Keeping up with the developers

Want to get to know our people a little better? Then join us for this digital hop, skip and a jump straight into their homes.

With the current Covid-19 pandemic, everyone who is able and lucky enough to work from home have been sent home. Chances are you’ve already read countless articles on what tools to use and what routines to remember, so we’re not going to focus on that this time around. 

Instead, we’re going to take the chance this new reality brings to get to know some of our developers a little better. So pack your bags, we’re going on an adventure!

In Trondheim we find team Leagles, who are developing software to help with hauling saltwater away from oil wells onshore in the US. The team of three had just returned to Norway after a trip overseas when the crisis started.

“One of the last things we did before the lockdown was to send Jan back home to Czechia. I’m really glad we made sure that no one is stuck home alone for weeks on end, which I think is easy to forget."

Harald Wesenberg

Photo of the home office of a software developer in Equinor

Ever wondered what a Czech home office might look like? Well, now you know!
Photo of software developer in Equinor, Jan Kondula, working at his home office desk during Covid-19

Jan was working from home in the Czech Republic for a few weeks at the start of the pandemic.

Ever wondered what a Czech home office might look like? Well, now you know!

Jan was working from home in the Czech Republic for a few weeks at the start of the pandemic.

“Stay online and available so your colleagues can reach you. Let people know if you have other responsibilities for parts of the day. ”

Jan Kondula

Countries apart

It's not standard procedure for anyone to be sent back home if they're from another country, but the team made a decision to make sure he wasn't alone at home. And don't worry, Jan was on board from the start.

“I got on a plane and into Czechia just hours before the borders closed, and I’m really glad I did. It’s nice to be home with family these days, but the downside is I don’t really know when I can get back to Trondheim."

Even though they’re countries apart they find time to play virtual chess and have virtual coffee machine chitchat. Harald believes you should consider the social aspects of having to work from home, not just the technical bits. 

“We spent time on team building while we could and we’re benefitting from that now. Even if we hadn’t been in this situation now, the only downside would be that we got to know our colleagues better,” he says.

Since publication, Jan has returned to Trondheim. After the mandatory travel quarantine, he's now back at work in Norway. 

“Make sure your colleagues have people around them. These days, working from home can be quite lonely if you’re stuck all by yourself. Check in on coworkers, not just for work.” 

Harald Wesenberg

Creating new traditions

While working from home can be a great time to create new team traditions, it’s also a good time to continue them as well! Learn from our graduates, who moved their weekly lunch meetup in Trondheim to Teams. 

Photo of Arnt-Erik Stene, a software developer in Equinor

“It’s nice to get together with like-minded people to just be social, instead of it having to be a meeting where we have to do some work. Which is true whether we’re meeting up in the cantina or virtually."

Arnt Erik Stene

Arnt Erik is one of the graduates who started organizing the weekly lunches. He explains that usually between 5 and 10 people take part. When they started arranging them in the real world, they originally started with just 2019 graduates - the bunch that Arnt Erik was part of.

Screenshot of a a virtual lunch for software development graduates in Equinor
The weekly graduate lunch in our Rotvoll office in Trondheim has gone digital! And why not have some fun with backgrounds if you can? (From the top left: Kristine Lie, Alana Hope Kent, Øystein Barth Utbjoe, Nicholas Dalhaug)

Now, they’ve included 2018 graduates as well as our latest 2020 additions. One of this year’s graduates is Ida Mortensen Bernhardsen, currently working in Research & Technology.

“I always look forward to the lunches. It’s nice to see some friendly faces and get a break from work these days, as everything just seems to blend together. Plus, it’s fascinating to see what everyone else’s home office looks like!

Ida Mortensen Bernhardsen

While it’s scheduled to be 30 minutes long, it has happened that it’s become a little longer. But in a world of social distancing and remote work, that slight overstep is worth it, Arnt Erik explains. 

“I feel that the social refill the lunch gives us is worth more in the long run than the 30 minutes of work we might miss,” he laughs.

Photo of some of the cats belonging to software developers in Equinor relaxing in their home office
This is the internet, so we had to include some kitties. Left is Olav Kåre Vatne's trusted cat "Pernille" and to the right is Elsa Maya Irgens' "Kaizer" complying with hygiene regulations.

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Keep it light

We head down the series of tubes that is the Internet and find ourselves in Bergen. Home to the Scout team, who you might recognize from our previous Loop-story. Jonas Grønås Drange tells us that while they have a lot of fun at work, they’ve also been able to take their sense of humor with them online.

