It’s been a full month since we started working from home. The strange feeling from the 1st week slowly disappeared and working remotely became the new normal for the entire company. Lynx Solutions, like many other companies, decided to close the office when the state of emergency started in Romania and worldwide. The security of our employees turned into our number-one priority. As a first step, we started to organize the remote work as best as we possibly could, making sure that everybody gets what he/she needs: infrastructure, internet connection, guidance, management of workload, direct contact with the whole team, access to working tools, etc.
After 4 weeks of working from home, we gathered our impressions, feelings, experiences and are ready to share them with the world. There is a mixture of feelings coming from our colleagues, which is ok, since it makes us be a more polychrome team.
Handing over the office chairs to the employees in the 1st week of quarantine
#1 Daily working routines
Discipline is one of the main qualities required in a time of unpredictable changes. Right from the beginning we all understood that for Lynx Solutions to keep the quality of services our clients have grown accustomed to we need to follow our daily routines. Regardless of where we are, we need to come together to have our Scrum ceremonies, daily stand-ups, sprint plannings and retrospective meetings. No matter your role in the Scrum team, these daily and weekly activities are an important part of your schedule.
#2 Daily Scrum meetings
The majority of our teams are working in Agile. Daily Scrums are “must-have” morning routines. Every morning between 10 AM and 11 AM 80% of Lynx Solutions is in daily stand-up meetings discussing how the work went yesterday and what are the plans for today, highlighting any showstopper which might occur during the day. The daily stand-up is a guarantee that you see your team members every day, you have the chance to keep the communication up to date, staying dynamic and fresh. Never thought that agile can be helpful during a worldwide epidemic but this article reflects the same idea. Customers and product owners are involved as well so this transparency helps us keep going on with our projects.
One of the PHP teams from Mures in daily stand-up
One of the PHP teams from Cluj in daily stand-up
The mobile dev team in daily stand-up
#3 Communication channels and tools
Nothing changed in our way of internal and external communication. Our customers can always reach us on the usual channels: email, phone, chat tools, and video conferencing tools. There is no gap in the internal communications either as we keep open all channels used in the office. Every team has its own chat channel and video call channel, Google Hangouts, Skype or Teams, what works best, and the options to get in contact with somebody are limitless. The real teamwork is based on communication and constant coordination of everybody’s work.
#4 Work management systems
Redmine, Jira, Google products, Trello, and any other management tool is luckily reachable, up and running on the world wide web. Since we made sure that cybersecurity settings and VPNs are working for all our employees, accessing these systems, even if they are locked behind a firewall is still possible. This is how we assure that everybody gets his tasks and planning the work goes in the same way as if we would be in the office. Sprint planning and estimations are performed with the whole team, there is no surprise what to expect in the upcoming days in terms of work assigned to developers.
It might sound strange, but the majority of the developers who helped me writing this article by giving their input about working remotely highlighted that their productivity is much higher than in the office. Staying at home by yourself means that there is no distraction from your colleagues, no disturbing factors as in the office. Discussions and meetings are always planned, communication is well prepared and there is nothing else between these meetings. Kukukk made an interesting remark and I have to include here, our PHP senior from Cluj thinks that discussions in the office might trigger new solutions on a project from colleagues who are not involved in that specific project but are sitting next to each other hearing issues and problems. Listening in and giving solutions might be helpful for everybody.
#5 Weekly meetings
We have weekly meetings that have nothing to do with agile or Scrum ceremonies. We’ve had these meetings before the lockdown, so we continue having these now that we are working remotely. Architecture teams and management teams keep having their weekly discussions about the ongoing issues. Their regular work from both sides is a solid support for the internal teams. We keep up to date our forecast and sales activities, architecture and management team members are getting aligned on everything that is going on inside Lynx Solutions.
Estimation routines are the same as before since we have multiple Scrum teams, we use story points, T-shirt size estimation, Poker cards or hourly rate to make sure that we optimally prepare the upcoming work. Regardless of which quotation methodology we use, the most important thing is to find that pattern of the correct forecasting.
Weekly meeting of the .Net architecture team
#6 Regular activities
We want to make sure that everything we did in the office can also be done online. Our HR manager does a great effort to recruit, to have one-on-one discussions regularly, to look up for new candidates, to keep a close relationship with all the employees. For this she sends motivational emails about how to hang on with staying at home, keeping the social distance from everybody. For every day she has some great stories and facts about positiveness and approach on things that are influencing our lives during this pandemic.
The quarterly team discussions are on the table as well. Every 3 months we do internal discussions to keep the teams up to date with the business happenings on company level. The team leaders have a short presentation about the latest sales news and management decisions. Developers can raise questions or have remarks regarding the upcoming projects and initiatives. The basic principle is to keep everybody up to date about the things going on and have an open discussion about these.
Shiftspace trainings, a collaboration started last year by Shiftspace and Lynx Solutions. This is a weekly course held by one of our .Net developers, Nóda Lóri, who managed to take this course till the finish line. There are 3 high school students eager to learn some real programming. Every Tuesday from 6 PM to 8 PM they have their regular course online with Lóri.
Banner appeared on social media during the recruitment
We are more than proud that this training is close to the finish line, only the final exam needs to take place after 7 months of training. We hope that these students earned a great experience and gathered some useful guidance in software development. We wish them all the best in the future and hope to see them back at our company in a few years when they are ready to ride the challenges of this work field.
The young, future generation of software developers. Bottom right corner: Lóri, “the teacher”
This article is meant to give you, dear reader, an insight about how we are organizing ourselves and our daily work on a company level. We do our best to stay on top of the situation and stay positive, there are good days and bad days as well, struggling with anything regarding your work and mood is normal. Stay tuned as we will be back with a funnier article about how our developers are spending their free time during the quarantine. IT people can be very creative in terms of killing time.
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