10:01 | 08.09.17 | Articles | exclusive 121120

Armenia’s tech offices from inside: Daily routine at PicsArt

Hundreds of new IT companies kicked off in Armenia in recent years. They are of various sizes, they differ by the fields where they operate and by work environment. Itel.am starts a new series to reveal special features of Armenian IT companies.

PicsArt is an app and social network for photo editing, collage, drawing, and shared editing, with offices in Yerevan and San Francisco. It can boast 400 million downloads and has 90 million active users monthly.

The app is available in 20 languages and is free for iOS, Android, and Windows.

Artavazd Mehrabyan, co-founder & COO

We don’t have time restrictions in the office, because we work to get results, not just sit out the established hours.

We leave it to the staff to decide upon their lunch breaks and they keep those in check due to teamwork (Smiles - editor).

We work in fun and entertainment sector, so we do everything to keep PicsArt staffers’ environment in the same tune. They are free to use Youtube and play games - it’s a part of our job. If we want to create products for young people, we need to live in the same style as their target audience.

Since our other office is in San Francisco and there’s a 12-hour time difference, being online is one of the most important factors in our team. If you can use the time zone difference, you can organize round-the-clock working environment.

Artavazd Mehrabyan Artavazd Mehrabyan

We don’t work on Saturday and Sunday, but many staffers chose to come to the office on those days. Working from home isn’t a problem for us. The nature of our work allows putting in long hours for two days and then working at a lighter schedule. The office is open 24 hours.

We work from home only when we have to.

Internal communication goes through Slack platform and we rarely use email.

One of our main problems is noise, as we have an open space office. It’s difficult to avoid the noise, but we’re trying to find a solution. We might place noise detectors and the staffers who go over the standard will get a reprimand (Smiles – editor). Actually, it’s a difficult thing to control and the managers also talk loudly sometimes. We encourage people to tell us if we’re making noise. We all work in the same space, no one has a personal study.

PicsArt’s biggest gathering must have been the 5th anniversary event. Celebration of the company’s achievements depends on their scale. If we set a goal and achieve it or develop a large platform, we celebrate that.

Madlene Minassian, Content and Community Director

My workday starts at 10am. People in the team have different backgrounds: opera singer, swimmer, artist. I think the diversity factor gives great value to the content as we need people who think out of the box.

We review the day’s news at a team meeting at 12 noon.

I know by sight almost all of 350 staffers and I greet everyone even if I don’t work with them directly.

Madlene Minassian Madlene Minassian

One of the advantages of our offices is that no one follows you to check how much you work. We trust our employees.

My team is the largest in the company – 40 people. I realized that when you’re a boss, you’re actually a mentor and not a manager. You train the person so they can become mentors tomorrow. You provide them with quality conditions so that they create good product for you. It’s better to try to understand how to help the person work more productively rather than just get angry with them.

PicsArt kitchen has free juice for the staffers, but I prefer just water.

Harutyun Martirosyan, Big Data Architect, Engineering Team Lead
I have worked at PicsArt for 3 years now, and my notebook and backpack have accompanied me ever since.

Harutyun Martirosyan Harutyun Martirosyan

I try to combine vacations with business trips. I have already had 4 business trips: once in Europe and trice in the United States.

I know 70-80 people from the main staff. If I am going to work with someone new, I just ask his/her name from my colleagues and start writing.  

Azat Melikyan, Senior iOS developer

I have worked here for 4 years and always tried to come to work as early as possible, until 10:30 AM. I try to stick to 8-hour working day.

We do not have any restriction when it comes to communicating with our management. They also work in the same open space. Usually I do not work on weekends, but sometimes exceptions happen.

There are no limits in playing table tennis or Xbox. You are free to play whenever you want as long as you provide quality work.

Azat Melikyan Azat Melikyan

People celebrate birthdays in different ways here. Some colleagues invite everyone to the kitchen through our shared group. Others prefer celebrating within their teams.

The noise of open space is the only circumstance distracting from work. We try to find smaller corners in the office and work there.

Presence of air conditioners is yet another issue of the open space. Our conditioners are located in particular areas, so you can regulate the temperature when necessary. The chosen temperature may be normal for you, while others may feel cold, which already creates a problem.  

Ani Toranian, HR, Training & Development Manager

Usually I am the one to conduct job interviews. First of all, we attach special importance to human relations. We have created a special atmosphere at PicsArt, so we really appreciate honesty, openness and communication skills.

It is hardly possible to hide gaps, when you speak to a person for 30-40 minutes. We did not hire some applicants with perfect technical skills, as the human side was not satisfactory for our team.

Ani Toranian Ani Toranian

It is very important for an HR to influence employees in a positive way. I usually walk around the office in the morning to find out whether everyone is all right.

It is easy to see whether someone is present or not. The company is divided into teams, and each of them has a lead. You need to tell the team lead about your absence, otherwise it is not allowed.

Astghik Margaryan, Design Team Lead

We have 15 designers and 10 illustrators in our team, which is quite small, so we prefer live communication.

Astghik Margaryan Astghik Margaryan

We stayed at the office for 2 days for changing PicsArt design for the first time last September. The hard work was followed the very memorable gathering.

I would not change anything in the office, as I am not sure whether the differences would be positive or negative. Currently we try to strike “a happy medium”.  

Chris Gard, Head of Global Creative

Working in San Francisco and visiting Armenia for 6 times a year, I can tell you that the attitude in both offices is the same: the company is our own child.

Chris Gard Chris Gard

The difference between Yerevan and San Francisco is the energy. The smaller office in San Francisco involves higher management, mainly elders, while young people full of energy work in Yerevan office.

Narine Daneghyan
Photos by Emin Aristakesyan