Remote Work Update - 4 months on

Oct302015

This is part three in a series about remote work at bv02. You can read part one here and part two here.

It has been 4 months already and the European leg of my year-long remote working journey is over. I spent June in Prague, Czech Republic, then July in Ljubljana, Slovenia, August in Cavtat, Croatia and most recently September in Istanbul, Turkey. I’ve now arrived in Penang, Malaysia for October and the start of the Asian leg of 4 more months.

So, how has it gone? How are we getting on with the potential “challenges” identified in my last post?

Time Zones
Starting this month, the time difference between where I am and the office just became a larger challenge than it has been. In Europe, I was 6 hours ahead and I shifted my working hours to overlap with Ottawa’s Eastern Time for most of the day. This has meant things operated similarly to when I was working from Vancouver. Now with a 12-hour difference, we’re missing each other completely. While some people on the trip have been required to work the night shift, most are not and like me have had to work with their teams to communicate even more explicitly and well in advance. If not done properly, we risk losing whole work days waiting on email replies.

Slow Internet
This has been a problem. Slow internet affects your ability to work quickly, upload and download large files (an especially common thing while working remotely) and the largest issue – it lowers the quality of the audit and video in conference calls. Mostly I solve this by working primarily from dedicated workspaces which usually have fast internet, but when I do get adventurous, exploring cafes in other areas of the cities I sometimes get caught out and it’s frustrating.

Communication
Communication hasn’t been as big of an issue as I thought. I’ve felt that the work we did, putting systems in place before I left and the flexibility of everyone on the team has meant we’ve been keeping in touch pretty regularly.

One thing I didn’t list before the start of the trip and ran into was difficultly controlling my own working hours. In my first month away I ended up working in the morning, then again when the Ottawa office “came online” and because Eastern hours extended to 11pm my time, I often found myself still answering emails or even editing documents in bed. This led to always feeling like I should be working. I was able to get this urge back under control for the most part and work shorter, more productive hours.

Highlights
For the travellers and travellers-by-proxy out there: I really enjoyed and recommend Ljubljana and Istanbul so far. Ljubljana is a very relaxed and inviting city. Slovenia is beautiful and filled with untouched nature. The city has happy, friendly people, good food and craft beer.

Istanbul was a lot ‘harder’ of a city in that it was huge, busy and not set up for biking or walking. You had to work a little bit to get to the gems, but if you do that, it is absolutely filled with things to do and see, with lovely food, amazing history. I really enjoyed my time there and would love to go back and spend some time.

Now Asia

I’m writing this from Georgetown in Penang, Malaysia, where I have already been, but am now diving back into the lovely food scene here.

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  • From my point of view, 12 hours difference is easier than 8. I’ve found it nice to see you online when I come back online at 9pm.

    • paintedbicycle

      There have been some definite benefits. We’ll see what happens in Japan where I’ll be 14 hours ahead!