FinTech has emerged as one of the most important aspects of the modern world, playing a crucial role in providing access to financial services and products to everyone and changing how we manage our finances. And there’s no doubt that FinTech apps and platforms have taken the financial world by storm, but as with anything, there are downsides to this popularity that are worth considering.
What exactly is the FinTech sector’s role in modern financial literacy and education? Does this industry bear any responsibility on this matter, or their participation amounts to just covering a marketing demand?
“As our daily lives become increasingly digitized, more and more people are turning to FinTech solutions for their financial needs”, says Rod Aburto, Co-Founder and Service Delivery Manager at Scio. “From mobile apps that offer budgeting tips to online lenders that help individuals finance their businesses, FinTech companies revolutionized the way we think about personal finance. But as FinTech continues to grow in popularity, some are wondering whether they have a responsibility to provide financial education to their users.”
On one hand, many argue that FinTech companies are simply providing tools and services that users can choose to utilize as they see fit. And just like users of traditional financial products can make bad decisions that lead to debt or financial instability, so can users of FinTech products. As such, these companies should not be held responsible for the financial education of their users. On the other hand, some argue that FinTech companies are responsible for providing financial education to their users. After all, these companies often market themselves as alternatives to traditional financial institutions, which typically offer their customers some form of financial education. Furthermore, many FinTech applications are designed for people who may not be familiar with personal finance concepts, making it even more important for these companies to provide clear and concise information about their products, so what happens when people use them without really understanding how they work?
Poor financial literacy can lead to serious mistakes, like overspending or making poor investment choices, creating a lot of financial anxiety or even worse outcomes. So, while FinTech apps can be helpful, the users must adopt this technology responsibly, understanding both the risks and rewards before getting started.
Financial literacy in the FinTech era
“Financial education has become an important complement to market conduct and prudential regulation and many countries have made improving individual financial behaviors a long-term policy priority”, says Simon Pearson of the Investment and Finance site HedgeThink. “In a world dominated by continuum technological advances, the efforts towards financial education shouldn’t be limited to economic affairs but rather focus on mastering the technology that will drive the financial mechanisms of the future.”
So as FinTech companies increasingly play a role in our financial lives, it also has a responsibility to help educate people about personal finance, budgeting, and investment strategies, as well as the nature of the financial services they offer. We can break it down into the following categories:
1) Marketing. FinTech companies need to be careful about the way they market their products. In a rapidly developing industry like FinTech, it can be difficult to keep up with the latest marketing trends, but there are a few key principles that all responsible FinTech marketers should keep in mind. First and foremost, always be transparent about your product or service. With so many options available, potential customers need to know exactly what they’re getting before they commit. Secondly, don’t make promises that you can’t deliver on. And finally, always put the customer first, remembering that you’re not just selling a product, you’re solving a problem.
2) Security. When it comes to FinTech, data security is essential. FinTech firms deal with sensitive customer data daily, so it’s crucial to secure it, making it accessible only to authorized personnel. But beyond that, it’s necessary to make it clear to the user what information is getting stored, explain why, and have clear means of communication and support if any serious problem arises. “FinTech firms and their customers are often targets of all kinds of attacks and frauds, so it’s important to have robust security systems in place to protect against these threats and inform the public of the potential risks involved”, advises Rod Aburto on the matter.
3) Communication. FinTech companies provide a valuable service to their customers by giving them access to financial products and services that they might not otherwise have. However, FinTech companies need to communicate with their customers regularly to ensure that they are providing the best possible service. Customers need to be able to reach out if they have any questions or concerns, and they also need to be kept up to date on changes that could affect their accounts. Good customer communication can help to build trust and loyalty, and it can also help to resolve issues before they become major problems.
The limits of FinTech education
However, beyond these good practices, it’s good to keep in mind that, while FinTech has made it easier than ever to access financial education, there are still some limits to what it can provide. For one thing, FinTech products can be a great resource for learning about financial products and services, but it can’t provide professional financial advice when it comes to making major decisions. These kinds of applications can provide people with the tools and knowledge they need to make informed choices regarding their money, but it is always best to speak to a qualified financial advisor that could provide a good outside perspective.
