By this point, many companies and their employees have had to switch their work routine, basically from one day to another. It has been challenging also for us, and since SatoshiLabs is all about open-source, we thought of opening the door to our company at least virtually and letting you see how we have been dealing with this uneasy situation.
SatoshiLabs offices are located in Prague, Czech Republic, where the government enacted a nationwide curfew on 16 March, and recommended that non-essential businesses allow employees to work from home. As we love data and collecting information in general, we anticipated this decision and, due to our concern for the safety of our colleagues, we encouraged everyone to begin working from home about a week earlier than the government decision.
All around the world people have been working from home or are getting ready to. And we are talking about people, because from our experience it is, in the end, mostly about the individual mindset of professionals who are able to adjust to these new times, make a space at home, re-organize their lives, and stay focused and deliver.
Companies that would never have entertained the possibility of remote work before are having to rethink their business models. Like SatoshiLabs, many companies were heavily centered around their offices. Meetings and informal encounters in the coffee corner were everyday techniques for how to gather information and get some projects going. But this isn’t just a normal work from home situation. We are all dealing with a potential crisis on top of our own personal anxiety and stress, while trying to maintain some normalcy and continue our daily work routine. And the end date of our social distancing remains unclear.
Worth to mention is that we haven’t closed our offices entirely. Some colleagues are not able to work from home, so we bought masks, gloves and hand sanitizers and allow them to use the office space if being careful. At least our office flora won’t suffer the lockdown consequences.
Obviously, being in the IT industry makes it much easier for us to maintain all our services and keep our operations going, as the infrastructure was pretty much ready for this. Our systems for shopping and logistics are online and our industry basically doesn’t require much maintenance outside of the internet. It’s the human mindset that we had to change to be able to deliver to our customers what was promised without any disruption. And honestly we are coming out of the situation pleasantly surprised, how easily can be our business truly global and remote
For example, take the regular stress of managing a team, add the remote element of trying to coordinate with everyone, and then maybe you are also trying to facilitate your child’s online learning, or care for a sick family member, or you are worried about older family members who live far away. It’s a recipe for disaster that requires a lot of understanding and cooperation from coworkers who are all in the same boat.
And during this crisis, in a time of increased financial insecurity, the security of your crypto is more important than ever. But rest assured that our customers are our top priority, and we are still fulfilling orders, responding to customer support requests, and continuing development.
So how has it been going?
To achieve our goal of continuing to operate as normally as possible for our customers, the most important decision that we made was to increase our use of online communication apps, because effective communication is the only way to make this work. First, we use Slack to quickly communicate in our group channels or directly to specific coworkers via text, audio, or video chats. So we issued some additional rules for how to use Slack these days. Colleagues are encouraged to log in to Slack and manage their current status. With children home from school, it’s impossible to expect coworkers to be 100% available from 9:00 to 17:00, so we set up a range of hours in the day when everyone should try to be available (our hours are from 11:00 to 16:00). Work can be done at all hours, but choosing a range of times when everyone should try to be available makes it easier to schedule meetings.
Speaking of meetings, they are now scheduled in Google Meet, and if someone’s child or pet makes an appearance, there are no complaints. Quite the opposite, it’s a really nice bonus to get to know your colleagues from a different angle.
And how do we know what we are supposed to be doing? This one was a pickle for us. As we are libertarians, we let our teams choose their own task management tools and techniques and it went a little bit out of hand at the end. So the long overdue transfer to one clear workflow and instrument was sped up due to the crisis, and now we are managing issues through working groups and teams in Asana. This one is a big helper: goals, projects, and tasks can be assigned and tracked, so we always know who to contact, and the easy logics of Asana mostly fit all teams already, or can be adjusted accordingly.
But what about the social connection? Going to work isn’t just about the work. Humans are social creatures. Take away our morning coffee and our ability to gather together, and we get a little testy. So what are we doing to solve this?
Every morning we have a remote coffee hangout to talk about anything and everything, just as if we were meeting in our office kitchen. Yes, it doesn’t have a spontaneous factor, but it’s better than nothing. Some people even choose to share photos of their breakfast, and yes, the conversations are mostly about the current situation in the world and tips and tricks for how to order groceries or how to sew your own masks.
As social distancing is not only difficult for our minds, but also for our bodies, we’ve also kept our office yoga classes going — from a distance! Instead of coming to the office, our regular instructor teaches us online through Google Meet twice a week. It’s almost the same. She can see us, offer suggestions to correct our postures, and give us an incentive to continue.
And what about the economic impact?
Being in the crypto industry, and being the leading company in security, we see how much the world is alarmingly changing and how important the original concept of bitcoin is. Just recently we published our Economics Expert article on this topic /read here/.
Many companies around the world are facing the difficult decision of firing workers, cutting back hours, and reducing services. Many will be on the thin line of survival, and many will have to fire their staff. We understand the difficulties, but we choose to see it also as an opportunity. Opportunity to transform the company into something more effective, more open to new arrangements. And also a great opportunity for Bitcoin to prove its concept. So in spite of the pandemic and mass layoffs around the world, we are expanding our team and looking to hire a Community/Social Media Manager and a Copywriter with a crypto background — and more to come. And we will continue to provide excellent customer service and share our knowledge through these difficult times.