The dozen CoreView employees in Milan remember March 8, 2020. That day the Italian government officially shut down the entire Lombardy region of Northern Italy.

What happened next is an amazing story of strength and resilience. We spoke with five Milan-area CoreView about what they and their families are going through, and how they keep their work and home lives together.

Ivan Fioravanti - CTO

Ivan Fioravanti

Co-Founder and CTO

CoreView: When did you realize COVID-19 was a big deal? 

Fioravanti: The timeline of events have been:

  • Friday the 21st February, first case discovered in Codogno.
  • Saturday, the 22nd February — more cases started to appear and I started to warn the team on our Teams channel that I was evaluating a week of remote working as a precautionary measure.
  • Sunday, the 23rd February — even more cases and I confirmed the week of remote working starting from Monday.
  • The first week was strange. There were different opinions on the virus (“it’s like a flu”, “it’s bad”, “it’s spreading too fast”, “hospitals are full”), but…
  • Sunday the 29th February, more than 1,000 active cases reached in Italy and our minds started to understand that this was real.

From that moment on it has been a progression of cases, deaths and additional lockdown measures to slow the spread and give the health system time to organize and manage the crisis.

Other European countries were initially skeptical and ironic vs. Italian measures, but have started to feel the pain of this War and acted as fast as they can.

Now the US is facing the same phases: not our problem, not a big problem, it’s a problem we need to tackle, then that the economy must be protected at all costs.

CoreView: What was it like to switch to 100% remote work? 

Fioravanti: The positive initially has been the removal of transportation time and stress. But after four weeks in lockdown, the pros leave space to the cons.

CoreView: When did that happen? 

Fioravanti: Starting from Monday, the 24th February.

CoreView:  Are you more productive, less or the same? 

Fioravanti: Initially productivity was great thanks to the cloud and SaaS, especially on the R&D side. We have everything available in the cloud, and we can work from anywhere. Productivity was higher due to more time, less breaks, etc. But now that team members are having relatives and friends hit by the virus, stress and other factors are starting to creep in, undermining not only productivity but also morale.

CoreView: How did being remote change what you do and how you do it? 

Fioravanti: I always remember one day when I came back to the office after one week in the US and Paolo told me: “Finally we hear your voice. It gives us energy. It’s not the same without you.” I like to help my team, let them feel part of a whole, to work better, work together to achieve our working and personal goals, having drinks together in the Office bar — and more. This is what Coronavirus took away from us — the social part of our working lives has been impacted. We have created Virtual Coffee Break and Virtual Aperitivo to stay together virtually, share stories, have fun and keep morale high, but something is missing, it’s good, but it’s not enough. We are social animals. We thrive together, and total lockdown is a problem.

CoreView: How does Teams help you work?

Fioravanti: Microsoft Teams has been our best friend in this moment. If it was not present in Office 365, I’m sure we had been gone to Slack as other companies in the world have done. Teams’ instant messaging, video calls, immediate sharing of info is the real game changer here. Email can’t help in remote working. Direct communication can.

CoreView: How does Teams help you stay connected with co-workers as people and friends? Is Teams a social tool for you? 

Fioravanti: For co-workers yes. For friends, there is still something missing. The vast majority of people are using WhatsApp, FaceTime, Messenger and I’ve seen friends using Zoom. My daughters are using Google Classroom and Meet for remote school. Here Microsoft has to work to position Teams not only as a working tool, but as something for everyone.

CoreView: How are you keeping in touch with family and loved ones? 

Fioravanti: FaceTime and WhatsApp are the kings here. We tried Teams but it was more cumbersome and less immediate.

CoreView: How has the pandemic impacted you and your family? Any personal stories you care to share? 

Fioravanti: It’s incredible how this virus has changed priorities and values for me. I was planning to move to my new apartment in Milan. That was personal priority number one. But this changed everything. Now I want to stay with my family, help my parents, keep my team morale up.

