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What happens after the COVID-19 lockdown?


It has been 140 days since we announced that we would start working remotely. Initially, it seemed a little daunting. We have spent a lot of time creating a fun and nice work environment for everyone on our team. Just short of telling everyone to pack up their desks and shutting the front door seemed a bit like a recipe for doom at first. 

What initiated this of course was the spread of the COVID-19 virus and a growing concern for the well being of our staff. 

Of course, it has not been without challenges, one example of this was our telephony infrastructure. Up to that point, we've been using the same Asterisk PBX that I set up one evening somewhere back in 2014. At first, we sent everyone home with a MikroTik router, some VPN tunnels and, their IP phone, and their PC. 

We have since moved our telephony into Microsoft Teams using their direct routing features, we have also set up a secure development and testing environment that does not rely on VPN tunnels and other complexities, and we have implemented various collaboration tools that allow us to function as efficiently as before.

Where are we today? My office is where I open my notebook, and the same holds true for every member of the team. All the tools required for the job lives in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere.

I no longer lose time driving my car to meetings, and I am also not pulled away from important work by the noise generated from running a business, things that have often taken away from my productivity.

That last word is the thing that really hits home to me, productivity, Our productivity has increased significantly enough for me to contemplate adopting remote work as our new normal.

Consider this:

  • Before, we could only hire talent in a ± 50 km radius from our office.
  • Quality office space comes at a significant price
  • Having office space means insurance, desks, parking spaces, cleaning, connectivity infrastructure and caffeine on tap
  • Because of the scarcity of work in South Africa, people are often willing to travel 45 minutes to an hour to get to their place of employment, this elevates risks in terms of road accidents and can easily see someone spend 7 to 8 hours a week just commuting to and from work - that is a whole workday, just driving your car.

What if we kept a small office going with really just a boardroom as a meeting space to be used for the occasional face to face meetings (and for the sake of an official address) and redirected some of the funds spent on office space to our staff to further to incentivize remote work? 

I'm circling Friday, the 9th of October on my calendar, marking 200 days since we started working remotely, at which point I would have made a decision about this.