Coronavirus COVID-19 - how are folks and companies experiencing and/or impacted by this?

I’m really curious how the Coronavirus COVID-19 is affecting the IT industry and software testing specifically. Things like reduced working hours/days, cancelled work streams, recruitment being put on hold, etc. Keep it anonymous, i.e. no company names though it may be good to indicate a little about the company if that’s OK from your perspective.

For me, our company is from Norn Irn, smallish (30 folks total, 10 in IT) and we supply software as a service to an industry associated with the charity sector. I heard that incomes in the charity sector had taken a sharp dip due to the Coronavisus hitting the economy, which makes sense as in the UK high street traffic, which is where a lot of the charity income comes from, has been hard hit recently and now we’re in complete lockdown for at least several weeks! As of now, there has been no word of our order book reducing so we’re working flat out as normal, just we’re all doing it from home.

Working from home for me feels a tad weird when it’s for longer than the occasional day here or there. So far we’ve done it since 16 March. So far, so good. We have Teams and it has been robust save for the occasional dropout as apparently Microsoft had some issues recently - perhaps due to so many more people using Teams.

In terms of hiring, there has bene nothing official announced, but we’ve essentially had in the past an open invite to recruiters for any decent software developers, i.e. they are in short supply in Norn Irn, so I believe that remains an open invite. It’s hard to see how we would on-board anyone remotely, but I guess there’s that possibility… Also, an interview process that was totally remote may be a bit strange, too.

So I guess to summarize, so far we’re doing OK, no bad news yet! How are others experiencing and/or impacted by this?

Cheers

I’m in the USA, in rural-ish Pennsylvania (about an hour out of Philadelphia if there’s not much traffic). My employer is one of those mega multinational companies but my group is pretty much its own ecosystem. We went to work from home for the programming group on the 18th, then as of the 23rd anyone who didn’t have to be in the office was required to work from home.

The company has deferred bonuses and merit raises indefinitely, is offering loans to employees who are being hit financially, and has been setting up contingency plans since January. So far the only change I’ve personally seen is the shift to work from home.

Since our customer base is pretty easily defined (“businesses of all sizes and types”), we’re expecting to take a hit from the customers who have been forced to close. We don’t know yet what that hit is going to look like or how bad it will be.

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For now, we continue business as usual, but we all work from home now. Only we’re using Zoom and not Teams.

I believe after all this pandemic period is over, many companies will reconsider the necessity of employees to work in the offices.

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We can hope! Too many people in senior/C-level management seem to think that backsides on chairs is a viable measurement of productivity.

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Our company is having an all hands meeting on 2 April. Here’s hoping there’s not bad news ahead! Will post an update soon. In the UK there’s been a government initiative of “furloughing” (hopefully spelt correctly), whereby the government will pay 80% of employees salary if the company has no work for them, but is prepared to not make them redundant. Good initiative! Hopefully we’re not going to need that in short term in our company…

Frequent working from home has been the norm for me for a while now and being in a team split between the UK and India means a lot of Skype meetings, so not being in the office and talking to people online doesn’t seem unusual to me. I’m about to change jobs and that’s making returning kit to present employer and getting new kit interesting, it’s going to require couriers for both! I’ve also been informed that I’ll be on reduced hours (four-day week) at the new employer for the immediate future, but that’s company-wide. I’ll be remotely on-boarding too, which will be a new experience!

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@professorwoozle wish you every success in your new position. It’s good to hear that in your case the new position recruitment still went ahead and they’re getting equipment to you and doing the on-boarding in the challenging circumstances.

You can also see more covid related posts here - https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/covid-19
It has some posts about layoffs in IT, vpn problems etc. You’ll have to search a bit.

Here is a question for example - https://workplace.stackexchange.com/questions/156565/how-can-i-assess-my-recession-risk-as-a-software-developer

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Hi, we carrying on working and preempted the working from home directive and got our organisation WFH very quickly. A couple of things that changed that really benefited:

  • The management met every day to assess and report on the impact and issues WFH and took actions to resolve any issues reported from individuals. Gradually we’re no meeting every other day and have found that these meetings are valuable anyway.
  • For my test team they as routine have daily huddles related to the projects they’re working on. Being co located we’d stay in contact with what eachother were working on, which obviously fell away with remote working. So now we have our own discussion slack channel to report briefly what we’re all working on today so we can carry on helping eachother
  • On Fridays, we have a non-work video call at 16:00 building up to the weekend where we just chat. The office banter is massive but for remote working you need to make an effort to continue it.
  • Ironically with video conferencing, meetings have become easier. No need to book a room has each team has their own virtual whereby rooms and we have project whereby rooms. So we’re actually talking now more, than we were in the office.

Lots of good practice is coming out of this experience that I’m hoping we continue with after this is all over.

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I heard first hand that some people have to work way more than their normal work hours since the WFH started. Do you find yourselves working more since you are at home ?

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Yes, but that seems to be a natural thing. I would suggest a number of us who would normally travel to work are then looking to “get home” at the end of a day. That can sometimes have further issues of traffic delays, train cancellations etc. so getting home becomes a cut off. Take that away and it means the urgency to “get home” has gone so we naturally end our working day related to what we’re working on, rather than a time to get home.

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IMO, getting entry/mid level QA jobs could get harder in this market since one could be competing with laid off or to-be laid off developers and also other QA. There will be developers who might never have considered QA, but will do it now. From an employer’s perspective, there could be more supply of eligible workers.

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Slaughtered.