What was top priority is now something that will happen in a future that I can’t imagine at the moment. I see friends worried about their jobs, families. I feel lucky working in IT. This virus is impacting the economy in a very bad way. But I’m sure that when this storm passes, we’ll start faster than ever in all sectors. This is not the usual crisis where there are some Greedy Humans vs. Other Humans. Here there is Mankind vs. Virus and we will all work together to restart faster than before, because this time We vs. Them is a different story.

CoreView: What are you doing to stay strong —  good food, wine? 

Fioravanti: Here we are lucky, good food and good wine are broadly available.

CoreView: How is your family holding up? What special things do you do as a group? 

Fioravanti: This total lockdown has pros and cons. On one side, we share the same spaces so we need to accommodate remote dance lessons, theater lessons, school, work, and gym. On the other, we can go back to activities done together like board games, card games and sharing stories in a more deep way compared to the past.

CoreView: What advice do you have for those in earlier stages of the pandemic? 

I’ve talked with friends in Singapore, UK, US and I see always the same phases that we have faced in Italy too:

  • This is a China thing, it won’t happen here.
  • Italians are taking this too seriously. Why are they taking these extreme measures? 
  • Then in the first week with few cases, all the people go out to buy whatever they can in supermarket. They are scared because there is nothing available for a few days, but then… everything will be back to normal.
  • Partial lockdown starts, cases grow and some people start to realize that this is real. But others are still going around as usual (I was part of them in the first week in Italy).
  • Lockdown measures increase and all people realize that this is real. The new norm begins.
  • After four weeks of total lockdown I can tell that human beings adapt themselves to everything. Yes it feels bad. You feel like you are in jail. But, when you see military bringing coffins out of Bergamo or doctors dying in hospitals you understand that this is a War — Mankind vs. Virus and we are simply taking our part to win it, staying safe at home for us and for our soldiers, doctors, nurses and volunteers fighting each day to save human lives.

We’ll win. It will take time. There will be casualties, but we’ll win.

Jessica Prearo - EMEA Marketing Manager

Jessica Prearo

EMEA Marketing Manager

CoreView: When did you realize COVID-19 was a big deal? 

Prearo: I realized at the beginning of March (8th March) that it cannot be contained so easily, and the number of people infected was increasing day by day. As a matter of fact, the government put the entire nation in shutdown.

CoreView: What was it like to switch to 100% remote work? When did that happen? 

Prearo: This happened on the week of 24th Feb. I was used to working remotely, because I live far from the Milan office. I used to go to the office once or twice a week. So it was not so hard for me to switch to 100% remote work. There are some challenges. As a result of the coronavirus outbreak, schools across Italy have been closed. I have a 4 year old and an 11 year old. Children naturally have difficulty understanding the world of work (what it consists of, what it requires, and what it means). My 11-year old has been occupied with completing virtual assignments after his school closed, but my younger kid is more dependent on my attention. I tell my daughter when I need to be in “do not disturb” mode, but sometimes she wants to stay with me. So I put a physical sign on the door as a signal for when I truly cannot be interrupted.

CoreView: Are you more productive, less or the same? 

Prearo: I’m more productive. I usually finish working at 7:30pm instead of 6pm 😊.

CoreView: How did being remote change what you do and how you do it? 

Prearo: I usually work remotely — the only difference now is that there are kids at home. I often work in the kitchen, but I decided to create a workspace that I can use when I don’t want to be interrupted and get things done. The hardest thing about working from home is that you sometimes have to say no to the people you love. My kids know that if the office door is shut with a sign on it, it’s work time.

CoreView: How does Teams help you work? 

Prearo: Teams is my best friend. It allows me to chat, meet, call, and collaborate all in one place, to do the daily work as usual. With video, I have the sensation of being in front of my colleagues, putting a face to a voice.

CoreView: How does Teams help you stay connected with co-workers as people and friends? Is Teams a social tool for you?

Prearo: Teams is a social tool as well. We are using Teams for doing virtual coffees or virtual aperitivo. We can still be social, just in different ways. We take advantage of Teams to support each other, laugh together, and take care of each other until the virus is under control.

CoreView: How are you keeping in touch with family and loved ones? 

Prearo: I personally use WhatsApp. My mother is not good using technology. WhatsApp is easy to use and allows her to make video calls easily. We often do video chat in which we don’t say much, but we enjoy the pleasure of looking into each other’s eyes.

