COVID-19 update: PythonAnywhere is now all-remote

Scary times. We hope everyone reading this is well and keeping safe!

We thought it would be a good idea to tell you how we’re managing the current crisis at PythonAnywhere. We switched over to remote working last Thursday, 12 March; there are obviously private and public health reasons why that was a good idea, but there’s a reason specific to us, which we thought would be worth sharing.

Most of the team here are lucky enough to be in low risk categories, but we pair-program – that is, we have two people working together at the same computer, all day and every day. Each day we rotate the pairs around, so that the same two people are never working together on two consecutive days. This makes sure that we spread knowledge around the team.

Unfortunately, that means that if someone caught COVID-19, we’d share that pretty quickly around the team too. And that would be bad, not just for us, but for the people who use our service. We can keep the servers running, tech support operating, and so on in the short term with just a small subset of the team, but that would be no good if all of us were unwell simultaneously, as even a mild infection could make it impossible for someone to help with tech support or system maintenance.

Right now, we’re all working from home, sharing tech support, and pair-programming using shared consoles and voice chat as a way to keep development going. Tech support is going fine – we’re used to doing that from home, as that’s what we do at weekends. Development is a little slower right now; over time we will probably refine the setup we’re using, and maybe we’ll even come up with some nice ideas for new features for PythonAnywhere to make it easier for other people to do the same kind of thing :-)

Fingers crossed, and good luck to everyone. These are challenging times – stay safe, and, as we say when we’re updating our service, we’ll see you on the other side.

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