Can 500 people work together from a distance and how well? At how many VPN connections does everything crash? A little insight into our infrastructure and tools with Google
Achim & Dominik
What's often requested is assistance with the installation of the VPN client for access to Merkle internal resources. Many colleagues never had the need to access internal services from outside, because they usually work in the office. These installations can easily be carried out via a portal page. Technically, we have no problems with the VPN, we are absolutely in the green zone in terms of the number of connections and the necessary bandwidth despite the home office.
It becomes more difficult when there are hardware problems. If we could't solve these remotely, we would have to provide a replacement device that the person concerned has to pick up at our office at a later date. Fortunately, we have been spared this so far.
For those colleagues who need a normal telephone as a work tool, we help to switch to the VoIP client on the notebook and instruct them in its use. Due to the different operation on the notebook, this is connected with more support at the beginning. In the meantime, however, everyone gets along quite well with it.
Since we have been making sure that we can be reached from anywhere and at any time for quite some time now, our main infrastructure (server room) is already double connected to the Internet. Here we have already done good preliminary work. Nevertheless, the services that we run ourselves (e.g. Projectile, Wiki, Jira) are dependent on these providers, because they only work if at least one of the two lines is running.
With callings and our collaboration platform G-Suite, which we obtain from the cloud, we are naturally dependent on the operators. Due to the massive increase in load worldwide, there are slight performance losses here, but only very rarely. Overall, however, we benefit greatly from the fact that these services do not have to come from our own data center.
Achim & Patrick
The quality and expansion of the public networks are currently under severe scrutiny. Working from home is only possible if the house is well connected to the Internet and the transmission rates are suitable. Especially in multi-family houses with several parties on the fiber optic connection, high latencies can sometimes occur because everyone is now working from there at the same time.
Achim & Christoph
Due to the fact that the work situation is spread over several countries, we at Merkle are already used to working with online meeting tools. For our customers, the situation is often quite different, especially in conservative business areas such as the financial sector. The employees there are often not allowed to work with the necessary tools, so that we have to increasingly use "classics" such as Webex to stay in touch. However, all major providers have slightly reduced the (video) quality of their applications to cope with the increased load and still keep the connections stable.
Collaborative whiteboard solutions are in great demand because of the remote collaboration in project workshops, for example.
Another very exciting special situation is remote pitches around customer projects, where everyone involved is sitting in their home office both at Merkle and at the customer's site. Here, the special challenge is to establish proximity to the customer and to convey our professionalism. We are currently looking for suitable tools to meet these challenges as well. An online meeting and whiteboard are just the start.
Basically, apply these tips to remote meetings:
The virtual working method is gaining importance in all areas of life. Grandma gets Skype explained by her grandson...
I could imagine that if virtual collaboration works well, more work is done from home and expensive office space is reduced.
In my opinion, it will be important to find a common denominator for all the needs of the company and its employees. Despite possible advantages for the individual (no commute to work, flexibility), there is also social isolation and reduced team cohesion to master.
I believe that especially in schools there will be great changes in the use of new technology, far beyond beamers, internet and classroom PCs. We as a company will also profit from this in the medium term.
On the market side, many companies, including large ones, are now finding it very painful to see that they are not well equipped to meet the challenges of the online age. This is of course a great potential for us.
Achim & Christian & Anette
The client support has increased, because everybody has to adapt to the new environment and partly also the way of working. A little more intranet adaptations, so that all information can be collected and distributed. However, the infrastructure for running Merkle itself is the same and the daily work remains largely the same.
Christian: Since I'm about to move, I work on an IKEA cartons :D
Anette: Looks exactly the same as in my office -> notebook, monitor, keyboard, mouse, mobile phone, coffee cup, water bottle.
Tibor: Wood instead of a USM table, otherwise identical with better sound.
Anette: Regulated daily routine as usual (of course, a bit more flexible, but with a normal daily structure)
Christoph: Pay attention to data protection while working from home. Computers lock up when you go out, especially with small children who like to press buttons wildly, a headset for meetings and of course a closed-off area (symbolically, so that you have a "workplace")
Achim: Ensure an ergonomic workplace in the home office as well.
Achim: Establish clear rules with his roommates about working hours, childcare, etc.
Tibor: Do not work in the same room with your partner to separate work and private life.
Christoph: No baggy look, but daywear to maintain the normality of a working day.