It was 91 days ago, on 27 March 2020, that South Africa entered one of the world’s strictest lockdown periods. Although some restrictions have been relaxed, businesses are still being encouraged to allow their employees – where possible – to work from home. CapeRay had to move swiftly to adapt to the changing circumstances. Since we had a few days’ notice prior to lockdown, we ensured that each employee had a laptop computer and decent bandwidth at home, and then made a decision on which video-conferencing software to adopt.
Because the company has a licence for the Microsoft Office suite of programs, we decided to employ the Teams application (see above right), which is slated to replace Skype for Business. The program runs on either a Windows or Apple computer and supports various features, including one-on-one chats, telephone calls, a calendar, the sharing of files, and video conferencing. Since the beginning of lockdown, the CapeRay team has been meeting each morning at 9:00 am, just to confirm that everyone is healthy and is ready to tackle work for the day (see below left).
In commenting on the new working conditions, Murray Truter, our electronics engineer, said: “Despite the lockdown and its challenges, Team CapeRay is more tightly knit than ever, and we have technology to thank for that.” Our software engineer, Sbonelo Mntungwa, commented: “The team has been able to adapt to the changing work conditions, plus we’ve been introduced to multiple communication platforms.” Natasha Steele, who serves as both quality assurance and business manager, highlighted one of the amusing features of Teams: “You respond to a question and start going into a long explanation, only to discover you are on ‘mute’ and have to start all over again!”
In addition to the brief 9:00 am meeting, the CapeRay team also gets together at 12:00 noon to discuss the major project we have embarked on. A useful feature of Teams is that it allows any participant to take control of the screen and share an image of what she or he is working on. We have also adopted an agile approach to our project management and employed a powerful software tool called Jira.
Another platform we have used extensively has been WhatsApp, enabling us to share ideas, images and even make long-distance calls to suppliers. While 2020 will forever be remembered as the year of the Covid-19 pandemic, the CapeRay team will always think about technologies like Teams, Jira and WhatsApp that have enabled us to communicate and continue working during the lockdown.