The pandemic has changed the world for ever. Masks and viruses weren’t the only ones that we were introduced to. Our day to day activities were disrupted and a major portion of that disruption happened to our work space. Traditional methods and approaches were challenged and disintegrated in the new pandemic induced environment. Meat-spaces were replaced by virtual spaces. Zoom calls & google meets are the new normal. “Work From Home” – something that we wished and the HR disposed are now the way of life.
There are certain industries and roles that were completely taken aback or forced to shut down since ‘WFH’ was not a viable option for them. However, the IT Industry was quick to adapt (being IT industry of course!). What was once considered a boon was soon frowned upon by many since ‘work’ pervaded all walks of life, consuming personal/private space. It led to a rise in depression, low productivity, anxiety and the list goes on.
Let us now look at some of the challenges and opportunities pertaining to IT Services, especially testing. How has remote working affected the lives of testers worldwide? What are the implications and what can we learn from them?
Challenges in Remote Working:
- Collaboration at times with teams is a challenge as there are instance of communication gaps due to assumptions, incorrect understanding of functionality/priorities, poor articulation skills, noisy background at remote locations, no hand-overs or lack of follow-ups.
- Technical failures like screen sharing issues, inability to record sessions, power fluctuations/outages, poor internet connectivity and poor mobile signals slow down work progress.
- Building trust with peers, leads, managers is one of the underlying factors in remote working. To take a line from one of Elvis Presley’s hit, “Just by seeing is believing, I don’t need to question why” and building trust by ‘not seeing’ – that’s indeed challenging!
- Multitasking personal and official work activities at times saps the energy and gives substandard work output.
- Enhancement of soft skills, technical skills and people management skills with the time available as a result of cut down in commute time.
- Learning opportunities that arise out of collaborations with teams/opportunities to mentor/to be mentored.
Critical Information Acquisition:
- Record knowledge transition (KT)/acquisition sessions with the consent of the provider (SME/Counterpart/ QA Lead/BA) for future reference. This helps minimise the iterative time taken for KT.
- One can create an understanding document, and then do a reverse KT. This would help one to ensure gaps are addressed.
- First perform the flow/activities manually to ensure it works, all required data are available before looking to automate the flows.
Increasing Depth of Testing:
- Ensuring our understanding of business functions must be spot on.
- Always apply standard testing techniques to ensure testing scenarios are not missed out.
- Apply a risk based testing approach.
- Acquire new testing skills by learning from peers, mentors, external forums, training sessions.
Dealing with Increasing Workload:
- Have a clear list of activities assigned
- Prioritise the tasks basks on importance, relevance and urgency
- Estimate the effort to carry out the prioritised tasks. If it is more than what can be accomplished, communicate with the service requester about the estimated/probable timeline in which the tasks can be accomplished.
- In case of conflicting priorities, discuss with the QA Lead/mentor and reprioritise the tasks.
- If there are tasks that require additional skills to accomplish, flag it up with the relevant stake holders.
- Break down the tasks into small sub tasks with a goal to accomplish them in a stipulated time.
- When there are more tasks assigned to you which is beyond what you can manage, talk to your lead to get that task delegated.
Up-skilling during Remote Work
- Set a goal to enhance your skill daily. Start with small goals, spend about 30-45 minutes learning something relevantly new.
- Best way to make use of that newly acquired skill is to teach someone else and to put it into practice.
- Willingness to learn and to be mentored.
No job is less challenging or easier than the other. Every opportunity comes with a challenge and every challenge presents an opportunity. ‘Remote Working’ which was once sort after (and still is) is not always as easy as perceived. Nevertheless, the right approach can solve any crisis and make remote working or WFH as fun as possible.