CoreView: How has the pandemic impacted you and your family? Any personal stories you care to share? 

Prearo: The Coronavirus is changing how we live our daily lives. We just finished the 4th week since the schools were closed, and the three weeks of maximum isolation. It means that it has been 21 days that we haven’t gone outside of our gate. Since Feb. 24, the day Italy discovered the first Coronavirus breeding ground, things have gotten worse, even if now they are getting better. So, we stay at home. We look at the world from our windows without knowing when we will be able to see our families and our close friends again. But we know that the more we respect the rules, the faster we will get back to normal. We learned firsthand that it is essential to find some sort of daily routine. That’s why we wake up at the same time, we do breakfast together, we lunch together, etc…

We’re also busy with flash mob: we sing from balconies, and were invited to switch off our lights and hold up mobile phones, torches and candles to create a twinkling ‘flashmob of lights’. We also hung signs from windows and balconies bearing the slogan of Italy’s Coronavirus quarantine: Andrà tutto bene, “Everything will be alright.”

CoreView: What are you doing to stay strong — good food, wine? 

Prearo: I usually exercise, cook (a lot of homemade pizza, ravioli and tiramisu), watch Netflix, clean the house, help the older kid with homework, read stories with the kids, and play with my dogs.

CoreView: How is your family holding up, what special things do you do as a group? 

Prearo: We really enjoy cooking. We cook a lot. Homemade croissants, pasta, ravioli, cakes. This past Saturday we made homemade pizza. It is a way to pass the time and is a gift for our taste buds. Sometimes we feel at war; sometimes we feel like we are having a strange forced vacation. Over the course of the day, we play hide and seek, Barbies, Wrestling WWE, do puzzles, we draw, etc… We are fortunate to have a garden, and on sunny days, we go outside and get some fresh air. Between laughs and tears, there are quarrels of course. I admit that the kids watch TV and the tablet more than usual. At first, we felt guilty, but then we made peace with it and understood that electronic devices, sometimes, help us keep our sanity.

CoreView: What advice do you have for those in earlier stages of the pandemic? 

Prearo: Stay focused on the objective and keep your mind busy. In that way, you don’t think about what is happening outside.

Andrea Calcagni

Andrea Calcagni

Territory Manager, Southern Europe and Middle East

CoreView:  When did you realize COVID-19 was a big deal?

Calcagni: About a month ago, when Italy was first (the first western country) hit pretty bad by the virus, that then spread pretty quickly in many different areas of my Country and in my region, Lombardy.

CoreView: What was it like to switch to 100% remote work? 

Calcagni: To me it is not a big change because I used to work a lot remotely (from home, in meetings at prospect’s places or at a partner’s premises). Anyway, I’ve been totally in remote work for four weeks now.

CoreView: Are you more productive, less or the same?

Calcagni: I would say the same from my stand point. But the workload increased accordingly in the interest in CoreView. Since many people on the customers side are working remotely, they need us even more now such as for better administration, security, and learning.

CoreView: How did being remote change what you do and how you do it?

Calcagni: Being completely in remote working means not meeting with partners and customers — so the human contact is now completely missing. The good here is that we have Teams and the video conference call function which helps a lot.

Anyway, the human contact is at another/higher level of course. Shaking hands in business is important and will always be. Another good aspect is that now I see that given this particular frangent we are all getting through, people are more inclined to smile at others. Generally speaking, people are more gentle to one another, which is a good improvement and factor considering the situation.

CoreView: How does Teams help you work?

Calcagni: A lot. Without Teams, it would be very difficult to work effectively. Videoconferencing is a great way to fill the gap between us all given the total lock-down… well, not when we are in three–way connected meeting at the same time with the video on 😊 and the Wi-Fi signal getting  pretty low!

CoreView: How does Teams help you stay connected with co-workers as people and friends? Is Teams a social tool for you?

Calcagni: Teams is a great tool but still is “just” a piece of software, so it really depends on how you use it. It is indeed great to keep doing business, and at the same time it is also good for keeping in touch with colleagues and friends. Think that since four weeks ago in Milan, we have at least two virtual coffee breaks per week with the other Italian guys. This is a great way to stay in touch, and share our feelings and overall experiences.

