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Poland: one of the best destinations for Ukrainian IT companies after the Russian invasion.

Sep 22, 2022business community, corporation, Europe, IT development, Outsourcing services, Poland, work41 comments

Poland: one of the best destinations for Ukrainian IT companies after the Russian invasion.

Work despite everything: many Ukrainian IT specialists continue their activities by relying on Polish companies. The experience of an Italian recruiter living and working in Poland.

One of the worst pages of current European history began on 24 February: with the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Exactly four days later, here in Poland, we started receiving numerous contact requests from IT companies active in Ukraine and interested in expanding their team of developers. We work in IT recruitment and selection, and we found that 90 percent of our requests for cooperation came from one country. A unique case in our experience.

The conflict has disrupted the lives of these people in a drastic way, and the area of work has certainly been no exception. ‘Remote work’ and ‘IT‘ are often found in the same sentence, and the possibility of continuing to work without being in a specific place is helping part of the Ukrainian population to remain productively active, and also to take their minds off (at least for a moment) the sad reality that surrounds them. An interpretation of the concept of resilience, applied to work.

Ukrainian programmers to Poland: work, despite everything

Losing part of their team’s programmers, either because they were fighting to defend their country or for even worse reasons, prompted several IT companies to rethink their strategy. In terms of human resources, this has also resulted in seeking out neighbouring countries in terms of culture and IT skills, such as Poland.

Furthermore, according to UN data, Poland had already taken in 60 per cent of the total number of Ukrainian refugees, more than two and a half million people, by April. Initiating cooperation even in terms of partial relocation was an almost natural step.

According to a report by the Ukrainian IT Association, in 2021 the country estimated around 200,000 programmers out of a population of 45 million. Many of them worked at Ukrainian outsourcing companies, with even well-known international customers. Other programmers worked directly (with B2B or remote collaboration contracts) for foreign IT companies that chose Ukraine for the skill and availability of its specialists, at a competitive price compared to their domestic market.

What working in Ukraine looks like: overcrowded ‘offices’ and bomb sirens

The need to understand other markets stems from the desire to survive and continue to grow. For us, it turned into several intro calls where we found ourselves presenting the Polish IT job market and trying to understand whether we could help to our interlocutors.

These were Heads of Talent Acquisition or HR Managers, 90% of them women managers who had had to flee to Romania, Poland or the Czech Republic, or who had remained in Ukraine, perhaps moving to the western part of the country, to cities considered ‘relatively safer’ such as Lviv (a city only 80 km from the Polish border). Courageous women who tried to smile while explaining to us that they were forced to stay in eight in a shared three-room flat and that we would hear noises in the background because they were not alone in that temporary office. People who were working out of the office not by choice, but forced by a situation they could never have imagined.

During one of these calls, we happened to talk to a marketing manager when sirens had sounded and her HR colleagues had had to take refuge under bomb shelters. The new normal of a country that continues to work despite many difficulties.

Work as resistance and apps that warn of bombings

As hard as it is to imagine what it feels like in such a situation without living it, it is easy to feel immediate empathy for these ‘colleagues from another company’ living in a surreal situation. Expressing our solidarity and offering support, even without starting a collaboration, has always been part of our many conversations, and it has always been important for them to feel that the world is trying to understand them. It certainly makes them feel less alone.

From first interviews in some cases, we went on to start working together. Talking to each other almost every day, they explained some of the ways in which they try to maintain an apparent normality in a tragic context.

Just as we check the weather forecast on our smartphone app, they too have software that alerts them of bombings connected to messaging apps widely used in Ukraine, such as Viber and Telegram. In the same way, the same telephone operators, who here in Poland inform us when there is going to be a particularly violent thunderstorm, in Ukraine alert by text message when a bombing is in progress.

I have a lot of respect and feel deep empathy for all these people we have spoken to during this time. People who do not give up, who through their work convey the will to resist, to go on and perhaps soon return to the privilege of a ‘normal’ existence.

As the Ukrainian poet Oleksandr Ivanyts’kyj says, in translation from Ukrainian: ‘Help yourself, begin to
love life. Where there is peace, there is happiness. Never look for evil’.

Praca mimo wszystko: wielu ukraińskich informatyków kontynuuje swoją działalność opierając się na polskich firmach. Doświadczenie włoskiego rekrutera, który mieszka i pracuje w Polsce.

24 lutego rozpoczęła się jedna z najbrutalniejszych kart obecnej historii Europy: początek rosyjskiej inwazji na Ukrainę. Dokładnie cztery dni później, tu w Polsce, zaczęliśmy otrzymywać liczne prośby o kontakt od firm IT działających na Ukrainie i zainteresowanych poszerzeniem swojego zespołu programistów. Zajmujemy się rekrutacją kadr wyspecjalizowanych w branży IT co pomogło nam określić, że 90 % próśb o współpracę pochodziła z jednego kraju. Jest to jedyny taki przypadek, w przeciągu naszej kariery.

