When the CDC announced that COVID-19 was spread through person-to-person contact we wanted to be sure we took all precautions to ensure the safety of our employees, including working from home. In normal times, our daily operations include our employees coming into the office and sitting near their designated teammates. They also periodically exchange devices from our library of over 350 devices. We pride ourselves on having a centralized team of testers working together each day, but safety had to be prioritized. We have the resources to work from home, so in 3 days our leadership team met, created, and rolled out a plan for our employees, and by March 13th we were completely remote.

We’ve shared some tips on how to stay sane and productive while working from home, but we’d also like to share how we’ve successfully transitioned to working from home as a company.  Through the use of systems we’ve created (SyncIt and Test Platform) and widely used tools like Slack and Google Meet, we’ve been able to successfully navigate working from home and maintaining high standards of confidentiality and security for all of the apps we test.

Prioritizing At-Home Security

As it became apparent that working from home would be necessary, we had to ensure that our work would remain secure. Over the years we have partnered with hundreds of organizations with high security and confidentiality standards. Therefore it’s something we had to adapt for all of our teams. Here are a few examples of areas we decided to improve and solidify:

Security Testing Procedures

Locked Testing Computer

We have built detailed training about ensuring that we do not compromise any information about projects. We often update and revise our Security Testing procedures to ensure the confidentiality and security of our clients’ information.

Device Management

Variety of testing devices

Over the years we have built a device library with hundreds of desktop and mobile devices. Distributing those devices to all of our team required us to revise and rethink how we managed user accounts & password management and share that plan with the team prior to sending everyone home with their work stations and test devices.

Network Connection and Account Management

Graphic of user profile image

Although in the past our Network Administrator was someone most people would go to only when they had a technical issue with their workstation, our Network Administrator is now a central piece of the team and he communicates with the entire company every single week about security rules and protocols to follow.

Ensuring Test Coverage

Sharing devices is a risky activity now, due to COVID-19. This created a need for our project managers and leads to be more thoughtful with scheduling employees and determining what devices they need. Over the past few years, we’ve developed our own resource management tool to easily manage time and schedule projects. SyncIt allows us to continue accomplishing the same level of results with an efficient remote work system.

In order to ensure device coverage, Project Managers easily search their team’s device inventory on Test Platform and determine which testers might be needed by device type/OS. We anticipated this need from our clients and therefore sent home a myriad of devices with each tester, ensuring that we could continue to provide the device coverage our clients require while working remotely.

Safely Exchanging Devices

Our work requires that testers use different devices to fully ensure web and mobile applications are functional across the board. Over time we have built expertise about the top devices to test on for both iOS and Android platforms. If you are interested in the subject, take a look at our previous posts about the top iOS and Android devices for testing. We always keep up with new OS releases for desktop and mobile versions, and that’s why we invest in new devices and computers all year around.

Device lab page where plus qa employees check out devices

Through our Test Platform, testers can identify and check-in or check-out devices as needed. To make these exchanges as safe as possible, masks are required and devices are sanitized with a Phone Soap before being checked out or checked in. These exchanges are done quickly to reduce risk, and six feet of distance is maintained throughout the process.

Maintaining Connection While Apart

Plus QA Employees on Zoom Call

Slack was our main method of communication while we were working in the office, and it continues to allow us to connect while working from home. Dedicated channels allow communication to be streamlined and efficient. The integrated video calling feature has become a vital way for people to talk face-to-face, along with Google Meet and Zoom conferences.

As soon as we switched over to working from home, we had to change our way of recognizing birthdays. Instead of a card signed by everyone and well wishes said in person, we started compiling happy birthday videos for each employee. It’s been a fun way to continue celebrating each other from afar.

Gift bag for quarantined plus qa employeesWe have always had team lunches to encourage people to connect. Since we can’t come together right now, we recently sent out care packages and are encouraging our employees to have virtual team lunches. We’re also utilizing our internal newsletter to highlight interesting things about our employees, like the music or art they make, to remain connected.

Experiencing COVID-19 has shown us that our team was creative and quick to respond when difficulties arise. Within a few days, we were able to distribute to all of our internal teams: Human Resources, Marketing team, Product team, and testing teams. 

Historically we have always been centralized and work within a couple of different locations, but this has forced us to rethink some of our processes while keeping security and collaboration among the teams in mind. We’re thankful for the flexibility and dedication of our employees, especially as they’ve continued to remain productive despite these unexpected changes.

image of workstation, with an iMac, a keyboard, a mouse, a plant, and a picture framePLUS QA co-owner Audrey leaning over the front counter and smiling.