Alex Staff Agency
IT business and work in Cyprus: local specifics
The work environment in Cyprus is different from other countries. Let's take a look at how things work here: consider the local specifics.
Cyprus is an island in the Mediterranean Sea measuring more than 9,000 square kilometers and is a popular destination for IT adepts. We've already calculated the cost of living, as well as walked through the main cities (Limassol, Larnaca, and Nicosia). It's time to look at the topic from a slightly different angle and talk about the working atmosphere of the island. And we have a lot to share, as we have been working with local IT companies for many years.

Maria Sukhorukova, co-founder of the agency, and Anna Mikhaylichenko, head of accounting, share interesting facts about Cypriot peculiarities.
The steady growth of IT in Cyprus

The island has experienced many immigration waves that have boosted the development of the IT sector. Quite significant of them occurred in the mid-90s when Russian and Ukrainian businessmen came to explore the promising foreign country. In total, about 180 thousand foreigners live and work here: natives of Georgia, Belarus, Romania, European countries (particularly Great Britain), and other countries. The favorable economic conditions make Cyprus one of the most attractive places for relocation and development of technological startups.

Today, the IT community includes representatives from different fields: forex, fintech, gambling, gaming, etc.
The number of IT companies in Cyprus has increased 100-fold in a short period of time. Even 8 years ago there were 5 representatives here, and today there are about 500.
Maria Sukhorukova
Co-founder of Alex Staff Agency
One of the leaders of the Russian IT community in Cyprus and a successful entrepreneur, Oleg Reshetnikov, tells us about the economic and other reasons for this boom. He speaks of a strategically advantageous geographical location (+ EU membership), a special business climate and excellent networking. Cyprus also has the lowest tax rate in Europe (12.5% for legal entities), and there are favorable benefits for intellectual property, which includes patents and software (taxes on their profits can be reduced by up to 80%).

Do they hire specialists even without English?

If the founder of the company or the current team speaks Russian, new employees in the project are often selected from Russian-speaking candidates in order to avoid the language and cultural barrier. And this is an excellent chance for developers to get into a foreign organization and at the same time communicate with colleagues in their native language.

So it turns out that knowledge of English does not play an important role in this case? That's not exactly true.

This trend is becoming a thing of the past. The level of English is historically quite low in Russia. Only 15-20% of applicants aged 40-45 have a sufficient level to communicate freely. Moreover, in the first waves of emigration, many business pioneers arrived at the age of 40+, kept to the Russian-speaking diaspora, and saw no need for English-speaking specialists.

But over the past decades, the business founders have become much younger. The new generation of leaders (28-35 years old) are launching forex, gaming, and other startups, speaking excellent English, and competing internationally. And there is no way to join such teams without English. Russian developers have realized this too, so their level of English has steadily risen in recent years.
Previously, Russian-speaking IT companies did not often hire English-speaking employees. Russian was enough: someone was responsible for external interaction, and the rest were engaged in product development. But now everything has changed, also because of remote work. Now companies invite specialists from anywhere in the world, not just locals. And in order for everyone to communicate successfully, the requirements for English proficiency have increased.
Maria Sukhorukova
Working in Cyprus: about the mentality

Is there a special Cypriot business mentality? It is difficult to say. On the one hand, it is the founder of the company who defines its spirit: his management methods, values and guidelines for development. All of this extends to the employees as well.

On the other hand, Cyprus still affects people. Judging from our experience of working with local customers, the island has a generally more welcoming environment. The sun, the sea, and a more comfortable life can't help but set a positive mood. This atmosphere can be felt at different levels: when communicating with local people, partners, managers, and the development team.

It is also worth saying a few words about the cultural specificity of the islanders – leisurely in everything. There is a special approach to life here, a philosophy of siga-siga (literally - quiet, silently). Nobody rushes anywhere and enjoys life here and now.
When we first started to develop a business in Cyprus, we had to wait for a whole 6 months to open a bank account. Everything happens for a very long time, and there is nothing we can do about it. But there is not much of a problem - everyone adapts and learns when working with locals to always do everything in advance.
Maria Sukhorukova
About the inner workings

Where and how companies hire

If an IT company wants to hire an employee, there are two ways: look for one on your own or through an intermediary (a recruiting agency). Many people prefer to go to an agency to save their resources or not to hire an hr specialist if they do not need the recruitment process all the time.

