5 Questions for Sandra

Sandra Kade

Another new team member joined us last year! It is long overdue to introduce her to you. We want to do that right now. We’re happy to announce that Sandra Jurema Kade has been our Content Marketing Manager since September 1, filling in for Lea Schilling during her parental leave. She herself is also just coming out of parental leave. Before that, she worked in a completely different field. For the past 14 years, she has worked as a freelance final editor and translator. She used her parental leave after the birth of her twin girls to reorient herself and is now looking forward to combining what she has learned in years of experience with her newly acquired knowledge. Sounds exciting! What role Brazil and rhubarb spritzer play in her life and how long she has known Picalike, you can find out in the following 5 questions we asked her.

Sandra Kade

Tell us something about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies?

I’ll have to elaborate a bit: I was born in Germany, but grew up in Brazil in the Amazon region. When I was 17, I came back to Germany to finish high school at a boarding school in Lower Saxony before going to Rostock to study. Since graduating, I now live back in Hamburg, my birthplace.

I love DIY, yoga and baking/cooking. Unfortunately my hobbies are a bit short right now since the twins are born, but as soon as I have some more time I’ll bring over some cupcakes, I promise!

What about your new responsibilities are you most looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to showing Picalike, its great products and how work is done here to others on a regular basis, to inform others about it and also about so much more. I have known the company since its inception and am very excited to be a part of it now.

When you look back in six months, what do you hope to see?

That I could reach and pick up the recipients with the choice of topics for newsletters, blog posts, etc. and with the elaboration of the topics. And maybe even got a few returns.

Are you more of a home office or office type?

Kind of both, although a bit more of a home office guy than an office guy. I like working from home, because I can sort laundry or clean out the dishwasher at the Writer’s Block, where I’m guaranteed to come up with another idea that I can then sit down to, fortified with a fresh cup of coffee. But I also like to work in the office with other people, because the exchange can also be very inspiring, and I then also feel closer to the action. (Yes, I know that through Slack etc. you are always fully involved, even from home, but I still find the personal presence at the scene of the action a tad closer 🙂 )

What would be your favorite drink when meeting with work colleagues after work and why?

Since the twins are still so small, definitely a rhubarb spritzer, which is very refreshing after all, or a decaffeinated latte macchiato with oat milk. But if I didn’t have little babies now, it would definitely be a wine spritzer, my absolute after-work drink: fresh, sparkling and very delicious taste. Then white or rosĂ©, depending on the mood.

Then we’ll soon be down here at the Betahaus cafĂ© for a quick decaffeinated latte macchiato with oat milk and hope you have some muffins with you, too.

Our review of the year 2020

JahresrĂŒckblick

What a year is coming to an end! It could hardly be more extraordinary. I myself have only been at Picalike since September, and even though I’ve known this company for a while, I wondered how my colleagues felt about the year here with all its special features. On the one hand, there was the switch to a home office, then the move to Betahaus and also the start of the pilot phase of OnSight Analytics – to name just a few topics. What challenges did you face? What were we happy about? I asked my colleagues from various departments about this and much more. Our review of the year 2020!

Sebastian Kielmann

2020 was an exciting year for Picalike: office move, many new hires, and OnSight Analytics was developed to the point where the pilot phase is now in full swing! How did the development of OSA begin?

The idea for OSA came to us in 2018 when we were thinking about how to combine all the capabilities of our systems into one simple and intelligent solution. The goal was and is that Market Intelligence, with our AI and image recognition, automatically detects and reports relevant events – including recommendations for action.

What was your most difficult task this year ?
Our move in the middle of the lockdown. But Betahaus supported us very much with their flexibility, my wife and two friends were there energetically and helped me with the move. All the other hard tasks were made much easier than I expected because of the help and assistance of the team.

What were you most pleased about as far as OSA and CTL were concerned?
Definitely about the feedback from the first users and customers. The first onboardings were exciting. We eagerly awaited the first feedbacks. They were consistently positive, with many constructive and interesting requests and suggestions for adjustments.

And what about everything else around it?
I was very happy about the support from partners and customers and about the cohesion of the team this year.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
The further expansion of OSA through new ideas, suggestions and requests from our partners and the team. And to a new version of our AI and image recognition.

What do you wish for in 2021?
A steady decline to normality, also good health and success for all of us.

Julius Lange

You had several big challenges this year. On the one hand, developing Complete the Look further so that creating Looks became easier and faster, and on the other hand, redeveloping OnSight Analytics. What was the biggest challenge?
The biggest challenge was (and is) exactly that: to maintain (and improve) existing systems in parallel with building a completely new system from scratch. Especially since we had in mind all the points that needed improvement in the previous system, and at the same time wanted to improve existing speed benchmarks.

And what was the most exciting part?
The most exciting phase for me was when we had to evaluate different technologies for our requirements. At that point, there was a lot of prototyping, a lot of new things to learn and, of course, always the hope of finding an even better / faster / more suitable system.

What were you most excited about at CTL or OSA?
I think for all of us the joy is greatest at the moment when the product is ready for the market and the first contracts with customers are signed. We have been steadily approaching this point and now it is within reach.

And what were you particularly pleased about as far as Picalike is concerned?
I am very pleased with the new colleagues and how we have managed this difficult year together, especially since some colleagues left us at the beginning of the year. So it wasn’t a given that the team dynamic would continue as I appreciate it.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Overall, I’m looking forward to the product maturity of OSA. On the one hand, it will be a large, completed project, which is always a very satisfying feeling for me. On the other hand, it then clears the way for new exciting tasks.

What do you wish for 2021?
For 2021, I would of course like to have more real contact with colleagues. I would also be very happy if the team continued to grow. And I’d like us to use the lessons we’ve learned from this year in terms of home office and other work structures, even if normal working becomes possible again. But I’m very optimistic about that.

Projektmanager

In our conversation about your first year at Picalike, we’ve already learned a lot about your challenges in 2020 (if you haven’t read the interview yet, you can find it here). But what do you say has been your biggest challenge this year?
Bringing the very wild form of agile working at Picalike into more organized channels, although it was partly new territory for myself. Challenge accepted and successfully completed, even though the work in the field never really stops.

