How Businesses Can Successfully Cope With Coronavirus
The Coronavirus has arrived. We don’t know for how long, but what we know for sure is that we have to adapt, because every second counts.
The clearest and most repeated recommendation is to stay at home as long as possible – going out only to get food or if there’s any emergency – in addition to basic hygiene, with emphasis on hand washing.
The fact is that Starloop decided to send everyone home to work remotely last Wednesday, 11 March 2020, even before the crisis broke out in Spain and the country’s state of emergency was declared.
That was a brave decision, we were glad it was made on time in anticipation of the worst time. It is difficult to know, but it is possible thanks to this we have been able to collaborate to preserve the health of our team and also that of their environment, and thus contain the spreading of COVID-19. At Starloop, our main concern is the health of the employee, and that is why that decision was made, which right now is seen as evident, although at the time and with the anticipation, it could have been considered somewhat risky.
Maintaining the health of our employees also allows us to continue working 100% on the important projects of our clients and continue with the planned delivery schedules.
How have we organized ourselves to work in such a short time?
We actually have to acknowledge that at Starloop we have some perks that our long-time employees enjoy and in this case one of them is working remotely. Specifically, they can work 5 days a month from home if the employee wishes as long as the project manager allows it.
We also have an IT Manager who takes care of the details and provides the hardware or technical solutions to whoever needs them. Manages an inventory of devices that are distributed as needed, plans ahead of problems and solves any, and ensures that the entire team has the right software with the necessary licenses.
That said, it is safe to say that in a way we have started with some advantage, because we were already prepared for this transition. That is why we have been able to send everyone to work from home almost overnight, without any trauma or impact on productivity.
We feel fortunate because this facilitates preserving the health of the workforce as well as remaining 100% productive with our work obligations.
Recommendations for working remotely in an emergency state
Given that the type of company allows teleworking (we assume it is impossible in the industry), there is infinite literature on how to organize a company to make working remotely work. But there is a fundamental piece that should not be forgotten: teleworking works in company cultures that have a system of trust. That is to say, that in companies whose management system is based on close supervision, micromanagement, or imposing a hierarchy to look at forcing supposed productivity, they have a much more difficult time making this system work for them.
That said, once the cultural barrier is overcome, it is a matter of applying organization and technology. There are many technological solutions that facilitate teleworking like the Google or Microsoft suites -either Drive, Docs, and your Calendar, Hangouts, etc. or Microsoft with very similar tools in Office 365-. In the case of Starloop, we use the Google Suite together with another chat tool at the organization level.
But beyond the technology itself, there are some guidelines or recommendations that I would like to highlight:
Communication is more important than ever. Not having workmates next to you makes a real difference, we must acknowledge that. Take care not to avoid communication due to the fact that you are at a distance. Be online, use the tools at your disposal. Let’s not forget to attend meetings as naturally as you would, and be available at all times during business hours.
Rules must be clear. In our case we have a lot of documentation available about the operation of the company stored in the Trello tool. Already from the On-boarding of any employee, access to a series of repositories is facilitated. Also of course we have the Talent team (by some known as Human Resources) helping with internal communication.
Train employees. It is possible that if you are not 100% used to technology in your company, some specific profiles feel somewhat lost when working remotely. It should be ensured that profiles with these characteristics get training. We are not talking about anything too complicated, but you would have to be on top to prevent these people from isolating themselves or having productivity problems.
Measure performance. If you go to work online you must find a way to make sure that everyone paddles in the intended direction, and no one gets lost along the way. At Starloop we trust the Agile system, which has nothing to do with remote working, but can be applied both offline and online working methods. It can also be applied to almost any type of job role, not just programming as many people believe.
Is Coronavirus going to cause major cultural changes?
I didn’t want to end without this kind of personal reflection on the impact Coronavirus can have on our future life.
Millions of people are spending countless hours together at home. Hours that were not shared before. There are going to be many divorces, for sure. But there will also be many people who will learn to connect better with their families. We do not know what other changes are going to be experienced but these can be multiple from all aspects of life: will there be a greater awareness of public health? Given the current limitation of movements and fear of becoming infected when shopping for food … will the transition to online commerce accelerate further? Will the retail crisis worsen accordingly? Will paper money disappear (focus of transmission of microbial agents as well as underground economy)? Will we read more? Or will we just become Netflix zombies?
Definitely one thing is clear: there will be more remote working because many companies are going to have to try it even if it is due to the force majeure of the current situation. It may also be a boost to outsourcing, since some of the barriers in decision-making before hiring this type of service is precisely that the team that works for you is usually not physically in the same office as the client.
In our case, Starloop has demonstrated that provide game development services to companies around the world in different time zones without issues, with a mix of care, professionalism and good organization.
Only time will answer these reflections. Until then, let’s take care of ourselves, and our loved ones, and stay at home within our means to prevent the spread of the virus.