The COVID-19 pandemic has divided the world’s workforce into two categories: essential and nonessential employees. While millions of nonessential employees file for unemployment, the essential workers—now clad in masks—continue clocking in.
At Salsita, we’re the fortunate minority that have been able to transition from working at the office to working at home—some more successfully than others. I don’t feel we qualify as “essential” employees but, because of the type of work we do, it can be done anywhere.
Has being in lockdown changed the way Salsita operates? Aside from not traveling to the office, it hasn’t.
BUSINESS AS USUAL
We’ve been able to switch to working remotely without much inconvenience, which is what we wanted for our clients. The tools and applications we use every day are easily adaptable for home use. For most of us, we just need a laptop and a stable Wi-Fi signal.
Remote work is an everyday reality for us, even in normal times, since almost all of our clients are located abroad. As a result, we’ve been able to adapt to these exceptional circumstances without any real impact on our productivity, despite the fact that our entire staff is working from home. – Matthew Gertner, Salsita Founder & CEO
Salsita has been in full operation since the start of the lockdown. We’ve kept up with projects and client communication without interference or delay. As Matthew said, most of our clients are located abroad. The only thing that has changed for us is where we’re working.
On the UX side, we successfully conducted several fully remote Design Sprints since the beginning of the lockdown. While we've done many Design Sprints with the client participating remotely, the Salsita team is typically together around a physical whiteboard. So this was a great test early on for the UX team.
Director of Product Jan Mikula was worried that the Sprint wouldn’t be as productive, but said it went more smoothly than expected. “The only struggle was finding the right tool for remote sketching,” said Jan. “We first tried InVision Freehand but, in the end, we settled on Miro which has a broad range of features and great usability.”
MAINTAINING OUR SPIRITS
One of the biggest downsides to being stuck at home is not seeing your colleagues daily. Everyone gets on well, so the camaraderie we enjoy in person has to take place through a screen for now.
Taking meetings at home gives the attendees a nice glimpse into our private lives, and this where the personalities of our teammates shine. Departmental meetings are scheduled and attended as well as they would be if we were in the office. Some teams do daily stand-ups while some only have a mandatory weekly meeting to attend.
Having regular meetings is also a great way to keep a sense of normalcy and routine. Whether it’s a brief catch up with your team or an hour-long company-wide meeting, they still run smoothly.
Working from home has had some immediate benefits, such as no commute, fewer distractions, and being liberated from wearing pants. As nice as these benefits are, we still get to enjoy the normal Salsita benefits.
When we were still working at the office, most of the team took advantage of having weekly language, music, and yoga lessons. These lessons provided a nice pause during the day and allowed us to take our minds and eyes off our screens.
We coordinated with all the instructors and managed to connect them with the students who still wanted to learn from home. The language and music lessons were easy to transition because it’s easy to have a call and learn. With yoga, it was a bit of a stretch.
"We have had to use books, comforters, and belts instead of proper yoga equipment,"said Project Manager Griffin Trent. "Our instructor doesn't take it easy on us, but she does take care to make sure we are doing things right and not pushing ourselves too hard."
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Our team hasn’t been banned from working at the office but, if someone does go, they are expected to follow health precautions and social distancing practices.
When we asked our team how working from home has affected their productivity, 23 people said they’re more productive working from home. "I can split work into smaller chunks and rest in between," said Full-Stack Developer Jan Štegena. "I can let my brain work in the background while I’m doing something else."
Only four people answered “less.” The third group, made of 24 people, said productivity has been the same. "Extended work from home suits some people better than others, based on character and circumstances," said Full-Stack Developer Mark Collis. "If your home environment is suitable, it can be great for focused, individual work."
The shock of being in lockdown has worn off for most of us. We have adjusted fine to the situation and our work hasn’t suffered. We don’t know what the near future holds for the pandemic, but whatever gets thrown at us, we will manage it.