Digital nomadism: how to make it work

Charlyne Réhel —

There’s no doubt that the digital nomad lifestyle has gained some popularity over the years. People are seeking flexibility and freedom over paychecks to be able to chose their own work environment or explore new places while working. Our communication specialist, Charlyne, has been working on the road for over 8 months now and she’s giving us her perspective and some tips on how to (actually) make it work. 

Hint hint: no, it’s not always easy and as dreamy as it looks. 

How did I end up working remotely?
I’ve been part of June swimwear team for over two years before I began to work remotely. Much of my job as communication specialist is done over the Internet, and during my time there were some instances I worked from home when I couldn’t get to the office. The real turning point came when my American boyfriend of 6 years and I were doing his permanent residency paperwork and we couldn't really see ourselves settling in just yet. As his visa deadline date got closer, we started to discuss seriously about going on one big adventure. Once our decision was taken, all that was left was to ask my boss. 

I had a long discussion with Julie, the founder of the company, about our plans and we’ve decided together that I could give working remotely a try and see how we could make it work. We’ve analyzed the situation, found ways for me execute my tasks while being away and established conditions which will suit us both. We looked at it as an opportunity for us to try something new! I need to insert here that Julie is an extremely flexible and understanding person which made the transition much more smooth and easy.

First of all, do something you love.
After working remotely for several months now, I can assure you of one thing: if you don’t love your work it’s never going to work out. Even if you love your job you still need a lot of discipline and focus. Chances are that you will feel a lack of motivation to work sitting beachside in Indonesia or during a trekking adventure in the Himalayas, but that’s your discipline, which will make you do the things you need to do. That being said, if you love your job the motivation to work (even in dreamy places) will come naturally. 

But, how can you make it work?
Nothing comes without planning – especially when you are talking about working along side a team while being away. For that reason, you will need to plan ahead, something you don’t necessarily do as a backpacker. For example, It will now be important for you to know which places you’ll be exploring in 2 months, where you going sleep/work next week, if there’s a good Wi-Fi connection in your hotel or even a communications infrastructure for that matter, ect.

Once you have a bit of a plan of what you’ll be doing or going, you’ll need to plan your work schedule and your tasks for the week. As you’ll be working from a distance, it’s even more important to always be ahead in your scheduling. I stay 2-3 weeks ahead just to make sure if something unplanned comes up, you have time to react and reschedule (because yes, it will happen). Another important element is definitely the people you are working with. If everybody is on the same page, knows their tasks and are aware of the schedule, there’s not going to be such thing as a launch delayed or unexpedited package!

Communication and organization are the key.
I cannot say it enough, communication and organization are the two most important things for a digital nomad.

The Internet and its various communication platforms, (Email, Facetime, Instagram, ect.) give you endless tools to reach through walls and communicate with everyone from your boss to the customers. Which means, you’ll be looking at your emails several times a day even during the weekends to make sure you don’t miss important urgent messages. Don’t hesitate to ask a lot questions (and even more questions) to make sure you are on the same page as your team, or you may end up redoing your work.

The other point I emphasize is learning to be an organizational master. Always find new ways to improve your organization skills by using monthly planners, to-do lists. Make your work schedule day by day for every week and write it down, make it official, and do it with no procrastination! There are many tools available online to help you with you workflow, tools like Dropbox for sharing large amounts of files, and Google docs for when you can a colleague work side by side on project. 

Nothing comes without challenges.
When travelling you will for sure discover a places to makes your heart beat a little faster, amazing cultures you’ve never knew about, a new foods to excite your taste buds. It is really rewarding to be able to work for a company you love while working from wherever you want, but it’s not true that you won’t come across challenges and rough moments. No, it’s not only always going to be comfortable and at times you’ll have a panic attack wondering how you are going to get all your work done. At times you’ll be hunched over your laptop on cramped bumpy sleeper bus, or better yet your WiFi cuts out completely while you’re on top of a mountain in Nepal launching the new collection. But when you love what you do, the people that you work with and places you can go all your effort is worth it. 

Here comes the tips:
- Learn to say no: if you think it’s too much for you or you won’t be able to accomplish the task in time? Let your team know and find a solution before someone gets disappointed because of a delay, or your quality of work diminishes.

- Research everything about a place your visiting: how is the Wi-Fi connection? What other travellers are saying about it? You always need to have in the back for your mind that Internet is the main tool in your toolbox and you need to make it work by any means necessary. Simcards and Dataplan can be purchased quite easily and cheaply in Asia with only a passport (research online about the best providers).

- Find the best places to focus on your work: you’ll soon discover that working in that pinterest cafe full of people isn’t the best idea. Make sure to find a place where you’ll be able to be concentrate enough to make your to-do list disappear!

- Bring your bag of wires everywhere: this one might sound a little lame, but you’ll be kicking yourself when forgot to bring your charger or power adaptor with a laptop slowly dying with 12% battery in a café in the middle of town! 

- Plan your schedule around work and not the other way around: yes you are travelling, but if you are working remotely work should be your priority. It’s ok to go for that surf morning, but make sure you come back and do what you need to do before anything else!

Now, you are ready to jump in the digital nomad world!