Additionally, FinTech can be a great way to learn about personal finance basics, but it’s not always the best resource for more complex topics. Many people view financial education as a dry and boring topic, and with the rise of more and more FinTech platforms and applications, there are now more ways than ever to learn about money management, but a lot of the responsibility of making an informed decision and assuming the ensuing risk still rests on the shoulders of the customer, so seeking information with a trustworthy source is still the way to go.
Despite these limitations, FinTech is still a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their financial literacy. This is still a relatively new industry, and it’s constantly evolving, which means that there are bound to be some growing pains as the industry matures. So, while FinTech can be a great resource for managing your finances, as a user it’s important to be aware of the risks and limitations of these applications; they are often created to offer a solution to a particular problem, but they are seldom meant to be the be-all-end-all of every financial necessity.
And as a company, having an adequate ethical framework to approach the creation of a new FinTech platform, informing users and customers clearly of what they should expect, what they can’t do, and the basics they need to understand to make the best use of the product is a must. With these considerations, FinTech companies can help make sure that their products are safe and helpful for everyone.
The Key Takeaways
FinTech applications and software are becoming more and more relevant to our daily life, making it easier than ever to get started on a new financial road.
However, this abundance of options and innovations also brings new questions to solve: is financial education becoming a responsibility of FinTech?
Even if that’s still an open question, there’s no doubt that most FinTech companies can adopt practices (in Marketing, Security, and Communication) to ensure their products are not misunderstood or used incorrectly.
And finally, a deeper understanding of finance still falls on the shoulders of users, who should seek knowledgeable and trustworthy people to make sure they use any application or platform to its fullest.
Scio is an established Nearshore software development company based in Mexico that specializes in providing high-quality, cost-effective technologies for pioneering tech companies. We have been building and mentoring teams of engineers since 2003 and our experience gives us access not only to the knowledge but also the expertise needed when tackling any project. Get started today by contacting us about your project needs – We have teams available to help you achieve your business goals.
Even if the software industry is open for everyone with talent and dedication, women historically had to overcome more challenges to carve their own spaces. So we had a chat with Gilda Villaseñor about her work with Technovation, and the motivation to bring more women into this profession.
I was fortunate enough to never notice the idea that math was for men, and women should focus on areas like the Humanities. So when I was in middle school, I started playing chess, and I think that gave me a certain mindset that helped me identify or generate some complex scenarios in my head, and analyze them carefully.
I trained that part of my mind often, but without thinking of a specific professional area to apply it until my mom signed me up for a computer workshop. Both of my parents are doctors who worked at the IMSS (the Mexican healthcare system), and they had a coworker in the IT department that was always telling them about how computers were coming strong, and as they always had been curious about everything new, said: “Well, let’s get her into it to see what happens”.
I didn’t put any resistance to the idea, to be honest. Back then, my siblings had a very strong affinity for art, and they were always doing something related to it. It was something I wasn’t interested in at all, so I was the one that never had anything to do on weekends, and I joined that class.
Well, it turned out that I was good at the logic needed to write programs; they taught us how to write very simple procedural programs, but I realized that I understood those things quicker than all of my classmates and made things work faster when I was writing code. In the beginning, it was just a hobby, though, until I started high school and realized that I was better at the Computer class than the rest of my friends, so when I was finishing school, I decided I wanted to study something that could take me out of the city, and among my options were Computer Science, which was available at the Tecnológico de Morelia, but I wanted something different.
In the beginning, everything was fine, but during my last years of college and my first professional years, I started to notice very few women doing the same things as me, although I didn’t question it until I started hearing the stories of other women in the field. And it was when I reached a certain level when I noticed how my knowledge and experience were sometimes questioned without reason, and I wasn’t advancing as easily as my male colleagues, finding certain resistance to my authority when I started climbing up the hierarchy.
Also, having to decelerate my professional career when I chose to exercise my maternity, and the difficulty of having to juggle my job with taking care of my kids took a toll, as I couldn’t keep my rhythm the way some of my male coworkers could, which is part of the reason why I wanted to change things for myself and any woman working on this industry.
