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Pics and tips from our Thai remote office

It’s been a month since all of us got back from our remote Thai office. Now’s the time to take stock and share some insights from the trip.

In an ideal situation, projects have clear backlogs and road maps so that everyone can plan their work and know what is expected of them. Naturally, this is even more vital when a part of the team is planning to travel to the other side of the world and work remotely from there. In some projects, the arrangements are easier than in others, and in some projects they might be impossible. But for the most part, things can be arranged if you start planning your trip’s workload at an early stage and communicate your plans clearly to your team.

Nevertheless, we aren’t going to try to tell you that communication with your team gets easier if you are away from your team-mates. That’s why it’s good to take as many team members with you as you can.

That’s what our first batch did. Among others, here you can see the backs of our three backend developers who were all working on the same project. They’re having a daily. The picture was taken by Matti Dahlbom who organized Qvik’s remote office.

One thing that seems to puzzle people about these remote office arrangements is how to work from a different time zone than the rest of the team. During winter time, the time in Thailand is Finland +5 hours, which means you get to be the early bird. Sometimes it also means you need to stretch out your workday over shorter sequences throughout the day, instead of doing it all in one sitting.

When Finland was still sleeping, this was a perfect spot to drink some morning coffee and listen to the jungle noises. In Thai climate, many of us found it easy to wake up early in the morning, even though in Finland we’d usually love to sleep late.

Here we are on our way to lunch. When it’s lunch time in Thailand, it’s morning in Finland, and that’s not the most convenient time to be away from your computer. With careful planning and good communication, however, it’s no biggie. The picture was taken by Joel Pöllänen.

When you go to work in a tropical destination, it’s fair to say you’re mixing work and play. This is not everyone’s cup of tea, and some find arrangements like these more difficult than others. According to our questionnaire, most Thai office qvikies don’t think it affected their productivity in a negative way. Our staff has a high work ethic and we care about the projects we are working on, so everyone was going there to actually work, not just pretend to get something done. Also, the fact that everyone else is working makes it easier to focus on your project.

At the villa, we had multiple work stations to choose from. One of them was this balcony with jungle view and fans.

From the organizer’s point of view, Dahlbom emphasizes that it’s crucial to start planning for the stay very early and choose the destination carefully. When choosing the destination, there are certain criteria that need to be met. The location needs to have a good infrastructure, such as hospitals, a semi-reliable electricity grid and generally available internet connections. The climate needed to be tropical and price level affordable, and the place needed to be less than 10 hours away on a direct flight.

A good rule of thumb is not to underestimate the time it takes to pull off a stunt like this. Dahlbom started to plan our remote office project a year before the first batch left for the office. Another good rule is, don’t overestimate the ability of people to proactively find information and take possible obstacles into account. Make a detailed guide on how to prepare for the trip, what to pack, and what to consider once you’ve arrived.

This is more play than work. We were welcomed to take our families and partners with us to the Thai Villa, and many did.

Long-tail boats; a nice and cozy way to around in Thailand, if you’re not in a hurry. At first glance, the motor looks kind of like a huge machine gun. Photo by Keni Kastinen.

Our boys at Phi Phi Island. Photo by Samuli Laine.

When not working, one could go scuba diving, for example. Here’s Tiia Kinnunen having a deep dip. Photo: Matti Dahlbom.

Despite the obvious similarities, this is not Tiia. It’s a local moray. Photo: Matti Dahlbom.

View from our balcony. Joel is taking a refreshing dip.

As we left, we donated our computer monitors to Phuket Sunshine Village Foundation, a local home for underprivileged children and children without parents.