The life of a self-isolating tech journalist at AndroidPIT
I am not going to beat around the bush here. As the tech industry grinds to a near halt, and our editorial team is working from home indefinitely, we are having to get creative. We value our community at AP and we like to let you see behind the curtain from time to time. This week, our Editors are going to share their secrets of what has become ‘normal’ in our lives as an AndroidPIT writer.
The show must go on, as they say. But that’s doesn’t mean it’s easy. As you may have already read in our boss’ Inside APIT article, things have changed dramatically for all of our Editors. Here’s how we’re coping both in and out of working time.
I have worked from home before, as a full-time News Editor for a magazine in England, but that was seven years ago. Back then, I was a lone ranger. My job was to publish eight news stories per day, and the only communication I really needed was done on the phone to agencies, press officers, and people I needed quotes from. Things are very different now.
At NextPit I am responsible for managing the Editorial teams for our English, German and French language websites. Aside from writing for AndroidPIT.com, I work with the country-specific teams to help bring our content across the languages and ensure that we are all working as one. That requires communication, and a lot of it.
Google Hangouts has been something of a savior to us. We meet three times a day, twice with just the Editors and once with all departments, to touch base. We’re also on Slack all day, although this is almost the case when we are in the office too. I also speak to Fabi on the phone sometimes. We both know that we can call each other at any time of the day. It’s still a huge challenge to keep an overview of our daily content production. Problems that can be solved in two minutes in person often take 10 when you cannot be in the same room. Fortunately, our Editorial team is full of smart, self-starters who don’t require much ‘managing’ at all really. I rely on them much more than they rely on me. Without these amazing guys and girls, my job would be impossible.
The thing I miss most is the office camaraderie. Watching Shu burst into laughter from across the desk, waiting for a link to the latest ridiculous thing he’s just seen online to drop into our Slack conversation.
Outside of working hours, I pass the time by running, reading, playing guitar and when I need to turn my brain off, I play Pro Evolution Soccer (now called eFootball PES, but I am old-school) on PlayStation 4. The game is a kind of meditation for me. I play exclusively alone, season after season of Master League. I’m currently nurturing a 16-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimović regen into my squad at Inter Milan. I often listen to podcasts whilst doing this and I changed the commentary language to German in an attempt to pick up some more football terminology.
I still get cabin fever, but I try to go out running five times a week. One of my favorite authors, Haruki Murakami, runs a minimum 36 miles a week and has done for 40-odd years. I converted that one-to-one into kilometers (as I live in Germany and not at all because it is a much shorter distance…) and that is my weekly goal. I tend to leave myself 15-20km for the weekend, where I have more time to be out covering longer distances. I use the Amazfit GTS from Huami, and the app automatically adds up all the individual runs into one weekly total. It’s an old review sample that I just never stopped using. Great product.
I'm used to working independently. I have worked for about ten years as a researcher and consultant, so I am used to managing my working time. Except that now I have my family with me in my apartment and that requires very special logistics. In truth, it's my 2-year-old son who gets up at 6 o'clock in the morning (absolutely incomprehensible since he usually doesn't want to get out of bed to go to the nursery... like an underage teenager...) who imposes timetables on us and who has become in a way the real boss of our family home.
I work as an Editor at AndroidPIT. It's an exciting job because you learn a lot and you get richer knowledge day after day with colleagues passionate about the tech world. I'm aware that we are privileged to work in the current economic situation and the difficulties that many families around the world are facing or will face. At AndroidPIT, we have the chance to write about what we are passionate about and it's our daily driving force.
I had some doubts about our ability to leverage months of collaboration within our editorial team remotely. We use Slack a lot, of course, but there's no substitute for looking a colleague in the eye and congratulating them on the quality of their article. But most importantly, you learn and improve in journalistic writing only when you can talk together sitting around a table. There is more freedom and sincerity of speech, because nothing can ever replace looking someone in the eye. But in the end, we manage to hold our three weekly meetings very well. I even found myself really enjoying them more and more, a kind of contact with the world 'before'.
