Working remotely comes with advantages and disadvantages. For a small team of 10 people to cover 200 clients on 6 continents, being distributed in over 3 continents is awesome! The Internet makes it possible to collaborate from 5 cities but time zones and the lack of face to face connections bring challenges. Hence, Small Improvements flew the crew together and brought the development team from Berlin as well as customer success and marketing people from Sydney, San Francisco and Toronto to meet their colleague in New York. Many have worked virtually for several months, yet never got to hang out in person.
The Big Apple provided plenty of opportunity to have lots of fun getting to know each other, explore famous sights and share stories. We also got to exchange ideas on small and big improvements for our tool as well as meet clients. A great chance for developers to hear actual user experience unfiltered.
The highlight was one day in a co-working office brainstorming for the future. Summary introductions and a virtual prep talk with one of our advisors kicked off an eye opening day. Then green light thinking as a group on what could be possible with the tool lead to a mini hackathon.
Our mini hackathon looked like this: One customer success person teamed up with a product engineer to develop a chosen idea into a tangible concept in 4 hours. Of course you can’t produce a whole new feature in this time frame but it is incredible what is possible in just half a working day! The interaction between a client facing person and developer was super productive to brainstorm from both sides what really is possible and what makes most sense.
Initial discussions, drawings and notes turned into a quiet competition. The half time debrief was cancelled due to ideas sparking. Over beers and snacks back in the hotel, we got to see the creations on the big screen. Simply mind blowing and uber cool. Our CEO Per joined via Skype despite it being in the middle of the night in Germany. Well, he just had his first born the day before so might as well get used to not sleeping 🙂 Plus it was worth it: A new org chart, gamified learning experience, browser plugin and as well as skill tags were thought through and working well enough to understand the concept. No presentation was like the other. From those with music to others animated with Prezi, every group stood out! So we decided to skip voting for a winner in favour of celebrating all successes.
The 6 days ended with a group excursion to the Statue of Liberty, a walk across the Brooklyn bridge and drinks in Williamsburg. What an experience, that will make virtual collaboration so much easier and more meaningful. Face to face interaction cannot be underestimated. At least every now and then and especially when it involves exploring other cities. So where is the next TeamSi Time going to be? We have plenty of locations to explore!