In which area did you learn the most?
About the practical implementation of the different agile project management methods from Kanban to Scrum to XP and a bit more. And, that I unexpectedly had a lot of prior knowledge in this area due to my previous work experience and my studies, even if they call things differently there.

What were you most pleased about?
About the fact that the team accepted me with gratitude and that I’m not just some annoying project manager who was just thrown in front of everyone. There were no power struggles whatsoever, just very attentive cooperation. That is certainly not something that can be taken for granted.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
Going to the broad market with our new baby “OSA” and hopefully gaining lots of satisfied users. For me, that would be another confirmation that we are not only a great team, but also produce another relevant product alongside CTL.

What do you wish for in 2021?
Apart from all the things you want for a successful product, satisfied customers, and a unique team, I would like to see us living in a time when our boss cooks for our entire team in the office on Fridays and our colleagues simply chill out together after work with a drink in the Schanze.

Franziska Weiß

2020 was also an exciting year for your division, as you are the personal support for the pilot partners and also the contact person for our customers, no matter where the shoe pinches. What was your biggest challenge this year?
For me, as I’m sure for many, this year has been very crazy and difficult to plan. I think my biggest challenge was to find out how well our customers were coping with the whole situation and to help them as much as I could, even if it was just to listen to their concerns.

Which customer concern have you learned the most from?
It’s hard to say, I learn something from every conversation, every problem and every request. However, I think I’m currently learning the most from the requirements of our new tool, how different our customers are, and how I need to be even more specific about individual use cases.

What feedback were you most pleased with?
We have received very nice feedback from our customer Witt Weiden from various people 🙂 For example, they have praised the fact that we are a very reliable partner with whom they can implement their wishes quickly and in a goal-oriented manner. And what makes me personally very happy, of course, is when I read that our customers are very happy with the communication and the way we deal with them!

And what were you particularly happy about as far as Picalike is concerned?
What I was particularly happy about, or still am, is that we were able to launch the pilot phase of our new tool OnSight Analytics this year. The phase we are currently going through together as a team is exciting.

What are you looking forward to in 2021?
I’m looking forward to all the ideas and suggestions from our customers that will help us develop our product further. But also, in general, to the good cooperation and nice conversations I will have 🙂 .

What do you wish for 2021?
Most of all, of course, I wish that our customers are satisfied with our technology and service. But also that our mentioned new tool develops well and offers a great added value to our customers as well as potential customers, so that all the diligence is rewarded by the team.

1 year project manager at Picalike

Projektmanager

A little over a year ago, the picalike team decided that they would like to have a project manager. Since then, a lot has happened: internal restructuring, a spontaneous switch to 90 percent mobile working due to Corona, and a move to betahaus Hamburg. It’s exciting to hear what this challenging time was like for Maik Kade.

Projektmanager

Hey Maik, phew, how time flies! You've been a project manager with us for a year now. What was your best experience during this time?

A year goes by really fast. It’s hard for me to find a single, most beautiful experience. From a professional point of view, certainly that after only 3 months I was told by C.E.O.. Sebastian told me that he almost regretted not having brought me on board as project manager some time before. For me, as a career changer, this was very reassuring, as it gave me the confirmation that I had become well acquainted with my new area of responsibility and that it was something I could do. Overall, though, it’s more like I’m happy to be part of the picalike family every day.

A lot has changed since you started here. What change/new feature are you most excited about?

I am especially happy that together we have managed to build a very agile framework for our development team, which works hand in hand in collaboration with all other stakeholders. The agile idea has certainly always been a part of picalike, but in the last year we have managed to bring this hidden diamond in the rough out of our soil and give it the right polish.

You mainly coordinate the development teams. What are the biggest challenges? And how do you master them?

For me, the biggest hurdle was that I am a linguist and former lecturer, and the technical side, the know-how of a development team, was and sometimes still is something I know little about. How do you master the task of assisting a team with project management when you yourself have no say at all on the technical level? By taking a deep breath and realizing that such in-depth knowledge is not at all necessary for my job, even if I personally don’t like it from time to time because I would like to understand everything. But that is not what my job as a project manager is about.

I see myself as the symbolic grease in the gears. When everything is going well, I’m hardly noticed at all. But in order to keep everything running smoothly, it’s important that everyone knows what the others are doing, what they can do, and where help may be needed. So it’s all about communication.

I enable and encourage communication. I always have an open ear for everyone, even for private matters. Employees are people, not machines. I am present in almost all planning meetings: often as a moderator, sometimes as a mediator, and again and again I like to be the person in the company who, for example, is allowed to ask the “stupid” questions in commit meetings. Just the questions that a specialist sometimes doesn’t ask, but which can nevertheless reveal problems and solutions. My lack of knowledge occasionally forces the team to change their perspective.

Furthermore, knowledge exchange and documentation are two areas of communication that are elementary for a development team. In our company, knowledge and documentation are not hoarded individually, but as a collective treasure that has to be gathered together. But this has to be organized, it should not be boring and, above all, it should not be time-consuming. As a didact, I am challenged to find the best way to do this.

After your first few months, the Corona pandemic hit Germany, a very challenging time for project managers... How was the transition to a home office handled?

Surprisingly, this was less challenging in our case than we had all assumed. Before the pandemic started, we had a very soft version of remote working. There were some who worked remotely one day a week or every two weeks. But otherwise, we were always in the office. However, since we had been looking for a new location since the beginning of the year, there were always slight thoughts of working more remotely.

When the pandemic broke out, Sebastian, our CEO, asked us openly how we wanted to deal with the situation. Everyone was in favor of mobile working, at least for now. The basic requirements were there: every employee already had a laptop and accessories. It was just clarified whether anyone needed anything special still for the home office, such as office chairs. We are a small, very dynamic team that, by the very nature of our products, is used to constantly adapting to changing situations.

