There are approximately 3,653 days in 10 years. For the average worker, of those days, roughly 2,610 are spent working. A lot can happen in those 10 years – mission statements, visions, goals, strategies, tactics, managers and colleagues – they all can change. It’s a rare occurrence to find a group of colleagues that have worked together for longer than five years. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average tenure at a job in 2018 was 2.6 years.(1) But, for a group of colleagues at Cognizant Softvision their tenure is anything but average – having worked alongside a specific group of people for nearly 10 years.
Bogdan Vasile Oltean, Alexandru Boitor, Roxana Top and Mirela Stencoane all hail from our Cluj studio and have worked together for nearly 10 years on a specific client project. Since then, the four of them have remained one core, integral group to the onboarding process of our Romanian studio, seasoned experts on older client projects and a vital asset to parlaying the importance of building and nurturing community and collegial relationships within the Cognizant Softvision culture.
We got the opportunity to ask the group a number of questions related to their time spent working together and what working together looks like now, in the throes of a worldwide pandemic.
Q: What are some keys to success when it comes to working together for as long as you have?
Vasi: “Communication, trust, working as a team.”
Boitor: “Communication, ownership, and responsibility.”
Mirela: “Smart and funny people, trust, good communication, doing new things, and working as a team.”
Roxana: “Realizing that your coworkers become your second family with whom you share your success and failure with and are there to help you grow and develop professionally.”
Q: What is the culture at CSV like? culture played in the success of your projects you’ve worked on together?
Vasi: “I had always heard about the Softvision culture being different and I think Softvision has indeed a more open, family like environment, which makes it easier to troubleshoot and solve problems – together.”
Boitor: “Pre-pandemic, I remember some activities that were organized from CSV, and then those that were organized by studios – they all felt like a team building activity specifically for our team because we were all in the same studio together.”
Mirela: “I think the CSV culture has played a role in the success of our projects – as I know Softvision supports team work and close collaboration with our clients. CSV provided nice studios for us to work in, our studios, which allow for us to have fun and socialize more.”
Q: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other pods/teams to successfully work together as a team?
Vasi: “You need communication and trust between members of the team, you need to know each other, to know each other’s strengths and weaknesses – that’s how you get ahead.”
Boitor: “Communication – face-to-face as much as possible, but also go out for beers together – when the pandemic is over. When it comes to changing things within a project, try to communicate the value behind this change, not just the change.”
Roxana: “Speak up! Accept and understand that people are different.”
Mirela: “Communicate a lot workwise or just for having fun! Try to have the team in the same studio, if possible, and strive to have team-building activities at least twice a year (organize them personally if the company does not offer them because people will want to come). Be honest, even if sometimes you’re frustrated, because opening up and talking as a team brings people together.”
Q: You’ve worked together a long time – can you share a funny story from the time spent together with your co-workers?
Boitor: “Going to San Francisco for the first time (invited by our client), myself and two team members, Flaviu and Florian, went for a 12 mile ‘walk’ around all the piers. This was possible because of the great relationships we had with each other, because otherwise, I am not a ‘walking person’ and I wouldn’t have done this with just anyone.”
Roxana: “Going to a team building activity with a mini-bus in a cold and snowy winter and taking a ‘shortcut’ that actually took six extra hours due to unforeseen circumstances regarding transportation!”
Q: What does collaboration look like for you since COVID-19 took place?
Vasi: “Now that we are not at the office we use Zoom – even for small-talk. We talk a lot about work related subjects, but also non-work related subjects.”
Boitor: “Zoom is life!!! During this period, it is the most used tool for face-to- face talks, and we’ve used this tool even for the ‘happy hour’ part of our interactions.”
Mirela: “We’ve used Zoom a lot for talking to people or just to chat.”
Q: How has it been working from home?
Boitor: “For me, working from home was a challenge initially since before it was required, I never really worked from home. It was a challenge that has taught me to over communicate some things, and use the webcam in my laptop as much as possible for people to see my body language when explaining something. The meetings are less noisy, but I don’t see that necessarily as an advantage, because I like more face-to-face contradictory discussions.”
Roxana: “For me, I can sum up working from home in a few words: Adapting to change. Because everything changed when we went home to work. Going to our studios and interacting with people face-to-face became staying at home and texting or FaceTiming with people. Having a coffee and a break in the gazebo with my colleagues became texting with someone while having a break and having a coffee.”
Q: What does a typical day (now wfh) look like in your team? How about after working hours or coffee hangouts?
Vasi: “We start with stand-up on zoom and after that, during work hours, from time to time we ‘get out’ on zoom for small talk whenever we see fit. Also, if working on a story with someone we use 1-on-1 calls a lot.”
Boitor: “On top of the regular Scrum meetings, and the one-on-one calls, after working hours, I like to hangout to a ‘post meeting’ zoom call, where we can share our experiences: how our diet has changed, how are those around us handling this pandemic, how our fitness and active life has changed, what new kind of beer did you have delivered to your home, all sorts of subjects.”
While COVID-19 has transitioned into a more virtual collaboration, one thing remains the same for these four team members: working together has and will always be an adventure. With the basics of great communication, trust, and a willingness to be a team player, it looks like this team is in for the long haul, as long as there are no more 12-mile “walks” through the hills of San Francisco.