What unprecedented times we are in. Who knew at the start of 2020 that our world as we know it would soon be turned upside down. Whatever your business, it is almost certainly affected by the coronavirus in some way, and given the uncertainty of the duration of the impact, measures have to be put in place for business continuity – as much as is feasible to do so.
Early last week when the decision was made for the whole company to work remotely, team members took their laptops and continued working from home. As flexible working is the norm at UltraSoC, the infrastructure and systems are in place. Incredibly, the transition seems to have been relatively seamless. The VPN helps connectivity, and as such ensures continuity of support to our customers, partners and prospects, and wider team outside of the UK.
As for team comms, we have been using Slack for some time now, so everyone is very comfortable working as a remote team even when people are spread around the country or the globe. Similarly everyone is accustomed to Zoom team calls and video meetings. It is important to keep morale up when everyone is lone working and we recognise and value this. Video calling friends and co-workers at break times to have a chat is good for morale and team spirit. We even started Zoom get-togethers over lunch this week – it’s also important to have a routine and make sure everyone breaks for lunch.
Although we have a lot of things in place, we are keen to learn and find ways to improve – to ensure everyone is happy, motivated and feeling involved. We have asked our team to give us their insights into working from home as people can experience different things and cope in different ways.
The lack of human contact for long periods of time seems a common theme, as does the feeling of not physically having anybody else around, or there is no noise or it is completely silent. Not being able to have human contact with others, and ask someone a question or have face-to-face discussions can make day-to-day working life challenging. Overall it is an environment that most people are not used to and it can take a bit of adjustment.
The team’s tips to keep things as normal as possible include: going for a walk first thing in the morning before work and at the end of the day, a bit like a commute, has proved beneficial. Some things aren’t easily resolved: such as ensuring that the Wi-Fi network at home is good isn’t easy so for some people it can make sense to go back to Ethernet! A reliable high-speed connection around the home is really important, even if it means you have to fit long cables. Unreliable broadband can have a huge impact on workflow.
Another tip is dedicating a room to use as an office and close the door at the end of the working day is very beneficial, and helps virtually separate work and home. However, for those that don’t have a separate room and their living room is their office, challenges with noise from others in the house can be tricky to overcome, so noise cancelling headphones are useful. Also, the ‘end of day’ may not happen for those that have conference calls in the evening, and if you are at home all the time and constantly connected, it is hard to ‘switch off’.
Our office in Poland also continues to operate remotely with the team working from home, and accessing the same remote tools as the UK teams from Cambridge and Bristol offices.
In Asia, the team is also tapping into the tech available for staying in touch, but also using it with partners for training courses. Makes it slightly more challenging with language barriers across different Asian countries, but it’s proving to be successful. It’s always better in the sales environment to be able to see and read people’s body language, and this is slightly more challenging even with video conferencing.
As Business Weekly recently reported, UltraSoC is not alone and most other tech companies have also shifted to home working.
Keeping the company running smoothly while maintaining good business practices in spite of the challenges: all of this is important for all of our employees, for our customers and our partners, but our prime concern is for the health and well-being of our staff and their families.