I think we can count ourselves among the lucky few whose workday may have actually gotten better as a result of the pandemic, and who probably won’t want to and won’t go back to their old workday even after it’s over. That is quite a privilege for which I am more than grateful.

Thank you very much for the interview and your always open ear. I hope you continue to enjoy your work here at Picalike!

Picalike and the betahaus Hamburg

betahaus Hamburg

From our preppy, conservative offices with conference room and kitchen, where almost once a week our boss cooked for the whole team, we moved to betahaus Hamburg in the summer. Several reasons led to this. Now we are very happy about it, as this super flexible way of working fits so much better to our spirit. You could already get a small impression of it in our article “Our new office”, but now I would like to introduce betahaus to you in more detail and tell you about the philosophy behind it. In Hamburg, betahaus operates betahaus in Sternschanze and since 2019 “finhaven by betahaus” in Hafencity. We are in the Schanze.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 2

©Janine Meyer Photography

The building

In very simple terms, betahaus is a co-working space founded in 2010. The 2500 square meters are spread over 4 floors, with about 34 offices in different sizes (for 4 to 8 employees), 4 areas with several tables for flexible working (flex spaces), small kitchens, 10 phone boxes, 3 workshop rooms, 6 meeting rooms, a cafĂ© and a lounge. In addition, betahaus 1 offers remote studio for podcast, green screen and webinar productions, underground parking, separate bicycle parking, ramps and toilet for wheelchair users and a terrace. Space for meet-ups and evening events is also offered here. So, a lot of space where you can work even if you don’t necessarily want to sit in your own office. Or if there are more team members on site than can fit in the office.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 3

The Community

You can feel the vibe here in the hallways, where you meet freelancers as well as teams from startups or smaller companies. Until recently, there was even a midwifery practice here. Here, you never know what field your counterpart is in, as the members are very cross-industry. The work is concentrated, but at the same time there is a lot of exchange – whether in the Slack channel, in the cafĂ©, at the foosball table, in yoga classes or in the coffee kitchen. Sometimes in chance encounters, sometimes in planned meetings. And that was also the original idea: Instead of every freelancer sitting at his/her desk at home while the ceiling falls on his/her head or he/she easily gets lonely, which is the main problem of lone fighters working alone at home, he/she can work here in a professional environment. In addition, he/she is integrated into an active community.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 4

©Janine Meyer Photography

Teelke Meyer, Head of Community Management at betahaus, described it very aptly: “It’s like having colleagues but no boss. Colleagues you choose yourself.” And of course, it’s also about networking, finding contacts with whom you can exchange ideas, who inspire you, and whom you can help out yourself. As the slogan on the homepage says, “The community makes the difference. Every man for himself was yesterday.” In general, the exchange of knowledge is very important here. For example, if a member gets stuck, he or she is welcome to post a question in the Slack channel. Given the great diversity of the members, someone will (almost) always/often have an answer. In general, it’s easy to find people here who you can ask for something, whether it’s a charging cable or specialist advice.Teelke Meyer, “I’ve always wanted to work somewhere where I come home smarter in the evening than when I left in the morning. Where I learn simply by having gone to work. I got that here at betahaus.”

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 5

©Janine Meyer Photography

You quickly feel welcome here, as the betahaus management attaches great importance to getting to know each individual personally. However, you also get to know each other at an onboarding or during the betahaus tour. In addition, there are happenings such as the beta breakfast (which is open to the public and can be attended by anyone) and the beta lunch, although this is only for the beta house community.

The own workplace

What the workplace looks like for you personally depends entirely on your own preferences. The four memberships offered by Betahaus are very different. The first is the Club membership, which includes the Flexdesk area, community events, global roaming, opening hours (Mon – Fri | 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.) and a 10% discount on drinks at the bar. Next is the Professional membership with Flexdesk Open Space, Community Events, Global Roaming, 24/7 access, 5 conference room hours per month, locker, mailbox, premium space and community rates at events.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 6

©Janine Meyer Photography

The Fixed Desk Membership includes a dedicated, fixed workspace, community events, global roaming, 24/7 access, 5 conference room hours per month, locker, mailbox, community kitchen, and community pricing at events. And last but not least, Team Office Membership: self-contained office with 4 to 8 workstations, fully furnished, community events, global roaming, 24/7 access, conference room hours, mailbox, premium space, community pricing at events.

Picalike und das betahaus Hamburg 7

©Franziska Weiß

For us, this working environment is just perfect, as we have the advantages of our own office with a few fixed desks, postal address, kitchen and conference room. But it’s a smaller office, because that’s all we need, since most of the time we work in our home office. And when we are all on site at the same time, which happens twice a month, we enjoy the conference in the large arena, the cozy get-together in the cafĂ© and the concentrated work in the well-equipped flex areas, where we can sit together as we wish.

As Betahaus says so well? You’ll never work alone!

F#ing 10 years already gone

10 Years Picalike
Sebastian Kielmann

A review by Sebastian Kielmann, CEO Picalike GmbH

The idea

Almost exactly 20 years ago, I switched from research on text indexing and search to image analysis and feature extraction. I was attracted by the fact that images are language-independent and rarely have duplicate meanings. When I first started working on image analysis, I mentioned this to my boss at the time, who had a PhD in physics. His reaction to this was decisive for the 20 years that followed: he said that what I was trying to do was not feasible. There was no Arxiv.org at that time, AI was not very popular, GPUs were not really used for matrix multiplication yet and corresponding papers from research were hard to get if you had an extremely slow line in deepest Walldorf / Wiesloch like me.

But where there’s a will, there’s a way… It was then that I realized how open and willing to share the research community was. There was no Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or anything like that. For me, that time doesn’t seem so long ago, but my kids can hardly imagine such a world. Conversations and exchanges were through conventions or mailing groups. For those who have also been analyzing images for a while: Open-CV was just getting started at that point.

I was researching image analysis ⎌ as a hobby on the side ⎌ and studying management and marketing, working in e-commerce or consulting. Then I met Dr. Tilo Höpker during a flight and we became friends. Over a meal together, I presented my idea to him: a recommendation technology whose basis would come from data from product images, rather than from texts. The idea had come to me because I was working on a product search engine at the time and saw how much erroneous data there was in the product feeds and how much information about the product was missing, even though everyone could see it, based on the product image.

