January 23rd is the date the first Chinese metropolis was confined due to coronavirus. From that moment on, it was just a matter of time for people to realize that the coronavirus, first and foremost a public-health emergency, is also an economic one. Nowadays, it becomes obvious that many companies, no matter in China or in France, have difficulties continuing to work. Such a situation demands that companies work differently, and become remote overnight, which is not an easy task, even for the IT industry.
So, One2Team, one of Europe's leading digital collaborative platform providers, how is it doing?
According to my random survey with members from different departments within One2Team, the normal workflow remains almost unaffected by the recent confinement that comes with the public-health emergency. Except for the consultant team as some clients deprioritize product deployment, and the sales team as some companies have frozen investments for the moment. When asked if they are used to working remotely, most of my colleagues said “YES”. That’s an amazing achievement in current circumstances, and I would like to share with you how and why One2team can be so resilient.
Here are some key factors that hold normal workflow unaffected
Being an IT company doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s easy to get through this crisis or easy to become remote overnight, but nonetheless it’s a natural advantage and a prerequisite to adapt to the recent confinement. With this prerequisite, there are 2 key factors that make one2team remote work transformation quite smooth.
Dogfooding is the practice of an organization using its own product. As a digital collaborative platform provider, project management and online collaboration are our strengths, which means the product we build and sell everyday itself is one of the key points that keeps our normal working activities unaffected. From day one, each member of One2Team uses One2Team’s product to collaborate, to manage and to communicate. During the confinement, we are using more and depending more on our own product.
Here is an example showing the current R&D team’s tasks in different phases of the pipeline (develop -> code review -> showcase ...) being taken on by different people. This information is available to everyone in One2Team with 100% transparency and we are using this tool for everyday work. That's how we dogfood ourselves.
Remote work for 5 years
Tools are only tools, but people’s habits or company cultures are something different. In February, Dangdang, a Chinese online retailer that had all prerequisites and technology support for remote work, chose not to. It resulted in a nightmare of the company leaving 82 employees under quarantine because an employee contacted the virus. Clearly, even for IT companies, people need time to get used to home office.
There are many people giving suggestions about remote work, like Fred Plais and Guillaume Champeau. There make great points that we have already put into place. However, I wanted to share something original being done by One2Team.
The history of remote work in One2Team started 5 years ago. It first begun in R&D and then spread to other departments. The frequency varies from once a week to 3 weeks a month depending on the needs. With time, we have accumulated experience and best practices , like becoming familiar with remote conference tools such as Google Meet or Facebook Workplace, we know when to use a video call and when to send an-email, etc.
During this sudden confinement, according to my survey, no one has difficulty working from home. We are not changing the way we work from home on normal days, but we are doing more. For example, the R&D team does demo presentations once a week instead of a month, and the support team does video points every morning instead of once per week. 5 years of remote work experience guarantees One2Team’s resilience in the face of this confinement.
Staying physically and mentally healthy is important in the longer term!
We don’t know how serious the epidemic will be in France. We don’t know how long the confinement will last. This is the first time people are completely blocked at home, watching the number of infections and death toll rising everyday. It can't be more normal to feel scared, anxious and upset. Continuing work activities will not be possible without physical and mental health, so, besides the normal workflow, we have put into place some fun remote events!
One of our colleagues is a fitness enthusiast. Every 2 days, he organises a fitness session for about 30 mins after work, live broadcasting the training and leaving video records for those who can’t participate. How fun! Exercising is important for the immune system, especially when people always stay at home.
One of our colleagues is an excellent chef. Whenever ideas come, she shares recipes on cooking simple but delicious food, with text descriptions, photos, and sometimes a video with detailed explanations. I feel hungry! Eating well is important to staying in a good mood, and at the very least, seeing the delicious food can bring us some happiness.
Virtual cafe room
In the office, we have a cafe room to rest and talk. During confinement, we created a virtual one! It’s a video chat room. Everyone can connect to this room at any time and talk about anything. The goal is to stay social and take breaks during the work day. Keeping contact with people can definitively compensate for depression of physical isolation. They seem to be having a good time!
That's all I wanted to share about how One2Team is facing the Coronavirus crisis. What about your company?