Progress Amid Crisis: How Carpe Data Pivoted to an All-Remote Workforce
It’s certainly a strange time in the world, but even among the dark clouds we find silver linings. Our global community has found a sense of solidarity through this crisis and a vibrant culture has formed online; from tips on how to stay sane at home to celebrating the good among what can feel like overwhelming heaps of bad, the world is sharing its knowledge and expertise like never before.
Carpe Data’s home state of California, like many states across the US now, is in a mandatory “shelter in place” order. For non-essential businesses like us, that means our offices must close and employees should work from home. As a data and technology company we’ve long considered workplace flexibility a great benefit for employees and a boon to work-life balance— we could never have imagined that our digital infrastructure would one day help us navigate a rapidly evolving global health crisis.
Still, we understand that not every company has the technical expertise to consider many of the tools that we use every day, so the Carpe Data team has compiled a list of some of our favorite resources that keep us motivated and focused on progress in these difficult times.
How we stay connected when we’re not together
There are a number of tools that teams at Carpe Data use to stay connected— not only to collaborate on our work, but also to foster a sense of community and togetherness even when we’re physically separated.
Slack provides instant direct one-on-one, and public and private groups and channels to allow our teams to stay in constant touch for both work and social communications. It’s great for 1:1 or 1:many conversations without taking the time to craft a perfectly formed email or wade through lengthy reply chains. Features include direct messaging and VOIP calling, and this author would estimate that about 60% of all collaboration at Carpe Data happens on Slack.
There are a number of solutions for video conferencing today including Zoom, GoToMeeting, and Webex (Carpe Data uses Zoom for meetings as well as cloud-based phone). Whatever solution you choose should be reliable and secure, as well as provide tools that encourage project collaboration like screen-sharing and live editing. These tools make it easy to have a face-to-face conversation in a way that feels natural. They’re also great for virtual team Happy Hours! But more on that later.
How we keep projects moving
Our technology “stack” plays a central role in the progress we’ve made while working remotely. By some accounts the distance has even accelerated some projects that require more dedicated, individual focus. For all the tasks that don’t— or for projects that tie it all together— the tools below are just a few of many that keep us aligned, from Santa Barbara to Lisbon.
Jira is part of a family of software products designed to help teams of all types manage work. Originally, Jira was designed as a bug and issue tracker, but today Jira has evolved into a powerful work management tool for all kinds of use cases, from requirements and test case management to agile software development.
A sister program for Jira, Confluence is Atlassian’s content collaboration tool used to help teams collaborate and share knowledge efficiently. In Confluence, content is created and organized using spaces, pages, and blogs, and its collaboration tools allow users to write, edit, comment and get work done together within a shared interface.
Developers frequently collaborate with their peers to solve code bugs and find creative solutions to large problems. All of our developers are remote, yet they still need to perform code reviews and approvals on each other’s code. GitHub facilitates remote code sharing just as easily as in person.
How we keep our connections and projects secure
As a company that processes all kinds of data, security is always top priority for Carpe Data. There are many factors that play into our larger data and personal security strategies, but we’ve included some of the essential remote workforce technologies that keep us safe from cyber attacks.
Digital projects become complicated when there are physical elements involved, and that’s precisely the challenge many organizations currently find themselves in. “We have zero servers inside our corporate network, no file servers, no databases, literally zero anything that requires us to be in the office,” said Mike Nichols, our VP of Technology and Security. “All of our servers and processes live in Amazon Web Services (AWS) which is almost infinitely scalable and provides a seriously high level of availability and redundancy. Our application employs global load balancers and auto scaling infrastructure capable of meeting any demand.”
Yes, That Includes Google
Carpe Data also leverages Enterprise-level GSuite to provide corporate email, calendar, and online collaboration for documents across the entire organization. When it comes to email and employee account management and security, nothing else comes close.
Remote IT Assistance
There are countless moving parts in digital ecosystems, and when something goes wrong you need an expert “on hand”. That’s why the Carpe Data security team employs remote administration tools installed onto each employee’s workstation to allow the administration of remote employee assets as if they were in network.
How we stay upbeat through it all
Of course, not all challenges of remote work are technical— we’re people too! Here are some of our favorite tips for staying human during difficult times.
Smile, You’re on Camera
We’ve adopted an informal “Cameras on (when possible)” policy for all Zoom meetings and calls. Face-to-face time with someone other than your cat is truly important, so we ask everyone who is comfortable to share their cameras no matter who or what may be in the background. Bad hair week? We’re all there with you. Messy living room? Whose isn’t right now. Solidarity brings communities together during difficult times.
Virtual Happy Hours
By now you’re familiar with this concept, and you’ve likely started a practice like this on your own with your friends, family, or colleagues. We’re a little bit of all those things, so we’ve established a recurring happy hour every single day for those that need to vent, laugh, or share a drink after work.
Stay Safe, Stay Sane
“The best piece of advice I can give to those not used to working at home; focus on the things that you can control to ease the burden of those you cannot.” says Kait Joven, Carpe Data’s Product Delivery Manager and at-home worker of nearly 5 years, “This nicely sums up a lot of the other advice you’re seeing out there right now, like creating a routine, arranging your workspace nicely, and giving yourself something to look forward to everyday. Remember that some days are going to be better than others and to be gentle with yourself— take a deep breath, don’t keep an eye on the news 24/7, and focus.”
What are your team’s favorite resources for staying safe, sane, and productive during these difficult times?