This is the first article in a four-part series dedicated to helping software developers, managers and organizations adapt to the pandemic emergency and become all-remote. In this first article, we will focus on the basics. There are many lists available discussing the right toolset and the behavioral changes necessary to be an all-remote team or organization. This article is not about that. Here we will dive into the human aspects affecting all of us, and address some of the ways in which we can turn this unfortunate event into an engaging learning experience for ourselves, our team and everyone we interact with.
First, a personal note. I am 63 years old, suffer from high blood pressure, and I am scared and concerned, like everyone else who knows what’s happening. You already know that there is much we don’t know. This event will affect virtually everyone on the planet in one way or another, and many factors, including our emotional reaction to what’s happening around us, will make the situation very challenging and potentially extremely challenging, both at home and at work. We are all distracted from our business and professional obligations for good reasons, and we need to allow for a measure of distraction as there will be many moments of intense focus on the worries we are facing.
In the context of work in particular, which is the general theme of this series, I urge all of us to practice extreme kindness and understanding during these difficult times. In terms of our professional activities, there will be delays, confusion, flared tempers, and a full range of emotions on display as we tackle working together remotely under these circumstances. Since we are mostly working from home, work-related stress can also spill over into our family life with no clear escape valve. Rather than inflame conflicts, it’s a good time to take a step back and diffuse situations. Just like the stock market has a fuse to avoid extreme buying and selling situations from getting out of control, we should all recognize that diffusing and restarting is the best path forward for both personal and professional outcomes.
Software development is a privileged profession. Not only do we get to build magic, but we can do it from anywhere. With an Internet connection, we can stay professionally connected and productive. Programming is intellectually engaging, so it’s relatively easy to lose yourself in the problem you are trying to solve, providing both a needed distraction and a real purpose. Developers usually work as a team, so you feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself, which also helps with motivation, engagement and emotional balance. So, while we cannot set our worries aside, we can spend part of our day focused on building something that matters now and will matter in the future.
Take a moment every day to be thankful for this privilege. In good times, the ability to stay home with your family while you work is a nice-to-have. In the current situation, all these amazing technologies we have been building in the last 30 years are holding us together, allowing us to stay productive, and support the creation amazing new products and services that you will be part of. What a great opportunity.
At CodeStream, we have been remote since Day 1. In fact, our team has been working remotely for more than 20 years, over the course of four different startups, since before Zoom or the iPhone even existed. Because we have built a strong culture around remote, we have never felt disconnected or lonely. Because we understand that not everything about working remotely can be accomplished by using Zoom alone (by the way, we love Zoom), we have always worked extra hard at forging the bonds that sustain us during hard times.
Over those 20 years we have had several hard moments, even if they do not seem that hard by comparison in light of the moment we are living through now. We have been together through deaths, divorces and illnesses, and we have always found a way to bring the human element back into the professional environment to make us stronger and more resilient as a team.
This is not the time to move fast and break things. This is the time to stay focused on doing the right thing, helping others, and finding strength in our common goals.
My next post will describe in detail the way our development team is working, including tips and tricks we have learned over the years. We believe there are many aspects of communication, integration, transparency and knowledge sharing among software developers that could use some improvement, and the fact that we are all remote now is an opportunity to improve on those deficiencies. In the meantime, if you would like a preview, here is a short post that you might find helpful.