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A closer look: FunCorp global teams switched to remote work in one day

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) created huge impacts from people’s daily lives to the modern day workplace. On March 16, 2020, FunCorp switched to remote work. We decided to take this step, weigh the risks and what difficulties we faced in the first week.

How it all started

Already at the end of February, the emerging situation with Coronavirus was actively discussed in all chats and social networks. In early March, for prevention we placed hand sanitizers in the office, measured temperature at the entrance, and quarantined employees, returning from vacations in Europe, for two weeks.

A week later, it became clear that these measures would not be enough, and we started preparing for the transition to remote work.

Risks and new challenges awaiting us

First of all, it is important to prepare the team mentally: many are used to the office environment and it is clear they’re used to working together. Everything here is simple and ideal: you have your own working place which you have adjusted for yourself, you communicate with your colleagues in person and all current issues are resolved much faster. And of course, perks: coffee, breakfasts-lunches-dinners when you switch your attention but do not lose the working mood because eventually everyone gets back to work.

Alexey Petrov, Head of QA:

Not everyone has a work corner at home or suitable conditions (family, children). Many do not know how to work remotely (greater control helps them to keep the rhythm). There are no usual daily routines (journey to work, company snacks, lunches, smoke breaks). There are no small talks. Everybody needs to get used to it, organize working space, arrange schedules.

Secondly, there were risks of sagging in performance and quality: more time is spent to set up communication, equipment and accesses, to join meetings, not everyone has a stable connection (one would think what could go wrong!)

We had to cancel or reschedule long-planned activities for March and April: meetups, participation in conferences and our company's birthday celebration. In the end, we had to review the process of hiring and newcomers onboarding.

About the move

All of this didn’t cover the risks with possible contamination. We decided not to postpone dealing with it and on March 16th we completely switched to remote work. Perhaps, our admins “lucked out” the most: a lot of requests for accesses came almost immediately. And office managers did their best to organize the team member’s in "home offices" as painlessly as possible: not only equipment was transferred (some need scanners and printers for work), but also furniture: desks, chairs, file cabinets, reading lamps. There was ordered cargo taхi for transportation.

The office was cleaned up: all perishable food was removed, almost all deliveries were canceled (except for food for employees on duty).

What’s changed

The team of Moscow Funcorpers is quite young and tries to find positive aspects of everything. In one day we adapted to the new work pattern, all the changes in work processes were adequately and humorously perceived.

In order not to lose efficiency and not to blur the working hours, a clear regulation was introduced:

  • Specific working hours from 10:00AM to 7:00PM
  • Lunch break from 1:00PM to 2:00P
  • Mandatory «dailies» with a team
  • Setting tasks for the day in the morning
  • Making reports in the evening

Traditional weekly Friday meetings for the whole company are held online via Zoom.

Sergey Aksenov, Head of Backend:

The working day starts one hour earlier, daily meetings which were optional are now mandatory. As for the tasks, nothing's changed, we're working as planned. The priorities will probably change because the American audience is already showing changes in normal behavior, but it still needs to be investigated.

Alexey Petrov, Head of QA:

The schedule changed: the meetings start earlier now. There’s additional reporting: now we observe the rules of public reports on work more strictly. More time is needed for calls: there are more of them and they become more formal. It is more difficult to interview and onboard newcomers.

Andrey Mukhametov, Deputy CTO:

We had to solve problems of working with CI on an expedited basis, but that's rather an advantage, in the end we would have to solve them anyway. It didn't affect the release schedule too much.

Also, the processes have been changed a bit: in the morning daily meeting we discuss problems and issues of the previous day, and in the evening in a specific channel everyone writes a report: what’s done, difficulties, questions.

Darya Makeeva, Head of Legal:

To keep up morale, everyone gets ready for work (wearing decent T-shirts), prepares for daily meetings, which we always hold via video call, during the day the team communicates via text and talk. There’s no information about self-isolation. It's hard to judge yet, but at first glance, it doesn't look so bad.

Cons

Andrey Mukhametov, Deputy CTO:

Unobvious disadvantages that came up in the first week: it turned out that some have neighbors with a drill or children jumping on the upper floor and perplexing cats left without their own time. Some found out their Internet connection at home is weak and had to expand or change a provider.

Sergey Aksenov, Head of Backend:

A lot of time is spent on calls now, the traffic in chat rooms increased many times. I've been working in management positions for a long time and got used to being distracted several times an hour, but now it’s honestly too much. Hopefully everything will settle down and we will gradually start communicating in a non-random manner.

Darya Makeeva, Head of Legal:

In ordinary life accountants and lawyers constantly communicate with employees, sign original papers, organize documents delivery, the whole system of accounting and tax management is aimed at the availability of original documents, with handwritten signatures and stamps. Now we do everything electronically, but when we get back to the office, we will have to duplicate this work and make original documents.

And also we’ve temporarily lost our traditional office perks. Bye-bye our breakfasts, lunches, snacks, quarterly team buildings - we miss it already.

Pros

We love our office dearly. However let's try to think of what's good about working from home.

Alexey Petrov, Head of QA:

Undeniable advantage - saving time from the journey to work, more communication with the family (if you know how to properly organize the schedule). And if there is nobody at home, it is much easier to focus on the tasks. There are a lot of positive interactive discussions with the guys during the calls.

In general, we will get used to it in a couple of weeks, and then everything will go back to normal and perhaps efficiency will grow.

The situation influence on the product

Mikhail Tabunov, CPO:

The more people stay at home the more they consume the content online: movies, games, music, and, of course, memes. Many offline activities will move to online in the near future. Therefore, it is unlikely that anything will change in the development of the product - we will continue to work on tasks to improve the quality of content to entertain users every day.

How remote work affects hiring

We have ambitious goals for this year: FunCorp is expanding the geography of applications and launching new ones, which means we need fresh blood. We have switched to online interviews wherever possible. We have developed a special procedure with minimal risks of additional contacts in order to onboard the newcomer fully.

It is indeed still impossible to avoid personal presence in all cases and the office is not completely closed. There are still office managers on duty (by the way, the company pays for their individual transfer). But to come to the office, you need to have a good enough reason and approval from the manager. All coming peoples have to measure temperature (if it is above 37, they are sent back), disinfect their hands and wear a mask.

Team building and trainings

FunCorp welcomes and encourages any social activity of employees outside the office as part of team building. Usually guys gather in teams or interest groups and go to concerts, go-karts, quests, etc. But now it has become impossible, so instead of active team building, the guys will have access to e-books, movies and games. Online spaces in Steam is a meeting place after a working day. For more sporty employees, there are virtual chess competitions as an alternative.

Each employee also has a training budget, which under quarantine conditions can be used to pay only for distance courses.

And briefly about the changes:

  • Implemented the work time frame with a start, midday break and an end time
  • Introduced daily reporting for everyone
  • Daily conference calls within the teams
  • Interviews are online (Skype, Zoom)
  • Team building moved to online activities
  • Compensation for online training

Switching the office to a remote work turned out to be not so scary. The first week results show that the efficiency and quality of work remain at the same level. However, we are looking forward to the end of the compulsory isolation when we can get back to business and our routines.

Stay healthy, take care of yourself and your loved ones! And tell in the comments how you are working from home.