Kiki (K): Hi everyone, welcome back to Kartini Teknologi with Kiki and Galuh here.
Galuh (G): Hello.
K: Currently there are three of us here with a special guest whose work I’ve been following for a while. I think this will be interesting because the topic will be a bit different from our previous episodes—previously we talked about data, machine learning… and now we’ll discuss technology from another angle. So we want to let you know that in the tech industry you can also contribute in fields such as design or community, and now we’ll be talking about community. We’re now with Alanda Kariza…
A (Alanda): Hi hi everyone.
K: So Alanda is currently Head of Community or… is it community manager or…?
A: In Indonesian it’s manajer komunitas.
K: … manajer komunitas or Head of Community at Quora Indonesia. How long have you been at Quora Indonesia?
A: About one and a half year.
K: From what I know, you’re working remotely, so is it because Quora Indonesia doesn’t have any or did you choose to work remotely?
A: So from about 2017, Quora had an internationalization initiative, so they started launching Quora in different languages in different markets. At the start there were mostly European languages such as Italian, Spanish, German… in Asia there was just Japanese. In the next phase, at 2018, Quora launched three new languages: Portuguese, for its huge market in Brazil, Indonesian, and Hindi in India. And now there are more and more languages—Arabic, Polish, other European languages. Every time they launch a new language, they have at least one head of community to “handle” that language. Some of them work from the main headquarter in Mountain View, some work from their home city or even other cities. For instance, there is one person handling Hindi who is living in New Zealand. So there are a lot of the internationalization team who is working remotely as well. And it’s a coincidence for me personally because I got this job at Quora right when I found out that I was pregnant. So… actually at that time I wasn’t looking for a new job because I wanted to focus on my pregnancy and having my kid. But it turned out there was this opportunity and we can work from anywhere, so I took the job. Before I had my son, I was working in a coworking space. But now I mostly work from home because I also have the opportunity to do so. It can be said that Quora Indonesia’s office doesn’t exist yet, all Quora Indonesia people are working remotely and there are not many of them too.
K: In Indonesia, is there just you or are there other people?
A: Well actually officially it’s just me. But sometimes I also get support from Indonesians from all over the world to help the internationalization team. And it happens that—if you have the opportunity—the engineering lead of Quora is also Indonesian and is a woman. I think she’s also a Kartini Teknologi.
K: Got it. Wow, so it’s just you at Quora Indonesia. Okay, let’s not talk about the remote work first, let’s talk about your role at Quora as a Head of Community. In Indonesia there are probably not a lot of people with the title Head of Community or are working as a community manager. So maybe there are a lot of people who don’t know what the role is about yet. Can you tell us more about it?
A: I personally think most likely the work of every community manager in every company and industry is different. Perhaps the majority of technology companies has a community manager in different forms. In Quora itself, for listeners who don’t know Quora is yet, Quora is a questions and answers platform to share knowledge. So if there’s something we want to ask, we can ask there. If there’s something that we want to share or if we know something that someone has asked, we can answer. There are many activities there that are related to writing. And… so in Quora whether it is the international team or the teams in the English version of Quora have a writers relation. It’s one of the main things that has to be managed by community managers at Quora, where we as the heads of community can build a good relationship with the writers or get people to write at Quora. Because establishing a good relationship will also push them to write more often at Quora, ask more questions, answer more questions. More or less it’s like that. So that’s the main work. But, like I’ve said previously Quora is currently in the process of internationalization, so if I can explain it a bit sometimes people think that internationalization is as simple as creating a website with the English version and Indonesian version, we just need to click the “flag” button and that’s it. But in Quora it’s different. Although we call it Quora in the Indonesian language, but the content of Quora in English and Indonesian is different, depending on people who are building each of them. And the internationalization process goes through many phases, like for example translating the content. Sometimes although there is already a team of translators, but it’s not always the case that the the translation team’s language is nice to read. Sometimes there are parts that become too formal, so my task is to see the result of the translation, and if this Quora product in Indonesia is suitable for the Indonesian market or not. Because we can say that Quora Indonesia is one of Quora International’s products which growth is pretty significant. And not all elements of a product can be applied to all countries, maybe one market has a tendency to like this, maybe another doesn’t. For example there’s one which language is more formal, in Indonesia perhaps it’s more conversational or casual. Also we oversee the content, is there any content that attacks other people or not.
