Adapting To COVID 19 – Forging a Better Normal

Undoubtedly, COVID-19 impacted our lives one way or another. For some, the impact was disruptive, others quickly found ways to navigate through it with grace and adapt to a new remote dynamic. Our personal and work life and the world itself have had to adapt to a sudden new normal with a common goal: to stop the spread of the pandemic. 

At Shireburn, we decided to proactively close the office before the measures were announced. Our priority was the responsibility we have towards our team and the general public, and to ensure a smooth operation for our clients. Flexibility and remote work options were always embedded in our culture. When we asked some of our staff how the change affected them, answers varied but a common feeling was that people were missing the office setting and the social aspect this brings along. “I missed the office vibe, the daily laughs and being able to have a normal face-to-face chat with a colleague. Remote work has its perks but such small things make a difference, explained James, our Junior Systems Administrator. We missed you too, James. 

Prior to government recommendations urging people to stay home, Shireburn ran a successful crisis simulation exercise where our operations continued to function seamlessly. This helped us ensure that we were ready for the eventuality of any emergency. We equipped all our staff with the tools that would help them work comfortably from home and together embarked on this new journey.

We wanted to share with you what we have learned so far and our staff’s thoughts on this experience, in the hopes that it will help you as well if you are still trying to navigate through this new reality:

The three Cs: Communication – Connection – Collaboration

We have to admit initially, we were a bit worried about how adapting to full-time remote work will affect our day-to-day tasks. Not being able to see if your colleague is on the phone or at their desk creates a certain level of discomfort when you urgently need them and they are having their morning croissant in the kitchen. Under normal circumstances, you would scout the office to find them enjoying their breakfast and you would solve an issue together within two minutes. With tools such as Slack, you can locate your colleague, even at home. Teamwork became more crucial than ever before, and we tried our very best to provide our staff with all the support they required.

The entire company has been very supportive of each other and I believe that we all demonstrated tremendous character during the lockdown. We were able to carry on non-work banter and conversations despite having to do so through messenger”.

John, Documentation Specialist

We still have virtual morning coffees, share the news of the weekend, tease each other and make jokes about the matching t-shirts while using video calls. We regret not hosting a competition for the wildest hair transformation during lockdown. Pedro from our Development Team would have won for sure!

Our team found ways of working autonomously and independently while also ensuring that they are a call or chat away from their colleagues if they need to brainstorm or collaborate.

Mental well-being is also another point which we placed a lot of importance on, encouraging our staff to take on physical activities and keep active. As highlighted by one of our Senior Software Developers and sports enthusiasts, Matthew, ”During this time, I learnt how important it is to take care of yourself mentally and physically and that you need to stop making excuses that keep you from achieving your goals.” We couldn’t agree more. 

 Learning & Development in a remote work environment. 

Connectivity, employee engagement and talent development were always critical for us, especially now that our team was remote. Since March, three of our Junior Developers got promoted because of their hard work and quality of work. Another four new employees passed their probationary period successfully proving that as long as you have a clear role and a couple of colleagues supporting you, you can adapt to a new environment and role and succeed in it. Who better than Kalyani from our QA team, who is currently working from India, to talk to us about adapting to change: “I learnt that I can embrace change to be happy within myself with what I have and appreciate the importance of life.” We also had instances where team members who joined in the immediate lead up to the work from home period were able to get trained and settle in despite the lack of face-to-face contact. We can’t wait to see our newcomers in person soon! 

Final thoughts

We are a technology-driven company and we believe in the way technology moves humanity forward. During these new and challenging times, technology once again provided a helping hand to keep us safe, informed and connected with our loved ones whilst giving us the ability to continue working and supporting our clients the best way we can. At times like these, we didn’t lose our focus and continued to work around the clock to fulfill our goals. Our way forward for the new norm? We asked our staff for their ideal scenario: I would not mind continuing work from home, as now I got used to it and it helps me avoid distractions. A balance of three days from home and two days from the office would be ideal!” James’s views are shared amongst most of our staff, and we look forward to continue supporting this kind of remote work environment moving forward. 

Even though we still have a long road ahead of us, we remain committed to supporting our product users and our team and will continue to learn, grow and adapt.