Tilo thought the idea was great, would also jump right in to start a company that offered that. But he wanted to get a second opinion. At the next meeting, Daniel Raschke, who has since become a good friend of mine, was also present. We didn’t know each other at that point, but we were immediately on the same wavelength. The three of us started Picalike GmbH in October 2010. 10 years ago now.

The Start

F#ing 10 Jahre schon vorbei 3
Our first logo

My first lesson was that primarily a market has to be ready for a technology, not the technology has to be ready for the market. Anyone who has ever had to bring a technological product to market knows what I mean. I’m not a born sales guy, like to avoid people and crowds, don’t want to be in the spotlight, and talk a lot about the technology and too little about the benefit. But anyone who founds a start-up also has to take care of sales. The first customers were found quickly. Fashionhype.com and weare.de quickly went from customers to development partners and then friends and part of the family.

F#ing 10 Jahre schon vorbei 4

Our first office in Frankenstraße

In addition to the pure data from the images, customer behavior and correlation among products, as well as filtering by all data about the product, were soon included to provide even better recommendations. Similarity Recommendation (similarity detection, like “similar items”) was then joined by Complete-the-Look Recommendation (outfit recommendation, like “this goes with that”). For us, as for any startup, the time quickly began when you have to do a balancing act between customer support and further development. Not every customer needs the same thing, and we were a fine but still small team. During the day I helped with customer support, in the afternoon I pitched Picalike wherever I could, and in the evenings there was further development. There were days when I thought we were going to take the next giant step (technologically or revenue-wise) and there were days when I wondered if it was really a good idea to leave a secure job. I don’t regret taking the leap into self-employment, but there are many things I would do differently today.

One day my phone rang (it was a Hansenet line back then, who remembers it?).

F#ing 10 Jahre schon vorbei 5

One of our first home

It was a young guy from the OTTO Group who had read an article in the Chamber of Commerce magazine. We talked and he did some intros on OTTO.de, Bonprix, Shopping24 and others. This gave me the opportunity to introduce our technology to the big players. This phone call was crucial for the next 9 years. I presented not only to the aforementioned companies, but also to the OTTO Group itself, which decided to invest in us. Before signing the shareholder agreement, we had resolved that when it was signed, we would all go mega partying. We had wild ideas about parties at the Doll House on the Reeperbahn or about organizing a big private party. And then this: after the signing, everyone went home, went to bed, slept for a few hours and the next morning the work started all over again.

“After the game is before the game”

In no time, we assembled a highly motivated team, moved to a larger office and invested in marketing, product development and research. We quickly grew from a handful of customers to dozens of customers, opened an office in the US (first SF and then moved to NY), started partnerships with prestigious companies, and were pleased with the growing interest. Everything was looking good. We grew, new clients came in, became more and more international and had very exciting projects and cases in mind with us.

F#ing 10 Jahre schon vorbei 6

One of our legendary summer parties

 

As time went on, we noticed that the momentum of our growth was slowing down. Projects were getting more complex, budgets were getting smaller, competition was getting more diverse. Our approach of “customer request -> research -> project -> product” was showing its weaknesses. We had to admit to ourselves that research is fun, but not so easy to scale financially. And so we analyzed the weaknesses of our business model, the strengths of our team and system, and went for a start-up within the start-up. In other words, a soft opening.

“A few steps back for the run-up”

F#ing 10 Jahre schon vorbei 7

Our current home

Welcome to the world of Portfolio Analysis 🙂 Through several analyses, we realized that we were too dependent on the availability of technical resources at our clients, that we needed to create a quick and easy entry point into our Picalike world, and that we needed to deliver demonstrable, repeatable value to our clients. Thus, we started with multiple A/B tests, case studies, surveys, interviews, and new positions within the team. It was also important that research remained a high priority in our day-to-day. With the help of our customers, partners and the team, we started the development of OnSight analytics. The planned development time was half a year. However, reality is not a good friend of planning: two years later, we launched the open beta. Some challenges were bigger than expected, the day-to-day business could never be neglected, and we had to learn a lot from our pilot partners. But from the beginning we had committed ourselves not to compromise on quality, even if it would take longer, and we still stand by that. Even at a time when Corona has changed all our lives.

The last few months have been like the first few months: a lot of ups and downs. Moods of optimism followed by setbacks. But what remains is that in the last 10 years no day has been like the other, many stories have been written, we have learned a lot, and now for the next 10 years we want to continue to learn and put into practice what we have already learned.

Thank you to the team for the incredible support and loyalty, to our clients for the great and always exciting collaboration, and to everyone else we have met along the way over the last 10 years for enriching our lives and shaping our path.

Stay healthy and take part in the next stages of our journey.
Many greetings
Sebastian Kielmann

5 Questions for Timo

Timo Schulz

We would like to warmly welcome another new team member. Although, he is not completely new. Timo has been part of our team before, at the very beginning from 2013 to 2017. Now, at the beginning of this year, he joined us again for a few months as an external. He obviously enjoyed it: instead of accepting a new offer from a large company afterwards, he decided to rather support SMEs during this time and continue the ongoing project. Working with old acquaintances also had its appeal. So Picalike became an attractive employer for him again and he returned to the team – as a permanent member! It goes without saying that we are very happy about this.

Timo Schulz

Dear Timo, you are not a newcomer at Picalike, but a comebacker, which we are very happy about! Nevertheless, most of the team doesn’t know you from the “early days of Picalike”. Therefore we would like to ask you a few questions. Tell us something about you. Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies?

I was born and raised in a small town near Hamburg. I often spend my free time cycling or hiking. I also collect classic sci-fi literature and comics. If there’s still time left, I’m tinkling at the keyboard to further develop my AI recommendation system for movies, because movies are also one of my passions, and of course AI.

What has changed about your tasks at Picalike? What did you do before, what do you do now?