I started my volunteer work in an international program called Technovation. I was there between 2016 and 2019 until it had to stop because of the pandemic, and although I’m not active on that initiative right now, I am collaborating with others that try to bring more women to technology, business, and even writing, where we do women groups helping each other to break the stereotypes and current models, seeking to attain better conditions.
I have always had the impulse to seek a way to improve the conditions of everyone around us, from how we treat each other, to what happens during the professional growth of my colleagues. What started my dedication to this was a women-exclusive event I attended once, where all of these women talked about the challenges and problems they faced at work when they start to climb up in the ladder, and that’s how I started to realize many things I never questioned before, like how few female managers I’ve had, which I believed were just the way things were.
These testimonies, and seeing what other women were already doing in similar organizations and volunteer programs, as part of a greater initiative to support women, fired me up and made me want to get involved.
Some other female colleagues and I started seeing what was happening in other cities of Mexico, and started to investigate what we would do here in Morelia; we were a group of professionals seeking a way to start changing things, looking for a way to join initiatives directed at women in software.
So that next year I found the international initiative of Tehcnovation with Maria Makarovaand other women showing us what that program was about, what they did, and the things they were achieving with girls between 10 and 18 years old, and everything around that.
We brought this program to Morelia and started with some girls from residential care and private schools, and the year after that we worked with girls from an association that helps kids in underserved communities, helping them obtain an academic education from elementary school until they are ready for college.
We were surprised by the high level of engagement they showed and integrating them into these kinds of efforts is very satisfying for them, and us as mentors. You learn a lot from this labor and it’s gratifying to see kids and young women acquire new skills, especially when they see the possibilities of technology, and the communities we build for and by women.
The biggest challenge I saw was that, since this was an international program, most of the resources we used were in English, and although we do the effort to translate everything we could, some of the books and materials were still in another language, so we had to do some additional things for the girls that couldn’t understand it, or they learned to translate, using what they had at hand, like online translators and such, to learn.
Outside of that, everything else was a great collaboration, with some sponsorships from the local government, which lent us some spaces to do these workshops, and help from Universities and local companies, like Scio, BlueBox, IA Interactive, and Fundación Amamba A.C., in the form of facilities and coffee breaks for the events.
I saw a lot of collaboration and the desire to be part of a change for women, where talented people are always needed, and in most cases the resources exist to keep pushing forward these kinds of efforts, bringing lots of institutions to collaborate and be part of the change.
Back when I started, most of the interactions I had at work were with men; if the teams I collaborated with had 10 members, there would be a single woman in there at most, so I normally worked just with men. But in the last decade, I’ve been noticing a difference; I see more women in development teams, or the software industry in general, not only in departments that require soft skills but in high positions in a company that used to be solely men.
A lot of it has to do with the benefits that are starting to be offered in the industry, with spaces open for us. Now is very fortunate to have the option of working from home, and the women that are having kids now, have the chance to focus better on the very demanding task of raising children.
So, things like these had to do with necessities exclusive to women, but that has an impact in a whole context, and I see how they are starting to change. There’s a lot left to do, but benefits and offerings like that are becoming the norm in the industry.
Technovation is about inspiring and orienting young women to follow a technical career, showing them they can. That empowers them immensely, and through workshops about technology and business to create, launch and market products, essentially teaching them how to create a start-up, teaching them to be independent, and enjoy what they do.
More everyday situations are covered in talks and events targeted towards slightly older women. For example, when a woman decides to get married, for some it’s not easy to balance a marital and professional life, because this prejudice about women having to devote themselves to their homes still exists, and even more when motherhood and children are involved. These topics get touched more on the writing groups I mentioned, where the stories we write we reflect on ourselves, the world we navigate, and we confirm that most of the times we are positioned in a disadvantaged place, but we work intellectually, emotionally, and psychologically to overcome these situations, creating sorority ties between us.
