After reading the book “The 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferriss, I was eager to test his concept of Mini-retirements:
“To distribute recovery periods and adventures throughout life on a regular basis and recognize that inactivity is not the goal. Doing that which excites you is.”
I work for Yahoo! Labs in Israel, and I discovered that Yahoo! also has offices in Brazil. Then I decided that in my next trip to Brazil I would combine my two-week vacations with a period of remote work, so that in the total I would be able to stay there more than a month and have many additional weekends to enjoy being abroad.
My main doubt was: “How effective will be my remote work?”
I’m still in Brazil, but after two weeks working remotely I think that overall the experience was very positive. Here are the main points:
Communicating with co-workers: I didn’t feel any disruption in my formal communication with other members of my team, especially because there is only a 4-hour difference between Brazilian summertime and Israeli time. We even didn’t have to change the schedule of our weekly meeting, that was done via audio-conference, in the early afternoon in Israel and the morning in Brazil. We continued to communicate normally through Email and IM, and the only difference was a slight increase in the volume and frequency of messages, but nothing disturbing.
Performing my tasks: We are now in the early stages of our project, and I’m doing basically investigation of technologies and programming tasks. At this stage there are few dependencies between my tasks and the ones being performed by my co-workers. Actually, the fact that I’m abroad has drastically reduced the number and frequency of interruptions of my work, so that I’m certainly more productive here. I intentionally don’t have my mobile phone activated here, and that’s a great change from being at home.
Access to resources: When I arrived in the Yahoo! offices in Brazil, I was immediately given a desk with a phone and network connection. I brought my laptop with me from Israel, so that in a few minutes I was already connected and able to continue my work. Since we store everything in the company network that is globally shared, I have access to all resources I need, including Wikis, documentation, source code repositories and bug-tracking tools. Thus, despite being very far from home I’m working seamlessly.
The only thing I really miss are the social interactions with my co-workers, like the jokes in the corridors and the heated discussions at lunchtime. But this is compensated by the wonderful opportunity to meet and make new friends with my colleagues at Yahoo! offices in Brazil.
I have worked remotely in the past and loved it. I do like being around other developers but love the flexibility. It seems that many companies are not comfortable with allowing workers to remote. I find that hard to understand since progress must be made whether working remotely or not.