Even though I was hired with a focus on Machine Learning + Software Engineering back then, working in a young startup naturally means that the areas of responsibility are quite diverse. And since I was lucky enough to contribute knowledge from many different areas, I was able to help on many fronts. Almost everything probably sums it up quite well, there would be classic software development, building an AI environment, DevOps and also customer support. Today, my job is a bit more narrowly defined, but one thing I have in common is that I need knowledge from different areas, which is of benefit to me. In English, it’s probably “Jack of all Trades”, which is also what I put down as an activity in my LinkedIn profile.

When you look back in six months, what do you hope to see?

That we’ve come a long way, that the work is bearing fruit, the company is growing and thriving, and that our customers find the new products as fragrant and useful as we do.

Are you more of a home office or office type?

5 Fragen an Timo 3

At that time Timo was already part of the team: Christmas 2013

It depends. In the good old days, I already found it relaxing to pursue my work at home on Fridays in a concentrated manner and without many distractions. In general, I find home office useful when it comes to working on tasks that require little or no consultation with other colleagues. Otherwise, I appreciate the contact with the other picalingen, also because there are otherwise no “coffee kitchen synergies” and ideas in the home office can also be discussed less efficiently.

We’ve been told that you have an outstanding expertise in the art of brewing, you were even once a “beer commissioner” at Picalike. What would be your drink of choice when meeting with work colleagues after work and why?

It’s impossible to give a blanket answer here, because the appropriate drink depends on the person, the time and the place. Indeed, it is difficult to find the right beer for one person and for a group it is almost impossible, as tastes are very individual. An easy entry and best suited for a beer after work is a Helles, as it is mildly hopped, thus not very bitter and tremendously drinkable. But to be more specific, at a Christmas party, the Sweet Seduction worked well because the beer is comparable to an aperitif, so smaller glasses can be used, which lowers the barrier to tasting, and thanks to the honey, the complexity of the beer becomes a bit more manageable for the novice palate due to the sweetness.

Who knows, maybe there will be an opportunity to do a little beer tasting sometime. I, for example, would definitely like to try the Sweet Seduction. Who knows, maybe one or two of the team will find a new favorite drink there!

Great to have you back!

Home office, mobile working – what am I actually doing?

Home-Office, mobiles Arbeiten – was mache ich eigentlich?

Home-Office, mobiles Arbeiten - was mache ich eigentlich? 2

A little green inspires! © Franziska White

Time and time again, I find myself talking about home office. “Right now we’re working in a home office.” Or, “Home office is great, I can work on the balcony sometimes.” But doesn’t home office literally just mean a home office? In Corona days, most of us were quickly sent to the home office to minimize the risk of contagion. But is that the right term now? My husband and I have been working from home for a few months now. Since I only work part-time, he sits in the den and I work where our one-year-old girls aren’t being babied at the moment. He also needs a neat, tidy workspace to be able to concentrate. I, on the other hand, like to wander flexibly through the apartment and look for the place where I feel most comfortable. Am I perhaps practicing mobile working? Or is being at home enough to call it a home office? What is behind these designations? That’s what I wanted to find out, and I found out that, unlike mobile working, home office does indeed have some fixed rules.

What exactly is home office?

According to labor law, the home office in Germany is defined as follows: It is a computer workstation permanently set up by the employer. And it is not permanently set up until the employer and employee have defined the conditions in an agreement and the equipment for the home office has been provided by the employer and installed on site. In addition, there is a risk assessment in which the working conditions and the workplace are examined on site. To do this, the employee must give written consent for outside experts to enter the home and inspect the workplace. An alternative to this is for the employee to inform the employer about the specific layout of his or her workplace and to agree on the details of the furnishings.

The provisions for the home office

In addition to the hazards associated with a normal office workplace in a company, the assessment should also consider the hazards associated with a home office. There is a whole range of regulations on this. I analyzed my own workstation based on these criteria to see if it might even be suitable for a home office:

  • It must have sufficient space for changing working postures and movements.
  • Display devices are positioned so that the surface is free of annoying reflections and glare.
  • Work tables must have a low-reflection surface and be set up so that the surfaces are free of annoying reflections when working.
  • The work surface must be large enough to allow variable arrangement of all items required for work, such as keyboard, mouse, pens and notepads. In addition, the work surface in front of the keyboard must allow the heels of the hands to be placed on it.
  • When working in a home office, data security must also be ensured through a data protection/IT security concept. But this also includes lockable cabinets, logging into the Internet only via VPN or tunnel solutions, and not keeping passwords freely accessible. What was new for me was that printouts with company information have no place at home in the wastebasket in the home office.

The requirements for the employee

Home-Office, mobiles Arbeiten - was mache ich eigentlich? 3

Unfortunately my dining table sometimes dazzles ©Sandra Kade

Unfortunately, I can’t meet all these criteria. For example, my dining table is white, so the surface is a bit dazzling between 1 and 5 p.m. on sunny days. But my employer has equipped me with a laptop, mouse, etc., so nothing stands in the way of good work. So, theoretically, I could even do home office, if only I would always work in the same place and it would be separated like my husband’s study. But the fact is, I just work flexibly at the place where it just fits (if it’s for childcare, also at my parents) or where I feel best (gladly also on the balcony). But I still meet the most important requirement for mobile working: I stay in Germany! Because yes, you have to stay in Germany if you are also allowed to leave your home. Despite all these differences, working from home, whether in a home office or mobile working, does have some things in common, such as the requirements for the employee.

  • The employee must adhere to normal working hours, because both home office and mobile working simply involve working at a different location. The work must therefore be performed to exactly the same extent and quality as if sitting in the office.
  • However, this also implies that the employee observes his break times. There is often a tendency to simply eat something at the computer, which then leads to breaks being ignored.This brings us straight to the dangers of home office or, in my case, mobile working from home.

