How I Boosted My Productivity As A Remote Tester Amid COVID-19?
Cross Browser Testing •
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We’ve all heard the saying, “There’s no rewind button in life.” Wouldn’t it be great, if we could just press the rewind button and go back to a world which never knew of COVID-19. But, sadly we don’t have that option!
COVID-19 is creating havoc all over the world! To reduce the spread of Coronavirus, many countries have issued either partial or complete lockdown. Work from home (or teleworking) has become mainstream due to the pandemic, as offices are shut, compelling employees to work from the convenience of their homes.
Worldwide, companies are taking preventive measures to combat the effect that COVID-19 pandemic has on the business. This includes layoffs, salary cuts, and more. Whether you are associated with a startup or an MNC, this is the time to be 10x more useful and productive than before.
All start-ups have moved to cash conservation mode. Despite layoffs being the most obvious path, every founder I spoke with vocally desisted it until it's their last resort.
If u work @ a start-up dealing with this crisis as mentioned above, plz consider urself privileged (1/2)
— Avlesh Singh (@avlesh) March 29, 2020
Contrary to my beliefs, working from home turned out to be a bigger challenge, I thought it’d be. My productivity and efficiency really took a toll while remote testing from home. I was getting around half of the work at home from what I did at the office. And to top it off, due to the economic crisis, companies and in turn employees all over the world were suffering too. It was about time I pulled my socks up!
After this smack on the head, I tried quite a few experiments to boost my productivity. Some worked, some really didn’t, but ultimately I was able to concoct an elixir to boost my productivity while performing remote testing. In this article, I share some of the ways that helped me stay productive during these turbulent times
Getting Rid Of Distractions!
Turns out, working from home once in a while, is completely different than working from home for a stretch of weeks or months altogether. Sitting behind closed doors really hampered my productivity. The first hurdle was getting adapted to the new working style, I really missed face to face meetings, quick discussion with colleagues to find a potential fix for a problem, and more.
1. Office Work + Household Chores (Maid on leave) – It's crazy
2. When WFH, the work never ends
3. When at home, everything requires attention right from food to be cooked, to the door bell, to folks
4. 2 many concalls, team calls, client calls – Never used the phone so much
— Stuti Singh (@stuti1234) April 6, 2020
Without the pressure of waking up early for travelling to work, i ended up sleeping late which in turn hampered my sleeping pattern. I’d end up spending more time in front of the laptop without being actually productive.
In short, I was easily getting distracted or I slacked off too much! Situation was getting out of control, so I decided to take an action. Below are some of the positive lifestyle changes coupled with mindset changes that did the trick for me:
- Short meditation session to kick-start the day on a positive note.
- Allocating a dedicated place in the house that now acts as a WFH office. Avoid working on the bed (or the couch) as it takes you into the comfort zone.
- Training the mind that there are bound to be some obvious distractions (e.g. kids entering the room in the midst of a conference call, completing some household chores, attending some personal calls from well-wishers, etc.) when working from home.
- Taking a stroll in the house after taking a lunch helps in fighting the dizziness and laziness. Treat it as if it is the walk that we normally take after lunch in the office.
These are small positive changes that helped me improve productivity. One thing to be kept in mind is that lifting the lockdown is not under our control but living a healthy lifestyle without hampering the work is definitely under our control.
Testing Tools For Better Productivity
While performing remote testing from home, you end up losing access to all your in-house testing infrastructure. You’d have to set up a local Selenium grid and set up your own infrastructure, in order to perform automated browser testing. But you can always choose a Cloud based Selenium Grid, to scale your Selenium test automation efforts.
With LambdaTest, automated browser testing can be performed on 2000+ real browsers and operating systems online. You can leverage the power parallel testing on Cloud Selenium Grid to accelerate the testing process. You get access to plugins that integrate with popular tools for CI/CD (Bamboo, CircleCI, Travis CI, GitLab CI, etc.), project management (Jira, GitHub, GitLab, Mantis, Hive, Asana, etc.), codeless automation (Katalon, Ranorex, Oxygen, etc.), communications (Slack, Microsoft Teams), and more.
Along with this, desktop applications like UnderPass can help in testing locally hosted web-applications, that too, remotely! Selecting the right tools could be a big boon in times of pandemic as those tools help in streamlining the development, testing, and release process.
Usage of relevant testing tools that provide integration with popular third-party tools can boost the productivity of the test team along with adhering to the delivery timelines.
Less Streaming, More Working
Working from home comes at a cost and the cost is convenience. I used to take that for granted and would get easily distracted with streaming mediums such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, etc. This turned out to be destructive for my job, as I was not able to concentrate on the work. I realized that it is ok to take a break, but binge watching can be a vicious cycle and cost the job!
However, work from home does not mean working endlessly as we are humans and deserve a break. You can still binge-watch your favourite shows when you are done with your office work! Don’t get into the ‘Work from home never ends’ situation!
Better Collaboration Between The Team
Managing a distributed team remotely is a huge challenge. The challenge becomes multifold during the time of crisis when all the team members are working remotely. Scheduling meetings, ensuring timely communication between the team members, reporting and tracking product issues, managing release cycles, and other software activities could become a huge challenge.
There are a variety of communication tools such as Slack, Zoom, AirMeet, etc. that can be used to ensure that there is seamless communication between all the members in the team. You should choose scalable and efficient testing products that offer integration with CI/CD tools so that the delivery timelines can still be met despite the pandemic.
