Employee Diaries – Episode 06

September 08, 2021
Zumen Employee Stories

The year 2020 was an unforgettable one for the entire world. It was for me too, but for a different reason. My life took an interesting turn when I  joined the second company in my career, Zumen. It started like any other year where you make a list of resolutions and things you are planning to change. The topmost priority on my list was looking for better opportunities and a good company. My resolve materialized when I met Harishankar through LinkedIn for a Machine Learning role in his organization. I went ahead with an interview the next week with founders, Viswa and Mohan. The interview was a success, and I was ecstatic because openings for junior-level machine learning roles are scarce and difficult to find.

I joined Zumen in the middle of March. The onboarding was smooth, and like any new joiner, I was eager to learn everything about the product. Working at a startup has its own merits. You get to witness how your contribution pushes the company towards its mission right from day one. But just two days after I joined, there were some discussions and it was decided that we work remotely. I realized the importance of this swift action only later when almost the entire country went on to crisis mode, and everything – from restaurants to transportation, was shut down at a border level. Friends of mine were stranded and had to hide inside goods vehicles to cross borders. It was mayhem.

Then came the infamous Indefinite Lockdown and the work from home model. It was challenging at first to adapt to remote work initially, to sync with teammates and processes. It was my first time working virtually, and not seeing any of my colleagues face to face though I worked with them for nearly ten months. It was only through weekly HR interaction did I see their faces. Managing work amidst the anxiety and confusion was tough, but I was fortunate to have lived through it unscathed as the team was supportive. By the end of the year, when things were slowly getting back to normal, I received an email from the company with the subject line – Work From Resort. Reading the mail, I learned that this plan was not for a week or a fortnight but an entire month.

My initial thoughts were mixed. I was excited about this workation, but I was skeptical about the restrictions there. I had a feeling that this was going to be dull, and boy was I wrong. On February 1st, 2021, we gathered at the Chennai office and started for Bodhi Woods resort in Mahabalipuram, 40 km south of Chennai. It was a nice place with cottages, a swimming pool, an aviary, and a playground. All of us hit it off from the very first day. There were lots of fun activities like cricket, volleyball, badminton, swimming, running, singing, dancing, over which we bonded.

Our typical day used to be like this – wake-up call from Hari on cold February mornings, warm-up exercises before running for 3-5 km. We then had breakfast and sat down to work until evening, after which we played Cricket and Volleyball. On weekends we played more sports and swam around in the afternoons. The highlights of the stay were the Zumen’s First Anniversary celebration, movie nights, delicious food, and a 24-hour hackathon. Hari also resolved to make us fit enough to run 5 kilometers comfortably, which he succeeded. Even between all of these fun activities, we organized our work and ensured everything was on track. Time flew so quickly that we didn’t realize that we had spent four weeks there. This workation helped us transition from working remotely to the office environment after a stressful year, both personally and professionally. My best memory from the trip was running 5k without a break, which I wouldn’t have done without support and motivation.

I will cherish these moments as one of the best phases of my life.

Vineeth, ML/DL Developer