Remote working, but with a twist!

Working from a seaside villa on a beautiful sunny island may sound like the dream “office environment” but, this summer, TEC was able to make this dream a reality… 

Digital technologies have radically changed the expectations of society and enterprise over the past two decades. The COVID-19 epidemic hastened this process, which resulted in the widespread use of the remote work method.

Modern life is spent online, and this has blurred the lines between our personal and professional lives. For instance, with emails readily available on your phone, it is common practice to check and respond to work messages at all hours, no matter where you are, or what you are doing. Employees have adapted to this increased connectivity but also expect the increased workplace flexibility it creates.

As a result, the notion of work/personal life balance has expanded to include finding the best personal environment to work from.  

At TEC, we decided to embrace this new notion of work/life balance and so we established an innovative pilot project where we rented a coastal home in Sicily and offered our coworkers the chance to work from there. The purpose of this project was to provide a relaxing setting while simultaneously giving people an opportunity to interact and develop ties with one another.

It was decided to send employees from different departments, from management to HR, each with their own set of duties and tasks to work on, rather than a whole team. Additionally, because the projects they were working on at the time were distinct from one another, they had the opportunity to learn new things from each other. Besides that, one of the major advantages of this project was the team-building component, which greatly aided their current and hopefully future teamwork. 

We caught up with the colleagues who attended to get their impressions of their experience after their return. Overwhelmingly, they felt that both from a professional and a leisure perspective, the whole experience was something unique and revitalizing which gave them a great chance to spend some time with colleagues. One team member described the experience as “the best work week ever” saying: 

“It was refreshing to be in a place which gives you the experience of a stroll on the beach after work, or a quick swim in the pool during a break, all of these without lowering the focus on work.” 

Maintaining this focus and ensuring that productivity remained high was a key consideration with the scheme but, if anything, productivity levels improved with employees citing the change of environment as an important factor: Since my work is not focused on only one thing, I was able to prioritize some of the tasks that involved people management. Since I had such a nice environment, I was very productive in communicating with them and discussing the challenges they have on projects and within their teams.” 

When asked what they enjoyed the most about the experience, one answer that stood out and neatly summed up the others was: “The accommodation itself was beautiful, the fact that it was a few steps away from the sea was amazing, it allowed me to go there early in the morning and then immediately after work. Being with colleagues offered the opportunity to learn things about each other which otherwise would not have been possible.”   

The pilot project was a remarkable success with productivity maintained while promoting employee wellbeing and fostering a positive, modern work/life balance for those who participated. At the outset, the idea of sharing a home with ten colleagues you barely know may have sounded daunting but it allowed those involved to develop a stronger feeling of reciprocal responsibility, assist one another with household chores, find shared interests, and ultimately have a lot of fun. So much so that when asked if they would repeat the experience, all participants answered yes!