Remote First: making work more human through technology

March 13, 2020 · 5 min read

blog remote first

Since the beginning of APSL we have been very aware of the reconciliation of personal, family and work life of our workers. We believe that time flexibility is very important to be able to take care of children or dependents and for this reason at APSL we have always supported and facilitated remote work, whether temporary or permanent.

Thanks to our experience working remotely, the current situation should not be a problem for us, since we can continue working from home as we have done when necessary.

Thanks to this experience, our Clients are not surprised that meetings are proposed by videoconference since, in general, we favor this means of communication.

These are some of the measures and recommendations that APSL has applied in order to continue offering our services.

Our tools

We are currently distributed in 5 offices, in addition to the people who are usually remote, so the use of remote work tools and procedures is internalized in our culture.

Video conferences, chats, shared documents and online project management help us cooperate in daily work no matter where we decide to be.

We use G suite for collaborative work, video conferences and Zulip as a tool for internal chat and communication between teams. And by the way, at APSL we call Zulip "vater", since it is based on the classic video game «Day of the Tentacle» because originally we only used it to pass files to each other.

Another of our tools is Redmine, a tool for managing projects, incidents and requests for new application development. This internal tool allows us to organize and distribute the workload of the teams, document and manage capacity.

And we also have a Telegram channel that acts as a “virtual bar” for gossip and such and also acts as an official channel.

The passes to pre-production and production are automated, with continuous integration and deployment systems, so our developers are very autonomous when it comes to working.

We have several Gmail mailing lists (email user groups) to organize the work of the groups. In this way all team members can be informed and we avoid having to remember to copy one or the other.

For the rest, we use VPN when the programmer needs access to shared code, and a platform that allows us to indicate vacations, full or partial days off, the days that we will be remote or not, and absences.

Our ERP, Odoo, also allows us remote access, so we can account, carry out procedures and invoice.

The protocol provided for COVID-19

Thanks to our experience as a company focused on remote work, it has been easier and faster for us to implement “Remote First” in the face of the emergency situation that COVID-19 entails.

On March 6, the entire APSL team was informed of a series of actions and specific rules of action against COVID-19, recommending:

  • Follow the recommendations of the health authorities.
  • Avoid going to areas classified as risk and even travel where there are crowds, except when strictly necessary. If you go, you have to keep the fifteen days of quarantine and have it planned to be able to continue working from home.
  • If for any reason it is necessary to visit any of the risk areas, it is recommended to travel with the laptop to have the option of working remotely in case of problems returning.
  • If you have symptoms, it is recommended to call before going to the hospital or PAC so as not to infect health personnel. This has been confirmed by the #Stayhome campaign promoted by professionals from the health sector on networks.

Last day March 11 the entire APSL team was informed of the following new recommendations:

  • The "Remote first" was established encouraging APSL workers who can work remotely to do so and thus avoid face-to-face meetings as much as possible.
  • The health recommendations to avoid contracting COVID-19 are also recalled: wash your hands frequently and avoid risk areas or areas outside our usual environment.

Thanks to current tools and our experience working remotely, we can set an example and minimize risks by staying at home.

About remote work

Working remotely is not only having the tools, it is also changing the philosophy of work and time management.

Teleworking implies having a space at home enabled for this purpose, sometimes it is possible and sometimes not. In cases like the one we find ourselves these days, being able to telework means that for people who will go to the office, because they prefer or need to, it minimizes risks.

In our opinion, teleworking is beneficial for everyone. On the one hand it allows reconciling work and family life, on the other hand it acts as a contingency plan guaranteeing the continuity of the company in cases in which, for whatever reason, it is not possible to go to the office.

Working remotely implies changing philosophy. It's not just the ability to videoconference. It means that people can have autonomy in their day to day to carry out their work and that it does not depend on where you are sitting or the exact time you are working.

Organizing ourselves into small teams, pizza teams or delivery teams, whatever we want to call them, works very well for us. They organize themselves on a day-to-day basis regardless of whether the team members are in the same office or not.

The current situation is a litmus test for many companies that are going to enable the teleworking modality at a forced pace.

We run the risk that this haste ends in the conclusion that “we tried it and it didn't work”.

We must avoid falling into this trap.

Enabling a company to work remotely is not a process that can be done overnight. Technology at the moment allows us to carry out quick contingency plans, but having a company oriented to working remotely goes further and is a process.

And now what?

As a company involved in society, we wanted to set an example and enable the "remote first" protocol, both to guarantee business continuity and, more importantly, to help break the chain of contagion.

A few tough weeks await us and a few months in which we will see how the economy responds.

We must act responsibly, to get through the current moment, paying attention to the health authorities and also with foresight, preparing for the day after, when everything is over and being able to return to normality as soon as possible.

We think that those professionals who can work remotely should take full advantage of this possibility at this time and do it responsibly, that is, following the guidelines of the health authorities and thus contribute to breaking the chain of contagion.

COVID-19 is a very tough test of resilience for the whole world and it is necessary that together we contribute to normalize the situation as soon as possible. It is also an opportunity to put technology at the service of making work more humane.

#Stayhome #workingremotelyismorehumane #videoconferenceswithcameraon

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