NEWS April 7th, 2020

Staying Connected Remotely

Tatyana van Witzenburg, Security Officer & Damir Solajic, Head of IT

In times of crisis, like the one we’re all experiencing right now, we really begin to appreciate the people in our lives – our family, friends and colleagues. We also begin to realise the brilliance of the technology platforms we often take for granted day-to-day.

While we’re used to remote working at Levi9, we won’t pretend that adjusting to a new way of working has been easy. While the technology we already use has of course made the transition easier, ensuring that 1,100 people across Europe could work from home was a big effort.

In a similar way, just because we have access to Microsoft Teams, it doesn’t mean we don’t miss being able to quickly turn to colleagues for advice or a casual chat about last night’s TV.

But we’re doing our best to maintain these connections and some semblance of our usual work patterns. Here’s what we’ve been up to.

Overcoming Major Challenges

Remote work presents both technical and mobility challenges, which depending on the way your company’s IT is set up, will vary in terms of difficulty.

Here at Levi9, our team is based across offices in the Netherlands, Serbia, Romania, and Ukraine. We’re lucky in that the majority are developers who can work from anywhere. But when it became clear that we’d all need to work from home, the race was on to make sure 1,100 of us had remote access to, well, pretty much everything in a short time span. While it wasn’t as simple as flipping a switch, what made it easier was the fact we have a digital cloud-based infrastructure.

However, like many office-based companies, several teams used desktop computers in offices, so we had to make sure they had mobile devices and laptops. But once that issue was resolved, we had to address security. Although security is high on our agenda, we had to rethink it on a whole new level in order to protect both customer and company data. We needed to ensure our set-up with each customer was workable and secure, so that any team members logging on remotely had the same level of security as they would in the office.

Prioritize Communication

With all of the technical stuff taken care of, we needed to keep our company culture and communication strong – ensuring that everyone remained aligned on work and to maintain morale and mental health.

Even though we are used to working in a distributed set up – and while our management teams, both HQ and local management, are sharing regular updates with employees – we have always given a lot of attention to social interaction and face-to-face communication, with each other and our customers.

As a software development company, we’ve always used an Agile approach to work and so teams and customers are used to weekly ‘stand-up’ sessions to share progress and next steps. To keep things moving remotely we’ve increased the number of weekly sessions, which so far has had a very positive impact.

But perhaps what we’re most proud of are our staff’s own initiatives to stay connected. They’re taking lunch with one another over webcam and having virtual watercooler sessions to chat more informally. They’ve even set up a social media hashtag to stay connected online and to keep each other informed – #ninersunite – and have started organising Friday afternoon pub quizzes.

In the short time since our teams started working remotely, we have been astounded by the way in which everyone has stepped up to do their very best. There’s been no lack of ideas and people are sharing those ideas with each other.

Moving forward, after seeing how effective remote working has been, we will definitely consider giving our people more flexibility how we do things moving forward when normality returns.

Many of our working practices will undoubtedly change, with a focus on getting more balance between life and work. Despite the current challenges, we can see a positive outcome for all employees – and we hope that other businesses will too.

Remote Working: Takeaway Tips

  • Remote collaboration tools work best on cloud-based infrastructure
  • Always use VPNs, antivirus, and encryption software to maximise security
  • Give people ground rules and tips on working from home
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate (it’s not just work that connects us)
  • Empower your people so that they come up with ways to make working from home more efficient and fun
  • Organise informal sessions to boost morale and team spirit

Need some more tips on remote working? Just want a chat about how to make it work for your company? Drop us an email on info@levi9.com.

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