Andela last Wednesday said it had successfully completed its transition to a fully remote organization, a project that began with pilots in two African countries over the past two years (in 2018 and 2019 respectively) and has long been in the works at the company.
“Transitioning to a fully-remote organization has always been part of our longer-term strategic plan,” Andela Vice President for Global Operations, Omowale David-Ashiru, said in an emailed response to questions from Ventures Africa. “We were already operating remotely in Ghana and Egypt, and our engineers were working as remote and distributed engineering team members for global companies.”
The shift to a full-remote company also coincides with a continent-wide expansion. The Africa-focused talent company, which helps companies build remote engineering teams, is now accepting engineers from all African countries in a bid to connect an even greater number of specialized engineers with opportunities while doubling its global talent pool.
Launched in 2014, Andela operated in Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and Rwanda before becoming a fully remote organization. Accepting engineers from outside the capital cities in these countries allowed it to select and work with a broader range of top tier technical talent with no reduction in productivity, the company said.
Removing restrictions on location will now allow the global technology network to double its pool of potential talent in Africa, who will get the opportunity to work with top international engineering teams, while the company will continue to maintain its rigorous application process to build the “strongest talent pool of software engineers” on the continent.
“This is an exciting time for us as we estimate there are approximately 500,000 engineers compared to 250,000 engineers in the six countries we previously operated in, doubling the pool of talented engineers who can access global opportunities via Andela,” Omowale said.
A major push factor in the operational shift is the ongoing global health crisis that has disrupted conventional workplaces, speeding up the adoption of remote working systems by virtually every company. “The COVID-19 pandemic played a factor in accelerating the transition process when everyone at Andela had to work remotely due to lockdown in all our operating cities,” Omowale said, admitting that the process had been slower than anticipated even though Andela has always been a promoter for distributed work in the global technology market.
“It was during this period (Covid-19 crisis) that we proved that we could still work effectively and deliver excellent results as a fully-remote company,” she continued, “I definitely think that COVID-19 has shifted the world’s approach to the future of work and is also teaching companies that remote work can produce high-quality results.” In the United States, for instance, high-growth companies continue to need more senior engineering talent, and in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, are increasingly open to hiring remotely.
Speaking further on the transition as well as challenges anticipated with the expansion across the continent, the VP noted that it is imperative to have the systems, processes, workflows, and structures that enable remote work. “We have leveraged our years of expertise to ensure a successful transition, and we continue to work through any operational challenges to ensure there are no disruptions to the high-quality work our engineers and enterprise staff are doing,” she said.
The company is also investing in the technology that will form the foundation for sourcing, vetting, placing, tracking, and monitoring talent and how it delivers engineering services to customers. “This is a major aspect that we believe we need to excel at as we grow,” Omowale said.
The New York-headquartered Andela has a globally distributed team with more than 1,000 software engineers working as full-time, embedded members of development teams at over 200 leading tech companies. In addition to enabling experienced engineers to build global careers, it continues to invest in the Andela Learning Community, a program that has introduced over 100,000 learners from across the continent to software engineering.