Working from home and Tech at bol.com Covid-19

4 min.
1 April 2020

The corona situation means busy times and many new challenges for our Tech team. Priorities are shifting and more than ever they are focused to come up with good solutions to keep on making progress. “This mentality is very typical for bol.commers, say both team managers Peter Brouwers and Peter-Paul van de Beek. We asked them about the Tech team’s challenges and approach in these challenging times.

Family & Health

The impact of COVID-19 is huge and affects all of us. Our concern lies with the health of our colleagues, their families and our customers. We completely understand that these are challenging and scary times. Especially when you have family outside of the country, which is the case for many of our colleagues. It’s important that, depending on each (home) situation, we find solutions for communicating and working together. By looking at each situation individually, we ensure that we stay connected and aren’t asking too much of our colleagues.

The new way of working (from home)

For a couple of weeks now, we’ve all been working from home. Even though the scrum rituals have been digitally applied right away, the whole social distancing aspect of the situation has been a challenge. There are a few matters, that everybody is struggling with today, like working and having children at the same time at home, having a partner in healthcare and communicating through digital whiteboard sessions. But luckily, we quickly found solutions. Digital meetings and boards, working more elaborate through Jira and having stand-ups via MS Teams. This shows that the challenge lies in good communication and working together as a team.

Contact & Communication

We noticed how important it is for everyone to stay connected with each other. In times of social distancing, this can be challenging. But luckily our colleagues are doing everything they can to stay in touch and stay connected in a digital way. They use coffee breaks, screens are being shared to work together, or just have a call to catch up.

Besides that, new colleagues have started within different teams at bol.com. The role of their ‘buddy’ is even more important now. We ask them to stay connected, ask loads of questions and consult a lot, so that our new colleagues quickly feel part of the team.

 

”We are very proud of how quickly everyone is adjusting to this new way of working. The moment we all go back to the office, we will benefit this way of working.”

Innovation versus priorities

In regular times we focus on innovating per ‘Space’ (domain). This is now a challenge. We must ensure that we do not want to continue innovating at the same pace as we normally do, as our current priority is the well-being of our customers, partners and colleagues. We have to stay sharp and focused. Aren’t we going too fast? Does this fit within priorities? With the pressure on the warehouses and the webshop, the operation has become a lot more important. Choices must be made that do not have immediate priority when it comes to innovation. That responsibility lies with us, with the team managers. It is important that we keep an eye on priorities. A situation such as the one we are in now can cause them to continually shift.

 

”Instead of our teams saying that something is not possible, they look for possibilities and make decisions. That’s our strength.”

 

Mindset & Peak

Currently the traffic on our website is high. Normally, we are used to prepare months in advance for a peak moment like this one and we make sure everyone’s in the right ‘peak season mindset’. So this sudden peak moment asks more effort from our teams than usual. But they’re handling it and that makes us proud.

What we ask from every Space in a peak moment is to keep on innovating where possible and that It really has to add some value to a process. In this way, innovations remains important in busy periods and we can continue to approach peaks productively. This mindset is now more important than ever, as we are not only at a peak moment, but also apart from one another. Usually you can see which teams are dealing with more pressure compare to others, and that’s where you can easily jump in. You can’t see that now. So communication and cooperation are very important here. In this way we can continue to help each other where necessary.

Resilience

One of the key competencies we always look for when recruiting our tech colleagues is resilience. How do you deal with change or certain setbacks? How agile are you and how do you react to situations you aren’t used to? Now, even more than usual, it is necessary to be ‘resilient’. Because being able to adapt quickly can make a difference for our customers.

Better every day, even now

Bol.com wants to do better every day. Even in a situation like this. We, as team managers, do not have to push for new ways of working or proposals for improvement. Our teams come up with their own ideas and we are very proud of that. As managers, all we have to do is channel those ideas and give them a priority. In this way, we can stay upright in this situation and continue to make progress. But above all, this way we can continue to do the maximum we can to support our customers during this crisis.