11:22 | 16.04.20 | Articles | exclusive 69500

COVID-19 vs. Armenia’s IT industry: SoloLearn

Technological companies have switched to remote working because of the coronavirus pandemic. Itel.am has talked with Armenia’s tech companies about the impact of the pandemic on their activity, as well as the specifics, positive and negative aspects of remote working, and their vision of the post-coronavirus world.

Founded in 2014, Armenian-American enterprise SoloLearn has an app of the same name, which has gained 17 million users. Most of they live in the U.S., India, Eastern Europe, and Russia. The app helps users to learn JavaScript, Swift, Python, C++, HTML/CSS and other coning languages. The company has offices in Yerevan and San Francisco. The Armenian team includes 40 members.

Head of HR at SoloLearn Armenia Mkhitaryan has said that the entire team is working remotely.

“We opened an office in the U.S. in the end of 2019 and the two teams needed to work together remotely, so from the very beginning the new circumstances were a useful challenge for us. This approach has helped us a lot to overcome the initial shock and switch to remote working, fully maintaining our work processes: stand-up, team meetings, releases on times, etc.”

Positive and negative aspects

As for the positive aspects, the increase in productivity was unexpected. Probably, isolation from the world and decrease of contacts with the outside world allow the staff to contribute more time and energy to work, which has only positive effect on the final product. At the same time, the members of the team are growing more confident as they see they are capable of fulfilling the tasks even during a crisis. As for the negative aspects, the absence of direct communication, jokes, office routine and even the familiar noise is something we all feel very acutely.

Increase in number of users and activity

Distance learning is gaining momentum and we too see an increase in the number of users and activity on our app.

We have tasked ourselves with giving our clients more opportunities for self-education and creating opportunities for people who have lost jobs in different sectors to start working in the tech industry, as they are understandably seeking new options.

This is why we are adding new members to our team. We believe it is the right time to have more experts with us.

Staying in touch with partners

Apart from Slack, which is the main means of communication in the office, we are also actively using Zoom for meetings. We love Sococo platform, where we can create an atmosphere similar to the one we have at the office and where we get quality video and audio communication. Thanks to these tools, we can stay in touch and even organize fun meetings every Friday. At the latest fun meeting, SoloLearn delivered wine to the homes of every member of the staff, from Charentsavan to Alaverdi, so we could have the same drink together.

Quick adaptation to new circumstances

It all depends on how long the lockdown will be upheld, but it is already obvious that people are becoming more flexible and able to adapt quickly. Probably, everyone is going to have more appreciation for the comfort and opportunities of our office, and it might be difficult to convince everyone go home at the end of the working day.

One thing is clear: we will be more confident in suggesting flexible working conditions to our staff and forming teams in other countries, because experience has shown that it works and productivity does not suffer.

Increase in trust towards IT industry

The role of IT industry and global IT companies becomes more prominent in these circumstances in terms of services, involvement of human potential, and contribution to the anti-coronavirus efforts. I believe current trends will remain and we will see greater inclusion and trust towards IT industry at the level of national policies and various areas, including accelerated transformation of the education system.

Narine Daneghyan