What We've Learnt From Five Years Of Virtual Projects

Posted 2020-03-30 Posted by Pivigo

At Pivigo we’ve been running virtual projects and delivering programmes remotely for a number of years. Since 2015 our Science to Data Science (S2DS) five-week bootcamp, transforming analytical PhD’s and MSc’s into professional data scientists, has been both in person and in a virtual format.

Many organisations have repeatedly returned to join our S2DS programmes, both in-person programmes and the virtual, with the assurance that the value the programme brings is consistent across both formats. This means that despite the impact of Covid-19 to society right now, our current virtual programme has gone ahead with no interruption, ensuring stability to both our partners and candidates.

As well as the virtual S2DS programme twice a year, we’ve worked on numerous remote data science projects via our marketplace. Of the 220+ projects we have delivered, over 30% of them have been remote, with clients and data experts collaborating successfully from different locations as distributed teams.

Remote working for data science has always been part of our mission, as we predicted a global market and a global demand for talent from the very start:

• Talent supply and demand is not bound by geography. We have partnered with organisations across the globe and our 9,000+ community of freelance data scientists spans across all five continents. In this hyper-connected world, our freelancers no longer have to choose between home and work, something many of them grappled with in their former academic careers.

“Culture is what happens when you’re not there”. This adage from Ben Horowitz1 may not have been targeting virtual teams, but it speaks to the biggest fear most organisations and employers have when they evaluate remote work. At Pivigo we have found that great workers are great irrespective of whether they are in the office or not. It helps to have a few key things in place so that everyone is aligned from the start and ensure there is ample crossover time each day for collaboration. We recommend you set the expectations up front, get aligned, have frequent check ins, make use of video videoconferencing and other collaboration tools.

• Being transparent to optimise ways of working. Since Covid-19, I have personally used the time saved on daily commuting to break up my day with some mid-day exercise; starting work earlier in the morning and improving my energy levels in the afternoon. Each person will have something different that is important to them, and many have responsibilities, such as parents taking on additional childcare. Flexibility is one of the greatest assets of virtual working, and works best when couched in transparency by always letting others know when you are and are not available. This is also one of the best ways to have the space you need for deep work and focus.

• Making time to connect and be social. Pivigo is fundamentally a people business and we care deeply about connecting with others. We aim to do this in at least three major ways during virtual work; firstly through the ‘virtual water cooler’ or a #general or #random virtual space and channel, as well as an optional daily social video call (usually at the same time near the end of each day) and finally, some formally organised social virtual events, whether it is games or bringing a drink. Being virtual does not need to mean it is all work, all the time.

In the coming weeks, we will be publishing a number of blogs about best practices in setting up a virtual data science team to deliver excellence to clients. We believe data science is a real team sport requiring careful planning, communication, and collaboration. There are, however, a few eccentricities and tips we would like to share when it comes to managing data science projects well.

Our freelancers will also share some of their stories and learnings, and you can follow a weekly update of S2DS journeys. Watch the first one here.

If you would like to find out more about Pivigo’s work and how we are making a difference to our clients, you can read some of our case studies and testimonials here and here or reach out directly here

1 What you do is who you are. How to create your business culture.

Ben Horowitz (2019)

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