15 Sep Working from home from Taiwan—three months in
Despite the ongoing pandemic, I am currently privileged enough to still be able to work from home. As a software engineer, most of my work can and could always have been done outside of the office. Yes, it makes collaboration a bit more different (a lot of communication is now asynchronous). In addition, not everyone has the right environment at home for remote work (no office furniture, distractions, no air conditioning, abusive partner, etc are all things that affect one's ability to work effectively at home). But for the most part, engineering work can be done outside of the office. Three months ago, my manager offered to let me work from Taiwan in order for me to be closer to my support network of family and friends. So, that's what I've been doing for the past few months. I figured it's worth writing a bit about my experience so far! Taiwan is handling COVID-19 somewhat effectively. There are currently 12 active cases, and for the most part, besides a bit more social distancing and face masks, life is relatively "normal". I wake up at 4:55 AM every day and am "at work" by 5. I have very few meetings with my team now, even with these working hours. At around 7, I make breakfast and take a break for half an hour. With the office supply stipend given by the company, my workspace is very ergonomic, and the only thing I'm missing is a second monitor. At 12, I eat lunch with my parents. 90% of the time, my laptop is closed by 2:00 PM. Afterwards, I go to the gym. When I'm done, I have around 5 more hours left of my day. Even though I was working from home in Chicago since March, it still took a while for me to get used to remote work from Taiwan. The time difference is the biggest hurdle. Currently, Taiwan is 15 hours ahead of Pacific Daylight Time. That means when my work day starts at 5:00 AM, it is 2:00 PM for most of my team. Most of the team's meetings are already done by then in order to accommodate Chicago time as well. I catch up with the team by reading meeting notes and scanning chat rooms for important information. Large meetings are recorded, which helps a lot too. I used to have many meetings on my calendar. Now, I probably just have 1 hour of recurring team-related meetings each week. Because of this, I often reach out to folks through 1:1 meetings now. Another hot topic these days is whether or not companies should give employees the option of [indefinite remote work](https://edition.cnn.com/2020/05/22/tech/work-from-home-companies/index.html). I don't have much of an opinion now, but from what I notice, the issue isn't really work-from-home vs work-from-office. It seems to be more related to the fact that people are productive when they can focus. Some people can enter the zone in the office, but some do that better at home. I think there's a lot of room for more flexibility and research in this area, and I wouldn't be surprised if it comes down mostly to the preference of your immediate team. Regardless, I'm glad and grateful to be home and closer to the people I care about. Remote work has changed the way many people view their job, and the pandemic has changed how people view life. Please continue to take good care of yourself and one another!