K: So it’s like moderation isn’t it?
A: It must be considered because—especially in Indonesia we have UU ITE which is a “pasal karet” [legislations which ambiguous wording could lead to broad misinterpretation] or for example the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology blocked Tumblr or Reddit because of their content. So in the English version of Quora adult questions are not perceived as provocative but in Indonesia if there’s something “wrong” even just a bit it could impact Quora. For listeners, we have my son here…
K: Seems like he wants to answer the question as well. But it’s interesting that you call the users as “writers”, because tech companies in general call them users.
G: Yep, users.
K: But here they are called writers. So it seems like Quora is really focused on… is not playing around with its content.
A: And the department is also called Writers Relation, and every week in Quora Indonesia and other languages we choose best writer of the week. So writers who give good answers in certain fields. So we really consider such things, and it’s pretty detailed… Quora also has a “be nice, be respectful” policy, so we have to be polite and nice to other people. But to answer questions in Quora, it’s better that we have credentials. So for example, “Galuh, founder of Kartini Teknologi”. So if Galuh answers questions about podcasts, people can see Galuh’s credibility, why she’s answering the question, because oh, Galuh founded a podcast about technology and women empowerment.
K: Can we say that you can’t answer questions as anonymous?
A: We can, there’s an anonymous feature so actually it’s fine, but we’re looking for more high-quality answers from experts in various fields and we can know that from credentials.
K: What other teams do you usually work with? Do you work with the product team as well, or just the Writers Relation team…?
A: Indonesia is pretty lucky because like I said before, the engineering manager of Quora in Mountain View is Indonesian. So she can be like my ‘second eye’ to observe Quora Indonesia, and from the technical side perhaps she can give suggestions or do something to create a good experience for Quora users. On the other side maybe there are teams that I work with every day, first there is the Internationalization team. So it’s like international relations—there are many engineers there, so if there is any issue or bug I talk to them. And of course I have to work with teams such as the legal team. Because Quora has a program called the partners’ program, so this is not open for public yet but people who have been good at using Quora, they get a chance to become a partner, and they can ask questions at Quora and get paid for it. They get paid if, for example, the questions are also being followed by a lot of people or if the questions are getting good answers. To do so we need to talk to the legal team to discuss things such as taxes and such. Also there’s the support team, for example if someone cannot log in I’ll have to talk to them. And then… there’s the localization team, like for example if there’s a string that has not been translated yet. What else… and of course, with the users themselves. Because every time Quora launches something we invite a few of our users who are using Quora often to get their feedback. So people who have been using Quora from the beginning or are also active in the English version of Quora, they can give suggestions for Quora Indonesia—how’s the new feature, what can be fixed, et cetera.
K: So are the features in the English version of Quora and the Indonesian ones different?
A: They can be different. So… there are things that were first released in the English version of Quora and later released for other languages. There are phases. Maybe Quora Germany will get the feature first, then Indonesia next, and maybe there are other languages that have just been launched so they don’t get the feature yet. But the core features are usually the same. However, new features such as Spaces or Quora Spaces, or Ruang is launched in Quora Indonesia after it was launched in the English version of Quora. Maybe because there were still a lot of fixes for the product itself.
K: Like the one that talks about higher education, that’s in Spaces right?
A: Yes that’s Spaces. So it’s like… a combination of group and blog. So it’s like a blog but many people can write there.
K: If we can talk about KPI for a bit, can you tell us what KPIs do you usually have? Like for example… maybe user growth, or what else do you usually measure at your work?
