When the going gets tough, the tough can become better. Everyone can learn something during a crisis.

My team was already firing on all cylinders before this crisis hit. We were high performers.

We were nearly 100% onsite, and physically near each other. I had no desire to do anything differently. I fully embraced the agile, onsite, co-located cultural norms. It had worked so well for so long.

As fate would have it, I had surgery just before the virus hit, with orders to stay home for a week. Then came the first announcement: work from home for the rest of the quarter. Then for the rest of the year. All at once, our entire routine was upended.

Stand-ups became “sit-downs” as most of us were now seated with headphones on. It took more effort to deeply listen. It was easier when we literally stood in a small circle. I committed myself to keeping my hands off the keyboard except where the standup itself required keystrokes. When I may not see these teammates for the rest of the day, the extra focus is justified.

Remove such obstacles yourself, decisively. Do not wait for a command.

I’ve become less skeptical of remote work, seeing that remote work can indeed be done successfully when the entire team is all-in. This changes both my own work as an individual contributor, as well as my outlook as a manager. And this will likely impact recruiting efforts too.

Our pre-COVID hiring guidelines forbade full-time remote work. This rule now seems obviously more cultural than scientific, and is not likely to survive our post-COVID rebuilding.

I’ve learned (once again) that boundaries are healthy and good. I cannot work around the clock just because technology makes it possible. My wife and I both work more than what most Americans would refer to as “full time.” We give our best to our employers when we are working. And then comes a hard cut-off, a day and time we’ve agreed to. When this time is reached, we literally shut down and unplug. No electronics allowed. We maintain at least one night per week when we will both be utterly unreachable. This is proper and good. Indeed, every healthy relationship you have is marked by boundaries.

You must not allow comparatively unimportant expenditures to stand between you and success during this time. If you need an adjustable height desk at home, buy it. If you need another monitor, don’t hesitate. If current bandwidth holds you back, upgrade. You alone will be held responsible for your productivity. Don’t be penny-wise and pound-foolish. Remove such obstacles yourself, decisively. Do not wait for a command.

Both your work and your personal life have likely become more difficult. It is good to reflect on things you should be grateful for. As for me, I still have a good job, and a good boss. I remember how terrible unemployment was. I still have a home. I remember when I didn’t. We have already survived worse than this. We will get through this. Together.

– Allen Loew, CTFL – United States

Don’t wait for a command. Take charge of your career now by finding your next step on the software testing career path.