Remote Work: Mostly Ups with a few Downs

Working from home was not a novel concept to Calcey, but Covid-19 saw our teams having to strategize and set themselves up for long-term virtual work.  Upon feedback from employees, Calcey made the informed decision to become a remote-first company in April 2021. We reached out to a few people, some old hats and some new to Calcey, to find out how it’s been going so far. Here’s what they had to say!

The good 

The general consensus was that remote work was much preferred over working full-time from the office. For employees such as Dhanura, it allowed him to live at home instead of having to stay in Colombo. ‘I love that I can be in my hometown, with my family and still work for Calcey. I used to travel every Friday to come back to Anuradhapura and working remotely saves me all that travelling. In terms of flexibility also, Calcey is way ahead. Everyone on the team is friendly and can be contacted at any time. I get to know my teammates through little chit-chats we have while waiting for pages to load or uploads to finish’.

For new parent Hasaru, working from home allowed him to be a hands-on father to his now ten-month-old daughter. ‘My wife and I take turns with the responsibilities, depending on our schedules. Some days she watches the baby more and other days I do. It’s an amazing thing, to be able to watch your child grow up and be there for the important moments. I’m happy I get that chance’.

For Sahan, who left Calcey in 2019 and rejoined in September this year, it was an interesting change. ‘The work-life balance as well as productivity is good when you work from home. Not having to commute daily from Panadura is also a huge plus’.

Those new to Calcey too, had mostly positive things to say. ‘So far, so good’ says Avindu, who joined Calcey in February this year. ‘Having been in the industry for a while, it isn’t overly difficult to work remotely.’ Avindu also enjoys the freedom of being able to have a personalized and comfortable workspace, which affords him maximum productivity.

Adjusting was a bit smoother for long-term employees like Sasanka, an SSE who has risen up the ranks at Calcey. ‘Working from home is less distracting and I find I can focus more. It also allows flexibility – if there is something urgent at home, you can plan your work day around it. I’ve also found that people on the team are quite independent and don’t need constant supervision- everyone does their work well.’

Some bad, and the occasional ugly

The main downside of remote work for most people was the lack of human interaction. ‘Everyone used to know everyone when you were in the office’ says Sahan. ‘Now you only know people within your team. We also used to have a lot of fun at the office and joke around and would randomly go out after work. But these days meeting up takes a lot of planning’.

When asked if they felt there was a culture shift along with remote work, Hasaru, Sasanka and Sahan all agreed that there was, but that it wasn’t necessarily in a bad way. The ‘work-hard-play-hard’ motto of Calcey still persisted, just in a different way. ‘It takes new joiners a while to realize that Calcey has a chilled-out work culture. They tend to overwork at the start but then, with time, realize how to balance things’ says Sasanka.

For those who do not have a dedicated workspace, concentrating and being on video calls proved to be a tad challenging. This was remedied by Calcey supporting its employees in building their own workspaces at home. People also found that reading one another and sensing whether or not someone needed help was tougher to do virtually. Coordinating with a number of teams simultaneously now required more effort and bad connectivity, especially during adverse weather, would occasionally lend to the frustration. 

The way forward

The current hybrid arrangement of being able to work from the office or work from home is one that seems to please everyone. ‘It’s good to have the option of going to the office and I do this whenever I need to be in Colombo for anything. The resources in the office are great so work can be done fast’ says Hasaru.

Calcey’s office space at Trace Expert City, Colombo 10 is maintained at Covid-19 safety standards and allows employees to pre-book a slot for the day they would like to come in (a maximum of 20 slots are available in keeping with regulations). Teams have used this system to meet in-person after months, and bond for at least a few hours. Most found that, once this initial contact was made, working together felt easier.

‘Remote work is all about managing yourself. If you make sure you have a routine, work to a schedule and do things the right way, then it’s easy’. These words of wisdom from Sasanka certainly hold true. Calcey prides itself on well-managed teamwork, while placing the utmost trust in our employees to do nothing short of their best. Adaptability is part of the ‘Calcey Way’ and we are confident that we can make the best of any situation that comes our way in the future.

Photo by Dessidre Fleming on Unsplash