We the MP! Team spend our lives working from home, coffee shops and any other cosy nooks we can find.
Of course, there are many advantages to having a distributed team – the reduced spend on overheads such as office space, more flexible working hours, lack of commuting time and increased productivity to name but a few.
But our experience has also taught us that remote working isn’t a perfect solution either. The main drawback of not sharing a workspace lies in communication. Simple things which could have taken a matter of minutes to sort in an office can be drawn out or misunderstood. Messages can take longer to sink in when read over email rather than communicated verbally. It is also difficult to nurture the company culture because this depends a lot on the team members exposure to one another.
We currently have a workspace in London which we all make an effort to visit every Friday. The results of using this as our “office” have been felt by every single team member in the marked increase in productivity on these days. The more time we have to each other the more we find ourselves on the same page, which is why we decided to take MP! to the next level and go on an international work trip to Berlin.
On the whole the trip was a great success. We had some great discussions, got a lot of work done an the team was given the opportunity to bond.
But, like with any work trip, not everything went smoothly. Berlin presented its own set of challenges.
It seems so basic, but working web is not that easy to come by even in this day and age in a big international city like Berlin. Even though our team leader had staked out a perfect spot for us all to work when we did arrive it was full to the brim with coffee-swilling hipsters.
When in doubt stick with what you know, so we headed to Starbucks.
But when we had sat down with our drinks and logged into the wifi, we were surprised to see that the web speed was so slow it was barely worth bothering with.
So we took the opportunity to have a discussion about the direction of the company, people’s roles etc, which we had intended to do anyway and then headed to the Air B&B to check in, where mercifully the wifi was strong and we blasted out a hell of a lot of work.
Although we were flagging due to lack of sleep from having gotten up early, we decided to go out that night which of course turned out to be a massive all-nighter (as often occurs when we all get together). Don’t mind us if we spare you the photographic evidence please.
We did have some productive meetings the next day about critical elements of the company, but obviously the level of productivity wasn’t as high as previously. We also wanted to get out to do some sightseeing which we eventually did manage to do, albeit very, very briefly.
And we manage to get a lot done in the three days that we were there, but there were a few key points which we will be mindful of for next time.
Use your smartphone
It sounds like plain common sense, but you must make sure you are able to use your smartphone data before you head out. I had a bolt on on my phone which had previously worked when I was travelling but then decided to not activate in Germany. When you’re in a new city you need to be communicable for navigation and calling others.
Make sure your devices are all charged up
It’s easier to forget than you think, especially when you, like us, are online 24/7.
Always be prepared to take control
Sometimes it’s really appealing to be a passenger when you’re in what feels like someone else’s playground. It’s a new city, you’re excited and a bit disorientated, but don’t let that be an excuse to lose your head. Always keep your wits about you.
Have a plan and try to stick to it
Sure some people don’t like to box themselves in for the sake of it, but it’s wis to have a loose structure for the trip before you head out, especially if you need to get work done as well. Plan what you want to do on each day, including how many hours work and how many hours sightseeing.
Currywurst is amazing
And that is the most important lesson of all.
Ciao for now.
Love Team MP! xx