“My girlfriend wanted to do an international internship, first thoughts were close to the Netherlands with a weekend commute. At one point, we were talking about Nedap employees working remotely when she asked me: isn’t that something you could do as well?” Emiel Bonnink, IT specialist, shared his experiences about working remotely in Australia from February until September 2020.
“I discussed this with the IT team at headquarters, and my managers Tom and Miranda were fine with it! My girlfriend wrote to some well-known universities in her research field and the reply from Brisbane stood out. And to be honest, I liked it as well: Brisbane wasn’t a small place, not as expensive as Sydney and the weather was much better at that time of year than in Melbourne”.
Emiel really enjoyed his time. However, the first few weeks were a bit stressful. Emiel and his girlfriend were quite shocked by the number of people attending each house viewing in this university city. They decided to increase their planned budget and tried a different category of housing. “Looking back, that was a really good choice, given the coronavirus situation,” says Emiel. “We ended up with one of the best views of the city!”
Emiel started out working from WeWork, a co-workplace environment. Maria Coig in Spain helped him out with membership, as Nedap Iberia also works from a WeWork office. “It’s a 15-minute bike ride to the office,” says Emiel, “and it has a nice atmosphere. It’s good to meet new people and have fast and stable internet access.”
“Work-wise it was really good to be in this time zone. Nedap IT was working on a major project: the migration of our virtual and physical servers to our new data centers in Enschede and Hengelo,” says Emiel. “This enabled me to do the migrations when it was night-time in Groenlo, so nobody experienced any impact. At the end of my working day, I had an update call with headquarters to discuss the physical move of the servers.”
As soon as Corona started hitting Europe, Emiel was able to help the team increase the capacity for remote workers on new servers and finish the migration project. When Australia went into lockdown as well, a month after the Netherlands, all the plans the pair had made for traveling at the weekend went up in smoke. “We started working from home. At this point, we both felt a bit stuck in our apartment”. After 4 weeks of complete lockdown, travel restrictions were lifted somewhat so Emiel was able to work from the office 2 days a week and the other days from home. This meant as well the couple was allowed to travel up to 150 kilometers within their region. So the weekend trips to the nearby beaches and mountains where on the agenda again.
The downside of working remotely is missing the small talk and social bonding with everybody from the team. “Sometimes it can be challenging to do projects that require lots of interaction from both sides,” says Emiel. “Being in a different time zone, a simple discussion to finalize tasks can sometimes be a few hours away.”
“The upside of working remotely and in a different time zone is that I’m doing the standby evening/night shifts for the colleagues at headquarters so they can get a better night’s sleep. Maintenance that was mostly scheduled for “off hours” is something I can now do during my morning. And working on tickets that don’t require a lot of interaction can be done a lot faster without disruptions of phone calls, chats and meetings”
Another upside of working in Australia occurred when colleagues from business unit Identification Systems (IDS) asked him to go to the Gold Coast, since he was ‘nearby’ anyway. IDS has a large Sensit network in that region. “I was able to help them with a scan of the RF band Sensit is operating on,” says Emiel. “Travel restrictions are in place for international travel, but seeing as I lived close by, the IDS team sent over an RF spectrum analyzer to gather useful data.”
Not quite the worst circumstances for ‘our man in Brisbane’, helping out colleagues, considering that the Gold Coast is Australia’s biggest holiday destination with great theme parks and good surfing conditions…