SOUTH GEEKS INTERNAL HANDBOOK
- This handbook is the central repository on how we operate. It describes our processes, policies, and tools.
- South Geeks is a US-based LLC created by Argentinean partners.
- Most of our clients are in the US, Canada, and Europe.
- Most of our team members are from Latin America.
- We are known as a company guided by our values and we have a strong culture.
- We offer staff augmentation services.
- We work with most technologies and we cover a variety of roles (tech-related).
- We rely on our team members to advocate for South Geeks within each client.
Tools we use
Clockify for Time Tracking
Every team member is invited to Clockify when joining South Geeks.
This is the tool we use to track time which is essential to our business model.
What to track and how?
- Every hour spent working on a client’s activity should be tracked to the appropriate client and project, describing what you are doing in the “description” field.
- The rule of thumb to know what to track under non-billable or not to track at all is asking yourself if the actitivy was mandatory or optional.
- Mandatory South Geeks generated activities can be tracked under “South Geeks Internal” client. The time tracked to this category won’t be charged to the client, but will be paid to you by South Geeks. Examples of this are: 1-1 meetings requested by South Geeks management, mandatory training sessions, mandatory team meetings. When in doubt, ask your manager for clarification before the event occurs.
- All other optional and/or leisure activities shouldn’t be tracked. Examples: After offices, English classes, personal training and professional development, travel time, time off, lunch time, errands, vacations, breaks.
- Make sure your hours are properly tracked to the corresponding category:
- Billable: Time spent working for client’s projects.
- Non-billable: Time spent in the above described mandatory South Geeks activities.
- Make sure all hours are tracked under the correct project and that there are no hours tracked for the same task under a different description (example: “Bug fix”, “Fix bug”).
Please contact your South Geeks manager if you don’t see your client, project, or the South Geeks internal project in your account.
Keep in mind our integrity value when tracking your time.
- Clockify has an option to play/pause/stop, we recommend using that option as we work so that we don’t forget to track time later.
- Aside from the web version, Clockify also has a Chrome and Firebox button and Desktop Windows, Desktop Mac, IOS and Android Apps. Find the version that works better with your style.
GSuite for E-mails
We use GSuite for our @southgeeks.com emails.
Every team member should check their email daily as it’s our main form of communication for formal notifications.
If you need help configuring it, we recommend using the Google Learning Center.
For help configuring your email and Google products in your phone and finding mobile tips, you can use this link.
If you want to forward your e-mail to another account for practicality, you can use this guide.
Please set your signature modeled after the one you received in your welcome email.
Check out this tip for getting notified of your e-mails in slack (in case you don’t check them out that often).
Google Meet for video conferencing
With your GSuite account you’ll have access to Google Meet.
When working remotely, it’s important to be active in our communications, you should feel free, and are encouraged to, use video conferencing when needed.
Keep the following guidelines in mind when chairing or attending a video conference:
Video conferencing guidelines
- Try to have your video on. Being remote requires extra effort to get to know others and let others know us; having the camera on helps tremendously to achieve this.
- Be presentable for meetings (as you would in a regular office).
- Use a headset with microphone when doing video calls, it gives high fidelity, helps you collaborate and avoids the echo generated by computer speakers.
- Always be on time. Internally, we won’t wait for people before we start a call, in order to be respectful to others. Being late to a client’s meeting or interview is unacceptable from the standpoint of our values.
- When chairing a meeting, end it at the scheduled time, as this will allow attendees to be on time for their next meeting.
- If someone else’s microphone, webcam, or latency is stopping the communication from flowing, let them know.
- For internal invites, decline a meeting you think you shouldn’t go to. It is better to cancel than to show up and not pay attention.
- Try to take notes effectively and make sure to register important details.
- When using a new video conferencing tool, allow yourself a few minutes before the meeting to test your audio and video.
- In group meetings, remember to mute yourself when not speaking (except when brainstorming).
- Pause longer than usual in between ideas, remember people need to unmute themselves to respond.
- When possible, ensure that you have good lighting and that you are surrounded by professional background.
Follow clients’ instructions and policies when using clients’ slack. The following applies to South Geeks’ internal workspace:
Slack is to be used for informal communication only. We will retain only 90 days of activity.
Therefore, Slack should not be used for:
- formal notifications;
- time off notifications;
- personal information, contracts or other relevant paperwork activity
Do not expect an instantaneous response in Slack, this tool is to be considered for asynchronous communication.
In line with this, do not feel obligated to respond to internal Slack messages when you are not working.
Remember to use threads for grouping topics and easier reading.
Make sure you set your name in Slack to what you want to be known as.
Our key channels are:
- #announcements: Workspace-wide communication and announcements.
- #code: All things code. Advice, tips, guidance, and a shoulder to cry on.
- #help-slack: For Slack related Q&A.
