Renewables Exchange: Teamwork above the roofs of Brussels

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How do my colleagues start their working day in Brussels? What does their office look like? How does teamwork function there? What do they do on their breaks? In our international Renewables team, we are in constant contact online. But what the daily routine looks like in each case can hardly be gleaned from the screen. I had the opportunity to take part in the Renewables XChange program, which enabled me to work with my renewable energy colleagues on site in Brussels. This program offers the opportunity to swap desks with a colleague in a different country – and gain a change of perspective in the process. 😊

My desk is now in Belgium’s capital city

… or at least it was for three weeks. I travelled to Brussels in early October 2023. The Tractebel office there is located in the centre and is within walking distance of the Brussels North train station. My colleague Nyzar, from Bad Vilbel, Germany, followed a day later. He also took part in the XChange program.

In an international company like Tractebel, it is important to grow together and share know-how beyond local teams. This is the only way to successfully tackle the day-to-day challenges of complex projects in the best possible way and achieve effective results. So, it is helpful to get to know different ways of working and cultures and to respect them.

My colleague Nyzar and me in front of the Tractebel head office building in Brussels.

After all, we all benefit from broadening our horizons this way, don’t we? That’s why I didn’t think twice when I was offered the opportunity to take part in the Renewables XChange program. I worked on our Onshore Renewables Team during my exchange period.

My Belgian colleague Thomas was in my “home office” in Bad Vilbel over the same period. I have provided a link below to the article about his experience during his stay. It is well worth reading! 😉

Entrance to the office in Brussels

“Welcome to the team”

I had hardly arrived when I was warmly welcomed by my colleague Tania. She showed me my new workspace way up high in the building and introduced me to my colleagues there.

The exchange started with an intensive induction process. I felt like a valuable member of the team from the outset and was able to contribute my knowledge successfully. That, in particular, is what efficient working in an international team is all about! While I learned a lot about the different ways of working and processes on site, I also continued my work on my own projects at the same time.

My morning started each day with a coffee from the company’s own barista on the 13th floor, with a great rooftop view of Brussels. That makes even lighter work of the morning routine of checking and answering emails. 😉

Morning coffee with this rooftop view of Brussels

Same same, but different!?

What particularly fascinated me was the comparison between the ways in which the Belgian and German teams work. My colleagues in Germany have plenty of experience, while the Belgian team injects a fresh dynamic. These conditions are ideal for a balanced and effective team. Our differences led us to an interesting exchange on how both teams can work together to optimum effect. We learned from each other and adapted our ways of working to combine the best of both worlds.

At the same time, it was not just our ways of working that we considered, but also our specialist fields. Here, the considerable expertise of our German colleagues in the fields of owner’s engineering, lenders engineering and resource assessments was perfectly complemented by the technical know-how of the Belgian element of the team. We exchanged ideas daily and developed innovative solutions for upcoming projects together.

Another interesting aspect was the difference in the structure of the offices. Flexible workspaces are the approach in Belgium, whereas in Germany everyone has their own permanent desk. I find that there are advantages and disadvantages in both! While the German offices are geared towards a quiet environment for focused working, the Belgian offices place more value on a team-oriented, communicative working atmosphere. The different office environments influence our ways of working, especially in terms of communication (and possibly also during the cold & flu season 😉). Experiencing this live helps us to understand each other better.

Open work spaces in Brussels

From renewables expert to restaurant tester

Aside from work, there was plenty to discover in Brussels. On the weekends, I made it my task to try out various restaurants. I was fascinated by the range of cuisine offered in Brussels – and did everything I could to make the most of it! I was able to try out fast food, Moroccan, Italian, Indian, Ethiopian, Mexican, fantastic baguettes and plenty more. My Belgian colleagues were surprised that after my intensive culinary research, I was able to provide them with good restaurant recommendations in Brussels.

I also used my leisure time to stroll through the streets and get to know the city.

Fresh fruit as a healthy snack for all the staff in the office

“Working” voyage of discovery that broadened my horizons

For me personally, the exchange program was a complete success! Working closely together with the others and the seamless integration from day one into the Belgian team made the experience particularly valuable. Soft skills such as communication, respect for different views and opinions, and fast learning were further key aspects.

My time in Brussels was a huge enrichment for me professionally and personally. I learned and gained a lot. The different ways of working, across international boundaries, have broadened my horizons and strengthened me as a team member. I recommend that everyone seek out experiences like this, to develop further and make the most of the opportunities that they may bring.


Incidentally, we are always looking for new talented people for our team! You are more than welcome to take a look at our job adverts and submit an application.

Read the first post on the program as well! “Renewables Exchange: Swapping Desks with Colleagues Abroad” by Thomas Hallemeesch

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