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Covid-19: The ins and outs of remote working
Technology

Covid-19: The ins and outs of remote working

Starting a new job in software development at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic was an extremely isolating experience. However, figuring out how to develop personal relationships in a remote environment proved to be a saving grace.

Kelly-Anne Kantor
March 25, 2021

The reality of it.

As our survival instinct would have it, when you are put in a challenging situation you find ways of surviving i.e. coping mechanisms. When starting at a company while working remotely it can be difficult to get to know your new team and line manager, and it can be hard to feel connected to the company and adopt the company culture when isolated. Therefore, when I started at my company, this area is what I tackled first. I made it my sole mission to organise calls with all of the people I would be working with who are in my team and others I could be interacting with from other Business Units. Nobody knew who I was and I wanted to get to know them and form relationships. Networking is key in the business world. Then something amazing happened. Some of these relationships ended up turning into friendships where we would organise weekly/daily chats. To chat about work, to chat about life and anything else that was on our minds. You can become so isolated when working from home that you miss that human interaction and connection. These weekly chats helped break this up so that you didn’t feel so alone and become even more connected to company and culture. 


Something that I found very interesting after chatting with my dad, was the different perceptions people have about working remotely. After a couple of months, the world was starting to open up and go back to normal. Company’s offices were opening up once again and we were allowed to go to the office a bit more regularly. But the pandemic wasn’t going away anytime soon thus there were still strict protocols and numbers in the office still needed to be kept low. So you would end up working from the office some days and other days working from home. What I found nice about this is that you could go into the office and have these interactions that you have been missing, which makes you feel more connected to company and culture. Sometimes I found this quite distracting so there was a huge benefit of choosing when to work from home on days that you really needed to put your head down and graft. I felt that I was far more productive when working from home. Alternatively, after chatting to my dad who is obviously quite a lot older than me, his perception was the complete opposite. He along with his friends and colleagues found that working from the office was way less distracting than working from home. With family, pets and deliveries getting in the way of work, he was definitely more productive when working from his office. I believe the difference of perceptions here stems from age. I forgot to mention that Scrums.com is a relatively young company, in that the people that work there are not older than 40 years old. That plus being a Tech company, we are far more perceptible to change and we can keep up with the fast paced technology. On that account I believe it is easier for the younger generation to alternate between working from home and working from the office. We do not allow this to disrupt our work or hinder our productivity. Whereas from my dad’s side, his generation is used to the office life and trying to change that now is very difficult. As the saying goes, “ You can't teach an old dog new tricks”. 


Another interesting challenge when working remotely is dealing with clients. For our international clients, our interactions do not change because these all need to be done virtually as we are not sitting in the same country. However, when trying to change the interactions with our South African clients this has been quite challenging. A lot of these clients prefer face-to-face time when they are paying us to develop a product, and rightfully so. So the question here is, how do you make your clients feel comfortable about only interacting online? How do we make it known to them that no value will be lost? And the answer here is communication. It is imperative that you introduce your clients to all the different channels of communication you have to offer as well as any collaboration tools. They need to feel as if they have been heard, that their opinion matters because at the end of the day it is their product. Over communication is better than no communication. For a software development company this can be difficult as there are times where our designers and developers need to sit down and do the work. To the client it might seem as if we have gone quiet. Hence I have learnt that even just communicating an update to the client is enough. The more communication and online interaction you have with your client the more comfortable they will feel and they will begin to trust us more to produce a world class solution. 

Will it end? 

We are now almost halfway through 2021, and a third Covid wave is on the horizon. Things were finally getting back to normal and it felt like we got our freedom back. Yet, it's coming back and this wave is getting very close to home. While I am busy writing this blog, I am currently in isolation due to my boyfriend testing positive for Covid. I know companies are beginning to close their doors again and go back to remote working full time. Even Scrums.com is keeping a close eye on everything that is happening and has put in place strict protocols in order to get ahead of this wave and not to have an outbreak within the company. I truly believe that Scrums.com is a company worth following. They are always analysing and looking to see what is happening in the world, from a technology side but also from a news side. They are always looking at ways of how to stay ahead of the curve. And for me, I could not have asked for a better company to work for while we are going through such difficult times. Yes this pandemic turned my world upside down and made me make a big career change. But as I said before, I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. So let's stay ahead of Covid wave and don’t let this hinder us. 


ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kelly-Anne Kantor

Kelly is a project manager at Scrums.com.