Relocating during COVID | Meet Daun
Hey! I’m Daun, a React & Node.js Software Engineer at Symless, currently working on the front-end development of Synergy 3. I’ve been with Symless since March 2020 after living and working in Qatar for many years.
Symless offered a funded relocation to the Isle of Man and so, a little less than a year ago, I packed my bags and moved there! Quite a change in climate, as you can imagine.
What happened between applying for the job and starting your employment?
As soon as I signed the employment contract, we started the visa process. I had to go to a center in Qatar to arrange the documentation for my work visa, which was actually quite simple. I just had to fill in a few forms and that was it - Symless had to do some admin from their side to make this happen too. But from my side, it was much less daunting than I had expected.
Once I had filed my application, it was only around 20 days until I was granted a work visa. Symless then worked with me to arrange a flight and have my furniture shipped over to the Isle of Man.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 started sweeping across the world, and 3 days before the flight’s departure date the Isle of Man closed their borders, which meant I couldn’t travel. As time went on, the situation eased and because the infection rate on the Isle of Man was relatively low, I had another chance to fly over there..
The one thing I remember clearly is how concerned the team was about my health, and they respected that I wasn’t really comfortable travelling until it was safe to do so.
As a software developer, it’s easy for me to work from home and as Symless has staff all over the world, they’re very experienced with collaborating remotely. I was given all the tools I needed to work remotely until it was safe to travel, and that’s how I started at Symless!
The team was also monitoring the situation in Qatar, to make sure that it was actually safe for me to get on the plane, so that helped me out a lot. Knowing that I had such a supportive team behind me every step of the way, who genuinely cared about my health during such a worrying and unusual situation, was a great relief.
What about the IoM? What did you expect?
Well, Michelle (our Executive Assi) was really helpful in providing me with plenty of resources about the Isle of Man including Facebook community groups, links to websites, etc. I also already knew what to expect before I moved there, because part of the interview process was an in-person hackathon (that was also really fun), and all costs were covered for this. So I did get to see a bit of the Isle of Man before accepting the offer. This was a really key point in the interviewing process that made me really excited to work for Symless as I got to see the inner workings of the team and meet the CEO, Nick Bolton.
My overall experience at Symless has actually been fun. There’s such a focus on the people, rather than the workload, which makes you actually want to put in the work, as you’re a genuinely respected member of the team. The team’s energy and motivation is very different from what I experienced working in Qatar.
I think the main difference is that, in Qatar, I felt that employers were heavily business and productivity-focused, rather than working to organically motivate staff. Business and productivity are still important at Symless but, even when I was working remotely, the team members are all so connected to each other, and motivation is really good. The management team is really engaged in creating a great team culture, there’s no “us and them” attitude.
The actual people of the Isle of Man are really friendly, I was actually quite shocked when complete strangers would say “hi” to me in the street. I’d never experienced this in Qatar!
Were the different climates hard to adjust to?
After living in Qatar for so long, I was really looking forward to living in a cooler climate and escaping the desert heat! Although I had only brought one suitcase, I did have the wardrobe for the Isle of Man as I had previously lived in South Korea, which is a milder climate anyway. I’m really glad about this though, as shopping for warm clothes when the whole world is in lockdown might have proven quite difficult!
Overall, my experience of relocating with Symless was really positive and they supported me every step of the way.
If you’d like to take the same journey as me and relocate to work for Symless, there are plenty of opportunities to do it (+ remote opportunities, too).