“I think it’s incredibly important to be able to have fun and crack jokes while working remotely. It feels a little strange to talk together through video, no matter how used to it you are, and humor helps lighten the mood."

Jonas Grønås Drange

Photo of Jonas Grønås Drange

“Most of the communication these days is written and ends up being more factual than normal. Humor helps provide a break in that,” he adds.

Developers have a big advantage with everything they need to get their job done available online. And while that might be a great opportunity to dive into work and focus, you also lose out on casual conversations with desk buddies and colleagues.

Photo of Jonas Grønås Drange, software developer in Equinor
Jonas' home office doesn't just consist of coding and coffee - there's quite a bit of pacifiers and baby shark going around too.

“While in terms of efficiency and getting work done, this might be a perfect situation. But when it comes to building and maintaining a community it’s something else entirely,” Jean-Paul Balabanian explains.

Jean-Paul is the manager of our SI office in Bergen. He’s noticed that there’s been some events like virtual coffee breaks and other social happenings, but still wishes there were plenty more.

“It might be frustrating when you’re at work and writing that last, perfect line of code and someone disrupts you. But those small social interactions are important to more than just your work day. If you’re not having fun at work that will affect your personal life too,” Jean-Paul says.

Eirik Folstad Wahl, software developer in Equinor, working in his home office

Eirik Folstad Wahl shows us the perfect home office: multiple screens, a happy developer and a tidy environment.
Software developer in Equinor, Eirik Folstad Wahl, photographed at his home office during Covid-19

And then there's reality! But who cares? Times are strange these days so don't stress the small stuff.

Eirik Folstad Wahl shows us the perfect home office: multiple screens, a happy developer and a tidy environment.

And then there's reality! But who cares? Times are strange these days so don't stress the small stuff.

Flexibility is key

Pack your virtual bag, we’re heading to Stavanger to meet team Ceno. Daily standups are always a staple in our software development teams, and lockdown is no exception. But that 9 o’clock meeting is the only mandatory meeting of the day - which lets people adapt their work to suit their day. 

“I think this kind of flexibility is the most important thing in situations like this. We have so many different family situations in our team so we have to let people work when they can,” team lead Sverre Johan Stener says.

Li Deng, software developer in Equinor, photographed in her home office

Li Deng in her home office.
Olav Kåre Vatne, software developer in Equinor, in his home office during the Covid-19 pandemic

Ceno teammate Olav Kåre Vatne in his home office.

Li Deng in her home office.

Ceno teammate Olav Kåre Vatne in his home office.

But after some time working remotely, they saw a need for more social options. So they scheduled daily social zones at 1330 for people to stop by and have a chat.

“It’s nice to have a space to talk to my colleagues about something other than work, and helps me stay social when I’m not in the office,” Li Deng says.

Another Stavanger-team with virtual coffee breaks and social zones is the Mobility team. They’ve even started hosting weekly Friday-quizzes using Kahoot, where the winner creates next week’s quiz.

“We’ve had different kinds of categories so far, from quizzes on everyone’s favorite drink and fun facts about each member. They don’t have to be anything elaborate, it’s just about creating a fun break from the workday,” team lead Olav Gisle Tveiten explains.

“Remember to take breaks. The first week I was so immersed in work I forgot to take a break and I felt really tired after just two days. Go out and get some fresh air when you can!"

Li Deng

The upside

While some might see working from home as a challenge and big change, most developers only need a computer to get the work done. And these days of not being surrounded by people can also have its benefits!

“We’re used to working digitally like this, so as developers we’re lucky. It’s also a great opportunity to do the things that require you to dive deep into a subject matter and just concentrate - without any distractions from colleagues,” Sverre laughs.

Sverre Johan Stener, team lead and software developer in Equinor, working from home in his home office
"I've found myself having coffee machine conversations with myself these last weeks, so hopefully I'll get to see people again soon," Sverre Johan laughs.

Working from home really isn’t all that bad, even though it can seem like a transition. And developers are lucky to be able to work from home during these times, Jan says.

“People are strictly divided in how they’re affected by this pandemic. Bus drivers, nurses, grocery store clerks and many others have to be out in the middle of this situation to do their work. I think we’re very fortunate to have a job like ours.”

Jan Kondula

No matter where you are or what you’re working with - we hope you’re staying safe. If you need distractions or a good partner for a coffee break we have plenty of stories available. And more are coming soon, so make sure you sign up for the newsletter to stay in the Loop.

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