A: Actually that doesn’t measure the success of my work, personally. But there are metrics or KPIs that we do try monitor every week, like for example in Quora aside of the number of users it’s also important to monitor how active they are, like for how long do they browse or open Quora? And… most importantly, the number of questions and answers. Because… it also shows the development… like, if there are many users but not many people who ask questions and write answers, that won’t have any impact. We also observe the quantity of the questions and answers and the quality of the questions and answers themselves. So if you open Quora, maybe there are answers that are not very well-written but supposedly 80%-90% of the questions are written with a pretty good format and grammar because we do pay attention to those as well. That’s why we believe that Quora can give a better user experience then… people usually ask, “what’s the difference between Quora and Ask.fm or Yahoo! Answers?” In Quora if possible people have to have credentials, and they have to use… it’s not EYD now, it’s PUEBI—Pedoman Umum Ejaan Bahasa Indonesia. We really pay attention to that, because we not only want to make Quora as a questions and answers platform where we share experiences, but also share knowledge.
G: In your opinion, how aware are local companies of the role or impact of communities?
A: I think it’s pretty okay… in a way that… before Quora I worked at Kata.ai. They work in the field of artificial intelligence. Maybe they don’t have a community manager that is exactly the same, but they work together with… what they’re selling can be used by developers, like for example they have a studio that can be used to create chatbots, so the ones using it would be developers out there for their own clients. And I think… you can see the example from there. Although they don’t have a community manager, they have events that are like… support systems for the developers. If the developers have a question, they have their own Slack channel and they can ask there. They also have meetups to share about their product development. So I think there are different ways to establish a relationship with communities, that’s one of the examples. Another example… my husband happens to work at an e-commerce company so maybe we can compare with that, although it’s not an Indonesian e-commerce company. E-commerce companies can manage communities by establishing a good relationship with the sellers for example, or making events that make their users happy, like… right now there’s this trend of inviting foreign artists like those from Korea. Or… my friend has a cosmetics brand, she has this monthly meetup with the users of her products, like last month they had this painting class together and about 30 of her customers attended. So I think the process of community management has been done by many although perhaps they don’t have someone with a particular community management role. But there are many ways and it’s not just in tech, but also other companies. I think it’s important because communities are the ones using their product right. In tech it’s like evangelists, they become the ambassadors of our product, they tell people, or even in Quora itself there are many users who often send me a message to give suggestions, like for example “dark mode please, when will Quora have dark mode?” Or in Twitter we often see people tweeting like, “we don’t need a new feature, just let us edit our tweets.” That’s also a relationship with communities.
G: So it actually depends on the product and there are many ways to accomplish it as well, and maybe without realizing it we have actually seen a lot of forms of community management…
K: But maybe they haven’t been systematized yet.
G: What do you think is the most fun part from this role?
A: The most fun part when it comes to working in Quora… I think Quora is fun because of its vision to share knowledge. So as someone who works by reading everything in Quora, it really adds to my knowledge from different fields, like for example about science, I just found out that there is someone who works in wood anatomy research. So it turns there’s such thing such as wood anatomy. And there’s also a space that talks about science in our daily lives, like why is rain like this, things like that. Or about history, Indonesian history. How was the ied prayers like in Indonesia before its independence? Someone else then shared the photo. So in Quora itself, what’s fun is that we get to share knowledge and read other people’s too. And sometimes these people do not share it in social media or other platforms but they are brave to share it in Quora. In terms of becoming a community manager… I get the chance to establish relationships with these smart people, and they also share a lot of their experiences, and a lot of them also do not live in Indonesia, for example they’re doing their PhD or are working as lecturers in other countries. I think establishing such good relationships with people who share their knowledge is an opportunity that I won’t get in anywhere else.
K: That’s interesting, because I often see in Quora there are sentiments such as, “people who are in Quora are people who live abroad, high-profile people.” Does Quora initially focus on that market or does it just happen naturally?
A: Actually no, it’s something that happens just like that, because it’s not just in Quora Indonesia but there’s this tendency in the English version of Quora as well. People that are interested at Quora are usually academicians because… you can answer questions in Quora, but if possible you have to have references, like why can you answer that, is it true? So answers that get a lot of upvotes are answers with a high credibility, and maybe not everyone has the willingness to write such answers. Maybe academicians or lecturers are pretty used to backing up their arguments with data. But… although it seems that way, it’s not completely like that, because in Quora there are a lot of—actually I didn’t expect me as well, but there was this question about online ojeks. Turned out there were a few online ojek drivers who answered questions in Quora and they answered, “this is how…” like there was a question about how much does an online ojek driver earn per day. And someone answered and gave a screenshot, this is my earning per day, so in a month I can earn this much, and my life now is better than how it was when I worked as something else. So although it seems like there are many high profile people, but many also share their daily life experiences, and even someone who is in high school is answering questions in Quora. And sometimes we find out about it when we create meetups like “oh”.
