The Lithuanian government has been one of the first countries in Europe to respond to Covid-19, immediately after the first cases appeared. A partial shutdown of businesses, except for grocery stores and pharmacies, started on March 16th and after 2 weeks, the quarantine was extended till at least 13th of April. The majority of businesses complied with the government’s effort in protecting its citizens as the health of the people is always the top priority, not an exception to our company.

Notice in advance would make this period easier for many organizations, although sadly it is impossible to foresee such a world-wide disaster’s impact for a technology company in a reasonably small nation as Lithuania. But all the same, it came at the height of our busy season where development processes were running full throttle and client expectations still had to be met.

Since this is something our generation has never experienced before, all sorts of anxious thoughts came to mind. Would remote communication be sufficient for us to brainstorm and bounce ideas off one another? Would there be lapses in coordination? Would we be disciplined enough to work in isolation? Could we meet our targets?

It all came down to two main issues: how would we maintain productivity and how can we keep our efficiency high?

So what changes have Corner Case Technologies put in place?

• A week before the official quarantine was announced, CCT released a document with internal rules for telecommuting, which enabled all parents to stay with their children and fully work from home.

• On March 16th CCT closed the office and strongly advised everyone to work from home, allowing them to bring in all the necessary equipment (monitors, chairs, etc.), in order to maintain the best possible work conditions and keep the quality to our customers during the quarantine period.

• The recruitment process didn’t stop, but we had to adapt to some changes. We usually organize a face to face interviews in our office together with our tech leads, and now we had to move those interviews as video calls. Also, our newcomers’ onboarding procedure has changed — as one new member has recently joined the force. The onboarding happened remotely, and so far, we do not face any significant blockers.

• Company meetings are usually held once a month but in this remote situation, there is a need to provide information more frequently on project updates, progress and other important matters at least once a week.

• Before the quarantine, we used to organize industry workshops at the office. Due to the current situation, we changed it to virtual meetings and continuously encourage our team members to share good practices, industry news and other useful information with each other.

COMMUNICATION & CULTURE

To be frank, overall communication has become more difficult because of the changing working environment, so everything has to be planned in advance. For many of us, our workspace is now the living room — and you can understand the distractions. It is difficult to monitor the work schedules and overall hours of productive work.

One major concern about operating in isolation was how to maintain teamwork and the work culture. Then we came up with the idea of Virtual Kitchen. Daily calls are arranged to keep everyone in touch and chat about non-business-related topics, share recipes, jokes, pet pictures, and host games matches.

The response has so far been very promising. Many of our employees jumped at this opportunity to interact. Through all these exchanges, everybody is communicating and has a sense of how the company is doing. We feel like we’re all in this together. As a result, the community is only getting stronger and a feeling of separation is subsiding.

Employees’ birthdays’ celebrations have moved to virtual space as well. Despite the current situation, we need to ensure we keep the team spirit going. We would normally gather together in our kitchen to sing happy birthday and hand over a small gift from all of us. In the light of COVID19, we have to encourage social distancing for our own safety, so instead, we send something delicious via couriers. Having birthday gifts delivered to home proved to be cheering our team members on their special day :)

After the first week in quarantine, we realized how much we have missed working together in the office since it’s a more productive environment, where we can have live discussions with colleagues and generate ideas more easily.

LESSONS TO BE LEARNED

Ultimately, let us view our collective response as a test of the agile system — not so much the technicalities as much as the players. It’s a test of whether we can be depended upon to perform at the same level while juggling work and family, whether we can motivate those who slacken.

The goal is to keep our spirits high by working hand to hand with the colleagues so that a change in the working environment would become invisible. Our management team feels socially responsible towards its employees, so they put great effort to maintain all the team members through this difficult period as employees are the crucial asset of the company. We, as a team, also strive to maintain the same level of service quality, so that our customers do not feel any difference and remain satisfied with our work.

This is a difficult period for every company to survive in the market and maybe even rise out of it with the heads up. The current situation brings challenges, therefore it is crucial for companies to make changes to adapt and see possible opportunities.

How are you guys out there facing the challenge? What changes has your company made and how have they affected you? Feel free to share your tips and tricks with us so that we can all learn from our common experience.

Feel free to contact us at hello@cornercasetech.com or +44 20 3884 2811. For more information visit our website: www.cornercasetech.com!

We specialise in building modern, intuitive cloud-ready applications and systems. www.cornercasetech.com