Bringing the Team together

Our big gathering in Bucharest

Our team is our pride!

It’s also distributed across 3 time zones, which is why we were really happy to have everyone meet up in Bucharest, at the Seneca Hub. For a week, all of us came together and worked at the same table. Here’s what we learned.

I was humbled to see the team working together as a “real team”. I guess that’s less obvious remotely.
Andrei

We know we’re efficient as a remote team. We also work a lot better than most teams who share the same office space, even though we only see each other on Slack’s chat or through Hangouts, when we need a call.

Having everyone gather in Bucharest helped make us an even more tightly knit unit and therefore work even better together.

The main impression is that there is a very good vibe among the team members and this is hard to find.
Dragos

Side by side and face to face

Like every week, we stayed on top of the project roadmaps, solved their issues and put out the occasional fire. Yet we weren’t as productive working on our own backlogs, as we usually are when we’re at our regular workstations. They get us in the zone fast, be it that this implies being alone in the room, the three monitors we take for granted or just a comfy chair.

Moreover, sitting at the same table meant that each of us was just an arm length’s away, which can be quite disruptive. After the context switch, it takes a bit of time to get back into what you were doing. The upside was that it was a lot

easier to get quick answers and feedback.
Ionut (one of them)

After all, face to face communication has the highest bandwidth. Sharing your screen is all well and good, but being able to simply lean over and discuss tops it any day of the week. Especially when George was onboarding our new developer, Alex, to his first project. Or when Catalin gave Ionut an introduction to Ruby on Rails.

It’s easier to share knowledge, as you can catch glimpses of colleagues struggling with issues where you may offer useful advice. It’s also easier to ask for help as there is no communication barrier.
Ionut (the other one of them)

Getting our Vitamins

Every day, at lunch, we would storm the kitchen, occupy the table and talk in between bites. We discussed the day’s projects and issues, found solutions and swapped knowledge. Lunch was about taking a breather, clearing our heads and filling our stomachs. It was also about:

  • Having a laugh whenever Catalin (who’s a lot taller in person) complained that the portions were too small. Or Dragos listening to the story of how he and Andrei met and eventually founded Vitamin Software.
  • Radu taking his role as the comic relief of the bunch in stride and continuously cracking jokes with George, giving software and life a fun perspective.
  • Alex smiling constantly, as if he knew the secret to Life, the Universe and Everything, always listening to pick up that valuable tech nugget getting thrown over the table.
  • Andrei explaining the inner workings of client management to Marius.
  • Ionut (who’s also a lot taller in person) discussing workarounds and optimizations with Ionut (who’s incredibly dedicated to everything he does) and throwing tech nuggets at anyone who was listening.

Ending the week as a team

One of our tasks was to finish a presentation for the internal stakeholders of the client, for an app we’re working on. The deadline had moved up a bit, so we decided to overdeliver.

Our back-end team had already implemented the necessary changes, every functionality in place. They pushed it to the front-end team who was implementing it into the UI, polishing every pixel.

Meanwhile, the creative team was setting up the presentation. It was finished, just as Seneca was closing on Friday evening. Some of the team stuck with them and was tackling outstanding issues on other projects.

Their moral support was invaluable, and only possible because we were all in the same place.

Especially since George and Radu were cracking up laughing in between lines of code, which loosened up the atmosphere so we could all do our job smiling (thank you guys!).

Human Contact

An important step towards bringing the team together.
Radu

One of the most important parts of our co-op, the Weekly Sync, was better than ever. This time around we didn’t have to mute/unmute when speaking, which allowed the conversation to flow a lot smoother.

However, given that we’re used to that Hangouts flow, no one ever interrupted needlessly. As though we were still using the mute button, everyone always listened until a person finished speaking. Making proper eye contact, without the screens between us, strengthened the feeling of belonging to the Vitamin Software team.

Bottom line

All in all it was an amazing week. Even though our productivity dropped a bit, we worked hard and managed to stay on top of the roadmaps.

More importantly, we got to meet each other, learn about each other’s hobbies and personalities, understand that we’re a tight team and our place within that team. And also share a laugh or ten. The week helped us learn

that we share a common set of moral values. Without these, the best technical skills will not help a lot in delivering quality.
George

Perhaps the most important lesson of the week was best summed up by Alex:

My team is awesome!

Until next time, that team is going back to tackling the day’s challenges.

… and of course, to conquer the internet!