8 Learnings From Working Abroad in Lisbon

Tobias Sutterlüty
Jun 26, 2019 · 5 min read
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As people who work in the digital field we’re lucky to have the privilege of being able to work from everywhere. That’s why we, the three youngsters Francis, Guillermo and Tobi set out to work in Lisbon for three weeks.

Lisbon was our preferred destination because its comparably cheap, has lots of delicious food, is warm and sunny, has plenty of stuff to explore and the beach is quite near. Here are some of the learnings we took away from working remote from Lisbon.

1. More calling, less texting is the key

There were moments when we didn’t know how to move forward and in these situations it was tempting to write a quick message on slack and hope to fix the situation. But often that’s not the quickest way to reach a common ground, it’s way faster and easier to arrange a quick call. You prefer a quick face-to-face when you’re in the office, right!? So a Google Hangout is the closest you can get.

2. Trust between leaders and employees is valuable

Because those short check-ins when someone walks by your desk are not possible when working in two different locations, trust between leaders and employees is truly beneficial. We try to build this kind of trust, among other things, by clear division of roles and clear expectations. In the end, it boils down to being honest, open and transparent with each other.

3. Always try to over-communicate

It’s your responsibility as a remote worker to let your teammates know how and what you’re working on. Just imagine you work on something with the assumption that you’re right but then when you finally communicate it to your team you find out that it was the wrong thing to do. These situations are easy to prevent when you proactively reach out to your team. Maybe your communication will be a bit one-sided but don’t worry about that too much, your teammates will be informed about your progress and that’s what matters at the end of the day.

4. Write status updates at the end of each day

At the end of each day we wrote a daily status update over Slack on what we worked on that day, what we’ll work on tomorrow and what we’re struggling with. This kept the other teammates informed about our progress and you automatically wrote your to-do list for the next day.

5. Productivity and focus levels didn’t suffer

From day one we established a morning routine which consisted of walking to our co-working space and grabbing a coffee and a quick bite on the way there. Equally important was the fact that we started work early, at a time when the co-working space was still empty for quite some time. While it was easy to focus and be productive in the morning hours it could get harder throughout the day. Whenever we felt like being unproductive or not able to focus anymore we went outside to get some sun and recharge the batteries for 10 minutes. This technique always helped.

6. Explore your city

Of course, you are in a new city and you want to explore the surroundings. We highly encourage every remote worker to do exactly that, start work early so you have enough time for leisure activities after work. Maybe you find inspiration for your next design or you meet some interesting new people.

7. Lisbon is not always sunny

As we found out when we arrived in Lisbon, April is the month with the most rain in the year. The weather was a mix between rain and sun, anyway it was warmer and nicer than it was in Vienna at that time. So hey, what am I complaining about?

8. Portugal’s coast boasts mesmerizing sunsets

During our one day road-trip along the west coast of Portugal we saw some of the most beautiful sunsets ever and where charmed by little towns like Peniche, Obidos and Nazare.

Conclusion

All in all the three weeks were epic. We managed to meet all the looming deadlines and delivered with the same quality as we would have done it “at home”. Furthermore, we got inspired by new surroundings, connected with cool people, enjoyed the lively street food scene of Lisbon and grew not only as a team but also as individuals.

One thing to keep in mind is that it is important to remember that productivity and focus are mostly achieved through the efficient reduction of distraction. This can work out from everywhere in the world.

On many more co-working adventures!

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