Eat, work, sleep – that’s what we did in Italy

25th of February, 2020
The Departure

This is the day when we’re leaving for Italy. Our workation. While on the way to the airport, Krista, Julia, and I were still managing to finish our last tasks before signing off and going offline.

We chose Italy as our destination due to these 4 reasons:

  • Food
  • Wine
  • Climate
  • And because it’s Italy, for God’s sake.

And so we booked our tickets to Bari – a city that is famous for its universities and sea, and their cheap destination airport.

We’re all very excited to book the tickets and go on this adventure.

But let’s take a step back for a bit. You might wonder, what is a workation? It’s a concept where you go and spend a week or so in a place that is not your office together with your colleagues to evolve professionally. That means that during this time we don’t work for our clients – we work to improve our own skills and crafts.

The goals that we set for ourselves were pretty simple – we wanted to do stuff that we didn’t have enough time for or enough inspiration while we’re in our regular working conditions in our office.

However, our excitement was slightly lowered due to the fact that this is the time when Italy starts to announce its first Coronavirus cases. 

But as we boarded our flight the excitement won over the worry. We were going to Italy.

Nevertheless, the worry found its way back to us. When we landed, we were greeted by people in full-on bodysuits. They were taking the temperature for every person that arrived. That was a very odd experience. But safety comes first, of course.

We arrived in our Airbnb pretty late, so we didn’t stay up that long and went almost straight to bed, so we can start “working” (and eating and wine-ing) the next day.

26th of February, 2020
The warmest day of the trip

The first official day of workation is finally here. And it’s supposed to be very warm. Well, maybe it’s normal for the Italians but for Latvians to have +20 degrees in February is something out of the ordinary.

So, our plan was to find a cafe, have breakfast there and then start our first 2-hour sprint of the day where each of us would work for our individual goals. We got ready and went to a lovely cafe near the place that we lived called Avamposto.

There we had an espresso just like real Italians do, had some not-so-tasty pastry and ta-da – were ready to work!

My goal for the trip was to learn anything that I can about e-commerce, for example. Therefore, I dissected all the blogs that covered this subject, in order to get an understanding of how an e-commerce store works.

Krista and Julia, on the other hand, worked on more strategic matters for TrueSix, like, thinking about the ways how we can make our content better, what are the steps that we should follow when we create and promote new content, and so on.

Krista and Julia being very focused

What I learned from my first sprint:

  • That there are 4 types of e-commerce stores – B2C (an online company sells shoes to an individual customer), C2C (eBay kind of stuff), C2B (influencers), B2B (a business sells software for other companies to use)
  • Finding a niche for a small online store is VERY important because then the store has a better chance to stand out = get more sales
  • A strong SEO plan can add a significant boost to an e-commerce store’s success, as using the right keywords can drive traffic to your site without any additional promotion

After our first session, we went for the first REAL highlight of the day – pizza. It turns out that in Italy basically every cafeteria and restaurant is closed during the day. So there weren’t a lot of options to choose from. However, eventually, we found a place where we got what we looked for – super tasty and crunchy Italian pizza (with some Italian wine, of course).

Yum

After our delicious lunch, we went to enjoy the city, warm weather, and a cup of cappuccino. Then we decided that our second 2-hour work sprint of the day will happen in our Airbnb. On the way home, Julia and I did a professional photoshoot next to a Wes Anderson-esque caffe (that we decided to visit the next day for breakfast).

Hit us up, Vogue!

When we got back to our Airbnb, I chose to continue my work from the terrace, so I wouldn’t lose any second of the warm weather that was happening outside. In my second sprint, I continued to learn about the ingredients that make up a successful e-commerce store and slowly realized that I should make one of my own. Just for fun. And so my plan for tomorrow was set in stone – I will create my own e-commerce store.

Our lovely terrace setting

But alas – our first workation day came to a conclusion. Our plan for the evening was simple – eat some pasta, drink some wine, and see the Old Town of Bari. And we managed to do all of that (find proof in the pictures).