CoreView: How are you keeping in touch with family and loved ones?

Calcagni: I am at home with my wife and daughters so we stay all together. We keep in touch with our friends and parents using both WhatsApp and Teams. Lovely Italian virtual aperitif and pizza time together are held on a regular basis with friends, so even if one cannot toast with others the sound of the clinking glasses is definitely resonating in our hearts. When we physically meet up together again, it will be better than ever before.

CoreView: How has the pandemic impacted you and your family? Any personal stories you care to share?

Calcagni: So far so good for my family. We have been lucky. We got touched by COVID-19 in a sense since one of our friends, a pharmacist, unfortunately lost her father, a pharmacist too, aged 63.

CoreView: What are you doing to stay strong — good food, wine? 

Calcagni: Definitely good food and wine. We are making pizza together on Friday or Saturday night, daughters are very happy and we are too. We also like to play all together and talk a lot. This was already our good habit even before the COVID-19 situation, but now discussions are more intense and of course not only related to the bad situation. On the contrary, we are trying to find the positive aspects and also think about the future to get prepared. In a sense, this will be, to make a parallel, like a big eraser that at the end of this story will have cancelled a lot of what we all knew. Everybody will have a duty here, so following the parallel made in the previous sentence, to draw an even better picture and with brighter colors.

CoreView: How is your family holding up? What special things do you do as a group?

Calcagni: For me it is pretty much all about my family. Family is doing great. We are doing many things together, playing, talking, cooking, gardening on our terrace and watching movies… well, mainly cartoons because my little daughter Ada aged 2 likes them more than Camilla who is turning 12 in May and she feels like a grown girl already 😊. I am also walking our dogs and doing the shopping (food), so the story for the little princesses (my daughters) is that today is like many, many years ago when men use to go out to catch the food at their own risk. Now daddy is doing the same while keeping them safe at home… yes pretending a bit to be even more their hero here 😊.

CoreView: What advice do you have for those in earlier stages of the pandemic? 

Calcagni: The beginning can be tough. Try to get organized as much as possible (during the week we are all working hard so time will fly as we know) to have a good “new rhythm” of your day. Do some exercise, remember that the Latins used to say “Mens sana in corpore sano” (“A healthy mind in a healthy body”).

Think also that sooner or later, this bad situation will improve and we will be get back to our lives. Try to learn as much as possible from this experience, and put in first place what is really important to you — very likely this is the same for many others. Take this moment to reflect — do this deeply and a lot. Do your best to improve on what you have to get better — you know profoundly what it is. This is the right occasion to change a very bad moment into something good that can make us all better and definitely stronger than before.

Now a paradox — in all this distance between our bodies, let’s stay united in a common great ‘egregore’ that will change the world for the better.

Marco Serina

Marco Serina

Software Developer, Team Leader

CoreView: When did you realize COVID-19 was a big deal?

Serina: When the full lock-down started, meaning that we could not even go out for a walk/run outside in the park.

CoreView: What was it like to switch to 100% remote work? When did that happen?

Serina: Remote working started as soon as the news/media reported Italy was affected too by some COVID-19 cases (around 20th Feb).

CoreView: Are you more productive, less or the same?

Serina: It depends on what I am doing. If I need to complete a task that requires me to go straight in a “bulk way” and alone, I am more productive. But if I need to get in sync with other people to brainstorm/design, then human interaction and a real board where you can draw/sketch what you are thinking are absolutely better.

CoreView: How did being remote change what you do and how you do it?

Serina: Lot of calls/meetings. You need to better arrange your time. You also need to stop sometimes for a couple of minutes and do some physical exercise to relax your muscles.

CoreView: How does Teams help you work?

Serina: We wouldn’t be able to keep the pace with our current workload without Teams. It’s fundamental. We are constantly connected through Teams.

CoreView: How does Teams help you stay connected with co-workers as people and friends? Is Teams a social tool for you?

Serina: We arranged some virtual coffees/chill out moments like our “Virtual Aperitivo”.

