All the Codfish: Offshoring in Portugal

Joanie Wang —  November 17, 2014 — Leave a comment

“Best offshore I’ve been on since the last offshore,” — a software engineer or sales team veteran.

expensify group photo in lagos

The team beachside.

Regardless of who actually said that, they’re not far from the truth: Offshore 2014 was packed with long 12-hour working days mixed with weekends filled with sightseeing and sunbathing. We got elbows deep in Portugal’s cod and port wine culture, participated in a Portuguese version of the running of the bulls, bunkered up at a restored monastery for a week, enjoyed a live fado performance, and much, much more. 

On the trip, we also welcomed our newest engineer from France — Pierre-Antoine Papinel — and got to know one another in many contexts (like, which one of us is totally okay with eating gyros all day, every day). While it’s impossible to recap an entire month abroad in the beautiful Portugal, we can highlight some of our best and brightest moments. So what’s it like to go on the offshore? Check it out!

Why Yes, We Do Work On The Offshore

Hard at work or hardly working?

Hard at work or hardly working? It helps that we were in a beautiful Portuguese monastery!

Contrary to what you might think, we actually do work. What????? Are you surprised? How can someone, much less an entire company, focus on work when they’re in a beautiful, foreign country that’s just waiting to be explored?

This being our sixth company offshore, we’ve tried a number of things, and here’s how we stay productive:

  1. Set project goals
    • Each team identifies a project to tackle for the duration of the trip (in addition to their every day work) and produces a final product after the offshore.
    • Check in on progress every day during the morning 10 AM.
  2. Set work parameters
    • Decide how many hours a week the team will work, and do it. To keep everyone accountable, each team member logs their hours into a group spreadsheet.
  3. Get shit done.

Some of our largest projects, including our website redesign last year and Trips, were the products of the offshore. In Portugal, our team worked late into the night to release Submit to Concur, defied time zones to attend Intuit’s Virtual Conference, and still had time to make calls to the West Coast (which was 8 hours behind, FYI). And these weren’t even our team projects!

So yes, we do work on the offshore. Sometimes we’re more productive because of it.

…But All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy

Some of us took a scooter from Lisbon to Amares and back to Lisbon

Scootering is the best(?) form of transportation!

What’s the point of taking the team abroad if we don’t get to experience the life and culture while we’re there? The offshore is a core cultural value at Expensify, and it’s a phenomenal way to celebrate all of our hard work and successes. Best of all, we get to experience the challenges of navigating a brand new country along the way (hint: learning some key phrases goes a long way)!

Check out some of the fun things we did during our month abroad; you’ll feel like you were practically there with us!

Getting ready for the bullfight in Lisbon!

Getting ready for the bullfight in Lisbon!

Exploring the beautiful Aveiro

Exploring the beautiful Aveiro on foot

Enjoying a night out in Lisbon

Enjoying a night out in Aveiro

Wine tasting in Duoro Valley

Wine tasting in Duoro Valley

The majestic monastery in Amares

The majestic monastery in Amares aka our home for the week!

Pulling a Britney at a local bar

Pulling a Britney at a local bar

Preparing for a barbecue

Preparing for a barbecue

Just a normal day at the beach

Just a normal day at the beach with the Expensify crew

It might seem like a daunting task to take your entire company abroad every year — this year we had about 40! — but traveling together has a profound effect on our company culture. Matt once wrote that we’re like family, and it’s in no small part thanks to the one month we spend abroad together.

You know what they say: the family that travels together, stays together.

Beautiful View across the Water in Porto

Beautiful view across the water in Porto

Joanie Wang


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.

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