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A Day in the Life. Episode 2: Tech Specialist, Chris

Episode two in our ‘A Day in the Life’ series comes from Chris Cerra, one of GrantTree’s tech specialists. At GrantTree, we’re free to work from wherever we want. Usually this means home, a co-working space or a coffee shop. But Chris decided to go one step further and spend the whole week working from PARIS! Over to you, Chris. You lucky thing!

Morning

Hump day. Noun. “Wednesday, regarded as the midpoint of a typical working week”. Yes it’s Wednesday (or it was at time of writing), regarded by many as the toughest day in the working week. Last weekend is a fading memory. And the Saturday coming seems just out of reach. But I’m feeling pretty good right now. Because today, I get to work from Paris. In fact, I’m spending the whole week here!

My girlfriend, Sam, has to travel a lot for her work. If I was at another company, we wouldn’t get to see each other as much as we’d like. But thanks to the flexibility of GrantTree’s remote working policy, I’m able to join her while she’s away. This works really well for us. We both enjoy exploring new places, and are generally unimpressed with the weather back home!

I wake up around 7am and get ready for the day in our Airbnb. Then I polish off a croissant and un cafe au lait. When in Paris! I check at my phone. It’s just coming up to 8am in France, but the UK is a whole hour behind. The time difference really works in my favour. It gives me an extra hour to check emails after breakfast, and get back to a couple of clients before they’ve begun their day. Maybe it’s just the coffee, but I feel like I’ve already got a jump on the day. What’s that saying about the early bird?

 

Notice board with clock
Cafe Craft. My office for the morning.

I spent most of yesterday in our apartment. I had a few client calls I needed to take in a quiet space. But I block off Wednesday afternoons for project work (more on that later) and since I only have a short internal call in the morning, I’ve decided to head out and work from one of Paris’ many co-working/cafe hybrids. So I head to the Metro, taking line 4 to the 10th arrondissement, and reach my location – Cafe Craft – before 9am local time.

Cafe Craft was well provisioned for productivity: good lighting, power sockets, comfy seats, and even a printer! Being a cafe, too, the coffee was tres bien. My internal call – our team’s daily morning meeting – goes well. I spend the next hour or so finalising some questions relating to a client’s R&D project, and liaising with the client manager on some specifics regarding their situation. Before midday, the croissant starts to fade, so I arrange to meet Sam for an early lunch.

Afternoon

There’s another coffee shop that’s about equidistant from us both, so we agree to meet there. It’s crisp out, and I’m thinking about this afternoon’s project work on the 20 minute walk.

Bridge
A stroll in Paris

The nice thing about self-management is it empowers you to act in whatever way makes you happiest and most productive. Some of my best thinking happens when I’m taking a stroll or people-watching at an espresso bar. Not while I’m staring at a screen.

My old boss refused to let me work from home because “people work better from the office”. Scoff. This meant I was once forced to have a plumber to come out on a Saturday. So I had to pay more, and I lost my Saturday. Whilst WFH (Working From Home) to get the washing machine seen to isn’t quite the same as being overseas, it’s ultimately about trust. And I can say in earnest that I really appreciate the trust afforded to everyone at GrantTree to deliver their best work, however that may be.

bzzzzz. ‘Message from Sam’. Ok, I got distracted, but I’m hungry, and it’s good news. She’s passed a poke bar (we love poke), and is asking if I want some. I absolutely do.

Arriving ahead of her, I grab a coffee and a good table for us (away from the noise of the coffee machine), and note down the thoughts from my stroll. I’ve broken them down, so now I have points which are actionable, and can start working through them.

My project work at the moment is focussed more ‘on the business’ rather than ‘in the business’. Think developing and implementing processes / process improvements, rather than following them to deliver work. There’s been a need to document and adapt our processes as our team grows (don’t worry, we’re still hiring!) and as our toolkit for helping clients has expanded. As we grow, we’re continuing to find places where we can be more efficient, and areas worthy of a revamp.

Food bowl
Poke!

Sam arrives, and we spend 15 mins or so catching up over poke. I then have enough time to tweak the project document I’ve been working on with some fresh-from-the-stroll ideas before jumping on a call to discuss them with another of our tech specialists. We’re working on opposite sides of the same project. My objective is to share what I’ve been working on for the first time, get any feedback, and agree how the two sides of the project will interact and come together in the end. Fun fact: Construction work on the channel tunnel was commenced at either end at the same time and was completed when the two sides of the tunnel were eventually conjoined.

My colleague and I are in agreement on immediate next steps and discuss the long term goals of our combined efforts. I’m really happy with the call, and excited to see our work bear fruit over the next two months and beyond. Energised, I continue with some amendments and additions following the call. By now, I’ve spent a few hours on project related work, and I’ve seen a few email/slack notifications come in that I know need my attention. Sam looks after the good seats while I take a 10 min walk. When I’m back, I check the aforementioned notifications. Looks like there’s a technical narrative that needs reviewing, and a question from a client manager regarding the status of a client’s technical narrative. All fairly straightforward stuff.

I end my day checking in with a client manager whose client’s narrative is ready. “Are their financials ready? Will it file today?” Things aren’t quite there yet. This one will have to wait until tomorrow…

Evening

It’s 5.25pm local time as I wrap up the day. I check where Sam is up to with hers. She’s almost done, too. One final check. Yep. Nothing left on today’s to-do list. We pack up, and meander through the 10th arr., heading to Bouillon Chartier, arguably our favourite place to eat in Paris. Sam orders fish, “rump steak s’il vous plait”. It arrives, and her face smacks of food envy.

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