K: So you have meetups too?
A: Yes, at least once a year, it’s called Quora World Meetup Week that happens simultaneously all over the world. In 2018 there was just one in Jakarta, but this year there are many meetups in Jakarta, Surabaya, Bandung, Jogja, Makassar, Aceh… actually we wanted to make one in Papua as well but the number of people that can attend was low. But hopefully there can be many more meetups next year.
K: That’s fun.
A: Turns out there are many people who use Quora.
K: So we talked about the fun parts. What’s the challenge?
A: The challenge is… maybe more about… the relationships with the community. Because oftentimes they have varying problems. Like some people felt like they were being harassed by other people or users, while the other person was like “no no no, I wasn’t bullying them.” Or someone felt like, “this user is flirting with me” and the other person went “no we do like each other”. Those are pretty random stuff, but because everything’s virtual I don’t know which one is right. So the challenges can get pretty weird, but it’s also interesting, because the internationalization team does have this one Slack channel. So if there are issues we can exchange information with the community managers in other countries. Turns out other countries have weirder problems.
K: Yeah, people are pretty unique.
A: And we can only know that… oh, we only know the e-mail, but the e-mail can be different right, like my name is not Alanda but I write Alanda in my e-mail. We have no idea. And now that we have GDPR and others we won’t be able to store their KTP or anything in our server.
K: Does that apply to everyone in Quora? Because GDPR only applies in EU, right?
A: Actually… the gist is that we try to avoid saving personal information, that’s it. But well because of that we don’t know if this person really has this name or not. Like if their profile picture is that of a woman, well is it true? We don’t know much.
K: And… maybe we can talk about, you have a background in activism. Does your experiences in activism help your work now?
A: Maybe first of all I have some ideas about how to deal with people with different characters. Because in organizations people also have different characters and backgrounds. In Quora, maybe it’s not just in Indonesia, but in other countries as well there are things such as identity politics, polarization, like around the election people’s comments about Jokowi, Prabowo can get pretty nasty. And people come from different fields, too. Like there are questions such as, “why did you leave Islam?”, “why did you leave Christianity?”. Maybe the person asking the questions was truly curious, but people went “why are there these questions?” By being involved in organizations, we know how to interact with people coming from different religions, backgrounds, education and such. And most importantly, because of my past work I now have a network of people that are experts in a variety of fields, and it’s really helpful when we launch what we call in Indonesian as “Tanya Mereka di Quora”. In English it’s called “Quora Sessions”. So we have people who are experts in a certain field and we can ask them questions in Quora. Like for example during Sandiaga Uno’s campaign earlier, although he only answered a few questions, people could ask him questions. We also invited Mr. Chatib Basri as well. He shared with us how his daily life is as a minister. He also shared how was it like when he was a minister. I probably wouldn’t have this access to high-profile people if I wasn’t involved in organizations. Because if we don’t know them, it can be pretty difficult sending them e-mail—they may answer, they may not answer. You must have also sent e-mails to many people.
G: I’m curious, during the moderation process, let’s say someone violates Quora’s code of ethics. Do they get banned outright or are there levels?
A: There are levels, well it depends. If they have fake names like “Alanda Cantik”, they’ll get flagged and they won’t be able to edit in Quora until they use their real name. And usually we ask for their LinkedIn profiles because usually in LinkedIn people use their real names. Sometimes there are debates around that, like for example they say “but I’m known in social media with this name” although it’s not their real name. If they change their name, they can continue using Quora. But when it comes to hate speech, like if there are a lot of hate speeches, they will get banned and their ban can be lifted but they have to appeal first. And then if they are partners in Quora and they try to earn a lot of money by committing fraud, they will get expelled from the program. So there are a lot of different cases, sometimes I just send them an e-mail like, “hey, there are many users who are disturbed by your answers or questions, please don’t do it again”, “don’t degrade women when you’re talking about them, if you keep doing this you’ll get banned”. So sometimes there are cases where we just send them messages.
