In an interview, José Pedro Rodrigues - CTO of Caixa Mágica Software, sharing his opinion on the current situation and teleworking.
Currently, the world is going through an atypical phase caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. How is the current moment living in Caixa Mágica?
"Fortunately, with calmness, some thought and concrete actions that have had good results. Caixa Mágica, due to its activity and staff, is not a company immediately affected, either in terms of business or in terms of risk groups. This does not prevent us from doing everything in our power to align our activity with the recommendations and best practices in limiting the spread of the virus, as far as they are known.
Even before the declaration of a state of emergency or even the official closure of schools, Caixa Mágica decided to put its entire team on telework. This measure proved to be correct and it was possible to do it quickly and without significant impact to continue producing at the same level as before the lockdown. It is at this stage impossible to predict the effects of the pandemic beyond the immediate. The behavior of the virus is still largely unknown. Different countries and regions have had more or less severe outbreaks, regardless of latitudes, climate, measures applied or typical behavior of the population. Probably, as in so many things, it will be a set of factors that may enhance or reduce the ability to spread the disease.
Much is discussed about the best way to start the deflation and whether new waves of the disease will come in the short term. With such uncertainty, we will prioritize measures that minimize the contact of our employees with third parties, whether traveling or working, while definitive solutions do not exist."
One of the contingency measures adopted by Caixa Mágica consists of the teleworking regime. What has been the result of this measure?
"It exceeded the expectations in terms of the teams' productivity. It should be noted that the success of the measure was due on the one hand to the characteristics of the existing support infrastructure - laptops and second screens for all employees, repositories and support tools in Cloud, communication equipment for the whole team - and on the other hand the establishment of stricter than usual monitoring and control procedures - daily meetings with all team members, indispensable use of project control tools, analysis of team and individual productivity.
The positive results are the result of some discipline and continuity in monitoring each and everyone. Teleworking offers personal advantages beyond social distance - eliminated travel time to work, personal time management, accountability of employees, enhancing their autonomy and even some reduction in meal costs. We therefore see the continuation and improvement of teleworking processes as the most prudent way to keep the activity as close to normal as possible. After all, it has been teleworking that has allowed us to maintain our activity without impacts, so it will make sense to continue the bet."
What have been the biggest challenges in teleworking?
"In terms of the management of the teams and their productivity, it goes above all for the need to monitor and direct their activity, ensuring that there are no individual drifts or that the work to be carried out is not aligned with the objectives. We did not find any collaborator who simply was not able to fit into the remote working method we established."
Nowadays, do you consider the teleworking regime to be an asset for IT companies? Why?
"IT companies were probably the most prepared sector for teleworking. Concept that was already gaining more acceptance but still with a moderate growth rate. Now that the box has opened, hopefully the magic of teleworking will not be in anyone's interest to return to the previous status quo. There are clear advantages of telecommuting, in terms of team satisfaction, company and worker costs, efficiency and, perhaps mainly, the time people will have for themselves.
As negative factors, there are, we have a greater difficulty in creating a company culture, especially for new resources, the lack of close coexistence and greater difficulty in passing information from senior resources to more junior ones. Thus, in our view, a total teleworking regime will not be ideal, although measures to mitigate problems can be taken. For example, in a post-pandemic scenario, the cost reductions of the company's activity may in part be applied to more regular face-to-face team building activities."
What impact has this Pandemic had on the Caixa Mágica business?
"The direct impact has been moderate so far. The main concern is the prolongation of the state of the economy on gas, postponing decisions to award new projects and, in practice, freezing commercial activity. Although we are very optimistic in the medium to long term, the closest times will be challenging and unpredictable.
IT areas will be even more important in the future with digital transformation becoming even more important. The millions of people who now work in teleworking could not do so if the systems were not already heavily digitized. The digital transformation, which was important, will become essential."
What is the feedback from employees during this period?
"Employee feedback has been very positive. The possibility of continuing with their work activity without impact, despite the difficult situation in which the country and the world find themselves, has been valued. Caixa Mágica will also conduct an internal survey that allows a more general and objective view, both of the current situation and of the opening for the partial continuation of teleworking activity."