Hello, my name is Anatolii Kovalchuk, and I am a remote developer from Ukraine. This is the story of my experience working for a European startup during the war.
My remote working path as a back-end developer for the Danish life science company Knowledge Gate Group began a few months after the full scale invasion of my country. First of all, it was a great job offer. I was needed for an interesting job remotely and especially, during these hard times. Second of all, at any times, as a developer I need to practice my skills, and improve them.
Let’s start to talk about how I work remotely. Every morning I have a call with the development team. Usually everything goes okay, but sometimes there is an air raid alarm during the meeting and I don’t know if I should take cover or not. At the beginning of the war my family and I tried to take cover every time we heard the alarm and it was difficult to work from home. I wanted to sit at a café or a co-working space, and escape these four walls, but it was difficult because of the curfews and some of the restaurants were closed for months.
Now, and especially where I live, it’s pretty quiet, but sometimes I can hear some strange sounds coming from the sky and the city. It affects my work to some extent and throws me off balance. I can also take walks through the city and visit restaurants, although some of them close down during the air raid alarms. It’s annoying, but safety is the main priority.
“It’s hard to work while your house is “shaking” and you are scared that it could be a rocket or missile. Even now, when I am writing this article, I am scared that something will go wrong in my city and that something will happen to me and my family.”
Quite often there are air raid alarms in the middle of the night and sometimes they affect my sleep. I live in a two-storey house and whenever the alarm sounds our neighbors come out from their houses and stay close to the bomb-shelter. It bothers me and distracts me. I prefer to work in a quiet place. Over time I started to get “phantom siren syndrome”. I think it is the air raid alarm but it’s not. My house is located near the road and occasionally I hear noises and feel vibrations from big cars going by. It’s hard to work while your house is “shaking” and you are scared that it could be a rocket or missile. Even now, when I am writing this article, I am scared that something will go wrong in my city and that something will happen to me and my family.
“I can see how people who were not lucky enough to live closer to the west suffer because of terror. They can not work properly, even remotely, and are forced to relocate from their homes.”
Every morning before work, as the rest of the Ukrainian people, I read the news about what is happening with our people and our country. The news is usually not good and sometimes I get scared because I can see how people who were not lucky enough to live closer to the west suffer because of terror. They can not work properly, even remotely, and are forced to relocate from their homes.
Let’s talk a little about my work. I am responsible for the backend tasks. I create new features and improve the old ones to make life science companies’ research processes more effective and faster. The war in my country has made me think about many things, for example the need to develop areas of IT and expand this. Especially it has made me think about life sciences, because this is very important in these current times. Medicines and treatments are really needed in my country right now.
Lastly, I want to say that although the war has affected me a lot, I will not lose heart and I will continue to live and improve myself as a developer and as a person. I will not lose heart for my country. Regardless of the scary things I have described above, my company and this remote work gives me confidence as a developer, it gives me a livelihood, and it supports my family. The team instill courage in me every day and they support me in my remote work.
Text by Anatolii Kovalchuk, back-end developer, Knowledge Gate Group