Dangers of home office/mobile working from home

Personally, I’m very happy about the opportunity to work from home, because my children are not yet in daycare and I therefore need less childcare than I would if the time for the round trip and lunch break were added to the working hours. Even though it’s hard not to jump into the living room with them when one is crying or to sit at the computer and ignore them banging on the room door. Nevertheless, this is not the perfect model for everyone and this form of working also has its pitfalls. One source of danger, for example, is working on regular chairs, but they weren’t built for sitting at a desk for hours on end. This lack of ergonomic adjustment can lead to physical strain on the muscles and skeleton, which can also trigger headaches.

However, it is not uncommon for working from home to also pose a psychological burden due to the lack of spatial and temporal separation between personal life and workspace. And we don’t want to forget the previously mentioned danger, which may please the employer somewhat and will vote more positively for home office, namely the frequent forgetting of breaks and the increased overtime, which is often worked because an e-mail is answered briefly on the side, etc.

mobiles Arbeiten Betahaus

Socializing at betahaus Hamburg ©Franziska Weiß

Nevertheless, most employees see working at home as an opportunity and are happy about the trust placed in them. Thus, they often work overtime precisely to prove that they are hardworking and not lazily on the couch having a marathon series. Another factor that influences whether one is successful in the home office is conscientiousness. In Wirtschaftswoche, Conny Herbert Antoni, an industrial and organizational psychologist at the University of Trier, explains: “There are consistent correlations between a person’s conscientiousness and successful home office. If I’m conscientious, it also means I do what I set out to do.” Which sometimes means working overtime, or working with a cold instead of taking a sick leave.

In a report by AOK, the health insurance company found that home office employees were less likely to call in sick. On the other hand, they were more likely to report psychological problems such as anger, self-doubt and sleep disturbances, which may indicate a lack of boundaries. But also a lack of social interaction. Because if you’re otherwise annoyed with a coworker, you can deal with him in the office, vent to other colleagues, or simply try to get rid of the anger on the way home. But all of these options are no longer available. This leads to the biggest problem with the home office: For many, social contacts at work are very important and they fear isolation due to working from home. Conny Herbert Antoni said in Wirtschaftswoche: “Personality factors influence how well someone copes with the home office. There is evidence that people who are very socially oriented don’t like to be alone as much and can be less productive as a result.” These people also need to be picked up at corona times, especially with involuntary home office/mobile working.

Ways to counteract these dangers

At Picalike, we are very lucky that both our boss and our project manager are very concerned with these dangers and try to counteract the psychological disadvantages of the home office in many different ways. For one thing, we have a fixed appointment in the office where we meet there every other week and report on what we’re currently dealing with, what we’re doing, and simply see each other live once in a while. We also have a chat roulette, which is, so to speak, our substitute for the chat in the coffee kitchen, which it can’t replace completely, but at least a little bit. In the morning, we draw lots to determine who should make a call with whom about a topic that is completely detached from work during the course of the day. Then you make an appointment and most of the time it turns into a conversation about God and the world.

Every few weeks we also do a survey about how we are doing, what our expectations and wishes are. And last but not least, we have the opportunity to work in the office whenever we want. The seats are free, coffee and water are available and you can also see in the weekly schedule which of your colleagues will also be there. And if it gets a bit too crowded in the office, you can switch to one of the large co-working spaces or the Betahaus café.

My conclusion

Home-Office, mobiles Arbeiten - was mache ich eigentlich? 4

Tidy workplace of my husband ©Sandra Kade

As my research progressed, it became more and more clear to me that my husband actually works in a home office. He sits at his desk in our study every day with all his equipment. He has a perfectly equipped workstation with laptop, screen, printer, scanner, an extra stool against back pain, the door is lockable, all danger zones like cables lying around have been removed. I, on the other hand, work on the move, flexibly sitting down wherever I can work best, and after a hard night’s sleep, that can also be at the kitchen table next to the coffee machine with a mountain of cookies.

Your Sandra Kade

ItÂŽs still running? A status update after 6 months in the home office

6 Monate im Home-Office
6 Monate im Home-Office

6 month home office

Who would have thought that in March of this year? Back then, everything was still fresh, everything new (as reported here). It felt good to work from home. Finally in comfortable clothes, without long commutes, just throwing the laundry in the washing machine during my lunch break. A whole new attitude to life.

But how are we doing today? What has become of this supposed fulfillment of work-life balance? After more than 6 months in the home office, do we still feel as good as we did at the beginning of the Corona crisis? What has changed? How much do we miss the office routine and why do we suddenly no longer hoard toilet paper, but completely different things?

After half a year of “working from home”, we asked a few selected Picalike employees questions about their well-being and their work situation in the home office, and these are their answers:

Franziska is our Customer Success Manager and looks after existing customers at Picalike

Franziska Weiß
Franzi im Home Office

Franzi in the Home Office

 

If you don’t hoard toilet paper anymore, what do you have in abundance in the house now?

Phew, nothing really. We go shopping once or twice a week and get what we need. I don’t have the space at home to hoard anything.

Best book/audiobook/series/movie/video game/board game/podcast you discovered in the last months?

Series I could list many here now, but my favorites include:

The Handmaid’s Tale and Dark. Board games and community games I’m a fan of Wizard, but you need 3 people for that, which was of course difficult at the beginning of Corona. I could go on forever, but I think that’s enough.

It’s been a good 6 months now that we all don’t see each other every day in the office, but only every 2 weeks in a joint meeting. How do you feel today? Has your emotional state changed since the beginning of March?

I still feel very comfortable, as I have also gotten used to the situation and I like working in the home office.

Has anything changed in your workplace?

Yes, actually. Since working in the kitchen was not a long-term solution, I have created a small work corner in the living room. I can leave everything there at the end of the day and don’t have to put it away for dinner.

Which piece of clothing has become particularly dear to you during this time?

I’ll be honest – the sweatpants. When you sit at your desk all day it’s more comfortable than wearing jeans or something like that. 😄

Any new acquisitions in the household? (Pet, fitness equipment, balcony or garden remodel?).

We did purchase a food processor. Other than that, as I mentioned before, my new desk 😉

Have you discovered new leisure activities for you and/ or discontinued others?

Unfortunately, I do much less sports, at home I can motivate myself less well to do so. However, I still don’t like going to gyms at the moment.

