23 April 2020 ... min read Listen

Keeping ING running from home

Over the past few weeks, our lives and jobs have changed in a way we couldn’t have predicted. It’s quite a challenge to adapt to this new situation, but it also creates opportunities to learn and see things from a different perspective. IT Chapter Lead Mohamed and his colleagues from Infrastructure and other departments have risen to the challenge and made it possible for thousands of ING employees to work from home at the same time.

How did you manage to do that?

Most employees work from home at least once a week, so we already had a system for that. The challenge was to create enough capacity in a short amount of time. Normally, we have about 1,200 people working remotely on the same day, now it’s almost 8,000. It’s taken some effort to make things run smoothly, but we’re happy with the result. Now, we're looking at the next step, trying to foresee what other challenges our system might face in the future and how we can prepare for those.

Was it challenging to communicate with multiple colleagues from different squads while working from home?

We’re used to working with people from different squads all over the world, so communicating digitally was never an issue. But I do feel that our communication has grown stronger than ever over the past few weeks.

I do feel that our communication has grown stronger than ever over the past few weeks.

How do you stay motivated?

That’s easy when you realize how important what you're doing really is! We know that we’re making it possible for people to keep on working in these new circumstances. On top of that, we believe that the homeworking technology we currently use will be somewhat of a norm in the future. So we feel that our mission of improving and maintaining it is a very important one. Not only for us as developers, but for the future of ING worldwide.

Apart from work, we leave enough room for casual chatting in our virtual meetings. We’ve also created a Mattermost channel to share music and movie tips. My ultimate mood booster? This wonderful weather we’ve been having! I try to sunbathe at least one hour each day.

What positive changes have you experienced that you hope will continue once we go back to working from the office?

I’ve always loved the agile way of working and flexibility at ING and I can feel it now more than ever. There’s the enormous amount of trust going around. You have so much freedom to do your job in a way that works best for you and for ING. I love that.

Outside of work, I’ve been able to take a step back from the idea that everything I do has to be useful. I do more things just because I enjoy them now.

What kind of things would that be?

The most important one is gardening. I love taking care of my organic vegetables, seeing them grow and eating them, obviously. They’re a nice contribution to the organic lifestyle I’ve been living for over 20 years.

Apart from that, my daughter and I have started watching movies together every night. I used to think of watching tv as a waste of time, but now I find myself looking forward to it every evening. I also take a lot of walks in the beautiful countryside that I’m lucky to be surrounded with.

What activity would you recommend for your fellow people currently working from home full time?

Find something that you enjoy doing and that takes your mind off of stuff. It might take some discipline to start, but when you make a habit of it, you will really benefit from it every day. Not just now, but in the future too. Call me up in about six months and I can assure you I will still be gardening!

About Mohamed

  • Started working for ING 2 years ago as Chapter Lead in IT infrastructure
  • Graduated as a chemistry engineer and also has a teaching degree
  • Discovered his passion for IT soon after graduating
  • Has climbed Mount Agung in Bali (2 times!), Mount Triglav in Slovenia, Mount Toubkal in Morocco and even made it to the Mount Everest Base Camp.
  • Recently rediscovered gardening and plans to keep growing his own veggies
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