We are starting to shift our places in the world. If you compare past and new generations, I think we are already changing our self-perception, how we see each other, and how we accept ourselves. What’s next is bringing these changes to our workplaces, fighting for places with more favorable conditions for women, taking into account our necessities, our specific contexts, opening spaces for us to communicate and collaborate.
In the tech industry, right now there are a lot of incentives and resources being invested, and for women, it’s a place to reach economic independence, with the option to move freely and choose for yourself, which is why I want to encourage more women to try this area.
The women from Mentoralia, the association that organizes the Technovation program in all of Mexico, are starting to develop other similar workshops, and it was with them that I started to bring these efforts to Morelia. I always had their support, and that opened plenty of doors for me to meet incredible women from all over Mexico, which is incredible and it’s a good incentive for anyone looking to join as a volunteer, as it is something we are passionate about, and we build networks of female friends and colleagues that have a good time together while changing the prejudice and stereotypes linked with software, trying to bring a future where women never have to question if they have the space to join in an important professional area such as technology.
The field of software development has a lot of roads, some are more challenging than others. And for Nati Lara, a Front-End dev currently living in Denmark and mom to a toddler, these experiences have been incredible. How does remote work and software impact her job as a mom and developer?
By Scio Team
Whenever someone asks me what I do for a living and I tell them I’m a software developer, the response almost always is “You must be very smart!”, because this preconceived notion of this job is that only the more intelligent persons can do it and, well, no.
It’s like when I see a carpenter doing their thing, and I say to myself “I could never do that”, but if it really interests you and you want to make your ideas into reality, it’s within everyone’s reach.
I started programming back in High School when a teacher helped us learn to use Delfi by designing a simple website. It was a very interesting exercise, having to do an entire page by myself; it was the final project of the semester and everyone did whatever they wanted, but I got really into it.
It was a gripping challenge because the teacher didn’t explain much, so we had to make with whatever solution and tools we had on hand, and I liked that a lot. Delfi already has some basics, so we didn’t have to start from scratch, writing zeroes and ones, which changed my ideas of programming. I used to think it was a black screen with green text on it like in the movies, so it was a different experience.
I used to like computers a lot as a kid, my parents got their first one when I was 10 years old, but I didn’t know anything that had to do with programming. I was curious about interfaces, not as much as the inner workings, and that’s what I specialize in today.
That’s why I do Front-End in iOS, I like things where I can see the result. I don’t get too much into Back-End stuff, where I don’t have a clear vision of how things are working, I prefer working on things where I can see the immediate result.
As a developer, the best feeling I get is when I can put my ideas in motion, and make something useful out of them, building a work of art without using my hands directly, so to speak. I like working with others, knowing everything about every part of a project, and contributing in a specific direction. The client I’m currently working with makes vegan and vegetarian food; the chefs here run the kitchen and develop recipes that avoid meat, trying to show that the absence of it still results in a good dish.
Their clients subscribe to the app I’m maintaining, and they get pre-made meals for three days, all vegan. There are many ideas involved with this project, like showing how much CO2 is being saved by avoiding the consumption of meat. I like it because, beyond the food, it tries to show the individual impact we have, and it even changed my conception of vegan and vegetarianism, which has changed since I work here and now I want to do my part.
The road here wasn’t a straight line. I originally studied Art and Digital Animation, because even though I always had some affinity for STEM stuff, I also liked creativity, drawing, and graphic design, but I didn’t want to go completely in that direction. So I tried something that had a bit of everything, but I ended up realizing that I liked it a lot, but maybe I wasn’t as good at it.
At some point, I started developing web pages with a friend that wasn’t very good at programming, but skilled at designing, so we started taking freelance jobs where I did the technical stuff and she did the visual part of the project.
That is how I ended up pursuing a Master’s degree in Software Development because I found it the best way to keep in touch with both worlds. I’m a developer, and I like having an opinion on everything visually going on during a project; when doing a website, I like to make sure everything lines up, looks good and works well. Even if I don’t consider myself the best designer, I like to pay attention to the details of it by programming.
For a degree like this, a proportion of 30% women does not sound like a lot, but it is, even if women are the most prone to abandon it before finishing. In Digital Design it was more balanced, around 50/50 or so, but here it was a noticeable difference. I think this ratio holds in most engineering careers, and in our culture at least, more women go for careers in Humanities like Arts or Social Studies, and a lot less in STEM.