K: How often do you take care of such things? Every week?
A: There’s a moderation team in Quora. So I don’t have to do everything, but usually I review or oversee special cases, like cases in the grey area or if a user reports it. But for things such as spams, that can be done by the moderation team, we can see that “oh, this is spam.” But for specific cases, well every week, every day there must be one of such case. But it’s not like there are too many that I can’t sleep well either.
K: And then… I want to ask about the difference between working in your current company, where there is just one person in Indonesia and when you were working in corporate. You once worked at Unilever right, so it must be different. What’s the difference?
A: Maybe the difference is in marketing. Quora’s CEO is pretty idealistic. We don’t see a lot of Quora ads, right. While Unilever, back then every time you turn on your TV, there’s the Unilever ad. Now you open YouTube, the pre-roll is one of Unilever’s brands. So both of these companies have very different views about marketing. My background is marketing, so I feel like marketing is important and is something we need to really pay attention of. So the difference is, well it’s in how it is executed, because in both companies marketing can be done but the executions are different. For example, Unilever maybe they have a very large budget to make ads, campaigns, and such. While Quora is very different and they don’t really have this objective that “we have to sell this”, not really. And then… in Quora we work individually, I mean we can talk to each other but we have to have our own initiatives if we need to ask something and such. While in Unilever, there’s some kind of mentor that we can ask.
G: I’m interested when you said that Quora is a company which CEO is pretty idealistic. How are these values shared with the employees so that during the execution they manage to conform to these values?
A: I think it’s also a part of the recruitment. I mean… the people recruited are compatible with the values that the company has. For example if there’s someone new at the office, we can say that I’m compatible with them. The simplest one is, they have more introverts than extroverts at the office. That’s also a value, right. And the interview processes also show that. And… actually you can see from Quora’s policies, like “be nice, be respectful”. Most likely the employee also has an emphasis on how important it is to be polite. Other values are like, well, because it is an American company so people are pretty straightforward if there is any problem, but we don’t get carried away with it. In Indonesia if you feel ill towards something last year, you might still feel it today. But there it’s not like that, for example someone asks “hey Alanda, you were supposed to do this, why haven’t you done it yet?” “oh I’m sorry I was…” something, so it’s something that could just pass like that.
G: And then… what are the skills needed for someone who wants to have a career in community management?
A: Actually I don’t know. Because community in every place is different, so most likely the skills are different. But… in Susan Cain’s book called Quiet, she said that if you’re an introvert, you need to pretend being an extrovert for sometime. I think it’s important in communities because we have to interact with other people, ask questions, especially when there are meetups we really have to meet people, so we need to have something like people’s skills, and we have to read their reactions, give the best solutions if there are problems. And try to give more, go the extra mile. Because if we give more to people in our communities, maybe they can appreciate that and it’s good for the brand or the company, since they’re getting enough support. If we’re not helpful, maybe they’ll be like “why am I using Quora, if there’s a bug no one cares.” That’s for example. It has to be done, and it’s helpful for every community, not just communities in Quora or tech.
K: Maybe it’s like, the skills of putting yourself in a certain situation. Like, adapting to every situation. Okay, maybe we’ll shift a bit to Alanda’s background, you studied behavioral science for your master’s. Does the knowledge that you get when you were studying behavioral science impact your work, since your current work probably has a little bit of psychology in it, does it benefit you?
G: Or maybe you can tell us first about what is behavioral science?
A: Behavioral science is how we can try to apply findings about human behaviors in places where people make their decisions. One of them is optimizing a product so that users can use the product better. Maybe in tech this will be most useful in UI/UX, like what color should the button be and how big it should be for it to be visible so people would want to donate in our platform. So we can say that it’s useful in a way that with insights that we get from studying the users, I can give suggestions to the engineering team like “hey, I think a lot of people don’t know about this feature because… for example, the logo is light grey so it’s not visible.” We can observe the behavior of the users, how they use their product and maybe they can give suggestions to the team working on that product. Because behavioral science is about behaviors, human behaviors, and how we make decisions based on the available information. Although it’s not at the point where I change the product yet, but at least it can help bridge the users’ needs and teams in Quora to optimize the users’ experience in using the product.
