What I learned during my first 3 months at Hanno

Marcel Kalveram
5 min readDec 18, 2014

A short story about my new work life at Hanno, and how I managed to get out of my comfy dark developer cave

Hello! I’m proud to say that I have reached the 3-month mark on the team. That sounds like a ridiculous number, given how fast time has flown by. But I’ve learned a lot since I’ve started working with my new team. Hanno has taught me plenty of life-changing things. Grab a chair, and let me tell you about a few:

I’ve become more transparent than a window pane

Working remotely requires that you’re always transparent. I mean, I’ve been working remotely for a couple of years now, actually, but in the past, never cared too much about being transparent, and letting other people know what I’m up to. I thought that I could just do my thing, as long as I keep all the plates spinning.

But at Hanno, communication is a key ingredient of our work. I can’t just hide in a dark cave and write code for 8 hours straight and then call it a day. In terms of teamwork, that’s not very smart either.

Instead, I’m checking in on Slack when I’m at my office (well, actually IFTTT is doing that for me now) and check out when I go home. That way, everyone is in the loop when I’m there, but most importantly when I’m not. We respect downtime a lot at Hanno and make it a strict rule to not disturb people when they’re offline.

Transparency feels good. I feel like I get a lot more done knowing that others “are watching” in some form. Knowing what others are up to also encourages me to be more supportive: Especially when I see someone is sleeping in his office chair!

I started anchoring like a hero

When someone assigns you a tricky task that you don’t like the look of, it’s easy to pass on responsibility to someone else by changing the task assignee. I quickly learned that at Hanno this is a no-go.

Honestly, I found this quite annoying at the beginning, because my task list quickly piled up, and I couldn’t just assign it back to someone, in the hope of relieving myself from it at for a few hours.

I learned that *anchoring *tasks is an important concept though. It helps our team make sure that they are not scattered randomly across the whole team, and that each task is actually being taken care of.

There’s nothing worse than assigning a task to someone else once you’ve done your part, and then having it reassigned to you with an important update just before the deadline. Uh oh, stress symptoms guaranteed.

So now I have to anchor each task, and keep it for its entire lifetime. That seems like a lot of responsibility. But my responsibilities are a lot clearer now. I somehow managed to work through that initial task load that hit me when I joined the team and I now anchor only a couple of tasks at a time, structuring and organizing them by myself. Stress symptoms relieved, hurray!

I’m speaking to the scary client, eh, awesome people!

As a web developer I used to very rarely get in touch with clients. Was that good, or bad?

  • Good: I could work without interruptions, and put out an update every now and then.
  • Bad: I locked myself in a dark cave, but even worse, I left all of the communication to the client-facing project manager, who was not the person who actually completed the work.

Just like a trendy web interfaces, our team structure has become entirely flat. Flat means that there is no hierarchy and we share the same responsibilities. (Actually the boss may slightly disagree with that).

So now I’m involved in each step of the process, from writing a proposal, to getting the job done, to creating a proper retrospective. That means a lot of stretching, and being forced to move out of my comfy, dark, developer cave.

But it also adds a lot of variety to my job and forces me to have a shower and put a smiley face on.

I’m setting and achieving goals, even my own ones!

It’s not a secret to many of my friends that I enjoy trying out new life-improving habits. But I also find it hard to find the right people with who I can share this passion.

It’s funny that I’m now totally comfortable with sharing my weekly objectives (even personal ones such as “cutting down coffee consumption” or “going to the gym”) with the whole team.

On top of this, we have a system called OKRs, and we set quarterly goals, that are broken down into weekly ones called PPP. It’s an amazing way of tracking and sharing your progress, and getting encouragement and feedback from others (especially from Jon, who never fails to hold me accountable and point out when I miss my targets).

Because of this, I’m now much less worried that my goal setting is falling by the wayside, because I can incorporate it into my workday routine at Hanno, and become a better version of myself at work(!) as well as at home.

Rapidly changing routine

According to Matt we’re not innovative.

But we’re actually quite passionate, especially when it comes to trying out and implementing new tools and techniques.

How we manage tasks, or how we onboard clients is just a result of which methods we consider most reliable and efficient. They are simply a consequence of what has worked in the past, and the stuff we’ve learned on our way.

Tomorrow, one of us may discover a way to bypass a useless process. The day after we might ditch our billing tool in favor of a newer, better one.

You get the idea: nothing is permanent or beyond being changed, because only like this we can grow and become more innovative. Uh, I mean, efficient.

The next 3 months

Phew. With all of this and a lot of other stuff that doesn’t fit here, I’m very excited to be working at Hanno. We’re currently distributed across 3 different continents, and I feel that our team spirit is better than ever before.

That said, I’m extremely happy that I recently got to know Sergei on a trip to Malaysia and Zsolt in his hometown Budapest, two trips that perfectly rounded off this year and made me excited for more.

I’m sure that next year, many new things will happen, and I’m eager to post another update on how things are going here at Hanno. Stay tuned!



Marcel Kalveram

Senior Product Engineer (Web · Mobile · AI) - I love working at the intersection between engineering and product.