9 Essential Tips and Observations Working Remote During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Brian F
Brian F
Apr 1, 2020 · 3 min read
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As many companies have shifted to being 100% remote in the past two weeks due to the COVID-19 outbreak, our Santa Monica based Engineering team here at GumGum has been able to rapidly adjust. I wanted to share the learnings and adjustments that we’ve made as an organization in order to build and innovate at our usual lighting fast pace.

GumGum Engineering has always had remote engineers and has been striving to embrace the remote culture. We still find ourselves lacking in some areas, such as ensuring all of our meeting rooms have good audio quality or having the ability to collaborate virtually. We’ve even experimented with a 360 style video camera that focuses on the person speaking and touch screen led TV’s for virtual white-boarding.

Now that we’ve all been remote for two weeks, I’ve been collecting feedback. Here are a few of the more interesting observations:

  1. Less distractions means more productivity. In the office, people often will tap you on the shoulder and expect an answer to a question immediately. This change of context and disruption can impact productivity in a serious way. Now, questions can be fielded asynchronously through Slack.
  2. Increased Visibility. Conversations are occurring on Slack all day so everyone on the team is up to date with the entire project. This especially helps with team members who are in different timezones. Some of this communication is often lost at the office!
  3. More sync-ups are required. In the office, it’s far too easy and convenient to interrupt a team member for an update. Whether it’s team sync-up or a one on one, increased communication has become necessary.
  4. No Commute! No commuting means most people are now on the same exact schedule instead of staggered hours due to LA’s infamous traffic. This also means less overall stress for the team and valuable hours per week reclaimed.
  5. Use Video. While on conference calls, it can be challenging to get a feeling for how the room is reacting. While this is not always possible, it helps the meeting become more productive versus just seeing your name.
  6. Record meetings! Sometimes it can be challenging for everyone to attend a meeting for one reason or another. We have noticed that providing an agenda and notes along with the recording to be especially valuable as it enables viewers to skip to sections of the recording that they are most interested in.
  7. Enhanced features such as whiteboard sharing or breakout rooms in Zoom have been extremely valuable for collaboration.
  8. Informal team meetings to promote team camaraderie such as playing GeoGuessr. You would be surprised how much fun and engaging these informal meetings can be.
  9. Virtual Happy Hours. As funny as it sounds, it’s important to have an opportunity to wind down at the end of the day with your co-workers even if it’s remotely. This is especially effective for cross-functional teams.

Of course, there are some negative aspects to this situation, like not having a standing desk at home and being relegated to the kitchen counter, but once everything returns back to normal, we will have gone more than a few miles in our remote team members shoes and will be a step closer to fully embracing a remote culture at GumGum.

What are some things you or your team have done to make it through these unprecedented times?


Thoughts from the GumGum tech team

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