CoreView: How are you keeping in touch with family and loved ones?

Serina: Through video-calls, chats and all the stuff the technology provides.

CoreView: How has the pandemic impacted you and your family? Any personal stories you care to share?

Serina: It’s hard. I have strong connections with my father, my sister, my relatives. My father is 82 years old and never accepted using a smartphone. Now I forced him to use it so that I can video-call him and show him my little one who was born 30 days ago. I never thought he would be able to use a smartphone. Now, he did it. People are resilient by default.

CoreView: What are you doing to stay strong — good food, wine? 

Serina: I read books, news, and help my wife in taking care of my son. Wine can also be a good friend sometimes 😊. Cooking while drinking a good glass of red wine is very relaxing. I know there are some virtual wine tasting events replacing classic ones. I think I will attend one of them 😊.

CoreView: How is your family holding up? What special things do you do as a group?

Serina: This is a challenge for everyone. This is gonna strengthen our ties. We are also getting in touch with friends arranging virtual “pizza” nights. That works a lot.

CoreView: What advice do you have for those in earlier stages of the pandemic? 

Serina: Stay strong: LIFE as we mean is just postponed. It will come back brighter and stronger than ever.

Andrea Castro

Andrea Castro

Product Manager

CoreView: When did you realize COVID-19 was a big deal?

Castro: The 23rd of February, when they started to close stores and cancel events in Milan, where I live.

CoreView: What was it like to switch to 100% remote work? When did that happen?

Castro: It happened right after the first lockdown of the city. It was boring because I love staying in the office with my colleagues, but also necessary to keep everyone safe.

CoreView: Are you more productive, less or the same?

Castro: I was less productive in the beginning. But then, with practice, I’ve been able to focus more and concentrate on small tasks daily.

CoreView: How did being remote change what you do and how you do it?

Castro: My job is all about communication, coordination, and management of tasks/activities around our products, so it changed the way you talk with Italian colleagues to get feedback and the spaces to meet, have discussions and socialize.

CoreView: How does Teams help you work?

Castro: Microsoft Teams is a great tool that helps us be connected and updated within our teams (Marketing, Customer Success, Sales, etc…). Within my work, communication is a key to success and Teams has been a powerful tool at my side.

CoreView: How does Teams help you stay connected with co-workers as people and friends? Is Teams a social tool for you?

Castro: With chat and meetings, it helps me stay in touch and aligned with all my colleagues. It is also good for coordination and collaboration throughout the collaborative sharing and editing of Office documents. Additionally, it helps you focus when something urgent comes up with the activity notification.

CoreView: How are you keeping in touch with family and loved ones?

Castro:With the help of applications like WhatsApp, Telegram, Skype, etc…

CoreView: How has the pandemic impacted you and your family? Any personal stories you care to share?

Castro: We are far away from each other but still, we try to keep up the spirits. We do calls altogether at night, or do some indoor activity. My brother got a Ph.D. a few days ago and he did it on Skype while streaming the events on his phone for the family and friends.

CoreView: What are you doing to stay strong — good food, wine? 

Castro: Get back to learning the guitar, watching movies that I’ve never seen, and trying some new recipes.

CoreView: How is your family holding up? What special things do you do as a group?

Castro: We have breakfast on the weekend altogether, and we keep calling each other.

CoreView:  What advice do you have for those in earlier stages of the pandemic? 

Castro: Keep calm and don’t panic. We need to support each other as a community. It’s important to think that we are not alone in this. Adapt your daily routine to this new thing, and find something that keeps you healthy — body and mind.

How Do I Teach My Remote Workforce to Harness the Power of Teams – for Free?

CoreView wants to make supporting remote workers as easy as possible for your already stressed IT staff and workforce. Simply download our free CoreDiscovery solution. From here, you can distribute and workers can access dozens of these Teams videos, as they use those specific Teams features.

Get CoreDiscovery, and put your Teams training for remote workers in high gear. At the same time, CoreDiscovery shows the percentage of active users for each service, and the amount of activity performed within each application. This is critical for ultimately driving greater adoption of key services such as Teams.