Remote work in the Russian wilderness

A high-level IT job meets the rural area daily routine

Sergey Krupnik
6 min readNov 19, 2020

Since the second wave of the pandemic is already here, I have decided to share my experience of self-isolation and remote work in a small Russian village. It’s really unusual to combine a high-level IT job with a rural area’s daily routine, so I hope you’ll enjoy my story.

How it started

The story began in March 2020 when the first wave came to Russia. My wife and I live in Moscow and work for IT companies, so when the number of cases soared, we started working remotely. We assumed that there would only be a couple of weeks of lockdown. How wrong we were!

After two months of isolation in a small apartment, we were exhausted. The border between work and rest gradually disappeared; the quality of both worsened. The lack of movement and real-life communication combined with continuous anxiety made us almost crazy.

You could probably endure a week or even a month of lockdown quite calmly, but on May 11th, I saw that there were more than 6,000 new cases in Moscow. It became clear that self-isolation would last at least another couple of months.

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The number of new cases in Moscow (May 2020) — Daily stats. Source

We began to think about what to do and remembered that our parents have a country house in a small village in the Vologda region. There, we could be isolated and regularly walk in the forest at the same time. But there was one important problem.

Internet access

I am a Product Manager and my wife is a Data Scientist. We needed a good internet connection to continue working in the village. The criterion was a stable operation of Zoom.

As an ex-radio engineer, I quickly studied the issue and purchased the proper equipment, which was a specific LTE antenna with a modem.

LTE antenna with a builtin modem

Hoping for the best, we decided to start our journey.

The journey

We packed up our things, computers, monitors, Internet equipment, and then set off.

We traveled to Vologda by train. At that time Russian Railways were selling no more than two tickets in a 4-person cabin. So my wife and I owned a full cabin for half-price.

So atmospheric place to train some neural networks

Upon arrival in Vologda, passengers have gone through the COVID virus test, wrote down their phone numbers and destinations too. This took place in the tent of the Ministry of Emergencies.

The queue at the exit from the station

The organization is not the best, but it is a reasonable price for safety. After an hour of waiting in the cold, we left the station.

And then a couple of hours of driving a car, we arrived. Mission Complete!

Creating workplaces

First of all, I installed the equipment for the Internet.

This is me Installing the Internet equipment on the roof

And then I tested everything. The result was astonishing: up to 10 MB/s upload and up to 5 MB/s download speed. The ping was only 140 ms! More than the acceptable quality for video calls and even for YouTube and Netflix 😏

Since the main issue has been solved, we began to equip our new “office”. A small summer house extension was utilized for it. We brought tables, chairs, monitors, and extension cords — that’s it, you can start working!

The old tabletop was lost so I made a new one out of boards. It turned out stylish :)

In this “office” we only worked. All other activities were done outside. It's actually a really good practice — to separate the space for work from the space for relaxation. It is an effective psychological trick for context switching.

It’s bad when the desk for work is located in your bedroom. Moreover, I advise you not to work on your bed. Your body simply won’t recognize that it is time to relax and fall asleep when you lie down on the “work” bed in the evening.

Switching the context

What was it like to live and work remotely from the countryside?

Excellent! After our first week, we started feeling much better and anxiety has dropped. During this time, our productivity was increasing, and enthusiasm was returning.

Sitting locked up in a small Moscow apartment, I started to forget how cool nature is. I want to share this atmosphere with you :)

Walking in the morning and in the evening, sports (chopping wood), silence, fresh air, and a clear separation of rest from work did their job. It has become much easier to work, we manage to do more in a day. I even started to write articles again)


The combination of a complex-IT-tasks and rural routine results in surprisingly contrasting sets of activities throughout the day.

Infinite chopping

I didn’t even think that these activities could be on the same list:

  • Chopped firewood.
  • Created an epic in Jira.
  • Lit the stove.
  • Prepared PR/FAQ for the new feature.
  • Dug up the soil.
  • Prepared an OKR for the next quarter.
Infinite digging

And my wife:

  • Watered the garden.
  • Deployed a Docker container to a remote server.
  • Added wood into the stove.
  • Trained the neural network.

Quite unusual :) No more problems with context switching!


I know that self-isolation is easy for some people, but in my environment, most people feel bad about it. Anxiety, apathy, and decreased productivity are just some of the circumstances caused by the lack of mobility and personal communication, which is further intensified by wiped-out boundaries between work and rest. This is natural in the current circumstances.

If you also find it difficult to tolerate self-isolation, consider how you could change your environment. If you can’t leave the apartment and the border between work and leisure has gone blurry, try the trick with special clothes for work and leisure. For example, work in a shirt and pants, and do everything else in a T-shirt and shorts. This helps me a lot to switch my focus between my work and rest. I also used this trick in the countryside.

Remember that these difficult times will end soon. I wish you patience and success. Thanks for reading!

Please, let me know if you like the article. This is the first time I’m posting something in English. I’m going to decide to continue or not based on your feedback.

Follow me for more stories from Russian IT specialist 😊

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Sergey Krupnik

Product Manager at Wheely. Graduated from MIPT (Russian MIT), built a country-wide IoT network, and worked as an engineer in Skoltech.