“We bring the team and personal touch into your home office”. That’s our motto here at Breaklounge. Marc and Ben, two of the Breaklounge founders, have already told us here how the idea and concept for Breaklounge came about from spontaneous conversations over coffee.
Ben founded several tech companies before Breaklounge. Among others, HappyByte GmbH, which has a lot of experience and know-how in the field of app and software development. And both go into the development of the Breaklounge app.
Therefore ‘spot on’ and ‘have a word in the Breaklounge’! This time with HappyByte GmbH.
Who are you and what do you do?
We are an IT service provider focusing on the design, development and operation of mobile apps. Our team works decentralized, currently in Berlin, Constance in Germany and Lodz in Poland.
Since the Corona pandemic, we have switched to 100% remote work, working from anywhere in the world with an internet connection. Theoretically at least 🙂
You work as a decentralized team: How do you work together, what tools do you use?
As a software company, we rely on classic tools such as Atlassian JIRA and Confluence. For project communication, we use Slack and Google Hangout.
With these working tools we cover the daily business. But for informal exchanges, face-to-face conversations and virtual coffee breaks, we use the Breaklounge app.
What typical challenges do you face in your day-to-day work?
When offices were left empty overnight due to the Corona pandemic, we quickly realized that the social kit, the social connection between employees was dwindling. For remote teams, building and maintaining a strong team fabric are challenges that are not immediately apparent.
So you don’t meet in the office. What do you do to feel like being a team?
To make our video meetings as personal and “direct” as possible, we all turned on the cameras. This is a matter of course for us.
We also host regular virtual events. Every other week, for example, a ‘Meeting Hero’ prepares various topics and then presents them in a meeting. Not only topics relevant to our work are presented, because these events are also important for us as a team.
And of course, we use the Breaklounge as our virtual coffee kitchen. We meet regularly in the Breaklounge for informal exchanges and personal discussions with colleagues.
Informal exchanges and personal discussions are an integral part of your corporate culture. Why is a ‘good time to talk’ important to you?
In our office in Lodz, for example, the cozy coffee corner and the kitchen were the central social spaces. The informal exchange that took place there was not only important for the company, but also made for a great atmosphere.
After we switched to “remote first,” we really wanted to keep that team spirit and cohesion. Because the topic is close to all of our hearts, we started our virtual coffee corner with the Breaklounge app – and use it eagerly.
Talking to each other is not only good and important for our work. Ideas or notions can grow and mature in a face-to-face conversation before being presented to a larger group. Because we also exchange ideas from a distance in personal conversations, we continue to feel like a team. The personal conversations not only create trust. They also make sure that we stay up to date and know what’s going on with our colleagues and in the company.
You meet regularly in the Breaklounge: Was there a moment or a meeting that particularly surprised and excited you?
At the beginning, it was a bit unusual for the teams that were not involved in the development of the Breaklounge to move the common coffee break to the app.
But one special feature of the Breaklounge quickly got everyone excited: the ability to move freely while talking in the break lounge and, for example, stand in the kitchen at home or take a walk. Especially for us as developers, this is a great thing and a welcome, especially healthy change from sitting for hours on end.
What are your tips for other decentralized teams?
Attentive to and encourages sharing within the team. Informal conversations are not only important for the flow of information in the company, but especially for the sense of belonging, the trust among the team members and for having fun together. Humans are social beings and the exchange with others is good for us.