The case of Kiwi.com’s “ghost developers”

Kiwi.com news

The case of Kiwi.com’s “ghost developers”

By
24 April 2020

By | 24 April 2020

For a lot of companies, the situation surrounding COVID-19 means a step into the unknown; this is no different for Kiwi.com. Here’s how their huge band of developers is keeping on top of a complex product when faced with a number of unexpected challenges

The developers’ spaces at the Kiwi.com offices in Brno are usually a busy, bustling place, full of people coming and going, working around the clock to maintain and improve Kiwi.com’s product and systems.

For the time being, however, they’re a ghost town, as the whole of the Czech Republic is under some of the strictest self-isolation restrictions in Europe. It’s strange to walk around the offices and see equipment effectively torn away, desks cleared, cables hanging forlornly like the heavy branches of a forgotten willow tree. All essential gear has been moved to allow people to continue doing what they do best, albeit from home; not only here, but for all Kiwi.com’s sites across Europe.

The Kiwi.com Brno office has turned into a ghost town as developers are working from home amidst the coronavirus outbreak Group Created with Sketch. The Kiwi.com Brno office has turned into a ghost town as developers are working from home amidst the coronavirus outbreak — Kiwi.com

“We’re asking a lot of our engineers and product managers, while needing people to be on call 24/7.” says Michal Šindelář, VP of Booking & Self-Service.

“We’ve had to adjust a number of the processes on the Customer Support side, and also a significant part of the whole functionality of the product. This means maintaining bridges between various teams, various departments and making sure all of our teams are doing their best work on the most critical tasks in the current situation. We need to be able to offer as many options to as many customers as we possibly can.”

“We’re trying to get the wifi to the garden to expand our possibilities of how and where to work!”

Working like this obviously presents a wide variety of challenges, as QA tester Barbora Štefkovič explains:

“For me as a mother of a three-year-old son, working from home is pretty difficult. Although my son can play alone, he often needs my attention. So I work intermittently, then I’m with him for a while, I play some more, or cook, maybe read to him, then he plays alone and I work.

“When my husband — who also has to work from home — is on a call, we go to the garden so we don’t disturb him… we’re also trying to get the wifi to the garden to expand our possibilities of how and where to work!”

Šindelář again: “All of our teams are doing an amazing job of helping the company and the customers. Often this means cascading the necessary decisions we’re making, taking responsibility for those decisions and, above all, being supportive of everybody.”

Dev teams across the company have been sharing photos of their home office workstations, from the sublime to the ridiculous, and spirits are high, despite the unusual circumstances.

Our developers are finding creative ways to set up their temporary home office

Our developers have to think outside the box when setting up their “unusual” home office Group Created with Sketch. Our developers have to think outside the box when setting up their “unusual” home office — Kiwi.com

Automation Junior Developer Milan Lesnek tells me that “I’m used to home office, but the situation is different when our flat is full of people. People sometimes forget that even when I’m doing home office, I’m still at work!

“I have no problem with my setup at home though; it can be nice to work in pyjamas and my colleagues are awesome. They’re always there to call if I’m struggling.”

Petra Vaškových, Kiwi.com’s Chief Product Officer is effusive in her praise. “I’m truly amazed how all our guys are coping, and how everyone is doing their best for our customers, our product, and our service. Those who can’t work on the product directly are trying to help speed up refund requests with airlines so that we can get back to our customers sooner. I can feel the true Kiwi.com spirit.”

Kiwi.com has always strived to be at the forefront of travel, and even though these are tough times for everyone — employees, travelers, airlines — the fantastic guys and girls behind Kiwi.com’s cutting-edge technology are working round the clock to make sure our customers get home safely.