We tend to be more productive in the sun, and one of the things we as a team look forward to the most is our yearly remote working week. Last year we went to Spain to have a week of strategic planning on the beach and it turned out to be a huge success (big surprise). This year, we did a vote and decided on beautiful Lisbon, Portugal. We rented a villa on the beach and headed down there from our Helsinki HQ at the end of September… Here’s how it went.
Hard work pays off
After a hectic summer working hard and achieving several company milestones including winning the Helsinki City public tender to be their official provider of CX software, the team was excited to spend a week on the beach in Portugal. We also had some new team members with us that missed out on last year’s trip to Spain, so the guys could only rely on hearsay from the other team members about how incredible this trip would be. We decided to schedule the trip at the end of September to prolong the summer vibes before tackling the Autumn rush. Some of our compadres were left behind to take care of our office renovations and ensure that Feedbackly HQ looks great for all of our new employees coming in over the next 6 months.
We flew to Lisbon, rented some cars, and after figuring out Circle de Morto we then enjoyed the beautiful scenery during the one hour drive to the little seaside town of Santa Cruz. Santa Cruz is a favourite for surfers around the world with its top class waves. Although none of our team members would consider themselves avid surfers, that didn’t stop us from trying to earn our stripes.
We rented the most beautiful villa right on the beach, or praia as it’s called in Portuguese. The house was spacious with a big living room and kitchen, making the strategic collaboration as efficient as possible. The living room windows opened up to a gorgeous view of the Atlantic and with the doors and windows open you could hear the waves hitting the beach. The backyard was our favourite working spot with it’s pool, barbecue and dinner area where you could also sit in the shade to get away from the hot midday sun. In the evening we cooked dinner on the bbq and enjoyed it outside on the patio as the weather was still pleasant even after sunset. Most of the team arrived during Sunday and got settled into their cozy rooms all around the house. We also appointed a Chief Swiping Officer (CSO) for each of the days, whose task was to ensure that the coffee cups and beer glasses found their way to the dishwasher instead of collecting fruit flies around the house.
Feedbackly supports remote working policies to make sure everyone has the best possible surroundings to succeed in their work. But having some face to face time is essential to regroup and fill in any gaps in communication. In our everyday life this means being at the office days 2 days a week with team meetings, but otherwise everyone is free to work from cafés, living room sofas or airports. The week abroad started off with a personal goals session. We then continued in teams that had been assigned a workshop theme. The different themes that we worked with were sales content, product usability and AI-planning. The workshopping was a great success, and living together for the week made it easy to concentrate on tasks and to find time to work together in teams. Each team worked with their assignment for a few hours each day and the whole workshop ended with a wrap-up session at the end of the week where each team presented their work and discussed ways to improve.
Creating cross-organizational teams was the key in our workshops, as we wanted to ensure that we had multiple perspectives to tackle the themes from. This meant that our Support Manager Michaela and our Full-stack Developer Ruman teamed up to go through our dashboard in search of UI and UX elements that could be updated quickly to ensure a better user experience to our customers. Michaela answered the “Why’s” and Ruman knew the “How’s”, which, combined, make a pretty darn sweet end result when building our product. In software development it’s easy to get too deep into what you’re building and lose track of the customer’s perspective. As such is important to have customer input (communicated through our support team) on how the product is used.
Outside the time we spent on the workshop, we focused on our normal daily assignments such as support requests, customer check-up meetings, bug fixes, lead generation. The vibe at the house was very focused and we worked long hours each day, but with a good mood and spirit as the surroundings made it easy to enjoy every moment a little bit extra. Having a dip in the sea, playing around in the waves, watching the surfers, or having a quick swim in the backyard pool every now and then to cool off was something that we enjoyed doing when we needed a break. As we’re a group with very different backgrounds and life situations, it’s always interesting to see how people mesh together in a situation where you spend 24/5 on the same premises. Some of us want to have an hour in the morning to read the papers and get rid of sleepy grumpiness, some are feeling fantastic when the feet hit the floor in the morning, and some need that half an hour jogging on the beach to get going. All in all, we managed to keep up a very positive atmosphere, and respected everyone’s morning and evening routines.
We took time each day to enjoy lunch and dinner together, either by cooking at the house or going to one of the many beachfront restaurants. This is something that significantly boosts team spirit because it’s rare for everyone at the Helsinki HQ to be able to have lunch together due to meetings and other obligations. That is actually the whole idea of our yearly team trips, to work hard but also to spend time together, and to make us even more solid as a team.
Everyone headed back to Helsinki HQ at the end of the week happy with what they accomplished workwise, with a lot of new ideas and content for our software, and with a nice dose of Vitamin D. See you next year at a new location. Maybe Croatia or Greece?
If you want to join our team browse our open positions here
Jaakko is an award-winning CX professional and entrepreneur at Feedbackly, founder and community professional at the biggest entrepreneurial digital community in Finland – Yrittäjä.io. He is a notorious keynote speaker from entrepreneurial stories to day to day human communications and customer experiences.