At GSoft, we are a fully (and proudly) distributed company. What does that mean, exactly? Well, in addition to having the freedom to work from our offices or from home, our employees can choose to do so from just about anywhere in the world, 150 days a year. And it works. Here’s how.
When coworkers head to Ecuador
Audrée, Director of User Experience, and Élise, Director of Data & Analytics at GSoft, are a tight-knit duo. So much so that they decided to pack up and head to Ecuador together to work (and travel) for a little under a month. And guess what? They’re only just getting started.
Élise: "We were looking to go somewhere different, somewhere warm and in the same time zone as Quebec, because that just makes things easier for work. Since Audrée loves bird watching, we decided that Ecuador would be the perfect destination for us!"
Audrée: "We both love to travel. Work sometimes gets in the way of that, but at GSoft we're able to combine the two and keep that passion alive."
Your place looks lovely! Where are you?
Audrée: “When we first arrived, we stayed in Cuenca for a week. It’s one of the nicest cities in Ecuador. The hotel where we stayed specializes in hosting digital nomads like ourselves. We were able to make good use of their co-working space, which was lovely. Élise was super nervous about the internet not being great right up until her first meeting Monday morning . Later in the trip, we rented an Airbnb on the Pacific Ocean, again making sure to ask the hostess ahead of time about the internet speed.”
A day without slush or snow removal: tell us all about it.
Audrée: “Like any other work day, but with a few perks! I’m up before Élise, I have breakfast and I get ready for my calls. Around lunchtime, we have a quick bite and head down for a dip to take advantage of the sun, or we go buy some chocolate. With our flexible schedule, we’re able to manage our time better. If it’s overcast, for example, I can bank a few extra hours and take a sunny Friday afternoon off instead.”
Élise: “Same here! I’m able to move my schedule around to make the most of our time. I worked several evenings when we first arrived so I’d have more freedom later on. As for meetings and team stuff, nothing’s changed… except that maybe our Teams backgrounds are the envy of some.”
All the sun, swimming, activities…! Has your productivity been affected at all?
Audrée: “I was worried I’d have a hard time concentrating away from my home office, but nope! Not at all! And since it’s the two of us, we keep each other on the right track.”
Élise: “I totally agree. We don’t necessarily work together every day, but I’m well aware of her reality and team, and she mine. Since we’re always together, work comes up quite a bit! Possibly more than it did back in Montreal! But it keeps us focused, even in such a different environment.”
Audrée: “I can talk to Élise about any work-related issues or just stuff in general, and it keeps me focused. Travelling together really is the best of worlds: we get to socialize like we did back in the office, all while taking in everything this journey has to offer.”
Élise: “I think the timing really helped, too. Quebec is going through a lot right now [lockdown in January], and I think it must be incredibly difficult to stay motivated and focused. If anything, coming to Ecuador boosted my productivity! It’s so much easier to remain engaged knowing that we have surf lessons or are visiting a new city after work!”
Any takeaways or hiccups you’d like to share for other workers?
Audrée: “I’ve loved the experience so much that there’s no going back: from now on, I’m travelling and working remotely! It’s always been a dream of mine to escape the winter. My plan is to build a house in the Costa Rican jungle, one that’s perfectly adapted to remote work, with fiber optics and an outdoor desk so I can admire the toucans while I’m working. My GSoft coworkers will be more than welcome to visit, too!”
Élise: “We’re really making the most of our time here, we feel great, and it shows in our work. That might sound cheesy, but it’s true. I’ve accomplished some wonderful things since I got here; it’s very motivating. And I’ve truly appreciated doing all of this with my coworker. It’s the perfect setup for working abroad! My takeaway? That I need to do this as often as I can! I’m leaving for Copenhagen in May, and I’m already so excited!”
Audrée: “As for hiccups, I would have to say losing my phone and panicking that I wouldn’t be able to access my Slack notifications. GSoft was super responsive and got me up and running on Élise’s phone in no time. I think the company knows a thing or two about remote work!”
We’ll let you get back to the sun now. Any parting words?
Élise: “I would have to say it’s been an incredibly different and rewarding experience. I feel like GSoft gave me this fabulous opportunity, and I ran with it. I’ve realized how different it is to travel when you’re also working. Our journey started as a 10-day vacation around the country – we climbed a volcano, went bird watching, and explored the Amazon rainforest! We then hunkered down and got to work, and a little routine set in. I genuinely enjoy both the work and the play – two very different experiences!”
Audrée: “A revelation and an experience I’m truly grateful for. My personal situation and the flexibility of distributed work give me the kind of freedom few people have access to. Travelling is not easy, so to have the chance to work in another country or even just outside of my comfort zone, is something I’m beyond grateful for and am taking in fully.”