Working Remotely – how often have we heard such a term during the past years? Loved and hated from employees to employers, it is one of the main changes to our professional lifestyle. It has also led to the new 4-days business week, setting a whole new era for professional means across the entire globe.
When we set up XYZ Field, we were all living in different places, and at that point, we were forced to adopt a “work remotely” approach and learn how to be a team remotely. We focused our efforts on maintaining a good level of communication exchange on projects and business activities; although the real struggle was trying to maintain that human and refreshing component that only personal interactions could guarantee!
We worked in different directions trying to guarantee “exchange” moments with the entire team, as well as tandem collaborations between the different team members, both remotely and face-to-face. This exercise was a prelude to what we would have experienced soon after the years of the pandemic.
Now, after 3 years of pandemic/post-pandemic lifestyle and 5 years in business, we consider it normal to see people from different companies, operating from different parts of the world and time zones, working coherently, and attaining similar results as working in an office.
In this article, we have collected the XYZ Field experience of working remotely, from the different viewpoints of our team members.
On January 19th I landed in Taipei to spend Chinese New Year with my family, It was 10 years since I had come back here. I was excited and at the same time nervous to see Taiwan again, many things had surely changed in this rapidly growing country and so did I. Now I was managing my own company, filled with an international team. Many of us were already working in a different time zone but for me, it was the first time, and I was 7 hours ahead of Milan time, where most of the team is (Usually).
From my perspective, one of the major advantages of working remotely in a different time zone was the flexibility in work hours. This can allow for a better work-life balance, as I could work during the hours that are most convenient for me, and I could wake up at my own pace. I was able to visit family at the beginning of my day without having to worry too much about deadlines as I was way ahead in terms of the time of the day, knowing I had time to catch up on things and prepare so that when the rest of the team woke up, I had already organized the workflow for the day.
Another great thing, I was able to give my company 24-hour coverage. I could ensure that someone is always available to handle any urgent tasks or client inquiries, even outside of typical business hours. We had a project running in Japan and therefore was perfect for us, I could align with our partners in Asia during our morning on things that came up during night-time.
However, working remotely in a different time zone also had its challenges. Communication can be difficult, as it can be hard to coordinate with colleagues in different time zones. This can lead to missed opportunities for collaboration and can also result in delays in getting work done, as I often had to wait for a colleague in a different time zone to be available to clarify things. But by that time, it was late my time, and started feeling tired.
In addition, working remotely sometimes made me feel isolated and disconnected from the rest of the team. And often found myself catching up with all the emails and information from the work done by my colleagues when I was asleep. I felt like I was always late in finding out things which did not make me feel in control of my work.
The arrival of the Pandemic has drastically influenced everyone’s life, bringing a big change in the way we work – both for workers and companies. Working remotely has certainly been one of the most discussed and fascinating aspects that came out from this period that we’ll all remember forever.
The day I started working for this company was also the day that quarantine started in Italy, and I have to admit for the first few weeks I struggled to get used to the idea of not having co-workers physically around me, as well as not being able to leave the house. Despite this, with time I accepted the fact that my home is a much more relaxing environment than the office.
You look around and everything is familiar, you have your own pace, your silence, and your sound, and everything has the harmony that you can only find in your own home. If you, like me, are lucky enough to enjoy a terraced garden and the constant company of one (or many) furred friends, you won’t feel alone. You start to smile and have friendly chats with the Amazon courier or the Deliveroo driver because lately, you have been using all the online services you can think of.
And let’s talk about the funny parts of working remotely. Kids who start appearing in the background of a Zoom meeting, if you’re not on mute people will hear your background noises but if you are on mute and forget about it, you’ll start talking and people won’t be able to hear you. And how about the dress code? The look is professional, button-up shirt and spotless up top – then you look down for a second and realize you are still wearing your pajama pants and your slippers and think that nobody knows. Sure, we hide it, but at the end of the day, we all know it.
But, working remotely is not just staying at home, saving time, money, and nerves from your commute to the office. It also means being able to be connected from any angle of the city – or the world – that makes you feel at peace. If you, like me, come from the city and have the possibility to spend your summers at the seaside, at the end of the working day you can go for a dive in the pool or a happy hour on the beach.
Even though I have always been used to working around many people, I realize that even through a phone I can connect to and be supported by the team – and if someone is busy, we have the group chat that helps keep constant communication.
My thoughts and hopes are that this new way of working won’t always be the only way, but I also don’t want it to disappear completely.
It’s certain that the impact of working remotely will continue to grow on our lives, our mental state and our economy, but I hope that people won’t forget that relationships and friendships with colleagues shouldn’t always be lived from behind the screen of a PC or phone.