The place I work at has had incoming customer queries and orders double, because we support remote working, and this means all the teams in the company are busy. Our dev team have to make sure that things we do dont upset the gravy train obviously, but I am finding the drive quite hard going.

I have gotten over an hour of my day that was lost to commuting back, which is nice, but I am ploughing it back in anyway, because I don’t spend long lunch breaks on Facebook or going out to the sandwich shop anymore. I’m still taking just as many teabreaks as usual, but still finding it very draining.

Hiring…, next week we have a new member join our team, it will be awkward, but it’s going to work well I hope. We still have 2 openings, an engineering manager, and a UX + product-owner role. So we are bucking the trend. This is going to be the time where non-digital workers find ways to use digital tools in new ways in order to reach more people. Interesting times, but as I consider, for me, it’s all a bit much.

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Seems our company’s order book is OK for now… That means no furloughing or redundancies for the IMMEDIATE future.

Nevertheless, it would be very good to hear from the UK government on what the way forward is in terms of taking the economy back out of the deep freeze. Even if they are saying it’s many months away, at least if they could maybe set out a long-term plan so people and companies can start to see a little light in the tunnel. For now all sensible people are staying home, protecting the NHS and saving lives.

The thing I personally find perplexing about getting people and companies back working is the math: in the UK there are 65,000,000 folks. If we need 60% to have been infected for population (“herd”) immunity and if we need to keep the infection curve below, say, 125,000 infected at any one time so the NHS can cope, which seems to be around 5000 new cases per day based on Italy’s graph to date, the math seems to be like this: (65,000,000 x 60% = 39,000,000) / 5000 = a LOT of days. Even allowing for infections that have already happened and infections that have not been accounted for due to the UK’s lack of testing and people who had the virus and were asymptomatic, that is still a LOT of days. The talk is that any vaccine may be a year away (apparently it’s not the development of same which could be as little as 6 months, but the testing and scaling up of the production). To my brain, this begs questions a lot of questions about when and how we get to anything approaching normality. Here’s hoping that, in president Trump’s words, the cure is not worse than the infection! For now, though, thoughts must be with those who are experiencing tough times or who have lost loved ones.

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Fear: I also understand the Bill Gates is funding some pre-emptive vaccine fabrication facilities to start building stocks early. The philanthropic opportunity is clearly not missed, and this makes me believe that we are in good hands. Even if it is really our own hands.

Numbers: People who study this stuff and spend 2 years collating numbers and finally publishing a result in a medical journal for peer review must be fuming. Their numbers take a lot of the under reporting into account. Their specialty is the math and the missing numbers, the only thing they don’t know much about is timescale. I am tempted to go outdoors ank lick handrails and doorknobs, just to get into a state where I know where I stand in all of this, the suspense is killing

Cure: Due to the numbers and money this involves, there will be a “cure”, but not before Summer is over. I was predicting September as the date a month back, and I am sticking to that date for normality to resume. HHGTTG references welcome at this stage.

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I hadn’t heard that. Cheers for the info and here’s hoping it works out…

I, too, am torn between ‘wanting’ to get the virus so I can maybe get a certificate of immunity or similar if UK starts going that route and thus get back to living some kind of normalish life, versus isolating till there is herd immunity or a vaccine. Rationale for my hesitation: I have mild asthma, though how mild it would be if I got corona’d is my fear…

Be safe everyone!

Please don’t. You do not know how it is going to affect you, and you don’t know how many people you can eventually affect, even if you won’t show symptoms at all.

Also licking doorknobs…come on! You’re a tester not a taster :slight_smile:

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There are two different subjects here: Company & Personal.

Company: My company has multiple teams covering a lot of different markets. My team was already mostly remote so there was no great difficulty for us. Our Executive Team leaned heavily on us to help others make the transition. One of our markets is helping other companies work remotely, so we already had a decent infrastructure to make it happen in our world. Fortunately we’ve not had to furlough or lay anyone off and our CEO has committed to making that an absolute last resort.

Personally: As I said, my team was already mostly remote. I’ve been a remote worker since 2013. There is a HUGE difference between regular remote work/culture and quarantine remote work/culture. One of the major perks of remote work is the freedom of location. It’s one thing to work for 8 hours in your home because you don’t want to go out and quite another to work for 8 hours in your home because you cannot go out. I’m an introvert and I find this situation mentally taxing. I find myself longing to go work from my local coffee shop or pub…maybe even both in the same day!

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Have to say, now that a return is probably going to happen, the getting back to normal is proving hardest to deal with now that I have become quite comfortable working from home. I’m still not remote-worker pro enough to work from a coffee shop though. For us, return is also a long way off still, but it has made me re-think my own “introvert” status. I do need people around me, and I hate awkward silences in zoom calls. I have for a while wondered if I am more ambivert - which may be a good thing. So a bit of philosophical moment for me.

It’s still stressful working in isolation, especially when a week of very slow progress on the sprint board passes by. It has taught me to just stop, ask questions, maybe ask for help, re-plan and keep moving. But so far I have been very good at isolating, wearing a mask ,and not licking doorknobs. :slight_smile:

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@conrad.braam - we’re in a similar situation there. I doubt my employer is going to even consider reopening our office before September, and it’s surprisingly draining to be working from home full-time for months - my setup is temporary, and I don’t have the means to set up a real home office.

I didn’t realize just how badly I’d needed interaction with other people until this weekend, when the local diners were finally allowed to reopen and I found myself joining in general conversations with the staff and other customers just because they were people and there. This is from someone who invariably maxes out the Introvert side of the Myers-Briggs test every time I take one.

Apparently all humans need other humans around. Go figure.

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