Home office in the Corona crisis – with time difference

Pic Source: Perseus Technologies

Chaitanya was visiting his family in India when the Corona crisis hit South Asia and has been working for Perseus from Nagpur in central India ever since. What is it like for him to work so far away from all his colleagues? We asked him.

Chaitanya is one of Perseus’ backend developers and has been working for the company for almost a year. He was born and raised in India and moved to Berlin to become part of the Perseus engineering team. He is now a highly valued employee there.

Chaitanya planned to take an extended holiday in March to visit his family in India. In retrospect, the timing could not have been worse. The COVID-19 virus spread worldwide, leading to the closure of national borders. Chaitanya is now stuck in India and when he will be able to return to Germany is still completely open for the time being.

Fortunately, thanks to his home office, Chaitanya can still work for Perseus. We asked him how he copes with this exceptional situation.

Perseus: Chaitanya, how did it come about that you suddenly have to work from India?

I came here for a holiday and to visit my family. However, just before I went back to Berlin, travel restrictions were imposed in both Europe and India due to the coronavirus pandemic, which made it impossible for me to come back. I contacted my manager and our CEO to discuss how to deal with the unexpected situation. Both were very accommodating and together we decided that I would work from India until further notice.

What is the political and economic situation there because of COVID-19?

India took a very drastic first step and imposed a nationwide curfew, although the number of coronavirus infections was still below 500. Due to these restrictions, citizens are now only allowed to leave their homes for necessary things, such as buying groceries or going to the doctor. Patrol cars patrol the entire city and people who stay outside without a valid reason have to pay a fine.

What does your working day look like now? Is the time difference problematic? How do you organize your workplace?

The time difference between Germany and India is only 3 ½ hours, so that is quite manageable. I start work around 11:30 am IST (8 am CET) and work until 9:30 pm IST (6 pm CET). I take my usual breaks to eat and try to maintain the routines I usually have in the office.

Regarding the workstation: I did not bring my office laptop to India; however, my personal laptop has the same configuration as my work laptop and so I got permission to set up everything I needed on my personal computer. I already had a desk at home, so that was not a problem either.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of working from India? 

I feel I have more time to work on features of our product that I don’t get to in a busy day at the office. I have fewer distractions here and it is easier for me to concentrate. Also, from a personal point of view, I am very happy to be with my family in these uncertain times and to be able to help whenever I am needed.

On the other hand, of course I miss our positive and open office atmosphere and all my colleagues. The prospect of being able to exchange ideas with my colleagues every day was always something I looked forward to. But of course there are still a lot of meetings and my work schedule is very tight.

How do you stay connected to the company?

We have a company-wide meeting every morning where we get all the updates we need from our CEO. There are also daily meetings within my development team where we share our progress and discuss everything else. This helps me to stay up to date.

How do you generally cope with working from home? Have your tasks changed? What do you miss most about being away from the office?

One thing I like to do is change where I work in the house every now and then. It helps with the monotony and boredom. And because of the time difference, I now eat lunch before I start working, which is also unusual for me.  If I have questions or problems, my team in Berlin is always there for me and I get the support I need. However, I really miss my colleagues, the team events and the office environment, and I hope to see everyone in person again soon!