The jet lag is finally beginning to fade, and I am settling in to my daily work routine. As many of you know, I am participating in the professional remote work program, We Roam. Our first stop? Prague, Czech Republic. Europe's Golden City sure hasn't disappointed, and has served as the perfect launch point for our time abroad. After working about a week, here is what I have observed in this eclectic hub of bustling startups and bright tech scene set among lovely historical Czech architecture.
The workplace We Roam has booked for us during our time in Prague is nothing short of perfection. Opero Coworking is located in the heart of Prague 1, near old town and many of the most popular tourist areas. It is clean, modern and equipped with everything we could need. As a remote worker keeping U.S. hours, it was important the space be available during the evenings as well, which many of the other Roamers have also taken advantage of. The staff and employees of Opero have been warm, welcoming and truly helpful during our transition, which has been a nice breath of fresh air in a city where locals are not always overly courteous to non-Czech speakers.
In comparison to my work accommodations in the states, it is quite similar - with a few quirks:
1. Activity-Based Working
As the popularity of offering a variety of workstations in one office has taken off in the states, it has also made its way to the Golden City. Opero takes full advantage of its unique multi-level layout, and has sectioned off a variety of areas for members to get work done. From large conference rooms to small collaboration spaces plus multiple sound-proof call booths, there is a nook for each type of worker. Since many Roamers have conference calls during the day, these break-out rooms are essential to staying connected while abroad. Opero has also integrated a room reservation system online, so users can book space ahead of time - something many offices in the states are adding to eliminate confusion and over-booking of rooms.
As an American, I am well aware of my spoiled nature when it comes to expecting a certain standard of comfort while indoors. Most modern workplaces in the states are equipped with central AC and heat, no questions asked. And what people seem to complain about most is not the lack of central air, but what the temperature should be set to. Oh how European offices are so vastly different. Considering many of the buildings are modernized historical structures, central AC is difficult to come by. Even busy restaurants, retail stores and luxury apartments lack the familiar units we've grown used to at home. While Prague's weather is relatively mild during the summer not causing this to be an issue, it was quite a shock to the system the first week of our arrival during an abnormal heat wave.
Our office in Houston is located in a safe area, and we don't feel the need to have multiple gates and varying measures to ensure our workplace is secure other than our security system during the evenings. While the city is recognized as a safe place, Prague seems to linger on the conservative side when it comes to security for private residences and office buildings. While both Opero and my apartment are located in safe, affluent neighborhoods, both have multiple key fob entrances to get into the building. I also have noticed this trend in retail stores and other office buildings in the area.
4. Lunch Habits
Prague is known for it's beer, and in many parts of the city, it is actually cheaper to order beer over water at restaurants. Czech people consume more beer per capita than any other country in the world, and locals seem very comfortable ordering one (or two) during their lunch break. Lunch tends to be in the later part of the afternoon, and can last 30 minutes, or two hours depending on the company. It is quite different compared to the often hurried lunch Americans are accustomed to. It has been nice to take an almost forced break during the day, and since restaurant service is much slower here than at home, it allows workers to sit and enjoy their meal - without the sense of urgency to rush back to the office. While this could be a negative to some, I know creating time to recharge in the afternoon is beneficial to overall productivity over the course of the day.
Working abroad this first week has gone surprisingly well, with only a few minor hiccups. We Roam and Opero are surely to thank for that. The opportunity to work alongside locals in this small but proud city is such an honor. The business world is certainly present here, while tradition still peaks through. Prague has managed to balance and encourage both. Stay tuned for next week's blog featuring some of the other Roamers on the trip and their experience transitioning from a traditional office setting to working remotely.