Our own disaster recovery scenario
When you cannot visit your office and suddenly all team members have to work from home, you face a major issue. Unless you are already prepared. In a military you drill and exercise until dealing a crisis scenario turns into routine. This allows quick reaction. We did it for distributed work.
Working as a nearshore partner already requires to establish an effective remote collaboration. It's not only driven by tools and processes, but much more by trust and the right approach. Building informal communication channel with our customer is one of this.
Daily routines and informal communication help
Our daily routine in COVID-19 time, while working from home, looks very much the same as when we gather in the office. We start usually at 9:00 with some kind of stand-up meeting, to make sure we all have something to work on. And to resolve all obstacles if any. It all happens as web conference on Teams. Internet broadband providers are also delivering high quality, so it's not lagging. We care about communication in our team. Arranging a virtual coffee-break is good idea to get typical water-cooler talk replacement. All team members prepare a hot drink of choice and meet on Teams.
How we arranged our very own home offices
Each of us has arranged some cosy place to work at home. Very often it required a little modification when done for the first time, but after a day or two of intensive testing this can work like a charm. If someone was missing their office equipment, they could pick it up from our office - e.g. LCD display or some cables. We all work on business laptops and so carrying it home was no problem. If they needed anything else, company has ordered it for them.
Make your state visible and communicate more
In this time, we try to be more verbose. When we sit together communication happens and state is visible. It's clear if someone left the room. We mimic this by letting other team members know on Teams, when we are away from keyboard and when we return. Usually it will require to communicate a little more than you think is expected.
Also, we make our state visible. This helps building trust. In agile projects we tend to show our progress every two weeks. This creates a strong bond and trust, that the team can deliver. We make sure that the team's work is visible and a dedicated Customer Success Manager assist it.
This scenario has evolved over time in our company, when someone was working from home. We could use that time to establish all effective practices. Now it gives us a very important boost, that help to overcome COVID-19 obstacles. We seem to be happy with it, and our customers as well.
Piotr Hełka / Software Engineer / VM.PL