Team and Travel: How sharing a home helps this company bond

by Gillian Morris

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Normally, people who start companies don’t get to travel. Travel is expensive, complicated, distracting, a luxury—or so the conventional wisdom goes. But Hitlist isn’t a conventional company. We started as a college student, a social-network contractor, and an amateur coder. The team lived across three different countries, knew the pains of being hundreds of miles apart, yet found ways to get together. Our experience led us to build an app that helps people find affordable flights around the world. As we scaled the company and traveled the world, we spent a lot of time staying in Airbnbs– it was a huge inspiration for us. I listed my apartment on Airbnb and hosted guests from around the world, as well. We even wrote the first lines of code for Hitlist in my Istanbul apartment, overlooking the Bosphorus.

Staying in Airbnbs started as a practical choice but then became embedded in our company culture. Everywhere we traveled, we found eager and gracious hosts. They made our team feel comfortable and welcome, gave us great tips about the city, and offered flexibility we couldn’t get elsewhere. In Malmö, Sweden, our host pointed us to a coworking space where our team worked in a conference room free of charge. In Jordaan, a trendy district in Amsterdam, we even got to stay with a kitten.

In our most recent trip to New York for a Hackathon, our Airbnb was a refuge from the busy weekend of coding. The host let us check in early to catch some sleep before work. When Monday rolled around, we took a day to recover. The local Union Square Greenmarket was full of fresh fruits and vegetables. After a weekend of quick meals, we loved cooking ourselves a healthy meal.

Since we work remote, when we come together it’s crucial to make the most of that time. When we share a home during our work trips, it facilitates a type of bonding that’s missed by not sharing an office and seeing each other every day. We cook meals together, we browse through episodes of our favorite show and choose what to watch before bed, and we even compare who has the most fashionable socks padding around the house in the morning. We’d miss that type of bonding if we didn’t stay under one roof together. Our way of bonding isn’t the textbook corporate way to bond with your teammates. But then again, if we cared about being a conventional company, we never would have started.

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