Working from Canada – A Personal Report
Part 1

Sina Burghardt · Innovation · 1 month ago

Our marketing colleague Sina Burghardt worked from Canada for two and a half weeks. What arrangements she made, what experiences she had and what conclusions she drew can be read in her blog series “Working from Canada – A Personal Report.”


Toronto

I’m a big Canada fan. I fell in love with the country, its wonderful nature, and its incredibly friendly people six years ago during a work & travel stay in Canada. I was all the more pleased to have the opportunity to extend my summer vacation and work from Canada temporarily.

Viadesk offers Digital Workplace Solutions – tools that enable businesses to work digitally. And after all, we ourselves work with our tools on a daily basis, which works very well between different locations in Germany and the Netherlands. So why not from Canada? So much for my idea.

Working from Canada – is that possible?

Unfortunately, the possibility of working from Canada is not as self-evident as my introduction states. The idea occurred to me when I thought about how nice it would be to stay in Canada for a longer period of time. Not “just” for a vacation, but also to spend the everyday (job) life in Canada again.

As I already mentioned briefly, digital collaboration is an everyday situation for us. And I am sure that this was an important precondition for fulfilling my dream of working from Canada. In general, cooperation in companies is changing more and more. It starts with small distances to each other: Working in other rooms or buildings is nothing new. Nevertheless, more and more people are chatting here instead of quickly running next door and talking in person. Some colleagues work remotely from home from time to time, others work from another city regularly and are rarely present in the office. But cooperation between different countries is also possible seamlessly, thanks to digital tools – with us, as already mentioned, between the Netherlands and Germany, but also with colleagues in the Czech Republic. No problem, as we work at the same times anyways and with just a few clicks we can exchange information, send a short chat message, quickly pick up the phone, or even talk face to face via video call. It’s all a question of how we work together.

I wonder what my boss will think of that…

So my plan was taking shape. In my opinion, all the preconditions were met to make the project “Working from Canada” possible without any difficulties. Nevertheless, I first checked with my colleagues to see what they thought of the idea. Did our team agree with me? That working from a (completely) different location was not a problem at all? The only issue would probably be the time difference – Germany is 5 or 6 hours ahead of the east coast of Canada, and even 9 of the west coast. But my colleagues were just as convinced as I that we would master this challenge. After all, we are already experts in digital cooperation. So why not try something new?

There was only one missing who needed to be convinced: my boss. I must admit, I was a bit nervous when I asked for a meeting to present “a new idea”. Actually, our hierarchies are very flat. It is important for us to work transparently so that everyone can openly communicate their ideas. Always in (digital) exchange with the team.

However, the situation was different now. After all, with the Canada project, I was trying to show something new: how do we live New Work ourselves, what challenges are there to face, and what does it mean to be a digital nomad? And I knew that to put this project into practice, I needed the confidence of my boss that, despite the great distance and time difference, I would do my job reliably and remain a part of the team. During the conversation, however, it quickly became clear that this is exactly the kind of trust I am given. And when I sat back down at my desk, I realized that I would have to prepare a lot now.

Take away office

Preparations: My take away office

Said and done: Nothing stood in the way of my project “Working from Canada”. The only thing missing was

  1. An accommodation – From where exactly did I want to work? In one city? From different places?
  2. An office – Shared office? Café? Hotel room? A mixture of these?
  3. Working hours – Was I going to continue to work at “normal” times, just with a time shift? Or would I at least adapt a little to European times, despite the time difference?
  4. A packing list – What do I take with me?

In fact, most of what we do at work is digital: meetings, chats, telephone calls, emails. We are a paperless office (as far as possible). When I look at my desk in Cologne, apart from a notebook and pen, I only see technology. My laptop and the connected screen form the centre, otherwise there is a keyboard, a mouse, a headset, and a telephone. It was immediately clear that I wouldn’t take the screen and the phone with me. So my “office” for the time in Canada would actually just consist of my laptop and my headset. “Pack as little as possible,” I thought to myself. I can also take my notes digitally and our phone is also automatically connected to a softphone within an app. Easy enough!

As far as the general accommodation and my workplace are concerned, I was a bit more spontaneous. But I will tell you more about that in the second part.