I am currently on the last leg of a 33-hour travel day, heading in the direction of home. Three weeks ago I flew 8,797 miles to meet my India-based team members.
Going from small-town USA (population 20,000) to Bangalore, India (population 4.3 million) was no small adjustment: acclimating to the 100-degree heat; learning how to bob and weave while crossing the street; and, of course, meeting the India team for the first time.
As a member of Recruiterbox’s remote workforce, I’d never before met any of my U.S.-based colleagues in person, let alone those who work out of our office halfway across the globe. Before leaving, I was the biggest remote work fan in the world. Data shows that remote work increases employee productivity and engagement, and decreases employee turnover and stress. Considering Recruiterbox’s zero percent turnover rate among remote team members in the 16 months since we’ve established a remote team, this data rings true.
Still, I was curious about what kind of influence spending time in the office would have on my work. Would I gain new insights about colleagues or get a better understanding of how teams work together?
As it turns out, every second of my trip was exhilarating, awesome, exhausting, exciting and overwhelming – all rolled into one. I’m still processing everything, but here are some initial observations based on what I learned.
Recruiterbox’s customer support team has the amazing opportunity to make our customers happy, every single day. We get unique insight into what they need and want to improve their hiring. We’re on the front lines fighting for the tools that will make their jobs easier.
Unlike some of my previous job experiences, I always knew the other teams at Recrutierbox had our backs. But in listening to colleagues talking with each other during my first week at the office, I was surprised just how customer-focused everyone at the company was. Every conversation came back to the customer: what they were asking for, what they needed, what they wanted.
The conversations I had with my colleagues helped to strengthen my bond with them. We talked about why we joined Recruiterbox, what we love about our jobs, and how excited we are for the future. Working for a company and with coworkers that are so aligned and certain of its vision is incredibly exhilarating.
Because I’m normally 10 time zones and almost 9,000 miles removed from our dev team, most of the time the system enhancements and fixes they roll out almost seem like magic. We submit a request or report a bug, and when we wake up the next morning, the fix is in place. Magic.
The first time something needed fixing while I was in the office, I was fascinated to watch the process of identification, debugging and fix-pushing in real time. For about the first five minutes. After that I decided I was perhaps more content just knowing in the end that all was okay, without seeing everything else in between.
There is some magic that’s better left unseen.
As an introvert, I find that working remotely suits me. Before I left the comfort of my daily work-from-home routine, there were certainly moments when I questioned why it was a good idea to fly across multiple oceans and continents to spend three weeks working in an entirely new, unknown environment.
I remain the biggest remote work fan in the world. But nothing can replace the experience of sitting side-by-side with your colleagues – the friendships that are formed, hearing the sidebar conversations, deleting the time zone gulf.
Being in the office for the first time also allowed me to observe and absorb the thought processes of different teams, rather than being left to simply digest the end result of a conversation once a decision was made or change was deployed. Having this insight of how the teams work will help shape my interactions with them moving forward, long after I’ve arrived back home.
One thousand percent. And that’s not just the jet lag talking.
Being on site for a short stint helped me grow as a contributor to my team, and to my company. I formed relationships with my teammates, and ironed out processes to help us run more efficiently in the future. Totally worth it.
With that said, my sights are currently set on home, my familiar remote work routine, and daily temperatures hovering around 60 degrees.
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