Covid and the Remote Work Experiment

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Andrew Ng working on three computers at the same time

Dear friends,

When I was younger, I was not a fan of working from home. Too many distractions! So I worked a lot in coffee shops. They turned out to be convenient places to talk to strangers and ask for feedback about products I was working on, including early MOOC prototypes.

Now much of the world is undergoing a remote work experiment. My teams and I are working from home.

There have been positives and negatives. I love running into colleagues in our #virtualcoffeechat slack channel, especially people I don’t see so often around the office. I love reducing my carbon footprint and not having to commute, and I love getting to see Nova during my lunch break. (She’s learning to walk, and her unstable toddling is simultaneously cute and terrifying.)

On the flip side, I miss seeing everyone in 3D. I miss the serendipitous discussions, and I miss being able to gather in the break room to chat and partake in the babka, gulab jamun, chicharron, and durian candy that teammates sometimes bring to share.

Even though Covid-19 is a painful challenge, there is a silver lining in this shift in how we work. People in the tech industry are fortunate that a lot of work can be done remotely, and many companies are now learning how to do this well.

Once this pandemic is over, I believe that many remote roles will open up. It will be easier for an aspiring AI engineer who lives in Dallas to get a job in Silicon Valley — without having to move. A recruiter who lives in Buenos Aires will have a better chance of being hired by a company in Montreal. A front-end engineer in Sydney might work for an employer in Tokyo. No matter where you live, more jobs will be coming to you in the future.

Stay safe and keep learning!



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