Adapting to the times: Collective remote working at NTS Retail

These are turbulent times around the world. In Austria, the federal government has issued an order, requiring everyone to stay at home apart from running necessary errands.

The media has been filled with coverage on “social distancing” in the past week, the essence of this being: Staying home may very well save lives by limiting the spread of the disease. Obviously, we are determined to do our part, so practically everyone is working from home now.

Home Office? No problem!

At NTS Retail, we are used to working across different locations and time zones, as we work with our international customers and teams in various locations in Europe. We have made the switch to Microsoft Teams as our main tool for remote collaboration about two years ago and this move has made it easy for us to change our routines smoothly as the situation intensified in the past weeks.

We use the Teams and Channels features to organize members from different departments into task-driven workgroups, which allows us to communicate directly and effectively. Video chat allows us to maintain a personal connection, even across the distance.

Adjusting to the new reality of our work day, we started meeting virtually for a cup of coffee or an after-work drink – and it works surprisingly well! In fact, digitally introducing co-workers to our homes may even help us get to know each other a bit better and serve to build a stronger bond.

How does our team think about the situation?

We asked around a bit to see how everyone is doing at home and the response was quite positive! Productivity has been going strong and people are appreciating the possibility to spend time with their family and pets during breaks.

Here are a couple of opinions:

"Home office has been working quite well and I would not say that efficiency is decreasing. What I found over the last days is that there were some topics, which we even handle more efficiently now than before. The meeting culture (using video calls), for example, turned out to be more accurate. In the remote meetings I had this week, I did not encounter any significant delays and most meetings ended on time or even before schedule. Of course, I am looking forward to the times when we can meet again in person, but actually I am convinced that we will manage the home office period very well, internally as well as in collaborating with our customers."
"Technically, working from home has worked out great, better than expected. I think we should stick to things like having a remote coffee together, even after the social distancing period is over."
"Thankfully we ventured into this situation well prepared, as almost everyone has worked from home at some point before. There are some advantages to not being a big, shared office. The quiet periods help a lot for tasks that require me to focus on solving complex problems. Meetings over Teams have been working great as well. I am happy we made the switch to this tool a while back, because the routine we established in using is helping us two-fold right now. For some large meetings like Backlog Groomings we have to improvise a bit, but it’s been a good experience. Our team has had a good transition to working from home full-time and for me, personally, being home as a great upside as well: It allowed me to witness my sons first steps right as they happened." 
"I am surprised how well this has been working out so far. Communications, no matter with which department, have been excellent, everyone is highly responsive and quick to help each other out. Meetings work as well; I am even convinced now that we are holding more effective meetings so far. From a support perspective, we have been able to basically provide service as usual without any negative impact. As you can tell from the pictures, there is always a pet around wherever I am sitting around the house, even if they are just taking a nap somewhere close to my feet." 

What’s next?

As you can see, we are set up to keep providing our customers with the same quality of service they are used to. Luckily, as our business is software, it was a relatively easy transition for us to make the move to working from home with our entire workforce. For the next couple of weeks, this will remain our routine as the world watches what unfolds with this global pandemic. Stay safe and healthy, wherever you are in the world!

Last, but certainly not least: A big THANK YOU from everyone at NTS Retail to the people who are working so hard to keep the basic infrastructure going in Austria! We will get through this together!

Photo Stephan Berger

Written by Stephan Berger

As Head of Marketing, Stephan is in constant pursuit of the quest to bring our product vision to life and put NTS Retail's brand out there in the shape of a compelling story. A technology enthusiast and a passionate writer, he enjoys conversations with our industry experts, picking their brains and distilling their expertise into succinct copy, making the stacked knowhow at NTS Retail accessible to an audience of peers and colleagues.