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Smart working: 8 rules for daily smart work

Sometimes you need to work on a customer site and you need to access a specific file, sometimes you need something faster than an email to deliver urgent informations, sometimes you also need to work from home.
Here is our smart working strategy explained in 8 points.

Smart Working Strategy #1: Emails should be accessible always and everywhere, no excuses

Emails should be accessible always and everywhere, no excuses if you want to achieve smart working

Today we cannot depend on a single internet connection line that can be down without any advice, and we cannot leave al our communications archive on an internal server which maintenance is delegated to a contractor: before the switch, when our company’s line was down, we were not able neither to receive or to send emails.

Since 2018 we have decided to move all our mail system on cloud services and our choice has been Microsoft Office365 proposal: it’s a very common choice that allows everyone to access his own account from everywhere and use several platforms (Windows PC, Linux clients, mobile phones).

Smart Working Strategy #2: Internal servers have storage only purposes

Internal servers have storage only purposes

We try to keep internal service maintenance and risks as low as possible, outsourcing as much services as possible: almost everything but file storage is today moved outside our company physical perimeter.
We decide to keep file sharing services on internal servers to be able to deeply manage access availability, speed and permissions.
Several backup systems are in place, using both internal and external destinations.

Smart Working Strategy #3: We must be able to access data from everywhere

OpenVPN allows us to access internal servers from everywhere, beacuse that's the main goal of smart working

That is where our VPN come into play.
We use an OpenVPN solution that allows us to access our local network virtually from any location, using a Windows or Linux PC or even from a smartphone (we suggest Cx File Explorer on Android devices).

Smart Working Strategy #4: Source code is our primary intellectual property

Mercurial and TortoiseHG

We need to be sure that every source code is kept in the safest location, along with its history to be able to reconstruct the life of each development.
That’s why we chose first of all to introduce a reliable version control system to all our development projects: since 2008 we have used Mercurial (hg) to keep track of our changes and to manage change requests, while GIT has a small role in Linux related developments.
Our primary repositories are stored on external servers, installed in big data centers on Italian territory: we can safely access them (via SSH) from everywhere wherever we need to push or pull changes, even we are actively working at Customer’s place.

Smart Working Strategy #5: We all need to keep track of company’s projects and tasks

Redmine helps us to keep track of ongoing tasks

We use Redmine, we use it for several years: I think today there are a lot of better solutions but we stick to it because it fulfills our requirements.
We use this software to keep track of almost every shared task in our company, from production related issues to new components selection and evaluation.
It is deeply customizable, so it can be adapted to several aspects of daily management.

Smart Working Strategy #6: It’s important to share information in a precise and easy way with stakeholders

Trello to manage shared project information

Trello is our choice: we use it to manage project advancement with our customers and with our external engineering partners, using teams and boards templates to keep project up to date and minimizing other forms of communications that could lead to scattered informations.
Emails are still our “source of truth”, but Trello is a much more flexible and modern way to share informations.

Smart Working Strategy #7: Every communication tool has its own response time: mail, instant messaging, calls

We constantly work to reduce wrong utilization of emails, as they are not the correct tools to deliver an information that requires a prompt response by the recipient.
We like the “3 mails then talk” rule (ring the phone if we weren’t able to solve a problem after the third mail) and we support the 8-hours timeframe of an email message (you can wait up to 8 hours to receive a reply to a mail), even if it is very hard to eradicate old habits.

On the other side, we understand that no one is happy to receive one phone call every two minutes.
That’s why we adopt an instant messaging tools to communicate even with people in the same office: it’s fast, it implicitly carries a higher priority sense but it allows the recipient to take his time before replying.

We used several tools during past years, and even if we daily use Skype, Telegram and Whatsapp even with customers and suppliers, today Slack is our primary choice, as it allows 1-on-1 conversations and group chats, and (very important) is available as Android application with very good functionality.

Smart Working Strategy #8: When we need to meet, we propose Zoom

When we need to meet, we propose Zoom for smart working

A lot of time it is not really necessary to meet in person, maybe traveling far from home just to have an one hour meeting.

Today we have plenty of tools that helps us organizing online meetings: we chose Zoom, a video meeting service that allows to create and join 1-on-1 calls or group meetings, with screen sharing, chat, whiteboards and a lot more.

Just a microphone and a webcam and we’re ready to meet.