How our Software engineers exchange ideas and have fun

In this article, our backend engineer Gonçalo Marques shares his experience and key takeaways of his last team offsite at the Mercedes EQ Lounge and emphasizes why it was so important for him to finally see other MB.ionners face to face again.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed a lot in our lives. When it comes to working at Mercedes-Benz.io we have adopted a flexible collaboration model. This brings more freedom, better work-life balance, and so much more. With remote, it has been more difficult to know our fellow MB.ioneers on a deeper level. It made me miss the face-to-face interaction and collaboration. I think nothing beats getting everyone together.

So, in the backend circle, self-organized as we are, we just went for it and organized an offsite with the goals to exchange knowledge and experience, getting to know one another, and connecting.

And what better place to do this than Nazaré, the capital of the biggest waves in the world (well, don´t get spooked by it, there are also calm waves to enjoy a beach day), a place where Garrett McNamara in 2011 set, at the time, a world record on the biggest wave surfed and, home of the Mercedes-EQ Lounge.

WHY THE MERCEDES-EQ LOUNGE?

As you might have heard Mercedes-Benz is committed to a sustainable future and the Lounge is a perfect example of that. The Mercedes-EQ Lounge is a 100% sustainable place, designed using recycled and reused materials. It includes an electric circuit that comes from the reuse of four battery modules from one of the first units of the 100% electric Mercedes-Benz B-Class. The modules now store the energy captured by photovoltaic panels and power the whole building. The Lounge additionally has four charging stations for electric cars and offers the perfect environment for us to debate about our future, drive conversations and share our experiences.

So, to us, it is a match made in heaven.

THE EVENT

We gathered in our Lisbon office and set course to Nazaré. Lucky us, we were able to get our hands on two Mercedes-Benz EQVs for our travel. During the morning at the hotel, we had our “Product Roulette” in which everyone presented not only themselves but also their product teams:

  • Who was part of the team and stakeholder.
  • What is the product and its purpose.
  • How does the product work (tech stack and the business concerns it focuses on).

Did I mention the activities? Does a high-speed voyage, drifting in the water, and doing water-force defying maneuvers sound exciting? How about the opportunity to go by boat to the Nazaré Canyon and hear how those giant waves are formed?

We had the opportunity to do it all. This would not be an offsite without some cool activities. All powered by Mercedes-EQ Lounge together with Nazaré Water Fun. It was an afternoon packed with water, sand, fun, and adventure. After dinner, we enjoyed a walk by the beach for a fruitful chance to not focus on work but get to know our colleagues.

THE FOLLOWING DAY, WE SURFED THE KNOWLEDGE SHARING WAVE.

We went to the Lounge for our well-known Exchange.io format where everyone can casually share knowledge or just open a discussion on certain topics. It could be a training to introduce a new framework, technique, or any other topic which is interesting for us. We do this regularly at the Backend circle and the Architecture and Technology circle. For this session we had a wide array of topics:

  • Internal marketplace to share ideas and find collaborators for projects, that can be suitable in an Inner Sourcing approach.
  • Custom alerting system that warns tenants when having misconfigured settings. Helping them reduce a lot of errors.
  • – Reactive Programming with Spring WebFlux and Kotlin Coroutines;
  • HTTP library for Common Backends aimed at addressing repetitive concerns across all our products and re-use code.
  • Brainstorm on cross-cutting topics and issues in our current software landscape followed by how we want to address them

With our Backend Offsite we were able to do a lot.

Firstly, the opportunity to take a unique test drive, in a spacious, comfortable, quiet and with excellent autonomy Mercedes EQV. Secondly, to visit the amazing town of Nazaré. Thirdly, to get to know the Mercedes-EQ Lounge and feel its purpose. In the same way Mercedes-EQ was designed with reusable materials, we took our learning of our common technical issues to re-utilize solution across our teams. Finally, all of us got to know one another better.
We look forward to having another event like this and, who knows, next time it could be you going with us…