Work Purposefully and Travel: The Best of Both Worlds

Joanie Wang —  September 17, 2014 — 2 Comments

Olá from Portugal!

We’re halfway through our first week in Lisbon, and oh, what a beautiful city it is!

Traveling abroad with an entire team is exciting, but it also requires a higher level of patience to work together as we’re all in a state of ebb and flow. To stay as productive and on task on the offshore as we are in the office, we follow these few simple guidelines. 

Avoid Complex Solutions to Simple Problems

Expensify Morning Standup in Lisbon

Morning 10AM Standup in Lisbon

Aim for the simplest possible solution to the problem at hand. Think paper to-do lists, daily standup meetings, writing a priorities from scratch on a blank whiteboard and emailing out a photo, etc. Most productivity issues result not from inadequate tools, but from a lack of discipline.

In Portugal: We meet every morning at 10 AM in a central location near Baixa to go over larger-picture projects, questions, and other details that help us get the day started. Each person also sends a daily 10 AM email that lists our tasks for the day. Both practices improve accountability and focus within the team throughout the entire trip.

Tip: Start the day off with a team meeting to get everyone on the same page. Review goals and projects for the day, figure out a lunch location or other logistics, and identify then nip problems at the bud to prevent them from snowballing into something bigger later on.

Emphasize Project-Based Work

Portugal Working Team

Lots of cross-team collaboration going on here.

Nothing is more stressful than looking at a list of a thousand “must do” things that you’ll probably never get to. Not only that, but to-do lists only capture checklist tasks, not overarching, bigger vision goals. On the offshore, we focus our work around projects so that we have deliverables that can drastically improve our product by the end of the trip. Think fWOW projects, but on a larger, more ground-shaking (in the product sense) scale.

In Portugal: Because we’re Expensifying 24/7 on big trips like the Offshore, it’s the perfect time to get big things done, and especially in teams. Everyone in the company has a project to work on that can be ‘delivered’ at the end of the trip; in the past, projects have included a website and mobile redesign, SmartScan, and Expensify Trips, among others. This year, we’re focusing on real-time expense reports and travel.

Tip: Before the trip, create a list of the projects everyone is involved in and have periodic updates throughout the trip so that everyone will be on the same page. The check-ins lead to greater transparency in each project, so that the entire team can watch the project progress.

Stay Calm and Carry On

A major drain on productivity is needless drama in the workplace. Odds are, everybody around you is at least as busy as you (even if you don’t understand why), so resist the temptation to aggravate things further. You are not an island; just like others affect your productivity, you affect theirs. Take that responsibility seriously.

In Portugal: Being transparent about projects makes it easier to understand what other people are working on. As a result, we tend to be more mindful and considerate of each other’s time.

Tip: Schedule meetings in advance and set a clear agenda – this helps maximize efficiency in the meeting. Alternatively, travel from cafe to cafe and work with a group of people who would most likely be doing similar tasks or projects; that way, you’ll all be on the same page and won’t need to shift from one project mindset to another.

Have you ever worked remotely with an entire team, or participated in something similar to the offshore? Want to work with us? We’d love to hear your experiences! 

Joanie Wang

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Joanie Wang is the marketing lead at Expensify. When she isn't helping rid the world of expense reports that suck, she is doing yoga, diving into SF's culinary scene, or playing with her adorable puppy Arya.

2 responses to Work Purposefully and Travel: The Best of Both Worlds

  1. 

    You guys should definitely do the Lisbon Escape Game 🙂 would be a great team experience,

    “The Lisbon Escape Game is the first real live game in Lisbon where you will find yourself locked in a house and have to find a way to get out of it. You will be challenged to do so by finding real objects, solve puzzles, decode messages and combine a series of clues the will enable you to find the way out. You have 1 hour to use your mind together with teamwork, problem solving skills and old survival instincts, just like many of the Lisbon spies had to, back in the old days. We have created and designed the game to push your lateral thinking skills to the limits and of course for you to have fun. So if you think you can make it, gather your friends and get ready!”

    http://www.lisbonescapegame.com/prices-booking/

    Would love to see more of what you guys are doing there 🙂

    Mike D

  2. 

    Awesome suggestion Mike! I’ve heard about this before in SF, but didn’t realize they have one here! Unfortunately most of us are moving on to Porto, but I’ll pass this along to anyone who might be interested!

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