By: Betsy Sherertz

Date: November 8, 2017

It’s been a month since I’ve been back in our own Portland office, and it feels like I never left. While it was sad to leave my Scandinavian stomping ground after two months, having a seamless transition back to being at work made coming home the opposite of stressful.

This means that our experiment worked! But, not without a few obstacles and discoveries.

 

What we learned

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had numerous months to “prepare” for my two-month long stint in Oslo, but preparation can only get you so far. If you and your team are deciding whether to try out a remote work situation, go into it knowing there are going to be hiccups and that it’s okay if and when they happen. You’ll learn from them quickly and determine what to do differently next time.

 

Lesson 1: Communication is a necessity

Aside from the obvious fact of continuing to meet deadlines, our big secret to making this work was: Communication. No mind blowing magic tricks or tools to pin this on, just good ol’ fashioned talking to each other by whatever means necessary.

We do have our preferred tools that we helped make this possible: Slack for instant messaging and international calls, TeamworkPM for task management, and Zoom for client conference calls.

While we had these tools at our disposal, they all relied on the Internet and technology, which brings us to the next lesson we learned.

 

Lesson 2: Communication won’t get you anywhere without patience

When you and your team are working together from 5,000 miles away, you are ultimately at the mercy of technology. There were a couple of times when my team and I had a few failed phone calls. It’s really easy to immediately get fed up when you’ve had 4 or 5 failed call attempts when you’re just trying to have a simple conversation. We just kept at it to figure out why something wasn’t working and we fixed the problem, often it was user error.

 

Experiences Gained

I had two primary goals going into this trip:

  1. visit and explore all that Norway had to offer
  2. determine that I could successfully continue to work full time from overseas

I didn’t want my team to worry that I was going to get distracted by the endless hiking trails and breathtaking scenery of Norway… :). Not that those distractions weren’t there, but you figure out a balance, the same way you would working from anywhere.

 

You can work remotely, and still get to enjoy a new place

Maintaining a normal work/life balance can be a bit complicated when you’re on the other side of the world, but not impossible. You can still find time to have evening plans, meet up with friends, and travel. This circles back around to Lesson 1: Communication. We just made sure we communicated on a weekly basis as to what evenings I would overlap with the team to answer questions in real time, and other evenings I could use to make plans and do things around Oslo.

The same went for vacation time and taking long weekends to travel around other parts of Norway. We just had to plan ahead and communicate.

 

We work in a digital space, use it to your advantage

We work in an industry that is made possible by the Internet. The Internet is meant to connect people with one another from all over the world, so we should use it to do so, and continue to push boundaries. Remote teams may not be an option for all companies, but planning for the obvious hurdles will make overcoming the unknown hurdles less of a challenge. You just have to communicate and use technology to your advantage.

 

Finally, Norway is one of the most beautiful places in the world

Go. 🙂 🇳🇴