Sky-high growth of digital paper tablet
– This past year we’ve been hiring almost two new people a week, and we have no plans on stopping, says organizational development head Haakon Knoph in the Norwegian IT company reMarkable. Last year TIME magazine selected the company’s paper tablet as one of 2020’s most exciting inventions.
reMarkable is one of the companies on Tekna Magasinet’s list of «The 15 leading companies in IT sector job growth – in other words companies with the strongest job growth rates during «the COVID year» (March 2020 to March 2021). The list is based on monthly reports sent in by employers to NAV (The Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration), SSB (Statistics Norway) and the Norwegian tax authorities. According to this report, reMarkable established 70 new employment relationships during this period.
The company, which has developed a paper tablet that’s been called a ‘consumer technology success story’ and ‘the closest you’ll come to the feeling of writing on paper’.
– We’re passionate about technology that helps you think better. All of our employees are here in Oslo. We’re ambitious, and we help each other perform well, says «Chief Organizational Officer» Haakon Knoph, who also reveals that his company is aiming for continued growth in the future.
Selected by TIME magazine
It was civil engineer Magnus Wanberg who had the idea of a paper tablet. He started developing the idea in 2013 with a handful of employees, founding the company reMarkable in 2016. Last year their second-generation «paper tablet» was selected as one of the hundred best innovations of 2020 by TIME magazine.
– We now have around 200 employees, which is over double the number that we had before we were ‘sent home to work’ in March of last year. This past year we’ve hired almost 2 people a week, and we have no plans of stopping, says Haakon Knoph.
He states that they also have ambitious plans for the future need smart people to achieve them, so have been working hard over the past two years to recruit these individuals.
One of the 26 Tekna members in the company, Patrick Hisni Brataas, who has a Master’s degree in electronics and computer technology from the University of Oslo, started working for the company in 2017.
He thinks that the company’s rapid growth is exciting, even if his home office situation hasn’t made it easy to meet new people this past year.
– I get energized when I see how much time and resources the company’s spending on recruiting the best people and how much we’re investing in the different departments, says Patrick.
Feels a sense of ownership to the product
As department head for «embedded software» developers, Patrick works with creating new products and maintaining existing ones.
– We make a product that I believe in and feel a sense of ownership to, he says.
He explains that the company does most of its work on its own, mostly with people who work out of the same office in Oslo. This means that they have individuals working with design, marketing, logistics, quality assurance, laws and regulations, and other areas.
– It’s the combination of creating new products where we have control over all the technical elements, from the circuit board to the Cloud, and the fact that we work closely with the other non-technical disciplines that makes reMarkable an exciting company to work for, says Patrick Hisni Brataas.
– Even my mother understands what kind of work I do
Patrick’s department is responsible for finding and qualifying components, making sure that the software that communicates with these components functions perfectly.
– We implement software for production testing at the factory, something that provides quality assurance for every product made. We’re also responsible for the system that creates new software updates, which are then shipped to customers via the factory or «over-the-airwaves», he explains.
He thinks that it’s even more enjoyable to make a product that people can hold and touch.
– The most fascinating thing about the product is maybe that even my mother understands the kind of work I do, laughs Patrick. He looks at reMarkable 2 as a product that will replace paper, giving it digital superpowers.
– It’s a product most people understand when they get it in their hands, he says. He remarks that it’s not uncommon for him to get questions about the paper tablet from people who walk by him on the street or others sitting beside him on a plane whenever he’s using it.
– They often wonder what it is, or if it’s a reMarkable. It’s always so exciting to see and hear what people think about our product before I go ahead and tell them that I work there.
The need for high-level IT skills is increasing
According to a new report from Economics Norway (Tekna was among the customers ordering the report), the need in Norway for the number of employees having an IT education is estimated to increase from around 56,000 in 2019 to 94,000 in 2030.
Haakon Knoph states that while reMarkable’s hiring people in all departments, their technology department has an urgent need for employees with competency in Cloud solutions, software, quality assurance and «embedded» computer systems.
– There are loads of smart people in IT in Norway, and we’re actively working to attract the smartest ones, he says. He thinks the need for individuals with high-level IT skills will just continue to increase.
– At the same time reMarkable’s growing as a company, the need for more capacity and new skills is also growing. We think it’s really important that the people we hire are truly passionate about what they’re working with and that they’re a good fit for our fantastic work environment, he says.
Tekna member Patrick Hisni Brataas has noticed that as reMarkable grows in size, there’s a need for solving problems in new ways in every department. He also thinks the company has done a good job of meeting the challenges posed by the pandemic.
– As a new employee you’re part of a good «onboarding» process during your first few weeks here. All new employees get a mentor and a sponsor as well as access to a podcast where Magnus (founder and CEO) talks about the company’s environment and work culture. They also arrange things like digital breakfasts with morning deliveries at your door, Friday happy hour, quizzes and live broadcasts, Patrick explains.
He’s noticed that there are a lot of companies that need both his and his co-workers’ areas of expertise, and thinks that a lot of people are experiencing that it’s an ‘employee market’ these days for people who have an IT education.