My dad was a teacher, and he always raised us close to the sciences, so it wasn’t an issue for me, but my parents did prevent me from trying things like sports, especially soccer. I mean, I still don’t play it, but I also never had the opportunity, even if my dad somehow planted the seeds of interest in sciences like math.
As a female developer, though, I have never felt out of place or made feel less, although I’ve never worked full time in Mexico. I currently live in Denmark, and so far I have been the only woman in the Tech team of both companies I have worked at.
There were more women at school, that’s for sure, but right now we are fifteen people in the Development department, and to be honest, I like it that way. A lot of owners and entrepreneurs are feeling the pressure of attracting women to close the gap between male and female developers, so it has been easy for me so far to find a place to work. Being a woman in this industry is an advantage some of the time. There’s nothing to be intimidated by.
It’s even funny sometimes. At work parties, I’m the only one trying to dress well and use make-up, and my friends like to joke about it, saying that my job is making sure everything looks great, so of course, I do those things.
That being said, it’s curious to notice that, at companies like Scio for example, most women tend to gravitate towards analytical and QA stuff. I wonder why that is. I’ve never met another woman doing Test Automation or things like that; last year a girl started working with us in Full-Stack but doing Data Analytics, and everyone else has always been men.
It’s something I talk about a lot. I have many friends dedicated to Humanities, and we always discuss the differences between our fields; in the case of one of them, her office is almost purely women, with one or two guys here and there. I guess there are many reasons for it, and I have wondered before why it’s so important to close gaps in certain areas.
I don’t see a field dominated by either gender as something inherently wrong, if these differences were dictated by more biological, natural affinities, like women being more social or men being more analytic. But when those exclusions are cultural when we try to separate genders from childhood by allowing kids to play with certain toys only, we are creating inequality, and something should be done about it. And this is a change that we are not going to see in the next year or two, but it will take maybe an entire generation to change these points of view.
Now, in the actual job, do these differences matter? Maybe I have different aesthetic sensibilities and ideas of how things should look, so I can tell my coworkers an application needs, but I’m not sure that’s because I’m a woman, or because I have a background in Design. Who knows?
Being a developer has also brought other advantages for me. I have a son currently four years old, and working in software gave me a lot of leeways to define my schedules and limits, define my own way to work, and leave enough time for my family. I feel like I’m more productive, with better control of my time, and applying a developer point of view to raising my kid, where I accomplish big things by dividing it into smaller tasks, finishing each, and going from there, has helped me a lot.
Also, I’m used to staying up very late at night, so being a developer has also helped me a lot with that. Working in software, then, is very freeing and flexible, and I’m glad I could do it even before I was a mom. I don’t have to go to the office all the time, I can get along anywhere and the pay is not bad at all, so my quality of life is something I’m really happy about.
There aren’t many professions without a stereotype attached, and programming is sure among them. But are these ideas about the personality of programmers accurate, or are we missing something else? Let’s look into these old myths, and see if they hold up.
By Scio Team
When we think about programming and software, we tend to conjure a specific image in our minds, a stereotype that has accompanied the profession almost since the beginning: the image of a coder hacking away at the keyboard, immersed in a world of their own, without the need of much company.
However, if this was true at some point, it still is? The stereotype of the introverted programmer is an even mix of fact and myth, and here at Scio, where we know perfectly the talent we work with, we want to shed some light on the reality of people applying a special skill to create software.
Is it possible to profile a personality?
Since the days of the classic “Temperament Theory”, which tried to divide people into 4 distinct types (namely: Sanguine, Choleric, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic, which are pretty weird classifications if we are being honest), people had the impulse to try and understand their personalities, where they come from and how they affect their everyday lives.
More scientific approaches to these questions have evolved from the 20th century onwards, and today we understand that personality, affinities, and preferences are more fluid and flexible than we once thought, even if we simplify the whole idea for the sake of practicality.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator nowadays is one of the most popular systems to tackle this subject, going more in-depth on the inner workings of a person instead of just focusing on their outward behavior.
