“We are not ready!” Bill Gates said it in his TED Talk from 2015

The Microsoft co-founder has mentioned/warned us on multiple occasions over the past several years about the potential of a disease to cause huge damage in the population and how little we are prepared for it. The below video shows how he assured in his TED Talk from 2015 “The next outbreak? We’re not ready” and here we are with more than 205,400 people infected worldwide and more than 8200 deaths.

People losing their jobs, government supports

The declaration of the state of alarm, valid from Saturday 14th March for 15 days, allows decisions to be taken that are necessary to guarantee the supply of food or medicine, to intervene in factories or workplaces as well as to limit the movement of citizens and vehicles. Nevertheless, even with all support from the Spanish government, the margin of unemployment grows exponentially due to companies not being able to hold any longer. With barely 0 revenue most hotels, real-estate, local businesses and even IT companies that provided software for the tourism start to face the hard reality of losing their jobs, and personnel reduction.

Technology to the rescue

Once again, some businesses have to get online to satisfy their needs and try to survive, we are seeing Lawyers, Architects, Teachers, Engineers recently starting to work from home due to the fact that most of the countries are in the middle of a severe lock-down. Online meetings and companies like Zoom, Skype, TeamViewer, Slack, Google for sure may have seen an increase in their revenues due to more and more people investing in online meetups and paying for premium plans to unlock features like chat with more people, screen sharing, removing limits in conversations and what not.

I personally think that remote work has improved with the crisis and is here to stay. Remote work has always been here, however, we didn’t know how to use it properly.

One of the things that always worried me was that some companies had a completely closed mindset for remote workers. I remember how hard it was for me some years ago to find a remote job, basically because most of the opportunities out there had a single requirement “You have to relocate”. I spent hours and hours searching for the right match (remote).

Since a few weeks this has not been a problem anymore, only LinkedIn has received in the past 24 hours about 309 remote jobs offers, 5k in the past week and 32k in the last month, not bad eh! Numbers speak by themselves.

LinkedIn search results for (Remote) jobs, March 19th, 2020

I have been working remotely since 2014 and the experience is amazing! I found out how much time I was saving by NOT having to commute to my work place, lunch time sometimes was in front of the computer, and even I worked more hours a day. However, we had to be very creative with my home office to ensure that kids understand that Daddy is here, but not available. I have to admit that this is a time saving machine, however, it does have some cons:

  • You don’t get to meet people during the day unless you decide to go out for a walk.
  • This brings you personal problems until everybody in your family understands that this is a business, not a room in your house where you are playing in the computer.
  • Kids don’t understand what “work” means, so at the beginning you have to be very flexible and the adaptation process is hard.
  • Your wife will surely come in and ask you for help to do things here and there, you have to understand that this is like if you were at work, you need full concentration.
  • Responses are asynchronous, while you usually stand up and ask a question at your normal work, in remote working you won’t get a response until the other colleague replies who can be in a completely different timezone. So the complete concept of your company must change.

Some of my recommendations for remote working teams

  • You have to communicate more often with your work colleagues.
  • Find some shared whiteboard tools and probably get one of these pencil drawing tablets or a good camera in front of your board.
  • Document CLEAR requirements, so you don’t have to spend hours with the Team.
  • Find a good program to track your workers time like for instance clockify
  • Adapt your team culture to know how to act if other members of the team are not available.
  • You will need Slack, Google Meet, Zoom for your online meetings, screen sharing.
  • If you are doing online video meetings, there is a great article from Martin Fowler you don’t want to miss out, how to make effective video calls which can give you some guidelines of what’s best to do your video calls.
  • Make sure that your organization has a good network administrator and a good VPN server to access remotely to internal tools.
  • Trust your workers, you don’t have to be so restrictive because at the end they will cheat on you. I prefer to put it this way, log your time, but I don’t care when you work.
  • Be flexible with the workers working hours, but ensure availability depending on customers timezone.

You don’t need to have all your Team on-site anymore, c’mon it’s 2020

The age of expensive relocation packages is over. Admit it, if your business has not crossed to the digital transformation phase, you may be staying behind. I will state below a few reasons why I believe that outsourcing is best and why you don’t have to gather everybody in one place:

  • Most talents don’t live near you, it’s better to pay them a good rate and have them put all their working hours into your products rather than paying expensive relocation packages.
  • People like me prefer to live in the coast of Spain and be warm and happy, rather than in a cold country where I probably get more money but the life quality even with money decreases.
  • Be international. This increases your competence, your team skill set, enhances your code reviews and eventually we all learn from each other’s experiences. You will find a lot of bright people around the globe that don’t necessarily want to live in your country.
  • I have been part of so many different software teams and the general feeling is that sometimes you have a bad manager or a bad team member or simply because your team is so good that stars dazzle among them. This creates a bad working environment and mostly happens because your local talents are not meant to work for you, but that’s the best you could find in your area.
  • Finally you may want to give a shot to some outsourcing companies to take care of your software, trust me, who comes up with a software company has all the best resources out there to make your software in a wink.

Conclusions, remote work will stay

Personally as a Software Engineer I am happy about the remote work increase. But I am sad about all the current situation with COVID-19 where so many families are in chaos right now and having no hope for the near future. Some companies collapsing, people losing their job, this is the biggest crisis the humanity has faced.
In our Team at Codegenio, we keep the heads up and have hope for a better future.
We are also open to help people at no cost with technology, remote work environment setup, shopping websites setup, helping old people to do their shopping, and much more.
You can reach me out in Spain in the area of Motril, with Codegenio’s contact phone number +34605446549.

Thank you for stepping by, keep safe and be positive, all this nightmare will be gone soon and we will all go back to normality.

Best regards,
Victor Barzana CEO @ Codegenio

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