On our way to the Old Town
Preparing ourselves for dinner
Met a very shy doggo on our way home
And surprisingly we found a little piece of home in one of Bari’s grocery stores

27th of February, 2020
We saw the sea! And ate. A lot

We started our day in the previously mentioned cafe that gives off heavy Wes Anderson inspired vibes. We had our daily dose of sugar, coffee and were ready for the first sprint of the day.

Hello calories, our old friends

This time we chose to work from a hotel lobby, as it provided plenty of space and decent wifi. And so the first sprint of the day began!

As I was creating the design for my online store, Krista was creating a checklist that would keep the quality of the content that we create in check. This content checklist covered emails, blog posts, videos, etc. that we create for our clients. And from now on, we will have to go through this list when we create any type of content to make sure that we have covered all the points mentioned there.

Work, work, work

For example, if we want to create an email campaign we have to make sure that:

  • The email’s subject line invites the reader to open the email
  • All the links inserted in email work
  • A call-to-action is included
  • Etc.

As for me, I was getting a bit annoyed with creating a logo for my store because all the tools that offered to make a wildly cool logo for free didn’t meet my expectations. So, I decided that it’s time to take control and create a logo of my own (see the dramatic result below).

My very first logo made with a free font and NOT as a vector #skills

After a very productive first sprint, we decided to go for a walk through the city and then have the signature pasta of the Puglia region – orecchiette.

When we got to the sea, the water there was so blue and, of course, I wanted to know why it is that, as, for example, in Latvia, the color of the sea is brown-ish blue. 

It turns out that it’s due to the fact that the Mediterranean is like a lake and the water exchange between it and the Red Sea and the Black Sea is limited. Therefore, the tiny organisms called phytoplankton aka algae cannot travel to the Mediterranean as fast making the water clear blue (opposite to the Baltic Sea, for example).

Nevertheless, we were very excited to see the sea for the first time during our trip and took a lot of photos from which I’m going to share only one not to overwhelm you.

Julia being very cool by the blue-watered Mediterranean

After a quick tour through the Old Town, we went to look for the orecchiette pasta. And we found it. And it was perfect.

So simple, yet divine

In addition to this wonderfully cooked paste, we had some bruschetta and limoncello to wrap things up. It was perfect.

However, due to this meal, we decided to skip the second work sprint and nap. Talk about living the life Italian style. 

28th of February, 2020
The last workday of workation

On our last workation day, we decided to stay in our Airbnb and work from there. We managed to finish all of our tasks – I made my online store, Krista created checklists to make the content that we create even better and Julia managed to upgrade a significant amount of administrational factors for TrueSix.

After our last work sprint in this workation we reflected on what we did, how we managed to do our tasks, and what we learned from it. Here’s a portrait that Julia made of me and Krista contemplating about life at the end of the workation. 

The resemblance is undeniable

Then we went out to celebrate with some Italian cheese, seafood, and wine. It couldn’t be better. 

So, even though we ate a lot and took in the city for many hours we managed to do everything that we planned without any glitches. Therefore, I pronounce this workation as a great success. Yay, for us!

In conclusion

I think that the best way to end this blog is to create a checklist that you can follow if you and your team ever want to try out the workation experience. So, here are the ingredients that will make every workation a success:

  • Find a destination where each member of your team REALLY wants to go. Pro tip: if you’re doing your workation during the winter, go to a place where it’s warm and sunny – it will instantly boost the mood of your team. Promise.
  • Find a cool place to stay that has wifi and that can be used both as a place to work and also a place where to hang out
  • Set clear goals for each member of your team that they need to reach during the workation
  • Wine
  • Good food
  • Great colleagues

And there you have it – a recipe for a perfect workation. Now go ahead and try it out for yourself and your team!

If you enjoyed reading about this workation, you can check out other stories from our trips that will be as enjoyable as this one. Guaranteed.

3 Comments

What a great idea to do workations! I loved your recap and look forward to reading about more of them. Canada is a nice destination… just mentioning it. 🍁

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