The fact that NFQ is working with startups and well-established companies from all over the world gives our Engineering Rockstars the opportunities to travel and work on-site with our partners, and this has become an irreplaceable part of our operations.
We have invited the two members from our team, Trung and Tri, who have just come back from an onsite trip to Hamburg, to understand if the trip was really worthy of all efforts (and money) spent, and ask for their insider tips on how to build a great remote working relationship.
So, let’s start!
Welcome back, buddies! How was your onsite trip?
Trung: Very cool, it is! We get to know more about our operation team in Hamburg, Germany on a personal level. That changes a lot of things.
Tri: We only stay for 11 days, but we learned comprehensively about the guys we are working with, how they really do things, etc.
As we can talk and share directly during our trip now, we understand each other’s working styles better, and that helps our work smoother. Another interesting fun fact, there is a guy who joined the team at the same time as me and has been working with me for exactly two years but I only get to know him personally now thanks to the trip.
Trung: Also, we now have better understanding of the tools or software they are really using! Before I can only assume the way they work or use features, now I can understand why they request feature A or feature B, and can improve the product for the best user experience. Yeah, and we enjoyed some TGIF parties too!
Very interesting, but why could these misunderstandings happen in the beginning, even though you guys communicated via Slack/ Email on a daily basis?
Trung: (It is because of) The culture gaps!
There are a lot of dissimilarities, in our languages, cultural norms, working manners, etc. between the Vietnam team and the German team, even though our Rockstars are already very familiar with the international working environment.
Yes we communicate daily in English indeed, but it is neither their nor our mother tongue from both sides, Saigon and Hamburg. So when someone say A, it is very easy for me to misinterpret it as B, and that can cause lots of misunderstandings.
But now that you really stayed in the office together for 11 days, you can truly live the culture, and start to get things from a different perspective, and the communication becomes much easier.
Apart from the onsite trips, what do you guys apply in your team to help everyone collaborate better?
Trung: First of all, Over-communication. Do not, never ever, assume! Before we start anything, we discuss, we give feedback, and we ask all the questions we could to make sure everything is crystal clear.
To strengthen the bond between the tech and non-tech teams, recently our client has employed a technical consultant. He can take a technical issue and then explain it to the non-tech team in the business words. I myself hosted a workshop to present a simple demo so that our team in Hamburg can understand the processes and workflows inside the tech team and why it takes few days for a simple request like “changing all buttons’ color” to happen.
We also set up a camera system where Saigon team can see the team working in Hamburg and vice versa. This is not supposed to make us feel like being observed all the time, but to help us to physically feel like we’re in the same team working in the same office, not in two different countries. It really lifts up the team’s spirit a lot, when the Marketing guy passes by in the other office and waives hello to the team here.
Thank Trung and Tri for your time. We wish your team all the best. Rock on!
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