The Future of Work - Remote Working at dualoop: Interview With Yifan

Last week, I launched the new remote worker interview series with my first interview with Andrej. We know a lot of you have been working remotely since the pandemic and are continuing to do so. We thought it would be an interesting idea to see how remote working has affected our loopers in different ways and how they cope with it.

This week, I met with another one of our remote working product managers, Yifan. Yifan talked to me about how working remotely has benefited her since she started doing it and how it has been since she started her career in product management.

Let’s get to know her

Yifan is a product manager consultant working for dualoop, but her client is Novable, which is also located in Brussels. Starting her product management career first in China, Yifan left China for Belgium after the restrictions regarding the pandemic slowed down last year. Fun fact: she started first working as an English teacher assistant in Beijing and taught presentation skills to bachelor students and helped improve their oral expression skills. But wait…Our looper has also worked as a French translator for a TV series and was a dubbing actress. Her career in product management started in 2019 when she worked for Codemao in Shenzhen before joining dualoop in 2021. Now, Yifan works remotely twicetwo times a week. 

Not new to remote working

When the pandemic hit, Yifan was in China. But she didn’t have a hard time adjusting to the new way of remote working. “We were in a large company, and it was not trivial to see everyone at the meeting because we were located in different offices across China. So, online meetings were quite normal. Then we had to stay home. Everything was easy to adjust to since we have been doing it for a long time. I was quite happy about not commuting every day,” she says.

DingDing helped her tremendously

“We had a very close version of Slack which is called DingDing, and everything was integrated,” she says. I then looked it up on google about DingDing. Also known as DingTalk, it’s basically the Chinese version of Slack. It’s been launched by Alibaba and has tremendous success in the country as it facilitates communication in any business. Yifan tells me that Google Drive was integrated in DingDing, they could easily have meetings on the platform, access their calendars etc. Everything was basically integrated into the app. HR stuff was also integrated. Her way of working was pretty digital already, and it didn’t change much in her life. “Only thing that changed was not commuting to the office,” she adds.

Remote working allows time gaining

Not commuting seems to come as one of the advantages of remote working. “The good thing is that we don’t have to commute to the office. But the office was good and really nice, and I felt good at the office too. But I saved a couple of hours per day, so that’s a good thing,” Yifan says.

On interpersonal communication...

“On the other hand, on the mental side, I would say that it’s always nice to have face-to-face communication to ensure that the opinions are heard. It’s harder to show that with the team meetings when you don’t really know who you’re nodding to. But actually, mentally, not much changed my life,” Yifan says. 

Communication might be a bit difficult for some remote workers. Interpersonal communication is more important to some than others, and being unable to communicate directly could be a problem. “Yeah, short communication is difficult to put in place. But the nature of a PM’s job is a lot of communication. And usually, we do sit down with our development team to facilitate the communication. We just drop by and share/show the thing that we want to change to the developer on his screen, which is really 3 meters away. We can fix stuff pretty quickly by communicating directly. And really showing stuff in real life. Sometimes I have difficulty explaining stuff while working remotely,” she adds.

It’s time for tea… at home

Our Andrej loves having easy access to his kitchen for some healthy meals. That seems to be the case for our Yifan as well… but for tea. “My favourite thing is the proximity of my boiler so that I can make tea at any time of the day, which is very important for me - even though it sounds a bit like a joke - to have close access to water,” she says. 

Having easy access to tea isn’t her only pick, though. “The flexibility of doing a little bit of sports during your daily routine, which is a bit hard to do at the office, would be my second pick,” she says. 

Remote working allows flexibility

Flexibility is also one of the other positives that come back very often. “Indeed, it’s been more flexible. If I want to take more days off and work remotely, that should be fine with my work. I would say the things you can still do are the things that cannot be done after working hours. For example, going to the city hall for a couple of things, going to the doctor during lunchtime, that doesn’t affect work. And also being able to finish your day a bit earlier if you were really productive. You don’t have to stay there until the end of the day,” Yifan says. “Also, you can still travel and work on the road. I’ve been recently travelling through Bulgaria and was still able to do some work on the way. And that’s truly amazing,” she adds. 

Focus? She’s mastering it

I ask our looper if she’s more productive working at the office. Some people seem to have issues focusing in their own homes since distractions are plenty, and they’re not under supervision. But, for Yifan, it doesn’t seem to make that much of a difference. “No, it's the same, I would say. At the office, it’s true that when someone talks to you, it’s a bit difficult to focus and avoid. And sometimes you’re 4-5 people in the room. And even when you're not chatting with someone, they’re chatting with someone else, and it’s a bit distracting. And at home, there are a lot of distractions as well. So I’d say it’s kind of the same for sure,” Yifan says. 

Turn off… turn on

It’s not easy turning work mode off when you’re working remotely. Just like Andrej said, work follows you for the rest of the day. I’m asking our Yifan if she’s had a hard time turning work mode off sometimes. “Yes, for sure. It’s a good point,” she says. “When you’re commuting home, that’s the time you get off work mode. It’s true that when I’m at home, the day continues right. So definitely,” she adds. 

It’s okay going back to the office

The restrictions linked to the pandemic are now (almost) over. Everyone has gone back to the office or are on their way to. Some feel happy about it, and some wish they didn’t have to. “I'm quite happy to,” Yifan says. “I do see I'm losing a bit more time and have less flexibility, but we’re at the beginning of returning to the office. Maybe in a year, I will feel different about it. I’m very happy to see people, joke around, share a coffee, and have personal interaction. Like more private interaction with my colleagues. It’s a good thing for now,” she adds.

Future of work is remote

If you want the best people, you should maybe stop hiring locally. The best people are not always in your area. Companies are now looking to get the best people who are scattered around the world. Does our Yifan think this trend of hiring remote workers will be the future? “I think it’s going to be hybrid, at least for sure,” she says. “Some employers will ask for more office presence, but I think it's up to negotiation, especially in tech companies. They’re very flexible about that as long as you output what you need to output. I really see it like that. We’re going to do it more remotely,“ she adds.

Have you always dreamed of working remotely? Having the possibility of working anywhere? Anytime? At your own pace? On any device of your choice? At dualoop, it’s been a reality since we started. We are looking for you! 

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Then let’s have a first chat together!