We have a lot of experience working with highly qualified IT specialists: we find candidates with a rare stack and assess how suitable they are for a particular project. There is practically no such staff (available) on the island, and it is difficult to look for them in other parts of the world ourselves.

We often work with startups that have already attracted large investments and are now looking for talent to implement a project. And since we have been in the market for a long time, we know:

  • What countries are the easiest and fastest to bring programmers from
  • How to describe the job and the benefits of relocation to make experts want to move
  • How to find developers with the right stack (including the rarest one)
  • What sources do they use to look for openings and what sources do they trust

Who companies hire

Over the past year, the average programmer salary in Cyprus has grown to €4000-5000 per month, and the competition is quite high.

  • A good lead will always find a job here, but there are fewer such positions than senior-level ones, since only one Tech and Team Lead is needed per team
  • Most vacancies are for professionals at the middle and senior levels
  • Junior specialists are hired less often because middles come out cheaper: no need to spend resources on training

If a company needs candidates with a popular stack like JavaScript or Java, then they can also try to look on the island among the available specialists. But programmers with rare and unique skills are not so easy to find. They, as a rule, come already to a specific place and when they change jobs they go immediately to another project, without entering the job search market.

Developers from Europe do not like to leave the mainland and move away from the central countries, but for the natives of the former Soviet Union, a warm and quiet island is a popular destination for relocation.

The format of work

In the last year or two, the demand for remote work has increased. According to our experience, before the overall lockdown in 2020, the share of full-time remote employees was at 15%, and in 2022 it reached 40-50%. But not all businesses are willing or able to build a distributed team. Some businesses aren't legally comfortable operating in that mode, so they need the physical location of their company. Others do not want to risk data and invest huge amounts of money on cybersecurity (costs often exceed the cost of maintaining an office). For example, the forex industry: here brokers work with large financial assets, which requires special attention to security.

Since 2021 the trend of "temporary remote work" has intensified, when a programmer goes remote but moves to an island in the future. This is due to the fact that the paperwork for relocation is now much more difficult and longer than before the pandemic.

If a developer has good hard and soft skills but insists on remote collaboration, they may be willing to meet their needs. But this happens in rare cases when a person has really very specific skills. As a rule, if the employer does not consider such terms, it is unlikely that an agreement can be reached.

After relocation, a developer can expect a hybrid schedule. This format also became widespread after the lockdown, when many teams appreciated the convenience of working from home.
Some people prefer a hybrid format. For example, 3 days on a remote site, 2 in the office. This practice has become especially popular since 2020: it ensures employee safety (less contact, less risk of getting coronavirus) and team interaction.
Anna Mikhaylichenko
Head of Accounting of Alex Staff Agency
About work communication

In Cyprus, Slack, Google Meet, Zoom, and e-mail service are used most often. Skype used to be popular, but now it has lost its position, unable to compete with more user-friendly applications.

The entire Russian-speaking community prefers Telegram. It is easy to communicate there through all kinds of chats, make acquaintances, find contractors and partners, conclude contracts – to carry out all the networking that has already been mentioned above. We ourselves found several of our customers and job seekers thanks to communication via Telegram chats and local community channels.

A special culture of engaging professionals

The sea, the sun, and the sandy beaches themselves attract programmers of all levels. But almost all companies go even further and make relocation packages that not only cover the cost of moving but also help to get used to the new place.
I am working closely with a major forex broker (the office is in Limassol), which offers great benefits for new employees. Here are some of them:

  • Coverage of all travel expenses ( including family expenses)
  • Free housing for the first period
  • Payment of all visa fees, assistance with paperwork
  • Extended insurance coverage for employee and family (including maternity plan)
  • Reimbursement of daycare and school fees
  • Free fitness centers, English and Greek classes

The office also has a lounge area with its own rooftop bar and a special app for ordering drinks. The company also holds corporate events for employees: yoga, movies in the cinema hall, ping-pong matches, corporate aqua bikes, etc.
Anna Mikhaylichenko
To sum up

We hope this article was helpful to you and that you learned something new about working in Cyprus and the local atmosphere. See our open positions on this sunny island. If something suits you, send your CV! We not only accompany candidates at all stages, up to the end of the probationary period, but also share useful tips about relocation and adaptation.
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