- #open-positions: Where we share openings for you to check and refer to your favorite people (tip: we pin the ones that are actively seeking).
- #proj-clientname: There’s one channel per account for client-internal matters and announcements.
- #random: For all things non-work related.
- #team-building: To share what we know, ask for help across projects, share presentations and generate ideas for creating the best company ever.
- #team-mind-teasers: Puzzles, riddles, and games to share and resolve.
We offer every team member a subscription that allows you to call unlimited mobile and landlines in the US.
If you think you’ll need it, please reach out to your manager so we can add your account to our Skype team.
We believe that communication is key when working remotely, so we recommend picking up the phone (or headset, in this case) and calling your counterparts any time you need to.
We don’t use Skype for chatting or video-conferencing any more, as it has been replaced by Slack and Google Meet respectively.
We rely on LinkedIn for finding new candidates to join our teams and to spread the word about South Geeks.
We encourage every team member to change your current job to show that you are working in South Geeks so that we get better traction.
Naturally, this is not mandatory, but it would help us big time.
Also, you can follow the South Geeks LinkedIn page to get the latest publications.
When required to travel for business reasons, you will receive an invite to join Zoho Expense.
This is the tool we use for tracking receipts. Not all travels require receipt collection, take a look at the travel policy for more details.
To learn how to use the tool, explore their Getting Started in Zoho Expense documentation.
We use BambooHR as a repository for your personal and job information and for notifying Time Off. You should have received your BambooHR credentials when joining the company, if you experience any problem accessing it, talk to your manager.
Some fields require approval when updating the info (specially the ones containing information included in legal paperwork), please note that you might not see the changes implemented immediately in those cases.
We use Kudosbot in Slack for internal recognition of team members that are doing an outstanding job, helping us, inspiring us and being ambassadors of our values.
Each recognition can be associated with one of our core values and there’s a web leaderboard that shows the recognitions given in the past.
The command is: /kudos to @teammember for reason-comment-or-personalized-message.
World Time Buddy for time conversion. Particularly useful in March and November when the US adjusts their clocks for daylight saving.
As a South Geeks team member you have access to Udemy. We encourage you to take advantage of this perk and use the platform to improve your current skills and develop new ones.
Let your manager know when you want your license to be activated.
We trust the recommendations of our team members, so please, if you know of someone that shares our values and would be a good addition to the team, please submit them as a referral. If they are successfully hired, you will earn an additional $50 per month for every month you are both part of South Geeks. The beauty of this is that there is no limit to the number of referrals you can submit, or to the length of time you will receive the benefit (that is, as long as you are both part of South Geeks).
A referral is someone you know either personally or professionally whom you trust would be a good match for the South Geeks culture and high performance standards.
A referral is not someone unknown to you whom you sourced or who reached out to you regarding an open position, nor is it someone who applied via a link you shared on social media.
To submit your referrals, please email staffing sharing the referee’s CV.
If the person you are submitting as your referral is already part of our database, our staffing team will let you know.
In the event of a referral being submitted by multiple people, the first team member to have submitted the candidate will be considered their referrer.
Working from home for us is both a benefit and a responsibility.
As stated by the folks at GitLab, remote work enables us to have a great work/life harmony that reduces the friction between both worlds.
While you are at it, take a look at their article about how to recognize and prevent burnout as a remote worker.
Working remotely does not replace the need to take time off of work; make sure you find time for taking a break.
Policies and Processes
As stated below, South Geeks is a US LLC, therefore the official language for all paperwork must be English.
Also, not all of our team members come from Spanish speaking countries that’s why we keep our relevant and internal communications in English.
Time off policy
Taking time off, whether for vacations, holidays or personal time can be extremely helpful for maintaining a good work/life harmony.
South Geeks encourages our team members to take time off when needed and/or wanted.
As we are firm believers in freedom, we engineered a business model that prioritizes paying high rates to enable everyone to decide what to do with their time.
For the sake of communication and the coordination of activities, the process for notifying time off is:
- Talk to the client and agree on the date: Talk to your client’s point of contact and share your planned time off with them. Please make sure you talk to them at least 4 weeks before the date (where possible).
- This is supposed to be a discussion you both have to ensure that the project is not impacted by your vacation. If you encounter any problems during this conversation, talk to your South Geeks manager.
- Your team leader might require you to work with a backup who can work on your tasks while you are out of the office.
- Submit BambooHR notification
- With the client notified, go to BambooHR, from the Home Page select “Request Time Off”.
- In the form, indicate the dates you will be out and select Time Off type for reference.
- Make sure you add a note in the comment section stating that your client approved of the time off, then submit the request.
- Manager approves: When this form is submitted, your South Geeks manager gets a notification asking him or her to approve. You will be notified via e-mail when it’s approved and registered in South Geeks’ tracker.
