I started at Testimate as a senior testing consultant in February 2020, roughly a month before the global pandemic turned the world on its head. During the first six months, I had virtually no face-to-face meetings with my colleagues at all!
I got to work for about a month at the office of a Testimate customer before the rapidly-escalating coronavirus situation exploded in our collective faces. When the lockdown procedures were instituted in Finland, the customer stated very unambiguously: “Do not come to the office anymore.”
We had of course worked remotely for the project before, but now we were suddenly forced to make the transition from one remote day a week to full-on remote mode at a moment’s notice. That being said, the work began to flow surprisingly well after some initial confusion.
My job is to develop test automation, which means that I can work fairly independently, once I am familiar with the objectives and tools. In fact, working remotely as opposed to at the workplace has turned out to be more productive – there are fewer interruptions at the home office and I can focus fully on the tasks at hand. Information flows efficiently through status meetings and chat interfaces. On a personal level, the absence of the daily 50 + 50 minute commute adds a good chunk of productive time to the day.
Despite my positive experiences with remote work, having the opportunity to work with the development team face-to-face for a month definitely helped. The brief period provided me with some time to familiarise myself with the most important contacts.
It is obviously easier and faster to communicate with the team at the office, but the electronic communication tools serve their purpose too. With every team member responding to chat messages quickly, no tasks need to be put on hold. In complex situations, you can easily set up a Teams call and share the desktop to all parties involved.
Even when using video calls for remote meetings, the people on the other end may feel somewhat distant. Yet, sometimes personalities can shine through by sheer coincidence. Some time ago, I was in an online meeting with a customer representative from the UK when my home office cat Stella jumped onto my keyboard and into view. The unannounced guest star lightened the mood nicely and revealed the customer to be a fellow cat lover!
I ended up at Testimate by recommendation of Paavo, who has been with the company for some time now. The recruitment process was staggeringly straightforward: I called the founder Juha Karvonen, we had a couple of very informal meetings over coffee and lunch, and then proceeded to sign the contracts.
Despite the pandemic, it has been a pleasure to work at Testimate thanks to the company handling things well and providing excellent tools and employee benefits. The amount of red tape in a small company is low, and things can be handled in a flexible manner. There has been no shortage of customer projects, and during my time “on the bench” between them, I had the opportunity to engage in Testimate’s internal development.
Testimate has handled its operations and communications during the pandemic appropriately and according to official guidelines. As an example, the company refused to risk one person’s possible infection exposing the entire staff. Supervisors call regularly to check in, and with loosening restrictions, we can even go for coffee or mountain biking together!
One of the oddities of the pandemic period was that, over the first six months in my new job, I only met a few of my 25 colleagues. I was very much looking forward to meeting everyone personally and finally got to do so at the end of August when the company held a summer celebration involving outdoor activities and dinner on Vallisaari island just off the shore of Helsinki.
The Testimate team is an extremely social bunch with a good sense of humour – even the veterans are easy to talk to about things related to testing and anything else! The staff also includes many sports enthusiasts, and in the autumn our team will participate in the Poronpolkaisu cycling event in Loppi, which I personally am very excited about.
Mikko Monto, Senior QA Consultant