At Skyward, we started 2020 with ambitious plans for growth. We had momentum and were ready to keep driving the innovations that move the commercial drone industry forward. Then, suddenly, with the chaos around COVID-19 came the potential to derail our progress as our highly collaborative team was forced apart. But instead, we figured out how to stay on track and thrive.

The Skyward crew, along with our Verizon coworkers, has shown amazing resilience and flexibility during this time. We’ve never stopped getting things done and working closely together along the way. We’ve even learned a thing or two about ourselves as we became a company with a fully remote workforce. It reinforced something we already knew to be true: you don’t have to work in Portland to be on Skyward’s team.

Changing our mode of operations

From the beginning, one of Skyward’s core values has been audacity, and the results we’ve achieved have put that value into action in ways I had never imagined. We set audacious goals and drove to meet them in spite of a global pandemic, economic downturn, and complete change in work environment. Every team set milestones and pushed the boundaries of what was possible.

Even in those first few weeks of uncertainty, the Skyward crew was calm under pressure. Within a single week in March, our message changed from “Anyone not comfortable coming to work can stay home,” to “Everyone please stay home and stay safe.” At the time, nearly every Verizon employee worked onsite. Even though remote working days have always been a part of Skyward’s DNA, never before had we pivoted the entire company’s operating paradigm.

But thanks to Skyward’s adaptability and Verizon’s outstanding leadership, we quickly made the pivot to remote work. Verizon implemented a work from home policy for over 110,000 employees within weeks. The speed and smoothness of the shift was incredible to see — it was a real leadership moment.

We’ve actually welcomed new members onto the team in the last few months. I’ve seen everyone at Skyward and Verizon make these new individuals feel like the deeply valued coworkers that they are, despite never having met face to face.

Skyward Backyard Drone Flight Testing During COVID-19
Conducting drone flight operations in the backyard during COVID-19

 

Finding strengths in a distributed team

One of the unanticipated but wonderful consequences of COVID-19 is that we all get to experience the practices that help remote workers be equal contributors and fully-integrated members of the team. With Skywardians across the United States from Portland to New York, we already knew the value of a distributed workforce. As we continue to expand our crew, I’m excited that we now have a stronger culture to support candidates across the country with the right skills and attitude, regardless of their location.

And we’re still looking to bring on more people who are passionate about the mission — who love inventing new markets, products, and businesses. We’re aviators at heart, with drone pilots, NASA fans, paragliders, military pilots, and enthusiasts of all kinds among our number. We work in a truly unique juncture of technologies, blending telecommunications, software, and aviation together into something entirely new. It’s an exciting place to be, and some incredible people to work with.

Overcoming adversity and hitting our stride

For the last four and a half months, we’ve been thriving in a totally upended working environment. We just finished the best quarter we’ve ever had, across the board. We’ve set new records for revenue in a quarter and seen our customers thrive. Our software team continued to keep our platform strong and stable, while churning out brand new features. We delivered a number of high-value new features including Live Flights, Risk Assessment, Program Insights, Approval Workflow, and more while improving quality and responsiveness.

One of the biggest questions was how we would continue to do flight testing when we couldn’t be together in person. The answer was to have our pilots fly drones literally in their backyards as they continued to test our software and technology. The release of our live flight tracking feature — designed to help companies remotely monitor their drone operations — couldn’t have been timed better. Everyone found ways to adjust and continued moving forward.

Skyward InFlight Testing at Home
Using Live Flights in Skyward’s InFlight mobile app to monitor drone operations at home

 

I already mentioned the audacity our team has displayed. But it’s another of Skyward’s core values — camaraderie — that has impressed me most. While we can’t be in the same space, Skywardians have been incredibly creative in finding ways to bring people together. We started out with virtual water cooler Zoom calls to provide some casual office chatter. Coworkers have hosted 5-minute lightning talks on topics ranging from “How to make delicious pho in an hour” to “Cloud architecture for a non-technical audience.” Some of us organized a drive-in sendoff for one of our teammates who was relocating. That just scratches the surface of the ways our employees are maintaining and growing connections across the crew.

If that sounds like a team you want to be on, check out our openings! We’d love to talk with you, no matter where you’re from.