K: That’s from observation, right, did you back it up with data as well?
A: In Quora we do have the tools, like the metrics can vary and there are a lot of data that can be obtained. For example data on how people share Quora contents in WhatsApp, so there’s a lot that we can discuss about internally. We do have the data and it’s pretty detailed. But well since my capacity is as a community manager, there is a limitation on what I can do and cannot do. So behavioral science is very useful but within its limitations. When I was doing my master’s I was hoping it could be wider than that. But Quora can also be a place to learn, so I’m hoping I can implement behavioral sciences in a higher level or wider in the future.
K: What’s the ideal application usually? Like, what do others who studied behavioral sciences usually do?
A: Ideally, what I want to do is, I want to have an impact to other people’s lives socially. There are applications such as… changing the design of a school’s canteen so that kids will eat more vegetables than chips with various flavors. Like for example, we put the vegetables first, because usually they’ll take the first item that they see. Other examples are, how can we create a digital product that makes other people save or invest more… using small and minimal changes by studying human behaviors. There was one interesting intervention that was done by the Ministry of Finance, aided by a behavioral science team from England and I helped to design the intervention as well. Findings in behavioral science shows that, if we write our commitment, we’re more likely to fulfill that commitment. We tried to implement it during the tax filing process, on March, so March 31 is the deadline for tax filing. There was an intervention where we sent e-mails to taxpayers, and they have to determine, “I’ll file my taxes on this date”. And it turns out there were a lot of people who filed their taxes far from the deadline because they already committed to filing their taxes early.
K: Let’s shift to remote work. We already talked about how remote work still feels like a privilege in Indonesia because many don’t have the opportunity. Were you allowed to work remotely from the start or did you request it?
A: I’m allowed to work remotely because Quora doesn’t have an office yet in Indonesia. So I didn’t request but… that’s why when there was the job opening, I happen to know my friend who works at Quora as the engineering manager, and she said, “hey, there’s a job opening for community manager in Quora.” I said, “I’m pregnant, I’m not currently interested in moving countries.” It turns out that, “no, it’s not remote, you’ll be working from Indonesia.” And since in Indonesia there’s no Quora office yet, I can make my own choices. That’s why I chose to work at a coworking space before I had my son. But well now I mostly work from home, or I go to a coworking space that is mother and baby friendly, they have one in Binatro. They have a nursing room and the toys.
K: How’s the legal like, dealing with the contracts and everything?
A: For coworking space I purchased an individual pass, which will then be reimbursed by my office. It can be a monthly flexible pass thing, so there are no contracts… oh did you mean employment? There are contracts for the employment.
K: Straight from Mountain View?
A: Straight from Mountain View.
K: How’s the legal like? They must not have a legal entity in Indonesia, right?
A: Although my work is like the work of an employee, but legally it’s more like… a consultant, perhaps? Like external consultant, but I work like a full-time employee. The access is also like a full-time employee, the office e-mail is the same. But legally it’s like an external consultant, so the contract is renewed every year.
K: Maybe in Kata.ai or Unilever you worked from the office. When you shifted to remote work, it must have been very different, right. Was there some kind of “culture shock”?
A: In Unilever and Kata there was an opportunity to work from home once a week. I think in Kata it was twice a week. And I’m the kind of person who enjoys working from home. I mean before having my kid I’ve enjoyed it, because as an introvert I feel more productive when I work alone without being disturbed. But maybe the “unpleasant” side is the lack of social life. My husband works from his office, and he can have his lunch with his friends or something… I mean, having a social life at the office is something that I miss. Especially in Unilever. When I was at Kata there were just a few women, but now there are a lot of them. But in Unilever, the number of women was way more than at Kata, so we could go anywhere together, have heart-to-heart conversations. And now it’s like… we can have those conversations, but through Slack with my friend in India so it’s different right, and I can’t hang out with them too. My friends who are working full-time cannot hangout during the weekdays, but every weekend my time is for my family, so I don’t see my friends that much. Whereas if you work at the office, well you’ll see your friends a lot because you have friends at the office. So that’s where it’s different.
