Our Senior Account Manager Jess Banks spent Q1 working remotely from Portugal! We decided to catch up with her about her experiences enjoying the Lisbon lifestyle and who of her teammates she missed the most.
Why did you choose to go to work in Lisbon for 3 months?
I wanted to be somewhere warm and escape the grey winter in London. I had also heard that there were a lot of remote workers and expats in Lisbon and a lot of creatives and start-ups as well. I had also never lived abroad before and it was an exciting opportunity to experience that. AND I love custard tarts.
What was the biggest challenge to working abroad?
It was hard not being in the office with everyone, I really missed the team. It was also a bit of a challenge to adapt to the shared co-working spaces and like a classic brit abroad I got myself locked out on the rooftop terrace one day.
Favourite restaurant in Lisbon?
I can’t choose one so it will have to be two restaurants.
Senor Lisbon just has really nice vibes. They serve amazing wine and do an incredible tuna steak dish.
At Damas I most enjoyed the amazing spicy margaritas and the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere there. They also did amazing prawns.
What inspiration for events did you take from your time?
Lisbon has some incredible incentive activities. One of my favourites was that you can hire a catamaran and sail down the Tagus river. Surfing is another activity just outside of the city centre and you can explore Lisbon on private tram tours. One time I went to a cookery school where we made natas, the local custard tart.
For future creative proposals, I was definitely inspired by the Mediterranean aesthetic and the use of bright colours. It was also really nice to explore a different way of eating with a strong emphasis on sharing plates instead of a traditional three-course menu.
What skills did you develop?
The experience made me work a lot more independently and my communication online became a lot better as I needed to stay in touch with the team in London. Being in a new place with new people also really built my confidence and has helped my ability to make decisions.
Did you miss us?
Yes, I definitely missed everyone, especially Matt Smith’s teas.
Go-to Lisbon drink?
I really liked the Vinho Verde that comes from a local wine region. On a night out my go-to drink was a spicy margarita and if it turned into a big night out I went for a gin ginja which is a nice after-dinner shot to get the night going.
Where do you want to go next? (If not back to Lisbon)
I would go back to Lisbon, but I dream of exploring Mexico someday!
How did you find your work-life balance?
The work-life balance in Lisbon is great. As I was working remotely, I was less distracted than I am with everyone in the office, so I was able to get more work done during hours and was able to relax during my time off. I loved going to the beach after work and as a smaller city, everything is more accessible in Lisbon which allowed me to fully explore all of the great places to eat and drink there.
How did AOK Events support you with your move?
Everyone was really good at checking in with me. People organised virtual coffee mornings to catch up with me and made sure to always invite me to meetings virtually. Slack was also a really helpful tool to stay in touch. Video calls allowed me to still take part in all of my training as part of the Junior Leadership Team and so it never felt like I wasn’t a part of the team while abroad.
How did it change the way you worked with clients?
Being abroad didn’t really change the way I work with clients as everyone was already used to being in touch virtually due to the pandemic. I maybe even spoke to clients more, because I had more time to focus on them. A lot of my clients were actually very excited by me being in Lisbon and checked in to see how it was all going.
How is your Portuguese?
My Portuguese is horrendous! But I know how to order a drink at the bar.
What have you learnt from the Portuguese way of living that you'll adopt and continue doing moving forwards?
The great work/life balance. Spending as much time in the sun as possible and heading to the beach as soon as the temperature goes above 14 degrees. Enjoying good food and drinks and overall enjoying life more and spending time with family and friends.