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The Isolation Conversation – Remote Development

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Remote Development:

We are thrilled to introduce our fifth episode, ‘The Isolation Conversation – Remote Development’. Featuring Mark Stokes – Chief Technical Officer at Attollo Intranet, Vesa Juvonen – Principle Programme Manager at Microsoft, Wictor Wilén – Global Innovation Lead for Modern Workplace at Avanade, and Geetha Sivasailam – Collaboration and Customer App Developer at Artis Consulting

If you want to watch this episode click here & enjoy!

What lessons have you leant over the last week:

With the COVID-19 outbreak, our working worlds have changed even for those that are used to remote working. We asked our panel what lessons they have learnt this week whilst working in lockdown.

  • I’ve been writing code for the last few weeks and I’ve had so much fun doing it. I’ve introduced a few new technologies.
  • Learnt that quarantine remote work is not equal to remote work.
  • We also have much less laundry as our family are comfortable working in pyjamas.
  • Something that has come clear from these episodes is that remote workers are finding this different.

In your own businesses, how have developers found the transition to remote working?

  • With our industry, it has been easy to transition compared to other industries. We are fortunate to keep connected with Microsoft technologies. We are used to the way of working but other industries may not be at all. My wife is working from home for the first time and her organisation wasn’t ready for it.
  • The most complicated part is workshops with clients when we are looking at what features they want.
  • There is a tinge of physicality that you miss, like going into a room and whiteboarding. Now you must check a meeting up and check availability to help make these possible to keep the momentum going.
  • It’s always been different for me so I’ve always remote called in so several people in one room but now everyone is doing that. It’s interesting that people are learning and adapting to these new ways.
  • It has forced technology and organisations to become more advanced and secure.

Innovation through wartime periods

With employees having to remote work, organisations are investing more into technology to ensure that it is accessible to those who need it, whilst also being secure. During wartime periods, you see a huge growth in innovation and technological development. Could COVID-19 be likened to a war situation?

  • From a hardware perspective, I’m used to working on several monitors, so our organisation let us know before the lockdown to go in and take the monitors home.
  • Also having a proper office chair can help too. We have helped our employees get a proper office chair while working at home. Some people do struggle with having the correct setting up space that is needed.
  • We are also being much less mobile as we aren’t commuting. So, we encourage colleagues to go outside and keep moving.

Mental health with developers

As a stereotype, developers have been known to be anti-exercise. As a result of this, we have an active card that goes to employees three times a week to check on the wellness of employees. Developers can also be known to work strange hours to suit clients needs. How are you finding working in the confines of the current remote working situation?

  • I have increased the number of touchpoints I have with the individuals in the team that I manage. I schedule a video call for first thing in the morning, just to make sure they are up and ready for the day. It’s important to just have some fun together.
  • Tinge of burnout for everyone. It’s difficult to schedule out certain times to work when you have children that need looking after and other responsibilities. You must take more breaks throughout the day. I think it’s important that communication lines between individuals and organisations are clear and constantly available.
  • For our fun collaborations, we use Yammer to see what is happening in our organisation. What would have been a hallway conversation before, we now have tools that enable this conversation.
  • Agreed that you need to set what the communication will be like on each channel.
  • This is a unique set of circumstances and so naturally we find outcomes and new procedures with this too. For example, we were offered 12 weeks of parental leave to people who have children. Our management people say, when this situation goes away, we don’t want people burnout at that moment, we want people that are ready to work fresh.
  • Developers are a special bread. Something I’ve discovered, especially from the young developers coming into this, they may not have that much experience and could be an introvert. Usually, you can look over their shoulder and see how they are getting on and usually you can help with this. In this situation, we can’t do that. This could cause a problem for people.

How do we support young developers in lockdown?

We’ve always maintained an office, although we haven’t needed to, we have them do we can support younger developers. Although we are a smaller organisation, we face the same issues that during COVID-19 our young developers could be struggling.

  • I think a younger generation seems happier on chat functions which they are used to. They are happier to contribute their emotions more in those forums than older generations might. One of the things we have done because of this leaves a voice chat conversation running in the background for a few hours in the day, it’s not a meeting and we don’t talk about specific things but it’s there to help if anyone needs it. It’s enough to feel like an office and feel like someone is there.

As technology-based organisations, have we been forced to adopt technology tools more? 

During this lockdown, we have had more time to explore different technologies and tools that are appropriate for our business. This includes task management.

How do you manage tasks and workloads?

  • We used dev ops and people are measured on their outcomes and delivery rather than if they are sitting in their chair. We are making sure that tasks are moving along. There is a priority list and so we track those to make sure they are getting done.
  • We seem to be getting more stakeholders into dev ops now which is good.
  • We’ve seen huge adoption in tasks in office documents which allows us to still work in context.
  • From a personal perspective, I’ve been using Microsoft to-do. Keeping milestones manageable due to urgency and priority.
  • For daily tasks, I use my calendar to ensure I do the work. Working in different time zones, it’s so important to set the time out effectively.
  • Microsoft have missed something as we have several task management tools, To-do, planner, dev ops and office documents. It would be good to have one good way to do this.
  • The UI for dev ops has never worked for us as we needed something that worked for the whole organisation. We’ve actually started using

Top tips for remote working

  • Get dressed in the morning to feel that you are in a work environment.
  • Make a proper office and consider that you work environment
  • Set up a good routine for yourself and others around you.
  • Make sure your team have visibility of your schedule.
  • Try to focus on more mid to long-term goals.
  • Allow yourself to not be as efficient or productive as you have been previously. Put your family first and then figure out the work you can do.

What’s Next?

We are thrilled to introduce our sixth episode, ‘The Isolation Conversation – Using the Power Platform to Beat Isolation’ which will launch next week. Featuring Mark Stokes – Chief Technical Officer at Attollo Intranet, Keith Whatling – Principal Technologist at QUANTIQ, Kent Weare –  Principal Program Manager Lead at Microsoft and Sara Lagerquist – Power Platform Architect at CRM-Konsulterna

In the meantime, if you have any questions, please contact us via email or call us on +44 (0)1952 288 365.

Remote Development:

By Sam Dolan

Sam Dolan is a consultant for Attollo specialising in Intranets, SharePont & Microsoft 365.

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