Andela was in the news on Tuesday, May 5, when it was announced that it had parted ways with 135 employees; approximately 10 percent of the company.
Barely three days later and there’s a new twist: Andela is going fully remote in the near future and also opening up its placement offering to non-employees.
Andela’s CEO, Jeremy Johnson, revealed this in a Medium post published today, May 8.
Johnson had described Tuesday’s layoffs as a necessary measure aimed at safeguarding the future of Andela. He had said cited the weight of the economic downturn on Andela’s customers as a sign that there will be attrition from the startup’s customer base and lower than expected growth. Hence, the need for the trim.
However, in today’s post titled “Looking to the Future,” he revealed that there’s more to it than cutting costs.
“A company organizes itself around the problem it’s trying to solve, and the problem we solve today is different from the one we initially set out to tackle,” a portion of his post reads.
It turns out that Andela has opted to adjust to the times and tweak its model yet again. The engineering talent outsourcing company is poised to embrace remote work fully and also offer placements to non-employees.
“This week, we announced at an all-hands that we are going to be a remote-first company. While we’ve always been a leader in distributed work, we’ve now proven that we can operate fully remote by delivering excellent work to our customers over the past couple of months. We will continue to ensure that our engineers have the infrastructure needed to operate at a world-class level,” Johnson reveals.
“In addition to going fully remote, the transition to a focus on enabling talent requires us to think differently about talent itself. Moving forward, we will expand the network to include top engineers from across the continent, and eventually around the world — and we won’t require engineers to be full-time employees to apply for opportunities.”
Andela claims to have trained more than 100,000 people through programs like the Andela Learning Community. Up until now, in order to actually be placed with a company, you’ve historically had to be a full-time Andela employee working from any of Andela’s offices in five countries.
But the CEO has stated that this limits the opportunities the company is able to provide, while also limiting the breadth of talent available to customers.
It is with a view to addressing these shortcomings that Andela is now rejigging its business model to accommodate talent that would be otherwise missed out on because they can’t (or choose not to) relocate. Andela said it has already put the remote model to test in Egypt and the results have been positive.
“In 2014, our first office in Lagos, Nigeria was a critical component of developing talent, because being in person accelerates the confidence-building and networking abilities of junior engineers.
“Tens of thousands of engineers applied from cities outside of Lagos, but they weren’t able to get in unless they could relocate. On the other hand, Andela Egypt, which we opened in 2019, has never required engineers to come to an office. As a result of this, within the first few months, we had exceptional engineers working from multiple cities other than Cairo,” says Johnson.
No stranger to making the “necessary adjustments”, Andela has displayed a propensity for switching lanes over the last few years.
Although it started out by grooming entry-level engineering talent in Africa, Andela has since closed its junior developer programme and turned its attention to more senior talent — owing to what the startup described as increased demand for senior talent and the saturation of the junior talent market.
Last September, over 400 junior developers were laid off, and subsequently, WeeTracker had uncovered episodes of developer placement struggles even after the September purge. In February, we broke the story that Andela had kicked off a “voluntary exit scheme” for developers which it had been unable to place.