Student working from home on his laptop

Working from home during the practical phase: “workwise not much has changed”

Justus Ahnfeldt and Timo Stoebke are in their second year of study for a bachelor’s degree in business informatics at the Hamburg School of Business Administration. During their dual studies, they have classes at university and receive practical training at agiles. The second practical phase in the last months took place remotely. We spoke with the two students about their dual studies and the experiences they made working from home.

»A good mix«

What are you doing as students at agiles? What did the first practical phase look like?

Justus: We’re getting to know two professional fields: developer and consultant. So far, however, we’ve mainly become acquainted with development. For example, we had training in Dynamics 365 Business Central and Visual Studio Code to get to know the application and the development environment. Of course, the first months were also about understanding the business system.

Timo: The first practical phase was all about getting started, settling into our new jobs and building up basic knowledge. Among other things, we familiarized ourselves with topics like the cloud and Microsoft Azure. After the first practical phase, we took classes at university and almost directly afterwards we switched to working from home.

What did a normal working day look like before you started working from home?

Timo: It was a good mix of tasks that we could handle on our own and new input from our mentor. We could also turn to him when we were stuck or when we needed new tasks. He always had time for us.

Justus: Usually, we students work together on one product. Since we can’t all do the same thing at the same time, sometimes only one of us is programming and the others look over his shoulder. Of course, you still have the opportunity to learn something.

»I like the collaboration with Microsoft Teams even better«

Timo Stoebke working from home at his laptop

Timo Stoebke working from home at his laptop

What did change when you switched to remote working?

Timo: Actually, workwise not much has changed. We already worked a lot with Microsoft Teams before.

Justus: In the end, it doesn’t make much of a difference whether our mentor goes from screen to screen in the office or whether we sit at our desks at home. Actually, I like the collaboration with Microsoft Teams even better since the tool allows our mentor to show us everything directly.

Timo: For example, if Justus is working on a difficult task with the help of our mentor, he can simply share his screen with me. That allows me to hear and see exactly what he’s doing. Also, I can send him code units really quick.

Justus: Probably, we also would’ve used Microsoft Teams if we had been at the office. It’s just easier to collaborate that way because we can see what the others are doing and work on our tasks at the same time.

How did agiles support you while you worked from home?

Timo: Our mentor called us every morning at 8 am via Microsoft Teams. He discussed the day’s schedule with us, assigned us our tasks and gave us new input or we started directly to work on our tasks.

Justus: Sometimes we had three hours of class in the morning, sometimes we received an email in the evening with tasks that we should do on our own. In all this time, our mentor was always available and there for us.

»The questions answer themselves on the way«

What exactly did you work on these last months?

Timo: We developed a new app together and built it from scratch. We thus could learn on the basis of a real application example. The complexity increased continuously.

Justus: The transition was very smooth. First, we were just testing, then things suddenly got serious and the app went live. It was pretty cool to experience the entire process. Sometimes, we also worked on a problem together with our mentor. We learnt a lot by listening to him when he analyzed the problem or talked about it with the other developers.

Did you experience an Aha! moment?  

Justus: You could describe the entire process of learning the coding language AL as an Aha! experience. Over time, you develop a feeling for what is possible. I’m now better versed in the language and have become much faster.

Timo: In the beginning, you just copy what is said and assume that it’s correct. At some point, you realize that it all makes perfectly sense and understand why it needs to be done exactly like that.

Justus: Normally, you don’t have a concrete question on your mind. It’s rather a big question mark. Then, our mentor just mentions something in passing and you suddenly know the answer to a question you didn’t even know to have. The questions answer themselves on the way.

»I missed the other colleagues«

How did you personally experience working from home?

Timo: Of course, it was nice to work in a familiar environment and to cuddle my dog during the breaks. I didn’t experience a productivity loss but still felt more relaxed.

Justus: In addition, you save time and avoid stress because you don’t have to commute. You don’t come too late and there’s no reason for you not to sit at your computer at 8 am.

Timo: Otherwise it may well happen that you get a “Franzbrötchen” (editor’s note: that’s a delicious sweet pastry) on your way to work (laughs).

Was there something that you missed about office life? 

Timo: We students had a lot of contact with each other, but I missed the other colleagues. You just don’t run into each other at the coffee machine anymore. By the way, that’s another thing I missed. And I also missed the wide variety of restaurants downtown.

Justus: The only thing I really missed was the social contact with the rest of the team. And some resources are just not available at home. You can’t simply change your headset if it doesn’t work.

»Mix of in-person classes and online learning«

What is planned at university? What will your next semester look like?

Timo: Subjects like computer science lend themselves to online learning. In our case, a mix of in-person classes and online learning is planned. It’ll be nice to go back to university and see our friends.

Justus: The university recently moved to a new building with more space. That’s why I can imagine that we might actually be there in person more often.

Many thanks to Timo Stoebke and Justus Ahnfeldt for this interesting interview. We wish you all the best for the upcoming semester.

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