If I have to hear, “throw another shrimp on the barbie!” one more time, I may have to have a little chat with my colleagues about what an appropriate Australian salutation is. This was their heartfelt farewell just before Christmas, which I mentally translated as, “Hopefully see you soon if you’re allowed back in the country”.
I was going home to sort out a new UK visa, so I could continue working for Kong. Oh, fine. I guess I can work from my very sunny, delectably warm home for a while. As a company, Kong is very open to the idea of, and encourages, flexible working, self-management and trust in the ol’ honesty policy. Last year we introduced Flexi Time. Despite not being the group yoga lesson the term evokes, choosing our own work hours has provided our team with an even greater sense of trust and, in turn, enthusiasm. If I feel like a little lie-in, I can snooze til half 9 and stroll in, soy-chai in hand (no judgement) and be ready for business by 10. On the utterly bizarre end of the spectrum, Jules would rather get in at the obscene hour of 8am and leave in time to hang out with his son (fair play, he’s pretty cute). It feels much more like that ever elusive work/life balance because we’re instilled with the freedom to manage our own workload and have confidence in each other to do so.
I know I’m definitely keen to see if this international experiment succeeds. Turns out it’s quite easy to work upside down (yet another joke I’m subjected to, daily). Sadly, not so easy to design with glare on your screen. The only real difficulty is the time difference; I live 11 hours in the future, which might sound cool, but often means I can only scrape in an hour or two overlap before returning to my solitude, which can make briefs and feedback tricky. Obviously it’s not as fun as being with the whole team and while I don’t get tricked into making tea, I also don’t get to be a part of office chair curling or Jalal’s mexican ‘hip thrust’ waves. I really do enjoy working with other people and bouncing ideas of one another, so it’s taken a bit of getting used to pushing on with ideas I’m not sold on. Luckily, the majority of my work can be done anywhere and independently. Obviously, I know David misses my incessant “If I wanted to do this…” questions. Using Slack makes everything a bajillion times easier though; we use it to communicate in the office anyway so I don’t feel detached from what’s going on. Our backend developer, Neil, has been working remotely since joining Kong so, apart from the time difference, it’s already proven to be a successful way of working.
It’s exciting to be part of a company that values freedom and independence and it is definitely one of my greatest reasons for staying in the UK, as tempting as this sunshine is. I’ve got just over a week until I plan to fly back (fingers crossed!) and hope to return with a deeper insight into remote work life, a stronger Aussie accent and an awesome tan.