Going back to the idea of programmers as introverts, things like the MBTI bring some very interesting insights about this professional field and the people who feel compelled to it. What can we find there?
Let’s define “introversion”
What you need to know right now, is that the “introvert/extrovert” dichotomy is a little outdated, simplifying a vast swath of personality types into two neat boxes with little in-between. What the definition of “introversion” tries to convey under this understanding, is people who don’t have much affinity for a specific kind of social interactions, preferring more individual activities, or with a pretty select group of people.
Although many probably feel this way, reducing it to only these signifiers leaves a lot out. What the Myer-Briggs does is check the balance between the following:
Extraversion (E) versus introversion (I)
Sensing (S) versus intuition (N)
Thinking (T) versus feeling (F)
Judging (J) versus perceiving (P)
What this system maps out is the preference of the person, rather than the ability, so the metrics here assign percentages based on what a person would prefer to do in a given situation, ending up with a combination of 4 letters based on their highest percentages, like INTP or ESTJ. Please take note of the use of the word “extraversion” instead of “extroversion”, which will be important in a minute.
There are pros and cons to this approach, but the important part here is that we have a lot of historical data to see what large swathes of the population prefer, and in programming, the results are pretty interesting overall, challenging many of our notions about the “introvert coder” stereotype.
So… are programmers introverted or not?
We are getting there. First of all, since we are looking into preference instead of abilities, it’s important to note that certain groups, as a whole, will pick one instead of the other; it’s a decision (even if a subconscious one) instead of instinct, or impulse. For programmers, this preference goes towards Thinking (T) instead of Feeling (F), meaning that they like to analyze situations from a more objective point of view, not giving as much consideration to the emotional side of things
Now, this doesn’t mean they only do one of these things. It means that when compelled to act, people will feel more comfortable with a single approach, so if we look at coding, programming, or engineering (where you see lots of interconnected mechanisms balanced between “needs” and “wants”) people prefer Thinking (T) will be better at it. This post, titled “Does being an introvert make you a better coder?” puts it nicely:
“A typical software developer likes there to be a logical consistency behind a decision. It might not matter much what that consistency is, so long as it’s there. By contrast, other people prefer the ‘feel’ of the situation, using empathy and imagining what it is like more from other people’s point of view. In other words, there is a difference between coders and others, in how they tend to justify a decision.”
And as you can see, this has nothing to do with social preferences, or the ability to relate to people in any situation. That’s why this profiling system uses the word “extraversion”, referring to “the world of action, people, and things”, in contrast with “introversion”, or the world of ideas and reflection, both useful for doing complex things such as programming software.
“MBTI introverts prefer fewer, deeper, and more involved interactions with people, whereas extraverts prefer shorter and more frequent interaction. For getting to know users quickly, extraversion can be an advantage, but introverts are perfectly good at deep social interaction”, goes the cited blog. And it’s true; avoiding people has little to do with introversion, and the stereotype comes from misunderstanding what these words try to convey.
An alternative definition of the “introverted programmer”
So, to wrap things up, where does this leave the myth? As we said, maybe at some point in the past, before the development of agile methodologies or the normalization of a remote model of working, the stereotype of the “introverted programmer” was true and functional, but it no longer works that way.
People are more complicated than many of these systems will tell you, and lots of different preferences and abilities are desirable in any well-balanced team. What is true in the age of remote work, though, is that knowing how to interact and communicate well with your coworkers, clients, and managers at a distance are going to be a very valuable skill moving forward, and this has nothing to do with how one approaches the challenges of programming.
So we can leave behind all that and start thinking of the people best adapted to the work of programming in a different way; is no longer an introverted programmer, but a thinking one, whose intuition and affinity for code can be supplemented in a great way by social understanding and the clear communication that only the best Nearshore companies can offer.
The importance of soft skills in the workplace cannot be overstated, and doubly so for remote work, when coordinating a team you may not know in person is the core of a successful project. But how to apply those skills?