What do you miss most in the home office?

Riding my bike to work every day and direct contact with colleagues, but fortunately we’ve found a pretty good solution internally so that it’s only half as bad 😉 (Editor’s note: We’ve introduced a daily chatroulette via Slack. Every day, you chat with a random team member for about 15 minutes about random topics or something completely different).

What do you not miss so much?

The time it takes to drive to work – yes, I miss riding my bike, but this way I have one hour more a day for private things.

Hand on heart: How often do you cook yourself pasta during the week or conveniently order food to eat at home?

In the beginning I ate a lot of convenience food, but now we cook a lot more thanks to our new food processor.

Hi Julius, how do you feel after 6 months in the home office? Has your emotional situation changed since the beginning of March?

I think we have made the situation as comfortable as possible for everyone. I am one of the people who spends most of my time in the home office (a team meeting in the office every 14 days). This is still more than in the early days, but not much. I realize that especially when I then see the team on site, then I notice that the contact with colleagues is already a bit lacking.

Has anything changed in your workplace?

Hardly at all, the main changes took place in the first few weeks. Although, a curtain was still important – in the mornings you are otherwise strongly blinded here.

Which piece of clothing has become particularly dear to you during this time?

Let’s be honest: shorts / sweatpants.

Any new acquisitions in the household? (Pet, fitness equipment, balcony or garden remodel?).

No.

Have you discovered any new leisure activities for yourself and/ or stopped doing others?

Too little exercise… Other than that, app development.

Hallo Julius, wie fĂŒhlst du dich nach nunmehr 6 Monaten im Home Office? Hat sich deine GefĂŒhlslage zum Anfang MĂ€rz verĂ€ndert?

Ich denke wir haben die Situation fĂŒr alle so angenehm wie möglich gemacht. Ich gehöre zu den Leuten, die die meiste Zeit im Homeoffice verbringen (alle 14 Tage ein Team-Meeting im BĂŒro). Das ist zwar immer noch mehr als in der Anfangszeit, aber nicht viel. Das wird mir vor allem bewusst, wenn ich dann das Team vor Ort sehe, dann bemerke ich, dass der Kontakt mit den Kollegen schon ein wenig fehlt.

Hat sich etwas an deinem Arbeitsplatz geÀndert?

Kaum noch, die wesentlichen VerĂ€nderungen fanden in den ersten Wochen statt. Obwohl, ein Vorhang war noch wichtig – morgens wird man hier sonst stark geblendet.

Welches KleidungsstĂŒck ist dir in dieser Zeit besonders ans Herz gewachsen?

Seien wir doch ehrlich: kurze Hose / Jogginghose.

Irgendwelche Neu-Anschaffungen im Haushalt? (Haustier, FitnessgerÀt, Balkon oder Garten umgestaltet?)

Nein.

Hast du neue FreizeitaktivitĂ€ten fĂŒr dich entdeckt und/ oder andere eingestellt?

Zu wenig Sport
 Abgesehen davon: App-Entwicklung.

Julius im Home Office

Julius im Home Office

Julius at home office

Julius is a machine learning engineer and programmer at Picalike

Julius Lange

What do you miss most about the home office?

Probably no one can hear this anymore: the colleagues (talking and actually sitting across from each other are very different things).

What do you not miss at all?

100 minutes of commuting per day.

Hand on heart: how many times a week do you cook yourself pasta or conveniently order food home?

On average 1x per week I think. Not living alone is very helpful there.

If you don’t hoard toilet paper anymore, what do you have in abundance in the house now?

Honestly… nothing. The fridge is still empty at least once a week.

Best book/audiobook/series/movie/video game/board game/podcast you’ve discovered in the last few months?

The Switch. Overall. At home alone or as a couple and online with friends. It just fits. Besides, there have been days when I wouldn’t have moved at all without “Just Dance”.

Maik is project manager of the Picalike dev team and leads our big team meeting every 2 weeks at Betahaus

Maik Kade

Maik im Home Office

Maik at the Home Office

 

What do you miss most about the home office?

Working together with the marketing/sales team in one office. But since we moved with the company, this is no longer possible anyway. Otherwise sports, as already mentioned, especially the way there and back by bike. And going to the movies.

What do you not miss at all?

The train rides to work.

Hand on heart: How often do you cook yourself pasta during the week or conveniently order food home?

Because of the kids, we have ready-to-eat pizza once a week or food that is generally quick to prepare – for us adults, that is. The children feast on the best we can prepare for them. You have to take a back seat, or sometimes you don’t even have time to eat properly. Delivery service is only once every 3-4 weeks.

If you no longer hoard toilet paper, what do you now have in abundance in the house?

Toilet paper! No, seriously. We didn’t really start hoarding things more than we did before. And we weren’t hoarding then either.

And what about you, Maik? How do you feel after 6 months in the home office? Have your feelings changed since the beginning of March?

Overall, I’m actually doing just as well as I was in March, although I have to say that I mostly like the many home offices quite a lot and they fit in quite well with my private everyday life – especially my two very agile twin girls. Regarding the pandemic, I’m not so much in panic mode anymore, but I’m still not completely relaxed about it and probably won’t be until the issue is finally over.

Has anything changed at your workplace?

I have moved my work desk to another place in the room and am more meticulous about keeping the space and room tidy, as I have noticed that having to work in an untidy room really affects me.

What piece of clothing have you grown particularly fond of during this time?

In the hot summer it was definitely my two new cargo shorts. With them, you can work comfortably without feeling like you’re sitting in a ski suit in the sauna. And on long walks with the stroller, they have enough pockets for everything.

Any new acquisitions in the household? (Pet, fitness equipment, balcony or garden remodel?).

We purchased a mini swimming pool for the balcony, which the kids have used plenty to splash around in, and I’ve been cooling my feet in it. Apart from that, I now have a knee stool in the study and can regularly switch between it and my Petzi bouncy ball. That does my back a lot of good in the home office. And well, my kettlebell collection is now complete, since I still like to use lunch breaks for a short sports program.

