Armine Tabakova and Liza Skryabina work at Grammarly for more than two years. Armine and Liza shared what’s it like to work at a “unicorn” company that was founded in their home country, Ukraine.
Over the last year or so, I’ve started using Grammarly to run some of my Headapreneur writings – including this article – through the service. Right now, it’s my companion in writing professional emails or simply chatting with my friends. I was curious to know more about Grammarly, their values and culture.
How you got hired at Grammarly?
Liza:- My relationship with Grammarly has started when I was leading one of the social projects at AIESEC. I saw an ad on Youtube, downloaded an extension and I’ve been using it ever since. I researched the company, and I found out that it was founded in Ukraine. “It’s was built in Ukraine by Ukrainians” – I was proud of it that I wanted to invite them to one of the projects.
One of our projects at AIESEC was related to education. We invited over 150 interns from different countries to teach kids English, personal development and have a cross-cultural experience within.
Grammarly provided free premium access for our interns for a month. Besides that, Grammarly also hosted webinars about Entrepreneurship and e-Learning to improve the presentation and communication skills in English of the interns.
One of the main key factors for me in selecting a company to work at is what’s the culture in it? I wanted my career to be involved in working with people and cultural development. I knew that Grammarly would be a perfect fit for me. Unfortunately, there were no open positions that got my interest but I sent my CV to a person that I’d been in touch with when I was in AIESEC mentioning, If there are going to be any positions that are connected with human interaction, please let me know.
After a few weeks, I got invited for an interview to join the Workplace Experience team. Passing six interviews, I got an offer from Grammarly.
Is Grammarly a culture-fit or culture-add?
Armine:- For me, Grammarly is about culture overall. We already have a set of established values that form acronym EAGER (Ethical, Adaptable, Gritty, Empathetic, and Remarkable) and help us build and maintain our team. Nevertheless, as a company, we are diverse, and we continuously learn. Therefore, I would say we are open to observe new cultural aspects or values coming in.
How to create “more than just a workplace” environment?
Liza:- I work at Grammarly as Internal Events Coordinator and our team’s mission is to create an environment that is more than just a workplace. It’s about creating a safe space for all of our employees. We practice rewards and recognition, organize monthly teambuilding, and education cycles. At first, you may think that every company does the same but what makes Grammarly different from others is that we do it all in-house by Grammarlians.
We don’t work with event or teambuilding agencies. All of our events and parties are organized in a very intimate and family-feel environment. My #1 rule of creating a FUN experience is to make it optional. We do not oblige our employees to participate in internal corporate parties. Participation is optional. That’s why I believe we managed to create a safe environment for everyone where everyone feels accepted and heard.
What do you like the most about working at Grammarly?
Armine:- It’d be challenging to name just one thing because working at Grammarly, you step by step, falling in love with the whole company. It all starts from love to this fantastic product and then being enhanced by great open people, inclusive and engaging culture, EAGER values, and opportunities for personal and professional growth. Grammarly’s culture, as of me, is all about respect, inclusivity, transparency, goals, empathy, and constant learning.
Liza:- It’s challenging for companies to make Diversity and Inclusion a priority in the organization but not for Grammarly. It’s our policy to practice it in formal and informal gatherings. For example, before, for the informal meetings, we informed our colleagues that they can bring a significant other, but recently we’ve changed it to a plus one.
Grammarly is a platform for people to grow professionally as well as personally. As I mentioned earlier, we are driven by a self-creative environment. I believe that every person at Grammarly has something to share – it can be a skill, some learnings or storytelling. For example, one of our colleagues who is a Software Developer taught us how to draw. We have workshops on how to stay healthy, being eco-friendly, wine tasting and many more. The best this of all of these that you can learn it directly from your colleagues.
If I want to work at Grammarly, what I need to have? Soft or hard skills?
Armine:- I believe that it should always be a mix! Each role requires some specific skills, knowledge, and talents that will allow potential employees to perform on their tasks successfully. We are looking for EAGER people to join our team.
We are looking for people who are as passionate about our mission as we are. The skillset mainly depends on a position you are interested in. But for example, most of our roles require strong command English, so developing your English skills will always be handy.
Our team is diverse and currently consists of 250+ people and is spread between offices in Kyiv, San-Fransisco, New York, and Vancouver. And we keep growing! Feel free to check our careers page.
What do you do to ensure the safety of your employees during the COVID-19 outbreak?
Armine:- Grammarly’s highest priority is the safety and well-being of the current and prospective team members. Our team has entirely shifted to the remote work with new employees, also joining and starting remotely. The company supports us even on the distance, helping to create the most comfortable workaround or sending you a quarantine kit for essential protection.
Additionally, we maintain our culture, running different Zoom team meetings, creating fun Slack channels, driving sports classes, and mental health sessions. This time is tough for everyone, but working in such a team and feeling Grammarly’s support makes it easier.
Some of the tips Grammarly has circulated for holding meetings over video conference include:
- Use video conferencing for both informal chats and scheduled meetings. While working remotely, we should continue to look for opportunities to speak face-to-face, not just over Slack or email. So please use video for quick check-ins with colleagues as well as for organized and scheduled meetings.
- When meeting, be considerate about giving space to speak. Interruptions can be harder to control remotely. One way to manage a meeting flow is to use a system of hand cues: If somebody is already speaking, raise a finger to indicate you’d like to go next. If somebody already has a finger raised, you can raise two fingers, and so on.
- Minimize distractions by turning off notifications while meeting. If you’re taking notes on your computer, please be clear that’s what you’re doing so the person you’re meeting with doesn’t think you’re distracted.
What’s your workstation setup?
Armine:- At the office, my desk reminds me of the art mess. I keep collecting different postcards, polaroid pictures, souvenirs, have plants, and some office supplies. My favorite things are a picture of my family, pineapple cup, and “Tse Tobi” calendar. As for the recruiter, the background plays a paramount role for me when working from home. So Zoom backgrounds are in my daily use.
Where do you go to get inspired?
Armine:- I love the Masterclass app! It collected online lessons from the world’s best. Seeing them sharing their knowledge to make you successful in what they succeeded in is truly inspiring. Now that we have a great benefit of additional free time, it’s essential to use it wisely. Other than that, I love traveling. Hopefully, I’ll place another postcard at my office desk soon.
Liza:- What really makes me inspired is the thought that my work impacts someone’s life. At Grammarly, a culture of appreciation is practiced by everyone, and it’s great to receive feedback from the team that motivates me and improves my work. I believe gratitude is an engagement and connection tool in the workplace.