It’s no secret that managing an effective team requires a special kind of talent, one able to bring the best of every individual in the team, while also keeping everyone on the same page, looking at the same goals. In the old days, you could achieve it by having close proximity with your collaborators, keeping an eye on their needs and difficulties, and doing your best to lessen them to create an effective working environment.
But yeah, that was when the office environment was a given, and managing was a face-to-face affair. However, in the New Normal, where remote work is becoming commonplace, probably with coworkers living in entirely different continents, the skill set necessary to complete a well-done project is changing.
How do you communicate an effective company culture remotely? What do you need to manage talent through a screen? Here at Scio, where working remotely has been the norm since the very beginning (both with clients and collaborators), we know how important these skills are, and how they will become more sought after as this organization model becomes more commonplace.
1. Communicating through a Zoom call: More difficult than you think!
Hey, raise your hand if this situation is a tiny bit familiar to you:
Yeah. As we all know very well, conducting a videoconference is tough, as reading your coworker’s body language, emotions and predispositions are nearly impossible at a distance. Humans are social creatures, designed to pick up on gestures and the tiniest social cues while talking, and doing so through the barrier of a Zoom call is an important skill to attain.
That’s why implementing clear communication rules, and enforcing them effectively is so important. Simple etiquette rules (like turning the mic off when not speaking, giving space to questions and answers, or RVSP any invitation), assigning a person the specific task of conducting the call, as well as being clear if the call is more formal (i.e. presentations with clients) or informal (like a brainstorming session) can make a world of difference in the way a team functions.
Once your collaborators internalize these rules, further strategies will be easier to implement, and you will avoid awkward scenarios like that one.
2. The importance of choosing the right tools
“An artisan is as good as his tools”, the shared wisdom says. And that’s true whether you are talking about making a vase or developing a software app; selecting your tools well is just as important as the technical knowledge applied behind.
Zoom is a good example of the pros and cons of these tools. There are plenty of reasons why Zoom became the choice to work remotely during the pandemic (it’s friendly to use and offers a good range of basic options), but that doesn’t mean this software lacks drawbacks (like its lax security) you need to take into account.
The same is true for any tool you have at your disposal to manage teams and projects, and learning to choose and use them effectively is a valuable ability in any remote team. There are plenty of options to try and decide, but also don’t be afraid to discard anything that is not helping the team to reach their objectives.
Here at Scio, for example, beyond the usual suspects (Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Trello, etc.) we developed some internal tools, like an internal guide with the names and positions of everyone in the company, or a proprietary clocking-in page, that we continually improve and tailor to fill the needs of our clients and developers, making sure all of our developers and collaborators have any piece of information they might need.
3. Remote company culture is possible
As we mentioned, certain skills are needed to do remote work well, and these will grow in importance as more projects realize the potential of Nearshore development. The importance of soft skills has grown in recent times, as being able to communicate with your team is just as important as the technical talent you have behind. So what do you need?
Have clear expectations: For anyone joining an organization remotely, knowing exactly what’s required of them helps build boundaries and focus efforts on things that matter. Lay them out at the beginning, and should have no problems making everyone work towards the same goal.
Create working structures: For remote teams, lack of structure on a given day can be an obstacle to productivity. That’s why good team leaders establish a clear schedule of deadlines and meetings and explain in certain terms where a particular collaborator fits into the workflow.
Determine delivery: In a traditional office, the time in front of the computer seemed to be just as important as the work being delivered, which of course is unsustainable in a remote environment. This is why an effective manager keeps track of the actual output every review (let’s say, once a week), to determine the effectiveness of the collaborator, who can set their rhythm with flexibility. As long as the project delivers by the agreed deadline, everything else becomes unnecessary.
Encourage social interactions: The best teams have chemistry and rapport behind their collaboration, and managing that remotely is truly a challenge. That’s why social interactions are important; celebrating important holidays, giving them channels to communicate freely, and organizing activities for fun help a lot and creates familiarity between co-workers that otherwise will never happen.
Give ongoing feedback: Good feedback is the lifeblood of any team, and for remote teams, doubly so. Being gentle with it, but also effective and certain, is an important skill for everyone on a team (not only leaders), and learning how to give and receive feedback is critical to delivering better and better projects.