Now, all this requires organization and sacrifice. My wife and I telework. Our bedroom has become the "conference room" for Skype and we have had to manage meetings while our son, for example, played with a big truck and had fun throwing it against the walls. At first, we were rightly very worried about the neighbors, but he began to understand the situation as well. Today, we are all doing video calling sessions: me with my colleagues from AndroidPIT, my wife with her colleagues from the bank where she works, and my son with his educators from the kindergarten.
How to deal with a two-year-old confined to the house would be a perfect theme for an article. I've discovered applications, games and lots of great things to keep him busy. Then I go out with the stroller once a day around 7 pm to avoid people on the street. We wake up very early so we reserve our evenings for three things that we can't do without: dancing and sports, watching movies and TV shows, and trying to grow plants or vegetables on the balcony. We've been home for a week already. I don't feel that our productivity has decreased. On the other hand, I have learned that I can be a web editor, a civil engineer, an airplane pilot, a Jedi, a financial assistant, etc. all in the same day. Good luck to you all and stay at home!
When I moved from Paris two weeks ago to join AndroidPIT in Berlin, I never imagined I'd make my debut in writing... stuck in my 20m² room. All in all, I have spent a week and a half in my new premises, and I already miss the old atmosphere. I've never worked remotely before, and I've always worked in large open-plan offices.
For the first few days, the quietness of my room was quite pleasant. No more frantic tapping of my office neighbors on their computer keyboard. Also, no more three-quarters of an hour of transportation in the morning and evening to get to and from the office, enough to get some sleep, which is so rare in this business. I can scribble down my articles while lying on my bed, only having to get up and look good during the three daily video calls with my manager David and the rest of the editorial staff.
But after a week with almost no contact, apart from a hello from my brave cashier who works on the front line and a few exchanges with one of my three roommates, the days are getting longer and longer. The problem with telecommuting is that there is no longer a line between work and free time. You never really leave your office, and you sleep in it every night.
But I quickly forget my whining and tell myself that I am quite lucky in the end, to be able to continue working, to receive my full salary and not partial unemployment, to be able to work at home while others have to go out every day to keep the machine running.
So we're having video calls, coroniversaries on Whatsapp to celebrate the end of the first week of confinement by drinking through screens. But the hangover of the next day quickly reminds us that we could be confined for a long time. I bitterly regret having sold my PS4 Pro to finance my plane ticket from Paris-Orly to Berlin-Tegel.
To pass the time, I play exclusively Call of Duty Mobile on my faithful OnePlus 7T. I even joined a clan and created a dedicated Discord server to play with my friends online. I never thought I would be able to invest so much in a mobile game. Maybe I'll be tempted by cloud gaming/computing like Shadow offers, for example, once Call of Duty Mobile wears me out.
As for the rest, I try not to put pressure on myself or force myself to introspection. I remain quite cynical and don't see this period as an opportunity to change. It's not a cosmic sign from the universe or mother nature that puts us in the corner to think about our nonsense. Yes, we are polluting, and reducing human activity has positive effects on this right now. Yes, there is a deep reflection to be done on working remotely and our approach to employment. Yes, I could read a bit more, try yoga or learn to play an instrument instead of vegetating in front of Netflix.
But I don't believe in karma. This confinement is not a punishment. Nor is it the end of the world. It's a break. A break that may last longer than we think. And while we wait for things to get back to normal, I'm reminded that never before has technology been so important for communication, education, and entertainment. Even if I'm stuck at home, I might as well be able to write about the world I'm passionate about. Especially since you really have no choice but to read me between two sessions of binge-watching and Animal Crossing. No more sunbathing in Buttes-Chaumont! Stay at home come and see us on Androidpit.fr.
But what about the rest of us? You still haven't heard from our German Editors? Our photo and video team, or our social media squad and the rest of the management. Drop us a comment below the line and let us know if you'd like to hear more.
Thanks for sharing.
Small tip: you don't need to publish if there's nothing to write about.