Have you discovered any new recreational activities for you and/ or discontinued others?

I don’t teach Capoeira at the moment and train this only alone. That is surely also Corona-conditioned, however it would have come there anyway by the two small children at home to restrictions. Even if that’s complaining on a high level, it’s putting a lot of pressure on me, since I’ve been practicing this sport very intensively for over 20 years and have a lot of my friends there.

On the other hand, I now have more time in the evenings to listen to audio books and to watch/listen to a series via tablet and headphones with a sleeping child in my arms. That is really something special!

Best book/audiobook/series/movie/video game/board game/podcast you’ve discovered in the last few months?

Best TV series – Cobra Kai (formerly MTV) now on Netflix. The series surprised me beyond belief, as I never thought a sequel to the Karate Kid trilogy from the 80s could be so exciting, emotional and funny.

In terms of audiobooks, I’m currently delving into the “Gray Man” tech crime series about a solo operative (assassin) from the hand of Mark Greaney, who has also co-written with Tom Clancy. And I’m looking forward to the 200 million Netflix film adaptation of these books.

Finally, I want to finally read Frank Herbert’s Dune (The Desert Planet) in the original, and thus prepare myself for the film adaptation by Denis Villeneuve (here’s the trailer).

And how do you feel after the long time in the home office? Or are you already back-to-normal and back in the office?
Tell us about your experiences in the comments!

5 Questions for Theresa

5 Questions for Theresa

We are happy to welcome another new team member. Since August 3, Theresa Schmucker has been our Quality Assurance Manager and checks for us that our products and, above all, our data are of impeccable quality. Especially her fashion know-how is of great benefit to us. She studied fashion design at HAW Hamburg, where she earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She also worked part-time as a store controller in the stores for 6 years for various brands of H&M (Weekday, &Other Stories). As if that wasn’t enough, she is also self-employed on the side and has a studio at Koppel 66 where she makes handbags from vegetable tanned leather and sells them locally and in her own online store. It all sounds super exciting, doesn’t it? No wonder we were further curious and still had to ask her our 5 questions!

5 Questions for Theresa

Tell us something about yourself. Where did you grow up? What hobbies do you have?

I was born in Erlangen, but moved to Hamburg with my family when I was two years old and grew up on the outskirts of Schnelsen in a small play street.
In my free time I like to be creative and see my friends and family. I am part-time self-employed with a small bag label, which is somehow also a hobby. When I’m in my workshop, it doesn’t feel like “working” to me. And that includes all the tasks that come up in the process. Otherwise
I go to pottery twice a month, do yoga and like to get out in the fresh air.

What are you most looking forward to about your new tasks?

It’s hard to say. Actually, I’m looking forward to getting to know the exciting technology of Picalike even better and maybe when it gets a bit more “technical” for me. Learning new things is always a lot of fun for me.

When you look back in six months, what do you hope to see?

That I will have become well integrated into the daily routine at Picalike and that I will be creating added value. That the quality of the data will be continuously improved. Maybe that I will have gained insights into other fields to understand the links even better.

Are you more of a home office or office type?

I think both are good. If the office was further away, however, I would prefer the home office. Long distances to the office are not my strong point. But seeing my colleagues a few days a week is also important to me. In the home office I can sometimes work more concentrated, but for some tasks it is also good to have the direct exchange with colleagues. It’s also nice to see each other. In other words, I think a good mix of both is ideal.

What would be your favorite drink when meeting colleagues after work and why?

I would have to think about it longer because it would probably depend on my “thirst”. Some days it would just be a Spezi and others maybe just a spritzer. Alcoholic it becomes with me more rarely and then also rather a cool Alsterwasser or a white wine spritzer.

Well then, we hereby welcome you again officially to the Picalingen and hope that we can soon take a look at your bags at a Spezi. 😊

Here’s to a good start!

5 Questions for Maren

5 Questions for Maren

With Maren Tiemerding, we have a lot of sales power in the Picalike team again since August 3 đŸ’Ș. Maren is a graduate of the International Studies of Global Management at the University of Applied Sciences Bremen and will start her Master’s degree in Business Development at the HSBA in October. With her expertise in consulting and executive positions as well as her positive and natural nature, she is a real asset to our Marketing & Sales team.

To get to know her a little better, we asked Maren to answer these 5 questions:

5 Questions for Maren

Tell us something about yourself. Where did you grow up? What are your hobbies?

I grew up in a village with 500 inhabitants in the district of Vechta, which is located in Lower Saxony between Bremen and OsnabrĂŒck. Vechta is also known as a horse town and that’s how I got my first hobby. In the meantime I am no longer active in show jumping, but I still have my horse.

I came to Hamburg, or rather to Norderstedt, when I was 8 years old. To study, however, I ended up back in Bremen. Oh, and in between I was also in Thailand and Singapore studying and working.

CrossFit has meanwhile taken over the center of my free time. As crazy as it may sound, the feeling of lying on the floor after a hard workout is irreplaceable 😁 .

What about your new responsibilities are you most looking forward to?

I’m incredibly excited to see how picalike’s technology continues to develop. The team has so much energy. I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

Of my tasks, I am probably most looking forward to the discussions with our potential customers. I look forward to getting to know many different personalities and working with them to find the right support for their online store.

When you look back in six months, what do you hope to see?

Looking at smiling faces and not faces covered by our “new must-haves.”

Are you more of a home office or office type?

I guess I’m more of a mix type. I’m really thankful for the development that working in a home office is accepted. I think it’s great the way picalike has been doing it so far. We have a constant digital exchange, but see each other live 1-2 times a week. Especially for brainstorming new ideas I find the face-to-face exchange still very important.

What would be your favorite drink when meeting with colleagues after work and why?

Spontaneously, I would say a Diet Coke. I’m not a big alcohol drinker, because it just doesn’t taste good to me. But every now and then it may be a vino.

Well then, we would like to welcome you officially to the Picalingen and we hope that we can drink a Diet Coke or a delicious Vino together as soon as possible. 😊
Here’s to a good start!