We all know that the pandemic has damaged companies at all levels. But this is not just another economic sob story. Fortunately, we weren’t affected businesswise, but instead in a way that we couldn’t have imagined otherwise.

As we’ve shared previously, we have been working remotely for more than 10 years. When the pandemic started, many companies were forced to work from home, which resulted in a lot of headaches.

For us, in a way, it was easy because we simply continued to work as usual and physical contact was never a problem. Despite the economic uncertainty, software development was still in demand. We consider ourselves privileged that the pandemic did not only leave our company unharmed, but we were actually doing well, had plenty of projects and were able to continuously grow the team.

If you think we are just bragging at this point, then keep reading because it actually affected us, too, just in a different way.

It wasn’t money or work, but the team

All of us at Mobile Jazz agree that our work environment is different and unique. When you spend some time with the team, you realize that whatever role they have they might not be so different from you at all. Instead, they are people just like you and me with similar dreams and challenges.

“You don’t usually go skiing or surfing with the founders and clients. But it happens here.“

The Mobile Jazz and socialPALS team enjoying a few days of skiing in Austria

But this does not happen magically. For many years, we have invested a lot of time and effort in being able to work asynchronously and efficiently. And not only that, we put a lot of focus onto creating a special, unique working environment. One in which there is a strong social component and a sense of team, despite working remotely. Quite a challenge when your colleagues are sometimes thousands of kilometers away from you.

Over the last 10 years we have organized many events, but not the typical corporate gatherings, something completely different:

Thanks to these events, we created a special atmosphere where personal connections are created. Interests and the desire to explore new places are shared. An environment where we all learn from each other, both professionally and personally. And this ultimately translates into not only a flexible environment but also a strong sense of belonging to a team that thrives on doing what it does. Naturally, this became our trademark.

Working from Cape Town. Why not?

But then the pandemic hit, and for the sake of safety, we decided to stop these types of events. We thought that nothing would happen if we stopped doing them. After all, from a business perspective, we were doing well and growing steadily.

During the first year, it seemed as if nothing had changed. We believed that people had enough personal interaction with each other through various remote encounters. So we continued to work as usual, making video calls, pair programming and even having a few beers remotely. But as time passed, we had more and more new people on the team who had now been working for a year or more for the company and never really got to know the other team members beyond the screens. Despite our best efforts, things started to become repetitive, even boring.

In an attempt to bring back those moments we missed, we created a remote event focused on simply having fun together. We called it Mobile Jazz Fun Fest and yes, it was fun, but it didn’t quite fill the gap.

In fact, the consequences of COVID on our team became obvious instantly. Suddenly, Mobile Jazz had become just a job for us. A job with interesting projects and a cool team for sure, but clearly missing its distinct vibes. The personal connections and dynamics we used to pride ourselves with were slowly vanishing.

Time for a change

After vaccinations and increased security in general, we decided it was time to meet up again this year. So we got to work and organized Remote Week 2022 in Lisbon. Remote Week is the perfect event to get to know everyone because we stop working for our clients for a whole week and focus entirely on our team and company.

And it certainly was. The team went all out to organize talks and activities for the week, from presentations on how to improve our processes to hands-on workshops, where we learned how to build Machine Learning algorithms to identify Elon Musk in images (just because we can, and it’s a lot of fun).

The real magic however, happened in the afternoons and over the weekend. We organized trips around the city, enjoyed the hotel pool, and learned to climb or play Padel. That’s when you really get to know the amazing people that you usually only see through a screen.

When we work, generally everyone has their own responsibilities and areas of expertise, so you don’t get to connect equally with the whole team. However, from 6 pm onwards everyone starts to hang out with other people on the team to do some sports,  have a drink or simply chit-chat about a random topic.

During the pandemic, we interacted with each other at weekly online initiatives, such as the pair calls or our team meetings. But it was Remote Week 2022 that brought back those good vibes we missed so much. Finally, our new team members have been able to experience what it’s truly like to work at Mobile Jazz.

The team is a key pillar of our success

It hasn’t been long since we’ve come back from Lisbon, but it already feels like a different atmosphere:

  • As we get to know each other, it is easier for us to communicate and be more efficient.
  • It has given us a boost of motivation to keep improving together and tackling any challenge that comes our way.
  • The team generally feels more united, after sharing great moments in Lisbon.

All this not only positively impacts everyone’s mood but also directly improves the team on a professional level.

We strongly believe that many of the projects we have carried out over the years have been possible and successful in part because of the team we built. From monitoring a fighter jet at 3000 km/h to developing the software for a clinical autodiagnostic system.

Simply put, we didn’t give our team’s social life and nurturing our company culture the attention it deserved during the pandemic, almost taking it for granted even. (And to be fair, it wouldn’t have been easy with all the restrictions either.) But luckily, we are back!

If you are an engineer and liked what you just read, stop by our Careers section, as we are looking for new talent to join the team. More cool events guaranteed!

Pablo Garcia Roca

Pablo García studied graphic design at degree level and has been working on UX and UI for many digital platforms.