4. The Key Takeaways
So, what does this all mean? That the best remote teams are those with strong structural support behind that lets their talent be used to its maximum potential. So we can have these few takeaways of the soft skills behind an effective remote working environment
Pure technical knowledge can only get you so far. Managing with a wide range of skills helps everyone feel part of a team in order to achieve objectives.
Remote working needs certain flexibility to function, but firm boundaries keep the team focused and productive, from a simple call to delivering a whole project.
A good company culture needs to be clear and well communicated, and implementing it effectively means the difference between a good team and a so-so one.
This is clear for us in Scio, as our Nearshore model is designed to use these methods to their fullest, and guarantee that any project you have in mind has the right team for you.
The December holidays are the perfect moment to look back and celebrate the best things that happened this year. Or in the case of Scio, celebrate all the technologies that manage to make our lives a little easier in 2021, which is why we are taking a look into one of the most surprising tech resurgences: the QR code and all the solutions it brought to us during the pandemic.
It can’t be denied that, for a moment, the idea of receiving information just by scanning a picture sounded like something out of an old Sci-Fi novel. And for a brief period at the beginning of the New 10’s, QR Codes (and the whole idea of “Augmented Reality”) seemed to offer a preview of that exact future.
It didn’t turn out quite like that, sadly. Although it had its particular applications, QR’s never lost a certain “novelty” vibe, a gimmick that most of the time brought more complications than true convenience.
On one hand, the need for a special reader capable of recognizing these codes (which not many phones at the time included right out of the box), and a stable Internet connection to actually check the content was already a high barrier in 2011.
And on the other, integrating QR’s in any kind of visual design, like in an advert, was always difficult, because they almost never mesh well with any composition, so it’s easy to let them overshadow every other element of the image.
So QR Codes, although an interesting idea, looked like an artifact of the smart device boom of the 2010s, and by the end of the decade, the world seemed ready to leave them behind.
What happened, then?
If we look closely at this Google Trend graph, we can see how the search term “QR Code” had its first sudden popularity spike in years. The date? August 22nd, 2020.
We all know why. Thanks to the pandemic, we were forced to take distance from everyone else, and a lot of our normal interactions had to fall back on technology, forcing us to look for quick solutions in a time we couldn’t do anything else.
This graph is about the United States only, by the way. If we look at a worldwide trend, well…
We can see a noticeable growth signaling that QR codes maybe are finally here to stay. But beyond the pandemic, what does this resurrection means, and why has this technology becomes part of our daily life?
A story of highs and lows
These codes have an interesting story, because their popularity has never been uniform, and it has suffered a somewhat fluctuating implementation for the last 30 years.
Let’s not forget that “Quick Response Codes” have been around since 1994, as an invention of the Japanese automobile industry, used to codify the biggest quantity of information possible, while compatible with the notoriously tricky kanji alphabet (at least in regards to software).
This huge amount of info in every code (inspired by the grid of a Go board) made QRs codes popular, and little by little it started to see some applications beyond tracking auto parts: virtual business cards, instant Wi-Fi connections, and even the aforementioned Augmented Reality.
And even after this tech didn’t seem to have a bigger impact among consumers, it never really went away, becoming an expected feature of many smart devices which, along with better mobile Internet connections, made QR codes singularly well-positioned when the pandemic demanded quick and trustworthy solutions.
By condensing a lot of important info or giving a quick link to elsewhere without any direct contact, things like menus, information about attendance capacities at any place, or any change of services announcements could be conveyed through a QR code, making them an important tool to take care of our health.
And this late adoption doesn’t show signs of stopping; just as we can’t imagine a near future without medical masks or anti-bacterial gel, QR codes are now a normal part of our daily interactions in many places, probably on their way to becoming a normalized and accepted means to interact with our world.
That’s why we celebrate a technological solution that we took for granted at some point, or whose real value needed a very specific context to shine: when the distance between us became a necessity, a simple code and a camera gave us a way to keep parts of our daily life functioning.