Coronavirus concerns have taken over our planet by storm. Not only has this virus caused over 6000 deaths and 150,000+ infections, but it has also halted businesses worldwide and cost the global economy billions of dollars. Due to the fear that the virus may spread further, companies are instructing their employees to work from home and avoid going to crowded places while tech giants like Google, IBM, and Facebook have announced to cancel their major conferences and instead decided to have digital events.
So, where does this situation leave the software testing companies? Well, depending on the geographical locations, many of them are allowing their employees to work from home. And while this WFH policy is what’s best for them considering the situation, it has some key challenges. Let’s have a look at some of those.
One of the major issues of working remotely is communication, especially when it comes to communicating problems and having conversations that involve critical interpretations. Teams are using tools like Zoom and Slack to communicate with each other via video call. But when it comes to text tools, it can sometimes be hard to interpret the urgency and tone of some messages. This is why it’s better to hop on a video call to figure things out if you find yourself completely lost when talking to a coworker.
Also, when working remotely, team members feel hesitant to ask questions at times. “Should I ask the whole team or just one person?”, “Would it be appropriate if I ask the same question again?”. Keep this in mind, It’s ALWAYS better to ask questions. Every time you’ll do so, you’ll learn something new and feel satisfied because you know the answer and you won’t have to guess it or catch up on threads from eight hours before. Even if the question is asked late or seems stupid, it’s totally fine. Also, asking questions indicates that you are interested and want to be involved. It’s just another way to interact with your team.
One of the disadvantages of working remotely is that there is a lack of transparency in work. As opposed to working in a co-located team, you can’t simply look around and see what your teammates are working on. Also, changes that testers make aren’t always visible. This is why it can be hard for your team to gauge how well you’re doing and whether you’re succeeding at your job.
This is why overcommunication is so important. You have to keep telling your team about your wins and give lots of status updates. Needless to say, setting goals is also very important so that testers can be held accountable. Regular feedback sessions also help keep everyone in sync.
In co-located teams, testers are used to having an abundance of meetings each day. It’s the same for distributed teams except that they just require more coordination. Of course, last-minute meetings won’t be possible anymore so it’s important to plan ahead and be aware of the optimal time zones, in case your team members are geographically dispersed.
It’s also important to equip yourselves with software testing tools that allow seamless collaboration. Tools like JIRA and Kualitee can provide you with performance metrics that are necessary to gauge a team’s performance. Through these software testing tools, test managers can easily assign test cycles to relevant teams and their mobile application takes accessibility to a whole new level. Tools like Screenhero (via Slack) can also be very useful as they allow two people to see the same screen at the same time. Google Docs can also be used to allow individuals to share ideas and take notes at the same time. Choose the tools that fulfill the requirements of your team and look for opportunities to pair and work together whenever possible. More collaboration is always a good thing for remote workers.
How else can software testing tools help?
Good software testing tools let you manage, assign, and track tasks of your team. This provides test managers the accessibility and ease of doing their job, even if they’re not physically present. These tools also enhance the collaboration and as a result, help produce improved results. When it comes to defect management, all the details regarding issues can be conveniently communicated so that developers don’t miss out on any information while they work towards fixing those issues. In-app chats and file/screenshot sharing are a few examples. And lastly, these tools can assist you in preparing useful reports by incorporating all the data and analysis of your tests in a very simple and visually pleasing manner.
Make the most out of ‘work from home’
Working from home can be hard. To cope with the challenges, first, it’s important to acknowledge them and figure out how to overcome them. COVID-19 is a deadly virus and hopefully, it won’t stay for long. But until it’s contained, it’s better to work from home and do your bit to fight the virus. Be sure to find ways to connect with your team. Build rapport, and trust each other. Find processes that work well for you and your team, and adjust when things are not working.