“Everything begins and ends with people,” says Razor Labs’ VP of HR
It’s not easy to maintain social distancing rules during the Covid-era, and Razor Labs knows the importance of maintaining team spirit – albeit virtually.
“I believe that everything begins and ends with people, and as we are forced now to distance socially, there is no physical closeness but there should be emotional support,” explained Razor Labs’ Liron Gerbi. For four years, she has been at the heart of the AI company helping preserve its unique organisational DNA through its human resources.
Even though there are some benefits to working from home, notably more time with family members and a shorter commute, Gerbi still highlights how people are “missing the daily social gatherings, the hallway conversations, the teamwork in a common room and the lack of interpersonal communication.”
Razor Labs joined CTech for its HR Post-Covid series to share how it combatted social distancing measures from Covid-19.
Field of Activity:
Razor Labs is an Artificial Intelligence company that makes industrial machines smarter. We unlock significant value for industrial manufacturers in the era of industry 4.0 through SaaS-based AI solutions such as process optimization, resource allocation, predictive maintenance and production monitoring. We help reduce maintenance costs, maximize productivity and improve the environmental impact of critical machines in various industries.
Razor Labs is an official Professional Service Partner of NVIDIA, and we were selected in 2020 by CB Insights as one of the 100 promising AI startups in the world.
Number of employees/location:
65 employees based in Israel and Australia.
Professional background of HR Manager:
I have a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and Communication. I joined Razor Labs from the beginning, about four years ago. A significant part of my job is to lead HR processes, advance the company’s strategy, and preserve its unique organisational DNA through its human resources.
I started my journey in the company as the only HR recruiter, and as the company grew at a rapid pace, the human resources department expanded as well. Along the way, I recruited amazing team members who coordinate the areas of welfare, office management, recruitment, and events at the company. Although today I manage Human Resources and Recruitment in the company on a broader level, it is still important for me to be in personal contact with the team members, to lend an ear to all their needs, and to work on professional development plans for them and for the management team.
On a scale of 1-10, how much did the coronavirus pandemic disrupt operations at the company?
Truthfully, as we are a software company our business was not as disrupted and we were able to service our clients remotely, despite the occasional video call interruptions. Therefore we continued to grow and recruit.
From an operational perspective, we are very proud that the move to “work-from-home” was done quickly and efficiently with some team members immediately organizing all computers and visiting each home to distribute team members’ computers.
The Covid-19 pandemic mostly delayed our plans for 2020, but we are now working on them towards 2021. We are planning to open more global sites in order to recruit more people and to continue to empower our team members.
When the regulatory and economic consequences of Covid-19 were becoming clear, at first we froze most of our growth plans. After a few months of weathering the storm and adjusting expectations accordingly, we recovered some of the plans and now we are preparing for a big wave of recruiting and of global expansion.
In terms of the office environment, we have continued our traditional Thursday “Happy Hour”, only now semi-virtual, where team members in the office can enjoy snacks and drinks and will sit in a meeting room to see other team members virtually and play seasonal games and more.
Moreover, just before the second lockdown, we managed to hold a company event in the park, in capsules, inviting new team members to mingle with the rest of the company and it was great to see everyone after so many months.
What interesting technological tools do you use in employee management/recruitment?
We mainly use Google Meet for meetings. Since starting to work from home in March, we have instituted a weekly sync meeting with the entire company and there we update on personal events that have happened this week, professional advancements and more. We also conduct all the other daily meetings on Google Meet, and for quick communication, we use the Telegram application.
In addition, we use the Atlassian’s Confluence system where we update personal and professional information each according to the relevant space.
What positive and/or negative impact did the outbreak have on the human capital of the company?
I think that the positive thing during this period is that working from home made it possible to be closer to the family and reduce the time spent on commuting to the office, especially for those who live outside of Tel Aviv.
Meeting length is another positive point, which improved as a result of the pandemic, since meetings now take less time than when everyone meets in the office.
On the other hand, we see that people are missing the daily social gatherings, the hallway conversations, the teamwork in a common room and the lack of interpersonal communication. At Razor Labs, our kitchen is thankfully physically and perceptually at the heart of the office, where we have “cooking teams” who prepare food together, chat and update each other as well as connect personally and professionally to one another.
I believe that everything begins and ends with people, and as we are forced now to distance socially, there is no physical closeness but there should be emotional support.
What are the two major challenges you are coping with these days?
I think that the first challenge is connecting new team members who joined during this period to the normal operations of the company and the ‘flow’ of the teams.
The second challenge is developing interpersonal and professional skills of team members, when most of them are continuously working from home, thereby breaking up the natural pattern of learning from others by watching and working together in close proximity.
Are you actively recruiting? If so, what is the process and where can the applicants find you?
We continue our recruiting in full power primarily for technological positions (Algorithmic Deep Learning engineers, Software engineers) and also managerial positions. Our open positions can be found here, and you are always welcome to send us your CV to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Generally speaking, our recruiting process takes place virtually and often includes a professional test, a technological interview and a personal interview. The tech interview is quite deep and usually surprises candidates but it’s truthfully a good measure of professional fit.
We make the process compatible with this pandemic period and most of it happens virtually except for the last interview. We believe every candidate should also have a taste of our office life.
Which changes forced upon you by the circumstances will stay in place after Covid-19 is over, and which are you most eager to revert back to normal?
I think we will adopt part of the recruitment process that will stay online. We will definitely keep on doing the last interview in the chain physically. We believe it is important that the candidate has an actual office experience.
We are still planning the post-Covid work strategy for 2021.