Daily Life as a Data Scientist: Work From Home Edition
What we mostly do at home as a Data Scientist
Cornellius Yudha Wijaya
Well, I know many Data enthusiasts want to know what exactly we do as a Data Scientist. Especially during this pandemic situation; “What did you do at home?”, “Is it productive?” “Data Scientist is remote working, right?”. This is the typical question I see.
Here, I am going to share my own experience as a Data Scientist who is still experiencing working at home.
For starter, we data scientists always need data access to work properly. It means whatever working condition we are in; the foremost thing is to make sure that we could access the data (either in the database or just a file).
I am serious about the data access working equipment because our work would always surround the data. Sure, there is the time when the work is about creating a nice presentation or dashboard, but even then, that kind of work still needs data support.
In my experience, to have access to the database, I need to have reliable equipment first from my company as data is a sensitive matter. For example, Laptop, VPN Access, Internet access, etc. This could take a long time if the queue is long or we live in another city/country than our company (just like I do).
Depend on the company; some companies have flexible hours of working; e.g., you can work anytime as long as you work eight hours a day, but some company has fixed working hours like 9–5 work.
Mine was fixed, meaning that I have a working schedule I need to adhere to when I was working. I work daily from Monday — Friday.
While it is good that I have a fixed schedule, as a Data Scientist, sometimes we can’t expect to follow this schedule. In my experience, we could expect to start work at an earlier time, but most of the time, we need to finish later, like so later that you take your holiday time. Although, I guess it sometimes happens to every occupation.
I guess people want to know more about Data Scientist activities than the equipment or the schedule. Well, here are my activities.
So, half of the weeks that I have were filled with project meetings or any other meetings. Yes, surprising, right? Data Scientist not working with the coding but meeting?
Well, because of the remote working condition actually make things easier to conduct a meeting. Just by a touch of the button now, we could conduct multiple meetings. Although why we need so many meetings? Because this is a normal activity in the industrial situation.
Many of the Data Scientist projects are not based on your own favor but on what the company needs. This means we need to have a lot of discussion regarding what the company wants, how to implement the project, the expected result, the timeline, and how the project progresses.
Where is the coding and data part? It comes after that. The other half of my weekly work is coding, data analysis, and modeling you work hard to learn about it, although it always comes after we agree with the project and the target.
Yes, it is our main job to analyze data and create predictive modeling, but our responsibility is more than that. While data scientist’s stigma is working with model and data all the time, the truth is you only work with it half of the time (at least for me).
For a Data Science aspirant, I always suggest that you know the business properly; why? Most of your activities, either in-home or in-office, would be surrounded by the business people and the expectation of how your project would help the company business.
I have mentioned above that sometimes my work is more than the schedule intended for. This is because business people do not understand how long it actually takes to analyze and create a decent predictive model. That is why most of the time the deadline is stricter than what we expected, and we need to push to do more.
Any other working activities are similar to the other occupation with remote working; Training, seminar, and discussion.
Are Data scientists have productive work while working from home? I would say yes and no.
Why yes? We could focus on our safe environment without any office distraction to analyze data and do our modeling. Although, why no? Because I have mentioned above that data scientists work with other business people, it includes your colleagues.
While working remotely, it is hard to coordinate and get an explanation regarding the things you need. This could lead to time-wasting just for waiting.
That is why productivity could fluctuate depends on the current condition. Data scientists are still human workers, after all.
Data Scientists could work remotely from anywhere as our job description mostly consist of analyzing data and creating a prediction model. Although working from home means having more meeting activities than the office working, we need to align many of the projects remotely.
The productivity fluctuates as sometimes we could be really productive, but we need to wait for aligning.
Cornellius Yudha Wijaya
Cornellius Yudha Wijaya is a Data Scientist in Allianz Life Indonesia and often writing about Data Science in his free time. He holds a Biology M.Sc. Degree from Uppsala University and have since managed to teach people how to break into the Data Science industry.