Coronavirus and changes in labor world

The coronavirus pandemic is affecting normal life everywhere, and the labor world is no exception.

Hundreds of thousands of companies all over the globe have been forced to make important changes in their working culture. However, some companies were ready to deal with the present situation long before it began, for they have been already implementing interesting changes and innovations in their working culture over the last years. Such is the case of Gravity.

Telecommuting culture and agile methodology

Telecommuting is quite an interesting way to work and has been very helpful to inspire our software developers to improve and seek excellence, a fact that we have been able to see in practice. This work method is firmly rooted among our team and enhances the productivity and commitment of each one of its members to achieve the aims and goals of the company.

So, as we already said, long before the start of the coronavirus crisis and the subsequent quarantine measures had been taken, we already had a big advantage in Gravity, in what regards telecommuting culture and methods.

All of our ongoing projects are carried out using the Agile methodology, and therefore using all the necessary tools to implement this methodology in a distributed way, i.e., in a way compatible with telecommuting.

We often use Kanban boards to organize tasks, building customer journeys or user story maps, as well as other activities. Every member of the team can add new contributions or ideas to the ongoing project, that way we can keep up with the backlog of pending tasks. Afterward, all the boards can be turned into a PDF or a presentation.

Daily communication and meetings

For the daily communication between the employees we use Slack, Meet, or Hangouts, and for the communication with costumers, we use a variety of platforms and apps according to the preferences and requests of our clients.

To keep the work up to date, we use a bot that requests each team member a brief report about the tasks done the previous day and the ones that will be performed in the present day, as well as if there has been an important technical issue or problem difficult to solve in any of the projects, so that members of other teams can provide help to solve them or any other relevant information that should be reported to the CEO or the CTO, etc.

Each member must send the corresponding report between 8 am and 11 am. After that time limit, the bot will automatically share all that information gathered in a chat room where all the employees will have the chance to revise it, make comments, support other teams, and so on.

Besides that bot, which works daily, every team uses another specific bot with the same aim of organizing, reviewing, and keeping up the job of each particular project on a daily basis. That bot is used only by the members of each team, and tasks will change its status according to work progress, being classified as pending, in progress, or done if they have been already completed. The product owner is always present in the daily reviewing of the work.

 

Additionally, in the cases of pair programming, we use hangouts, for this tool makes possible to share screens as well as video and audio while working in teams.

In the meetings, the scrum master follows up all the digital boards, and all the didactic strategies used for meetings. The scrum master provides support to the product owner as well. Together they guide the equipment, correcting mistakes and prioritizing tasks concerning daily needs. All of this is done according to Gravity’s work philosophy.

Apart from this, we make a weekly following up meeting that helps us to report to the rest of the Gravity team the progress or current issues in every one of the projects. This meeting is usually held using the application Meet. Also, we held a weekly meeting per project to manage the sprint.

As we have explained, these meetings aim to achieve the homogenization of criteria within the company team, i.e., sharing knowledge between team members, consulting each other in what regards to technical decisions, and so on. For this purpose, on some occasions, we can organize technical lectures as well.

Flexibility as a principle of our working culture

As a general rule, every member of our team works from home at least one day per week. Some employees work from home more that one day a week, or even there are team members that only go to meeting one day a week, to participate in team meetings, because they have small children and need to take care of them, etc.

We have a very flexible policy when it comes to working schedules and working places in Gravity: Whenever an employee wants to stay home and work from there, we are totally flexible with that and we respect his or her decision. Similarly, the times for entering or leaving the office are absolutely flexible as well, and therefore they are always determined freely by each one of our team members, according to their daily or weekly needs, the same thing applies for the daily lunch break, etc.

For instance, some teammates live considerably far from the office, so they necessarily need to get to the office very early in the morning. Otherwise, the traffic will not let them get on time, and because of that, they leave the office very early every day as well. On the contrary, other workmates live very near to the office and are regular users of other benefits provided to employees within the office, like for example the gym, so they go every day or just work from home only one day a week. As we already pointed out, every teammate is free to organize his own schedule as needed, as far as he meets the daily or weekly work requirements for the in which is involved currently.

To sum up, before the quarantine, there were team members that used to go every day to the office, some used to go two or three days per week, and some just used to go one day a week to have personal meetings with other team members, in order to solve technical issues related to projects. For that reason, each team member in Gravity is well equipped with his or her home office tools and equipment, to be able to work regularly from home.

One thing that perhaps has changed a little bit since the quarantine began is the number of online meetings between team members, which has increased considerably since there is no possibility to make face to face meetings.

In conclusion, long before the present situation, Gravity’s team had already developed a strong culture of flexible schedules, solidarity among workmates, enhancing creativity, understanding of individual needs and specificities. More than a traditional company, Gravity is a team, Gravity is a family. We need to understand our workers and what makes them happy in order to achieve our business goals successfully, not the other way around. That is one of our main features.

Alejandro Borrego

Alejandro Borrego

Software Architect & Polyglot Full-stack developer. Currently in love with JavaScript, ReactJS and Amazon Web Services.