Stable Connection Can Help You Go A Long Way
While everyone is re-adjusting their work routines, companies around the world are taking concrete steps to ensure that there is no choking of web traffic. The basic requirement for remote working is having a high-speed broadband connection so that you can work remotely without any lag.
Many organizations let their employees take their office laptop home and work from home is much better if done from office-issued laptops. There are still many companies that never had any work from home policy as employees were not allowed to carry any office assets (including laptops) outside the office. Due to COVID-19, these organizations were also forced to devise work from home policy in a hurry. Majority of the companies are providing access to their office network via VPN (Virtual Private Network) or other networking solutions.
There could be an upsurge on the broadband network as all the people are working from home. Rather than using a flaky internet connection, it is advisable to go for a high-speed internet connection from a trusted vendor so that there is less throttling of the network.
Don’t Let Anxiety Take Over You
It is hard not to be anxious, and want to know the state of the pandemic and its implications on the world economy, and more. Although, It is good to be well-informed about the current situation, but you shouldn’t let it consume all of your time.
It could take a toll on your emotional & mental well-being which can, in turn, hamper your productivity. Along with reducing the intake of information from social media channels, it also helps if app notifications on the mobile phone are turned off. Notifications should be enabled only for the apps that help you stay connected with your team and your family. If you are still feeling anxious, talk to your friends or family members to divert the attention.
Take a short break, have a cup of tea (or coffee), and read a book that you always wanted to. These tips will help you cope with the anxiety (due to COVID-19) and stay focused.
Maintaining an Activity Tracker
We live in a digital world but sometimes it is worthwhile to go against the tide. If you are an individual contributor or someone who is a hands-on tester, I recommend that you plan your day by writing the activities on a sheet of paper. Prioritize the activities and strike off once the activity is completed. Keep the sheet close to your workstation i.e. a designated place in the house which will now be your office.
If agile methodology is being used for product development and automation testing, it is necessary that you keep a track of the necessary parameters that will help in the smooth execution of the sprint. Some of the essential parameters to be tracked are bug inflow, test coverage percentage, defect density, etc.
As the other team members are also working remotely, it is important to maintain proper communication to ensure that all the members are on the same page as far as the activities and deliverables are concerned.
Once done with the planned activities, you can go the extra mile to perform exploratory testing as it is less time-consuming and complements automation testing. It gives you an option to explore into the unknown territories of the product and hunt bugs without any planning. This would not help in building a more robust product but it would also help you in widening the know-how of the features & overall product.
Keep On Up-Skilling!
Worries around uncertainties are mounting with each passing day. On one hand, there is the global pandemic and on the other side is the havoc that it is created on businesses around the globe.
A friend of mine whose job involves client meetings, business expansion, etc. is worried since his job involves heavy travelling and the pandemic has temporarily put a fullstop on the travel. There are many like him who are reliant only on their job and have never done any kind of self-introspection. Asking questions such as:
- What if I lose my job?
- What if I have to take a pay-cut?
- How well can I be prepared for the future?
These are some of the pertinent questions that you should yourself during these turbulent times. It is the right time to focus on something that you always wanted to do but could not kick-start due to some constraints. It is recommended to keep a Plan B ready so that you are well-prepared for the worst! Don’t forget to take some time out to work your skill set.
I did a self-introspection and came across many things that I really enjoy doing and can also help me make money! This is the best time for self-introspection since tough times don’t last; only tough people do.
You can start learning more about automation testing frameworks, BDD testing, programming languages, test management tools, etc. depending on your expertise, experience, and career path. Even though you are investing in self-learning, it will help you stay motivated during these extraordinary times as you are doing something that you had planned earlier.
This, in turn, will boost your productivity as it diverts your attention from the pandemic and helps you drive focus back to the work. Apart from working diligently on the tasks assigned to you, the lockdown gives an opportunity to do self-introspection and building your domain competency in the field of automation testing.
*Bonus Tip* Avoid Overeating, Especially Quarantine Snacking
It can be very challenging when you are under lockdown for weeks due to a pandemic. It is important to stay agile even when you are working from home. Take a short break from your work and take a walk in your house for a few minutes to rejuvenate the body.
Always want to eat something
— Kelesi (@NantoHokutoKen) April 6, 2020
Consume water at regular intervals so that your body is hydrated. In these times, physical well-being is as important as mental well-being. Start your day with some basic exercise as it will keep your body and mind fit.
All In All
The COVID-19 outbreak has impacted lives and businesses in a big way. It would be too early to comment on the overall impact that it will have on the global economy. These factors are beyond our control and we can only hope that there is an early end to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In such times, it is important to focus on mental well-being and support others who have difficulty in coping up with this grave situation. Your productivity may not be 100 percent but you can work on increasing productivity even in such tough situations. You can use the tips mentioned in the article to focus on your work along with building competence in automation testing. Signing off with this famous Persian adage. This, too, shall pass!
Got any tips of your own! Share them with us in the comment section below, who knows we might even include this in our content. Share this article with someone who needs help in boosting productivity! Happy Testing☻
Written by Himanshu Sheth
With 7+ years of experience in test automation, BDD, TDD, Himanshu Sheth work as an automation engineer with LambdaTest. He is also an avid blogger.
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