What is drive your life actually? We wanted to prove that Hybrid Work actually works – under the motto "it doesn't matter where you work, it matters how you work", we enabled 3 constellations of drivers to take a unique trip through Europe: including extraordinary encounters, technical highlights, exciting accommodations, office visits and, of course, lots of fun – without missing a single day of work. Over 1,000 applications, both external and internal, had to be screened. Deserving winners Lisa, Eric and Jennifer chronicled their experiences in our drive-your-life blog. Eight weeks of Hybrid Work in Europe, eight weeks of life-work balance. That was drive your life.
The second tour took our colleague Eric and and his 3 companions up to Northern Europe and back to Berlin. On this page you will find a summary of their experiences. Have fun reading!
...or check out straight away what Eric & our Managing Director Marcus discuss on the streets of Stockholm as well as at the Epicenter on the future of work:
"My CEO paid for my 8 week road trip" | drive your life: Eric meets Marcus
Episode 1: Lighting the Candle
There are 24 hours in a day. Right now in Norway, about 20 of those hours still have daylight… and let me tell you: One can do a lot in 20 hours of daylight.
What is the plan? Why am I in Norway? What is Drive your life? Do you want to vicariously live the highlights of the first few days? There is a 3 minute intro video for you:
Vlog 1 // The Kickoff – Working REMOTELY in Europe for 8 weeks
I arrived Monday evening after surmounting the typical last second problems one faces when relying on Deutsche Bahn these days, and found my way to the Oslo AirBnB. The host, Martin, was there to show me around a bit. The design and intrinsic comfort of the apartment struck me immediately, man, I could live here! Martin was also quite the character. I kept pointing out details, and he had a story for each one of them. He was a carpenter, making his own table and cabinets. He was a musician, with several instruments laying around and a seemingly endless stack of vinyl. He was a location scout for films, seen in photos placed on the wall here or there, and this uncanny eye for that intangible artistic vision. We hit it off immediately, and what seemed to be planned as a quick handover led to almost two hours of conversation. Eventually, he departed, but not after extending an invite to join him and his family on a boat he is restoring in a southern part of Norway, Tønsberg.
Thursday brought even more adventure – we were meeting with NORA, the Norwegian Artificial Intelligence Research Consortium. Friday evening we headed toward the Fjords for an adventurous weekend, and actually, I am writing this from the car now. But we will save these experiences for next time.
Episode 2: Keeping the Candle Lit
Vlog 2 // Mission Carpe Diem // 48 hours in Norway
Episode 3: Norway Norway Norway
We’ve met a lot of people over the last 2 weeks. It is always fun to watch people’s expressions when they find out we are on this road trip through Norway, Sweden, and Finland – they light up at the thought of it. But what really gets me is when they find out we are working full time as well! I cannot begin to tell you how many people have told me: “I wish I had your job!”, or rather they tell me how cool it is. In my head, I am just saying, ‘yes! I know, I know!’.
It really is such an opportunity, and I am certainly grateful for it. In the end, opportunities are always what we make of them. I could spend all the time in the van, or sitting in an AirBnB, and get almost nothing “extra” from this experience. I could walk around without speaking to people. There is saying: you get out when you put in; I think opportunities need to be seized, and this one, well it is a big one. Now, I am not saying I have it all figured out, but I am doing my best to figure it out!
Vlog 3 // Rondane and Jotunheimen National Parks // Cinematic Norway
Episode 4: Berries, Boats, Treehouses
With Norway in the rear-view mirror, we headed ever forward toward Gothenburg, Sweden’s 2nd largest city. It was only a 3 or 4 hour drive, which in comparison to our weekend driving extravaganzas, felt more like only a trip down to the local grocery store, or in this case, maybe the nearest IKEA.
Gothenburg is positioned on the western coast of Sweden, and as we all know, the west coast is always the best coast (sorry, California reference). If you would take a look on a map, you’d see that this coast line is peppered by archipelago. About halfway through our drive, we decided to head toward the water and see what this was all about.
We followed a mixture of google maps and intuition and ended up on a small island which proved to be full of two things: Berries, nice – and ticks, not so nice. We picked both of them, each getting its own kind of “squish”. In the end, our hands were stained, but don’t worry, it’s from the berries.
We stayed for two nights in one of the tree houses they built, complete with a rope-bridge and a terrace overlooking the forest. Every detail of urnatur was planned, inspired by some connection, deeper meaning, or a general aesthetic appeal.
We spent most of our time on or near the lake, switching from canoe to standup paddle board to simply floating around. A few other groups were there, all from Sweden, and all equally amazed by the experience. Here is a short video showcasing our time there, the story continues after that:
Vlog 4 // Life in a treehouse // Urnatur, Sweden
Episode 5: Filling the Cup
Vlog 5 // Stockholm City Top Sights and Sounds
After a journey there, we met for dinner with some of the brilliant minds behind it all: Hannes Sjöbald, Linus Kaasik, Malin Nyström, as well as a brilliant mind of ours: Martin Czerba. It was a wonderful evening, and the conversations varied from e-commerce to the metaverse to implantable chips and biohacking to synthetic data to God, philosophy, religion, and politics. This type of energy only seemed to build rather than diffuse over the next days.
Episode 6: Island Hopping
Åland is an autonomous island group, once Sweden, now officially Finland, that resides between the two. If you're more of a visual person, check out the video!
Vlog 6 // Exploring the Åland Islands in Finland
Episode 7: drive your life? What a ride...
The hop over to the mainland Finland from Åland turned out to be more a long, long swim. If we did indeed sail to Helsinki, we had over 10 hours to go; we cut this a bit shorter by heading to Turku, and making a 2 hour drive at a much more moderate 130kph.
Fede and I had two things on our agenda for the (late) evening:
1) Visit Jaakko and Aino, a Finnish couple who I had met during my PhD time. We had already spent 2 weeks together in Finland for a workshop on TMS-EEG (look it up, I dare you!)
2) Pick up Juan from the airport
The problem was that after dealing with potentially the most inefficient ferry-boat exiting ever, we were 1 hour later than planned. So, our short visit became ever shorter, and after a quick 10 minute hello, we arrived at the airport to fetch Juan. Fede had to be back at the airport the next morning at 6am, and dropping her off signified the closing of the 2nd leg of the trip.
Vlog 7 // Living the Dream in Helsinki
The co-working hub itself was stationed in an old brick building, 4 or 5 floors in total. In contrast to places like Epicenter Stockholm, MOW did not really have the smaller work areas or breakout stations that are handy when you need to take a meeting, but it is more structured around open work areas, or office spaces that scale-up companies might be renting. In any case, we enjoyed our time there and also enjoyed the unlimited popcorn.
But what would a final weekend be without juuuuust one more adventure...?
The sun eventually set, as will this trip. But like the sunshine before the sunset, and the sunrise still to come, this trip has been enriching, sometimes over-brimming with life and connections and memories, and without a doubt will shape my vision for the days to come.
So, one more thank you, for this tremendous gift of opportunity, for arranging the parts – and for being part – of yet another beautiful symphony in this song of life.