K: Let’s talk about schedules. If you work remotely, you don’t have rules on you have to work from this hour to this hour, we have to determine our own boundaries right. How do you manage it?
A: My schedule follows his schedule, I’m currently pointing at my son over there. So now at the morning once a week I’ll have a meeting with my manager, and late at night I’ll have a meeting with the team. But aside of that I work twice at noon, I mean it’s like two sessions, at around this hour from 9 to 11 in the morning, and then in the afternoon like at 2 to 4 because that’s when my son is asleep. Then he will be asleep again at 6.30 or 7, and I’ll continue working at 7 to 12. Because at around that time my husband is home, so we would switch taking care of our son. Actually we take care of our son ourselves, although now we have someone helping us, but it’s just for the day. And it’s just been a month. Previously no one helped us out at all, so the schedule was designed to follow the sleeping hours of our son. If our husband isn’t home yet, we can’t leave him for too long. So if I try to work during the day… sometimes the work can get cut off… but well as a community manager there are work that can be done through my phone, like replying to a user’s message or replying e-mails. But if I have to use the internal tools, I have to use my laptop.
K: I’m curious because I feel like… this is just my assumption, I feel like remote work is more beneficial for someone who already has a kid. You can be closer to your kid, adjust your schedule. Whereas whenever you’re alone, it can get lonely at times and it can be pretty hard to meet other friends, because whenever we’re working that’s when they’re available, it’s rare that our schedules can sync.
A: That’s true. And… well it all depends on time. Sometimes I hope… well, this is very ideal until my son is at the age of two because I can be at home. But hopefully after two years Quora can have a representative office in Indonesia, so they can have teams, and hopefully Quora will grow even more so it’s not just me. That’s the hope.
K: Maybe this is obvious, but what’s the most fun part of remote working for you?
A: Well that’s… I can take care of my son. Because it seems like there are a lot of mothers out there who have to make the choice between being a housewife or working at the office. Both are good choices, but for me this is special because I can choose both. Personally for me who has been working at the office all this time, to suddenly not do anything, I can really feel the change. Especially with the pressure from social media, like my friends who don’t yet have kids are now traveling, or becoming a manager, becoming head of what, becoming a CEO, getting investments for their startup, et cetera. So if I become a housewife without working, I think it can get me frustrated. But on the other hand I can’t imagine if I have to go to work and have other people take care of my kid. Maybe other mothers can, but it seems that I can’t, so… maybe I’m okay having my parents, in-laws, or my husband to help take care of him, but none of my parents and in-laws are available for that. So when I come across this opportunity of working from home, it’s something that I really take care of and enjoy, because it really suits me personally. Although some of my friends say, “I don’t think I can work from home, because I’d want to play with my kids all the time.” Some people are like that, but for me it suits me well so far and other people keep reminding me that not everyone is as lucky as I am, that I get to become a mom while having this remote job.
K: Yes, I actually get the same benefit as well, because actually at home I’m taking care of my nephew. Hmm, do you miss working from the office?
A: Of course. But now that I have a kid, there are many things to consider, like every time I see an office with a daycare, I go, “wow, should I work there?” Of course I want to. Quora is a fun company, the values are great, but now I’m sill alone. But when I’m there in Mountain View, it’s really fun, with all of the facilities, people, socializing events. What I miss the most from the office, well it depends. If I’m asked whether I miss working at the office or not, it depends what kind of office. Maybe there are elements that I don’t miss.
K: Like commuting. Lastly about remote work, do you have any suggestions for our friends who want to work remotely? Because people all this time look at remote work as, wow, it’s fun. But I’m pretty sure there are pain points. So do you have any suggestions?