Konflikt w drastyczny sposób zdewastował życie tych ludzi i środowisko pracy z pewnością nie było wyjątkiem. Określenia takie jak: “Praca zdalna” i “IT„często znajdują się w tym samym zdaniu, a możliwość kontynuowania pracy na odległość pomaga części ukraińskiej społeczności pracować nadal na poziomie produktywnym, a także pozwala zapomnieć (chociażby na chwilę) o smutnej rzeczywistość, która ich otacza. Interpretacja pojęcia oporu w odniesieniu do pracy.

Ukraińscy informatycy przyjeżdżają do Polski: praca mimo wszystko

Utrata części programistów w swoim zespole, czy to z powodu walki o obronę swojego kraju, czy być może z jeszcze gorszych powodów, skłoniła kilka firm IT do przemyślenia swojej strategii. W sektorze HR przełożyło się to również na poszukiwaniu pracy w krajach sąsiednich opartych na wysokiej kulturze i umiejętnościach informatycznych, takich jak Polska.

Ponadto, zgodnie z danymi ONZ, do kwietnia Polska przyjęła aż 60% wszystkich ukraińskich uchodźców, ponad dwa i pół miliona ludzi. Nawiązanie współpracy również w zakresie częściowego przeniesienia własnej działalności było niemal naturalnym krokiem.

Według raportu IT Ukrainian Association w 2021 r. kraj szacował około 200 000 programistów z populacji liczącej 45 milionów ludzi. Wielu z nich pracuje dla ukraińskich firm outsourcingowych, mających znanych międzynarodowych klientów. Inni informatycy pracowali bezpośrednio (choć z umowami B2B i zdalnie) dla zagranicznych firm IT, które wybrały Ukrainę ze względu na umiejętności i dostępność swoich specjalistów, po konkurencyjnej cenie w porównaniu z ich rynkiem krajowym.

Jak wygląda praca na Ukrainie: zatłoczone „biura” i dźwięki syren alarmowych

Potrzeba zrozumienia innych rynków wynika z chęci przetrwania i dalszego rozwoju. Dla nas przerodziło się to w kilka “intro call”, w których przedstawiliśmy polski rynek pracy IT i staraliśmy się sprawdzić, jak możemy pomóc naszym rozmówcom.
Byli to Head of Talent Acquisition lub HR Manager, 90% menedżerek które musiały schronić się w Rumunii, Polsce czy w Czechach, lub, które pozostały na Ukrainie, w zachodnich częściach kraju, w miastach uważanych za „stosunkowo bezpieczniejsze”, takich jak Lwów (miasto zaledwie 80 km od granica Polski). Dzielne kobiety, które podczas rozmowy starały się uśmiechać, gdy tłumaczyły nam, że zostały zmuszone do przebywania w ósemce we wspólnym trzypokojowym mieszkaniu i że w tle będziemy słyszeć hałasy, bo nie były same w tym tymczasowym biurze. Ludzi, którzy pracowali poza biurem nie z wyboru, ale zmuszeni przez sytuację, której nigdy sobie nie wyobrażali.

Podczas jednej z takich rozmów zdarzyło nam się rozmawiać z menedżerem ds. marketingu, gdy nagle rozległy się syreny i nasi koledzy z HR musieli ukryć się w schronach. Nowa rzeczywistość kraju, który nadal działa pomimo licznych trudności.


Praca jako przejaw sabotażu i aplikacje, które pokazują miejsca bombardowań

O ile trudno sobie wyobrazić, jak to jest w takiej sytuacji, nie żyjąc w niej, o tyle łatwo poczuć natychmiastową empatię dla “kolegów z innej firmy” żyjących w surrealistycznej sytuacji. Wyrażanie naszej solidarności i oferowanie wsparcia, nawet bez nawiązywania współpracy, zawsze było częścią naszych licznych rozmów, również ważne było dla nich poczucie, że próbujemy ich zrozumieć. To z pewnością sprawia, że czują się mniej samotni.

Od rozmów kwalifikacyjnych, w niektórych przypadkach, przeszliśmy do rozpoczęcia wspólnej pracy. Rozmawiając z nami prawie codziennie, wyjaśniali, jak starają się zachować pozorną normalność w tragicznym kontekście.

Tak jak my sprawdzamy prognozę pogody w aplikacji naszego smartfona, tak i oni mają oprogramowanie, które informuje o bombardowaniach podłączonych do szeroko używanych na Ukrainie aplikacji do przesyłania wiadomości, takich jak Viber czy Telegram. Podobnie ci sami operatorzy telefoniczni, którzy tu w Polsce informują nas, kiedy będzie szczególnie gwałtowna burza, na Ukrainie informują SMS-em, gdy trwa bombardowanie.

Mam duży szacunek i głęboką empatię do tych wszystkich ludzi, z którymi rozmawialiśmy w tym okresie.
Ludzie, którzy nie poddają się, którzy poprzez swoją pracę przekazują wolę oporu, by iść dalej i być może wkrótce powrócić do przywilejów “normalnej” egzystencji.

Jak mówi ukraiński poeta Ołeksandr Iwanickij, w tłumaczeniu z ukraińskiego „Pomóż sobie, zacznij kochać życie. Gdzie jest spokój, tam jest szczęście. Nigdy nie szukaj zła ”.


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