diverse backgrounds to contribute to the company?
C: I would agree with that—one of the advantages we have here is that we have such a unique product, which means we have a really unique workforce. We can focus on those more soft skills in hiring and then give them the training they need to really succeed with Unqork, which differentiates us from a lot of other companies in the tech world—especially in New York City.
M: I would also say that it’s an obvious and absolute expectation here that anyone can walk into Unqork and be their full self—that’s an absolute given. We want diversity not just in terms of where people are coming from, but also diversity of thought. That’s just an absolute foundation of the organization to the core.
"... we’ve been extremely fortunate to continue to hire and onboard new hires each week, despite the ongoing pandemic."
Let’s talk onboarding and training—what does it look like during a new joiner’s first few weeks at Unqork?
M: First off, I’d like to caveat this by saying that we’ve been extremely fortunate to continue to hire and onboard new hires each week, despite the ongoing pandemic. We’ve had to make some tweaks to the new joiner experience, of course, but we’ve done our best to preserve the process as much as possible virtually.
Traditionally, the onboarding experience in the office would start with an orientation with presentations from HR and our security team. Then we’d go on a tour and stop by to see the senior leadership team. Monday is a pretty busy day for them in terms of getting to know their teams, meeting key people, and understanding what their expectations are. At Unqork, we ensure that new joiners can start doing their jobs in some capacity on day one. With all of us working remotely, we now do this remotely—we host a virtual new joiner orientation, training, office hours, and other sessions to help our new team members feel acclimated as they ramp up.
During our weekly standup, one of our senior leadership team members will invite all the new joiners to come down and introduce themselves in front of the entire organization. At the meeting, they’ll have an opportunity to connect with the whole company and hear about updates and our successes with clients. While we do this virtually now, we continue to host these all-company meetings virtually—and our new joiners still introduce themselves to the whole team! New employees introducing themselves at their first stand-up is a tradition at Unqork, and we’re continuing to make that happen during this time.
Overall, our teams are aware that starting a new job remotely is really unique—and challenging—for those who haven’t worked remotely before. We’re working extra hard to ensure new hires feel welcome and a part of the team as soon as they join. To help, our Enablement team is hosting a lot of virtual training sessions and has created additional office hours for new employees so they can make themselves available if there are questions about our platform.
From there, it seems natural for us to also talk a bit about what things are like once you get a bit more settled. Can you tell us about the career advancement and professional development opportunities at Unqork?
C: One of the things I’ve always found a little crazy within organizations is that a lot of companies will start putting up roadblocks to mobility and advancement within an organization—as in, you need to be in a role for a year or two years before you can move into another role. The reality is that everybody learns at different paces, everybody can excel at a different rate of speed. Like I said before, we’re challenging the status quo with no-code, so why shouldn’t we also challenge the status quo when it comes to traditional and arbitrary growth expectations?
I think it’s important to create individualized growth plans to connect people with opportunities that are right for them. So, one of the things we don’t do here is put up roadblocks to success. If somebody is excelling and there’s an opportunity to propel them forward from a career perspective, we want to talk about it. We want to make sure that we give those people opportunities—this is very important in the tech industry and especially in New York. The average tenure for most employees in similar companies is around 24 months—and I think part of that is due to the fact that there isn’t room for upwards growth. We want our people to want to stay here and to continue to stay here.
M: To be honest, this is the first job that I’ve had where I’ve thought to myself, “Well, I’m never leaving here.” A lot of folks here agree that this is a place where the company gets it, where they care about people and their progress. How successful our colleagues are is going to be reflective of how successful the company is, so we want to encourage that growth as much as possible.
C: A big part of this comes from our leadership. They’re extremely approachable in the way they conduct themselves throughout the organization, even with as big as we’re getting at this point. Every week, we have all of our new hires send out an email with a fun fact about themselves. Gary Hoberman, our CEO, takes a lot of pride in the fact that he memorizes every single one of these facts so that he can come have a conversation with each of the new hires.
M: He’ll also stress that this isn’t just a one-off conversation during onboarding. He’ll say, “Come back and come to my desk. Put a time in my calendar for coffee, I want to talk some more. Let’s hear how it’s going once you get started here.” It’s just a really fun and caring vibe that we get from everybody, and the fact that this starts from day one really influences the way people go on to grow here.
An introductory webinar to Unqork's no-code platform
Finally, you touched on this a little when we discussed the new joiner experience, but can you tell us a bit more about how Unqork is continuing to champion culture while everyone is working remotely?
C: It’s a very unique time at Unqork and around the world. We have been working to ensure that our employees are staying connected, continuing to collaborate, and still have time for fun and moments to take care of themselves. We’ve offered at home stipends for home office spaces, virtual workout classes for Unqork employees, game nights with exciting prizes, and even a food stipend.
M: Our women’s group also sponsored a wellness month to remind employees that it is extremely important that they continue to take care of themselves during this time. We’re encouraging employees to maintain a work/life balance—for example, we invited a psychotherapist to talk through finding balance and combatting stress as we navigate a new norm. We also have hosted weekly meditation sessions and threw in some surprises, like inviting a massage therapist to explain different ways to self-massage. And because it’s now June, we’re also hosting a variety of virtual Pride month activities for Unqork employees this month!