- Set your OOO notification: The day before your time off starts, make sure you set your out of office notification in your e-mail. If you need help setting this up in GSuite, we recommend reading these instructions from Google.
- If you are planning on taking more than 2 weeks off at a time, you should talk to your South Geeks manager before step 1 as the account manager might need to talk to the client first.
- You don’t need to track your time off in the time tracker and you shouldn’t include those hours in your monthly invoice.
- When returning from your time off, it can be helpful to schedule a short chat with your team leader to get caught up and up to speed with the project’s latest news.
1-on-1 meetings with your South Geeks manager are super important. They are good for keeping communication close, understanding everyone’s needs, learning about news within the company, sharing concerns and discussing performance.
Make sure you prepare for your 1-1 by creating a list of topics that are concerning you. Be transparent and open.
You will receive an invite from your manager. Remember the advice regarding video conferencing, even for the 1-1 meetings.
Remember to track the time spent in 1-1 meetings under no billable.
Canceling a 1-1 is possible, but should be a last resort. Try to find the time to make them happen.
As a South Geeks team member you might be required to travel for client requests.
Unless instructed otherwise, your flight ticket and lodging will be covered and vouchers will be sent to you prior to the travel date (either by South Geeks or your client).
There are 2 methodologies for dealing with expenses when travelling; you will be instructed to follow one or the other by your South Geeks manager and based on your client’s preference:
- Method 1 – All expenses covered per diem: you will receive in advance an amount of money per day that should cover every expense you incur during your trip. The per diem will be determined by your client’s travel policies and will be deposited in your bank account at least 1 week before the trip.
- Method 2 – Expenses to be reimbursed with a per diem cap: Based on the client’s travel policy you will be notified of a maximum amount of money you can spend per day in ground transportation, meals, tips and necessities. For every expense you incur, you need to scan your receipt in the Expense Tracking tool (you will receive an invite to join the tool before your trip) that South Geeks uses, unless instructed otherwise.
When submitting expenses, please keep in mind that:
- The per diem cap is not cumulative; this means that you cannot use excess from one day on a different day.
- The date to consider for the cap is the one shown on the ticket (regardless of the time zone you are in).
- Expenses without a receipt won’t be reimbursed.
- Admissible expenses are ones relating to meals and commuting to/from work and to/from the airports. We cannot reimburse expenses related to tourist attractions, personal entertainment, personal shopping, etc.
- Your commuting expenses may include: public transit, ride-sharing services (Uber, Lyft, etc.) or gas/parking between residence and airport.
- Meals that you consume in the hotel don’t pertain to the accommodation expense, and should be calculated within the per diem.
- Tips should fit within the per diem cap as well, and shouldn’t exceed the amount of twice the taxes of the receipt without them.
- In the event that you need to make an exception to any of these rules, please reach out to your South Geeks manager before incurring the expense. No exceptions will be considered after the fact.
- When your trip is complete, make sure you submit your expenses for approval and reimbursement.
In both scenarios the per diem is determined by the client; if you believe the estimated per diem is not enough, please talk to your South Geeks manager before travelling.
- Use common sense when travelling.
- Spend South Geeks and/or client’s money as you would your own money.
- Be at the airport at the airline’s recommended time, be safe and don’t leave personal belongings unattended.
- Remember to track the time used for work during your trip as well.
- The company can accommodate special requests. As long as the project is not impacted upon and the client is ok with it, it is fine to stay longer on your trip. However, extra days or expenses associated with the extension of the trip won’t be covered. Please notify your manager of this exception before traveling.
- Always bring a personal credit card if you have one: Hotels will generally expect you to have a physical credit card to present upon arrival. This card will be kept on file for the duration of the stay and will be used for incidents. Notify the hotel representative that the card provided by South Geeks during the reservation is the one to be used for accommodation charges.
Payments & Invoicing
At the end of every month you will receive an e-mail to your South Geeks account reminding you to:
- Complete and review the time tracked in the tool. Every minute worked in the month should be tracked and categorized as billable or not-billable. See “What to track and how” for more details.
- The first business day of a new month, send your invoice to admin so we can proceed with the payment.
Please make sure you differentiate between Billable hours and Non-billable hours in your invoice. Remember to include the Referral Bonus amount where applicable.
Remember to send the invoice in .pdf format.
Keep in mind that on the second business day of a new month, we send the monthly report of hours to the client for their approval. Time is of the essence.
- Remember that if this is the first time you are receiving a payment from South Geeks, or if you want to receive your payment in a different bank account than the one used the previous month, you should let us know at least a week before the end of the month. Please send along:
- Routing number (for accounts within the US) / Swift code (for accounts outside of the US).
- Account number (check with your bank to confirm the format of this field, as the number of digits varies from country to country).
- Country where the account was opened.
- Account type: savings or checking.
- Account currency.
- Account holder’s full name.