Working through the Coronavirus pandemic

By Tobin Harris, March 21, 2020

Managing Director at Pocketworks, app development specialists.

Happening At Pocketworks 


Note about the image: This was taken by Mo as he visited the office last week. All the plants are in one room! We decided that individuals could visit the office from time to time as a break from home. Our team are incredibly concerned about suppressing the spread of the virus, so we're being very cautious. 

The world has changed in the last few weeks. Like many businesses, Pocketworks is having to adapt quickly. 

Our hearts go out to the families and businesses this is affecting. Like everyone, we're concerned about the wellbeing of our loved ones and friends right now. We're also determined to do our bit to help curb the spread of COVID-19 and have adjusted our operations accordingly. 

If you're already working with us, we'll have been in touch already to check you're ok and discuss priorities. You'll also know that there are some changes to how we're working. Here's a summary for those that need it.

Pocketworks is now working fully remotely

All Pocketeers are working from home and doing the whole "social distancing" thing. This means we won't be holding workshops and meetings in our Leeds office, nor meeting for lunches or events. The rest of this article covers how we plan to make good progress, keep your digital products evolving, and support your mission-critical software.

Weekly product reviews and demos

Your weekly product reviews and demos will be conducted over Zoom or Google Meet. We'll show videos of your software or send builds to your devices as usual. Our clients in London and the South will know that we do this regularly and it works smoothly. We'll continue to call and Slack for ad-hoc questions and interim updates.

Discovery workshops

We are continuing to offer workshops over Zoom or Hangouts. You'll also get an invite to a Miro, which is the best collaborative virtual whiteboard we've found. It supports sticky notes and sketches for interactivity.

We anticipate workshops may not be as seamless as our face-to-face workshops. However, we can assure the critical bits will all be there;  presenting research findings, identifying project risks, working up ideas and making decisions together. 

Focus groups and user interviews

We'll continue to offer user research services. User interviews will be done remotely. Previously about 70% of our user interviews were done this way, so we don't anticipate it being a problem. 

We're doing focus groups over Google Meet, which is working well. Running interactive tasks isn't so easy, but we're still getting good value from the sessions.

We won't be doing any "day-in-the-life" or field studies for obvious reasons. 

App Design and Web Development

Our team will continue to design and develop your digital products as usual, except our internal standups and planning sessions will be done over the wires. We use great cloud tools for app design, hosting and continuous integration, so we don't see there being any disruption to the design and development of your product.

The most important part of developing digital products is communication between everyone involved. We're keeping an eye on this in our weekly retros. Some people thrive off face to face communication and there are advantages to having everyone in the same room. Please be assured we're doing what we can to develop healthy remote communication habits. For example, we're about to trial a "whole-company" virtual standup, and encouraging people to video-chat rather than just Slack each other.

Quality Assurance

Dan and Poonam have divided the mobile devices between themselves to ensure they can each test across a wide range of devices. We are investing in cloud-based device farms to help fill in any gaps. The goal is to offer the same test coverage we could achieve in our own offices. 

We'll continue to use tools such as BrowserStack for web-app and PWA testing.

Hosting and Support

The main change to our support is that we won't be able to do on-site visits to troubleshoot issues. We're encouraging clients to send videos and slightly more detailed bug reports to compensate. We are still offering support packages over UK business hours and also for 24/7/365 clients. 

We'll continue to do server health checks and security patches for customers with web applications.

Finally

We know it's tough times for business at the moment. Please don't hesitate to contact us if you need flexibility or help. We wish you good health and good luck over the coming months.

Best wishes

Tobin and the Pocketworks Team