Ever since I joined the company back in 2016, I have always stood out in a couple of ways. For example, I am one of the very few European employees, and before I joined the company, I worked with our flagship product BizTalk360 during my day-to-day work. That real-world experience helps to keep on shaping and evolving the product. Even after all those years, I am still excited to be able to add value to the product and cooperate with the BizTalk360 product group and all the other teams.
However, in contrast with my colleagues, I have always mainly been working from home and for several reasons (like the pandemic), I have never been able to meet the team in India. In this blog, I share my experiences during my very first travel to India and visiting the office in August 2022.
Taking in India as much as possible
Over the years, I have worked with so many colleagues from the India team, and I was eager to meet them all during my stay in India. It only took a couple of days to have all my evenings during my stay fully booked with dinner at the home of colleagues while meeting their families. Additionally, I also got to attend team dinners, a company-wide party, and a team outing to a hill station called Kodaikanal with the BizTalk360 engineering team during the weekend.
I found the people in Coimbatore very friendly and very hospitable, something the city is famous for. Like the song ‘One night in Bangkok (makes a hard man humble)’, the same applies to Coimbatore!
The fun part of exploring foreign countries is to explore their cultures and habits; something that is very common in your country might be totally different abroad. So, when I met my colleagues, we talked about so many things. Not just about geography and climate-related topics, because normally India is much warmer than The Netherlands, but due to heat waves, this year it was the other way around. But also about Indian food compared to Dutch food, and habits like eating with your fingers (to improve the full experience of tasting a dish), European traffic compared to Indian/Asian traffic, marriage from love versus arranged marriages, etc.
Visiting the new office
Since its inception back in 2011, the company has grown in many different ways, not just in terms of the number of employees and number of products we develop, but also in the size of the Indian office. Where we started with only a 10-seater area in a different location in Coimbatore, we now have 2 floors in a building called Hanudev Business Park that hosts around 240 employees. We are even expanding to a third floor in the same building, in the nearby future! Although the official inauguration of the new building (December 2021) was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was completed in the early stages of the pandemic and, when there were no lockdowns, the office has been used in turns by different colleagues.
During one of the first days of my stay, Jessintha from the People and Culture team gave me a tour to show me the highlights of the office. The office breathes a welcoming, light, and inspiring atmosphere. A lot of attention has been spent on the use of colors and decorations. On both floors you will find, multiple smaller and larger meeting rooms, focus areas for one or two people, a training room that can hold at least 20 people, and a board room. A huge decoration on a wall emphasizes all the important milestones the company went through. This painting includes for example the years when specific products were introduced, and how our flagship product (BizTalk360) evolved from a one-man project to a product that is used on a global level by hundreds of enterprise customers.
Working from home versus coming to the office
My regular workplace is my home office in the attic of our family house. Over the years, I have set up a comfortable office with a big desk, multiple monitors, and a comfy chair. In general, I manage to have a good work/life balance without too many distractions when at work.
However, due to the working-from-home situation, I don’t have frequent coffee machine chats and other social interactions with my colleagues. Therefore, one of the highlights of this trip for me was being able to visit the new office and to work and socially interact with my colleagues face to face.
Although I was a first-time visitor at the (new) office, I already knew many people whom I wanted to meet (and vice versa) in the limited time I had. Hence, although my work also had to continue, I probably spoke to more people than what would happen during a normal week at the office. Because of that, I don’t consider my week in India a normal one, and making an honest comparison between working from home and working at the office will be hard.
The fewer distractions somebody has, the more one will be able to achieve. However, it is impossible to focus on the job for a full day. So, taking some breaks, or working on some different tasks is required to make it through the day. Although people are social creatures, the amount of socializing somebody requires differs per person. Since I am used to working from home for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean that I can do without socializing, but because of the physical distance between me and my colleagues, I can’t socialize face to face and we need to do it via remote calls. It will be clear that this trip has been so much fun because I was able to interact with my colleagues’ face to face and have good quality conversations with them.
Of course, in case of any dependencies of colleagues, it is often much more efficient to be in the same space as them, so you can simply tap them on the shoulder and get things done. From that perspective and distractions aside, working at the office can be more efficient than working from home.
Working with my colleagues after having met them in person
After having worked with my colleagues for so long mainly via remote calls, it has been so great to be able to work with them at the office. However, when asked to say who is who during a meeting at the office, I mixed up a couple of colleagues, mainly because their profile pictures in Teams were not accurate anymore! Probably, it would have been easier to recognize them by voice!
Now that I am back at home and back at my office in the attic, I am sure that we will benefit from having met in the real world due to the personal connection. For me, that means that I am even more passionate to work with them, helping them in areas where we are working together, and helping them grow their skills.
All in all, the trip to India was amazing and I can’t wait to go there again! My colleagues have been so kind to me and the amount of hospitality and personal interest was overwhelming! What rests for me is to try to recreate some of the delicious dishes I had in India. I hope that this blog gives a little bit of an insight into working at an Indian-based company.