Covid19 has had negative effects on everyone, the economy, and the world. Despite these drawbacks, it has changed workplace habits immensely, and in some cases for the better. Working at XYZ Field has been a very interesting journey so far, this also entails the fact that we all work remotely!
With most of the team members dispersed in different regions, making sure that everyone is on the same page has been a challenge as well as an interesting endeavor. I personally have enjoyed working on projects and perfecting each aspect, in my own time and space. Sometimes I do miss the office life and sharing a workspace with team members, however, with the help of meeting platforms and connectivity facilities, we are all able to connect easily and interact in a manner that brings us closer to one another.
When I first started working on projects with the team, I was mainly based in Lebanon, and never had the idea of working remotely. What I had in mind was working on a project for the sake of being in another country at that moment. After the COVID-19 pandemic and its different life and society–changing effects, working remotely was the only option this diverse team had! I then relocated to Dubai (UAE), before coming back to Lebanon for good, and worked from there for a period of time. One of the interesting challenges this had, was the difference in platform use in different countries. WhatsApp, for instance, was not always an option in Dubai, as it was in Lebanon. We mostly communicated through Microsoft Teams or Zoom to get things done (you can always turn on VPN).
Up until I visited the team in Italy in April 2022, I really had a feel of the office life of the XYZ Field team. As much as I enjoyed working from home, in my own country, and at my own pace and time, being in an office at certain hours, and getting the physical experience of being around work colleagues, is definitely rewarding socially and psychologically.
Another way I view the experience of working remotely is the diverse viewpoints we have as a team, being in different regions of the world, and experiencing societal events and life changes from different geographical locations, has added to the quality of work we do, and the overall spirit of the company.
Looking forward to what the future holds and how it would look like given the advancements in technology, the economy, and jobs in general.
Although I am usually based in Italy, I am currently spending a couple of months in Australia, to visit family and catch up with some outstanding bureaucracy I had left from my years here.
During this time, I will also be working my usual ‘9 to 5’ -while running in Central European Time zone- to continue managing my projects. So, technically, my 9 to 5 became a 7 pm to 3 am for the time being.
I have to say, the first week was rough: for someone that is very sensitive to jetlag, staying awake was challenging in the first few days – it took several cups of coffee each night to get everything done.
But, after that, I discovered a brand-new work-life rhythm that I grew very fond of: I wake up at around 10 am, go about my day, and then start working at around 6 or 7 pm, depending on the demands of the day.
I re-discovered that I am more productive and concentrated late at night, as I used to be when I was in school.
Being able to work from the other side of the world is something I am very grateful for. If I must confess, it had been a goal of mine for quite some time, to find a job that could be fully remote at times.
Having this sort of freedom and trust is what motivates me to give a hundred percent. Obviously, working remotely has its cons, but for me personally, is the way to go and I would never go back.
There are so many advantages that come into play, from of course being able to travel and enjoy a ”different type of vacation”, to the more practical cost of living rising in the major cities – being able to live outside of big cities means being able to better afford housing and the cost of living in general.
And that big waste of time that is commuting, is no longer an issue. When I was living in Sydney, I would waste almost 3 hours every day in commuting alone…and I lived in the city!
Plus, for someone like me, who has lost all interest in living in a big city, it is great to have the option to work in an international field, while still living in my small Alpine town.
Nonetheless, I just find amazing the freedom to work from wherever I want in the world – and with a great team that helps you, it really is easy.
Another great advantage for our team which operates in projects on a global scale has also been to have someone available in times of emergency simply because of the time zone difference.
While I am not sure when I will be able to work from overseas again, I will certainly cherish this experience of switching my European Winter for a few weeks of baking in the Australian summer while working with a 10-hour time zone difference.
So far it has been lovely, and I would absolutely recommend this type of experience to those who are up to the challenge!
Working from home was a revolution. I just recently moved abroad for an Erasmus master’s program – meaning that each semester will be held in a different country – and working remotely with XYZ Field allowed me to pursue my education without giving up on gaining experience. Currently in the Netherlands, I will shortly move to Belgium for my second semester, and not having a physical office where I must go every day allowed me to travel, meet new people, and fulfill new experiences while pursuing my job.
On the other hand, it might be difficult to balance personal and working life, since there is no continuity solution between the spaces someone reserves for work and leisure.
In conclusion, working remotely in different time zones can have both advantages and disadvantages. While increased flexibility and access to a wider pool of talent are definite benefits, it is key to maintain a clear view on challenges such as communication difficulties, feelings of isolation, and potential impact on work-life balance. It is important to keep an honest and open dialogue amongst the team and with the management, to guarantee that any difficulty is heard, shared, and addressed. We truly feel that working remotely could lead to a healthier and more aware lifestyle which will bring back at the heart humans rather than the pure 9 to 6 business performance.