After the first successful work holiday, Florian and I decided to try a new experiment. This time, we wanted to take things to a more minimal level, asking “Can we go deeper into the mountains and still get work done? Do we need to be in a city, or can we still work from a small village?”
There’s a place in Switzerland we’ve been to often enough where we know the owners. We knew they had a small cabin we could use with decent internet. So we emailed them in advance, described what we were trying to do. They responded with “Come on over!”
We arrived on Thursday to find the owners were on vacation until Saturday and the internet had been turned off (there was a misunderstanding about when we would be arriving). The town has a population of 4,489 so there aren’t that many options. Luckily, a local hotel granted me the use of their banquet room for the day in exchange for a round of beers for the kitchen staff. The internet wasn’t great, but it was good enough to get work done!
We spent the weekend rock climbing, mountain climbing, and running in a crazy Swiss mountain run. When Monday came around, the owners were back, the internet was up and running; Florian and I were ready to start working.
We set up in our little cabin, and immediately I noticed that while the internet connection was good, it would pose a problem for the intensive video meetings I usually have. And indeed, for sending emails, browsing the internet, or watching videos, the internet worked just fine. But once my video meetings started, the difference in quality was immediately noticeable. It was especially bad during the hours of 5pm and 8pm (I suspect the whole mountain valley is connected to the same line somehow).
I was nervous about the internet connection to begin with, so I didn’t schedule any high-profile video interviews this week. But I have daily meetings in Sococo, nightly work sessions in Skype with my collaboration partner, Gretchen, and weekly status updates with several clients using Hangouts and Zoom.
Most of the meetings have been bearable, but of course, during the most important meeting, where I was supposed to walk a client through a newsletter I had written for them, the internet connection went down.
Sadly, I must conclude that this work holiday experiment has been unsuccessful so far. My bandwidth needs are just too high, and this small village doesn’t have the connection speeds I need. I’ve considered taking a train home, but Gretchen and Florian have both encouraged me to look into other options like co-working spaces, and just rescheduling the remaining meetings that I have to next week, when I’m back home again.
What would you do?