Max Tan is an Engineering Manager at Indeed Singapore. He shares how Engineers and other tech roles are staying connected and productive while working from home.
In early March 2020, Indeed moved its entire global workforce to work from home. We were allowed to bring home the items we needed from the office, such as our monitors and chairs, to minimize contact with each other as a precaution to keep everyone safe.
Though the way we work has changed, we continue with our regular team meetings over video conferencing and are rethinking how we collaborate. For example, instead of using a whiteboard for retrospectives, we went with a virtual version of a whiteboard.
Each team operated differently but most agreed upon some ground rules:
- Being available for consultation/collaboration/pairing during specific hours
- Doing daily stand ups over video conferencing
- Continuing with weekly 1:1s between managers and their teammates
As we work remotely, we’ve had to reimagine some of the events that we’ve had. Here’s some of what we’ve done so far:
Hacking at home
At Indeed, Hackathons are hosted twice a year in our Engineering offices. This is a collaborative team bonding event that allows Indeed employees to explore, research, and build their own ideas. Hackathons aim to promote camaraderie and innovation, and give us all a chance to tackle new challenges in helping people get jobs.
Typically, our event organizers would spruce up the office and organize distractions during the hackathon days to create a celebratory atmosphere. Participants of these hackathons are also very well fed with plenty of ice cream, pizza, and coffee. With Indeed now globally working from home, we decided to organize a virtual hackathon for the Singapore office, but we had to rethink how we would engage participants of the event.
To keep folks excited and in the mood, our event organizers regularly posted colourful updates on Slack and engaged frequently with participants. Initial concerns of not being able to have face to face discussions proved unfounded – we had all gotten used to remote collaboration by then. Additionally our site lead personally ensured that every participant got a pizza delivered to our homes. It was really a great experience to have such a personal touch during the session.
Demos demos demos
Every Friday, we get together for what we call ‘Demos Demos Demos’. It is a platform and avenue for our teams to share what they are working on, their challenges, and to learn from one another. Though it is usually done at the office, we resumed the sessions over video conferencing.
Previously, we walked around the office to “round people up” for the session.
One of the huge pluses of working remotely is that it’s much more convenient and less intrusive to get people to join – they no longer have to leave their desks!
What is work without getting to know who we work with? Usually, every mid-week in the evening, we get together at our pantry to catch up, chat and destress. Working remotely did not stop us from being connected. We have continued our weekly social hours for folks to meet up and chat over drinks, virtually.
We’ve also been jumping on our teleconference platform to connect over lunch virtually, as well as having virtual yoga and HIIT classes twice a week to stay active.
University Recruitment events
Instead of holding the talk in a college seminar room, we held two virtual college outreach talks about ‘How to succeed at technical interviews’. I had the opportunity to host the session twice and it was a success.
As we navigate through this period of uncertainty, there are definitely challenges, but it pushes us to redefine some of the ways we work and be grateful for what we already have.