The Oneflare Story with Engineering Manager Isaac Nakhla
The COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated change within the world of business. While some aspects have changed completely, others have accelerated. In the ‘tradie’ world, the need for quick and effective communication between a tradesperson and customer has never been more important – and that’s where online trade services marketplace Oneflare comes in.
In November 2020, Oneflare had 76,000 jobs shared via the platform, and in the building category alone it’s completed close to $500 million worth of work in the six months to November. Daily new jobs posted on the platform average 3000.
At the heart of Oneflare’s continued growth is an agile development function that meets the needs of a modern consumer and a modern developer.
We were keen to speak to Isaac about Oneflare and how he his development team has gone from strength to strength throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
What Is Oneflare?
Transforming the way consumers find and interact with Tradespeople, Oneflare offers a digital solution to the age-old problem of finding and retaining reliable tradies and professionals within it’s 300 different categories of professional, flipping the relationship on it’s head.
“You come onto our site, and post a job of what you need done around the house. Once posted, interested businesses would contact you for more information to get the job done. So, it means businesses that are contacting you really want your business, instead of you having to call around.”
Boasting both a pay-as-you-go and subscription model for businesses, Oneflare has proved to be an agile solution to an industry that was in desperate need of disruption.
Most recently, Isaac’s Engineering team have been working on developing the very popular messaging system within Oneflare.
“We’re building out many features and focused on making connection between two parties as easy as possible on our robust messaging platform across web and our mobile apps.”
The Software Function at Oneflare
Having a team of 25 developers split across four different squads (customer, business, acquisition and optimisation) Isaac manages an incredibly agile team of Software Engineers.
The ‘Customer’ squad is focused on the various journey's customers encounter when posting a job on our platform to provide relevant matches for business to carry out the work. We are constantly rolling out new and improved features for all our customers.
The ‘Business’ squad provides various tools and features a business needs to manage and win work in our marketplace.
The ‘Acquistion’ squad focuses on the marketplace and ensuring there‘s always a steady flow of jobs and businesses coming onboard Australia wide. Finally, the ‘Optimisation’ squad focuses on ever changing elements of SEO to ensure Oneflare ranks highly and stays relevant for both customer and business searches, incredibly competitive in the Trade Services industry.
Despite dividing the team across four different squads, each with their own unique challenges, Isaac encourages every Oneflare developer to be familiar with the ‘Customer’ & ‘Business’ part of the product.
“We want everyone to be familiar with both sides of the marketplace as it’s the core part of Oneflare, we want as many developers knowing all aspects of the codebase as possible.”
This arrangement provides a unique opportunity for Oneflare’s developers to move around the different squads and work on the projects that excite them and grow their technical skills. This has helped Oneflare avoid the slippery slope towards knowledge silo.
“If you’re in a siloed in a team forever, you’re not going to have the opportunity to grow your knowledge and understanding in other parts of the businesses. For example, if you’re away, for whatever reason, there’s going to be an instant knowledge gap. The way we’ve structured our development team is a win-win for the business to reduce siloed knowledge and for the developer who gets to move around and be exposed to new technologies”
Handling the COVID Shift
“It was a shock to everyone.”
Almost overnight, the working landscape changed for millions as COVID-19 swept the globe in early 2020. For Isaac and Oneflare, it was a difficult period but one that ultimately led to them finding a solution that worked for everyone.
“We left the decision up to each employee so they could find a working routine that worked for them.”
Recommending that people come into the office three days a week, Oneflare have found a hybrid working pattern that has led to minimal disruption to work and life.
For those who enjoy working from home, Oneflare have provided a quick and easy way for home-workers to get themselves equipped with the right chair, additional monitors and anything else an employee might need.
For Isaac and his developers, this has helped them stay on track with traditional stand-ups and ceremonies but in a digital context.
“We use a combination of Zoom, JIRA, and Trello. We’ve found Trello especially works well for team retrospectives.”
Even though many people on the development team are now coming into the office, Isaac was keen to maintain digital stand-ups and meetings to ensure that meetings are inclusive for everyone, regardless of their working situation.
“There's been times that everyone's in the office apart from one person. So, I think it's a bit more inclusive to do it this way and I think it’s the new way of working.”
Isaac, who brought one new developer on during the pandemic, understands just how isolating joining a new team can be – especially when there isn’t a guarantee of a physical space to interact in.
But, with six months’ experience working within this new hybrid model, Isaac and Oneflare have worked hard on developing new and innovative onboarding strategies that enable new hires to hit the ground running almost immediately.
The Future is Flexible
At the beginning of the pandemic, businesses had to rapidly adopt new ways of working and enable staff to work from home as much as possible. Almost one year later, the threats posed by the virus remain and ways of working have changed beyond recognition.
Flexible working, for many, is the next evolutionary stage of the working world. For Isaac, who is an advocate for flexible working, it’s about finding a balance.
“Its effectiveness has been proved across multiple industries and productivity has stayed high at Oneflare. But I personally wouldn’t want to go back to working 100% from home as you do miss that culture and buzz the office provides. Secondly, ending the day leaving the office space behind forces you to reflect on the day and the challenges that you encountered.”