A: Suggestions… well, make sure that you have your own schedule and system. It’s very important. Because if you work remotely, well it depends, if you work at an Indonesian company it’s pretty clear, you have to be online from 8 to 6. Like when I was at Unilever or Kata it was like that, as long as I still open Slack or the office’s communication channel, because my work is there. But if the office is located abroad like Mozilla or Quora you have to work at pretty random hours, especially that in the US the hours are reversed. So you have to have your own system. Working at night suits me because it’s when my son is asleep and when the office is most active. But well, because the office is in the US, I still have to work on Saturdays, but I don’t have to work on Mondays.
K: So you have to follow their hours?
A: I don’t have to but it’s like, sometimes people ask questions, stuff like that. Having your own schedule and system is important. And then… maybe find ways to socialize. If you’re still single, sign up for a coworking space with a membership scheme; if you’re like me try to meet people from other fields or just meet your friends, so you can chat, exchange ideas.
K: Stay in touch with the outside world.
A: And maybe before you start working, take a shower, because sometimes when we’re working remotely it’s like I’m feeling so lazy I’ll just stay on my bed and open my laptop. But taking a shower, or working on a desk, there’s a difference… maybe have a cup of coffee while working. There was a time when I was feeling so lazy, I was still wrapped in my blanket, with messy room…
K: When I’m not in the mood I also wear a pair of clothes that is meant for work, and it really makes a difference. We feel like we’re going to work, with a serious mode.
G: The vibe is “working” vibe, not the lazy vibe.
A: Maybe nowadays we order boba first.
K: Last one. Do you have any message for our listeners? In general, doesn’t have to be any specific message.
A: Maybe because this is about Kartini Teknologi, hopefully there are many listeners who are women and are into technology. My message, what I think personally is, I hope there are more of us who are brave to discuss issues about women in technology, in STEM or STEAM. Just try to convey something, like Kartini Teknologi. Because I often go to panels where the panels only consist of men. When I worked at Kata.ai there were 30 engineers and there was only one female engineer. Sometimes I think it’s not because they do not want to accommodate women, but maybe we need to speak up more. Like in Quora, it can’t be denied that there are more male users. And there are questions like, “hey guys, what do you think if your wife cannot cook?” It’s a question that makes women uncomfortable, like, “is my task only cooking?” So I always ask users like, “hey women, how can we make Quora a better place for women?” And that can be something that we can speak up about more, like how can we make a workplace that makes you as a woman wants to work there? Or how can we create a space that makes women more comfortable studying computer science. Or creating creative initiatives such as Kartini Teknologi, or… I don’t always agree with Karlie Kloss but with her creating Code with Klossy, that’s like super cool and may attract more women to tech. Or Generation Girl, things like that. Not just in tech, but sometimes women in all fields need female mentors too. So if we’re already in the tech field, how can we get more women to be in tech? And luckily in Quora many in the internationalization team are women. Many are currently having their kids, so we were pregnant together the four of us. That was fun.
K: That sounds fun because you can talk about the same things. Yes maybe like making a safe space for women. Because sometimes because we’re in the minorities, women are usually already intimidated because they feel like there’s no one like them, they’re afraid of not being understood. So maybe creating more safe spaces so that these women can actualize themselves. Galuh, do you have anything else to say?
G: And yeah I think mentors are important. For me personally, when I see women speaking at conferences, or when I see women who are engineers, seeing them makes me feel like, “oh, I can do it too.” That feeling is very reassuring for me personally, like, “oh I can be like them”, “I have the opportunity too”. If there’s no one I can look up to it makes me go, “uh I think it’s hard breaking into this field.” So hopefully in Kartini Teknologi we can show women that have a career in tech and we hope this can also inspire other women as well.
A: And that feeling will get worse once we get married and have kids. For me personally, seeing a woman who already have a kid but is still taking part in the tech field is reassuring. Sometimes we feel, “oh I can’t do anything, I have a kid I have to take care of”. But then there are other examples like, “oh, she can do it, maybe I can too.” Like that. So it’s pretty similar. And as we grow up it turns out that we still need to have such figures. When we already have kids, we think that we’re grown-ups, but it turns out we still need to have role models that have been through the same problem or faced the same issue.
K: So I guess that’s it. [Speaking to Alanda’s kid] do you have anything else to add? So cute. Thank you Alanda for sharing.
A: Thank you so much.