Resilience, Remote Work, and Remaining Positive

On By Timo Derstappen in inside

Resilience, Remote Work, and Remaining Positive

When you find out your normal daily lifestyle is called “quarantine”.

On a Tuesday three weeks ago, right after carnival, which is huge here, a couple in my small town was found to be infected by the coronavirus and the local government quickly decided that all schools (and many other institutions) will be closed for at least two weeks. Well, we are now in the fourth week. My kids have been at home since the 21st of February and are getting bored with all the free time. I still remember how they smiled at each other when I told them that school is gonna be closed for the second week. Unexpected holidays to play more Minecraft and watch YouTube. Hooray!

Actually for me, not much has changed. Yes, I had to print out material from the school — the elder one now also has YouTube live streams and discord from the school. And we’ve had to organize a daily routine so that the kids do their “homework”. I am used to cooking every day, mostly for myself, but oftentimes also for the kids. I am definitely not a prepper, but last summer for fun I started a challenge to only go shopping every odd week. We’ve switched our food to be only plant-based and that has made it even easier. Since cooking is a creative process for me, I also need to have everything at hand. This means I can survive several weeks without buying anything and still have decent food. But the kids started to get bored. Social interaction was missing. YouTube became boring. Motivation to be creative was very low because they just got frustrated.

So I’ve tried to give them more input.

  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Cooking or baking
  • Upcycling or other DIY projects
  • Playing retro games on a RetroPie
  • Flowkey for iPad to learn some songs on the piano
  • Nintendo Labo
  • Learning how to code with code.org, codecombat.com, cryptozombies.io and many more things.

Yes, we also go outside sometimes. Our piano teacher has also started to do remote lessons. For those already in quarantine or lockdown, what have you been doing keep your kids or yourself busy? Leave a comment or tweet me @teemow.

Now almost all countries in Europe have closed their schools, and you get the pleasure of having your kids at home, or even worse, being at home alone but told not to meet with anyone. Giant Swarm is spread across many countries but basically this time we are all in the same boat. From my own experience, I’d say this doesn’t have a big impact on us, both as a company and as a group of individuals. Of course, some of my colleagues have smaller kids at home and it is not as easy as described above. But it definitely helps that we are flexible and also used to working asynchronously. We don’t need to change any processes. We know how remote work works and the company was built with this in mind.

Family has always come first and it’s what we live up to — with or without corona.

People value this a lot, and in return, also invest a lot to keep the company going. This is a trust relationship, and this mixture of transparency, self-organization, freedom, and responsibility is what all of us love about our work.

If you read some of the suggestions for doing remote work that are starting to appear, we see a lot of ourselves in them. Wishing a good morning in Slack, having lunch together on Thursdays, having lots of chit-chat channels, kids running around in the video conference — all of that is normal at Giant Swarm. But did you know that in a remote setting, meetings tend to be much more on time than in an office? I mean, you can switch from meeting people in Spain to discuss a feature to a meeting with a German customer within seconds.

We are now starting to add a special calendar with social interactions and how to do them remotely. Expect a fully different article on this coming out soon.

But this is not the only thing that keeps us resilient. We have been a profitable company for years. We raised only some money in the very early days of Giant Swarm, back in 2014 and 2015. Since then one of our key objectives has been to own our destiny.

We’ve focused on delighting our customers from day 1. Today, we’re fortunate to be trusted by many organizations that have chosen us as their long-term partner to manage their cloud-native infrastructure. This gives us a strong foundation to build upon, get better, and grow profitably each and every day — even in these challenging times.

The current situation isn’t easy both for many individuals and companies. We know we are in a privileged position because both the industry and the digital work we do allow us to continue our business as usual.

We’re not worried about ourselves but this doesn’t mean that we don’t care about other people.

Many people inside Giant Swarm are trying to help out in their communities, be it local, entrepreneurial, or whatever interests them, and the flexibility of Giant Swarm allows them to do that.

Spring has started here in the countryside. It’s beautiful and the sunshine is good for your soul and your immune system. Enjoy the sunbeams. Enjoy the first flowers. And don’t forget to laugh at all the memes that are being created at the moment. Stay healthy!

Picture of Timo Derstappen
Timo Derstappen
Co-Founder of Giant Swarm

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