In the strange times we’re living in, CTO Niall Cusack looks at redefining social connection in the digital age, maintaining morale and the pleasure an unexpected guest can bring.
Working remotely is the new norm and for many it is their first time experiencing contributing from outside of a fixed workplace. For those working in the IT sector, and especially those working for or alongside global businesses, the adjustment has most likely been a bit softer. Video conferencing, distributed teams, cloud based everything, working across various time zones, adoption of Agile methodologies and “We’ll just give X a second to join,” are part of the day to day for the large majority of us working in software. A sudden shift from a regular routine though presents challenges and adjustments needed to be made.
As a team, we had decided to begin working remotely before government announcements and the release of official guidelines. By getting slightly ahead of the game, we had given ourselves enough buffer time to ensure that every team member had everything they needed to be comfortable working in their familiar but new environment and that structures were put in place to support not just our existing clients but also the team itself. Hardware, furniture, coffee jars and more have all made their way out of the office and the team has been encouraged to make a space for themselves at home, where possible, to work from each day.
The biggest change to all our working days is the disruption to our day to day structure and processes that have become embedded in us and become routine over time. We still mostly follow these, but we have adjusted them to fit our current situation.
We have restructured our day to include two stand-up sessions. Our regular morning stand-up still occurs and an end of day stand-up has been introduced to ensure a chance to plan for tomorrow is afforded to the team. Both of these stand-ups are key to the success of the team. Outside of the important updates, queries and daily discussion points they also provide a chance to introduce some mirth and levity, ensure team morale is maintained and the social aspect of work isn’t forgotten.
Part of our preparation for remote work involved a team meeting where we insisted that all members, when on a remote call, have their video on at all times to help us maintain the social aspect as best we can. Yes, that has meant some unexpected guests (Children, family members and alpaca to name but a few,) joining our calls at times but we consider these special guest appearances rather than party crashers. Seeing someone laugh is contagious, can help give others a lift and feeds in to our goal of maintaining the team’s well being and morale as lockdown measures extend and time passes.
In office catchups have been replaced with regular touch-points during the day via Slack and the team has been encouraged to ask questions on the group channel that would normally have been asked out loud in the office. It gives everyone a chance to contribute where they can, lend opinion and expertise, feel involved from the self isolated silos that we find ourselves in and gain an understanding of developments throughout the day.
We have had regular occurrences of individual team members working remotely in the past but never all of us at once. As it becomes more normal over the coming weeks and months, it is hard to see how we all shuffle back to the chains of an office desk. Co-working spaces, hot desks and remote team management may well become the new norm not just for now but forever. During these testing times, we would all do well to seek out the opportunities that have made themselves available to us and put measures in place to provide options in the future. I know we as a team will certainly be reviewing our options and approach to the day to day once the threat of Covid-19 passes.Hello?… Did you get that? Sorry. Sorry. Was I on mute the whole time?CLICK TO TWEET