July 20, 2017
Life is too short to work in the same office everyday. With a change of scenery, both my creativity and productivity are boosted. A traveler at heart, I need the ability to work outside the office from time-to-time, so I can reach all those destinations I love. A part of the culture our co-founders have created here at Webconnex is to support each team member however possible (within reason) so they flourish.
My team knows I am curious nomad and recognized that I needed air under my wings and travel miles in the bank. Working remotely for an extended period of time would add to my overall enjoyment of work and keep up my ability to produce at my max capacity. In March 2017 they granted me this opportunity and I took my first working remote trip to Central America for a month while maintaining my work load. After working abroad and observing other digital nomads, I have four takeaways that could help anyone successfully travel and work remotely.
Communication with your team is key when working remotely. When one person is offline, others have to step in to cover. You have to let your team know when you’re offline. Lack of communication can create gaps in which team members begin to assume that you may be slacking off. In my case, I found myself working harder because I didn’t want to be overlooked, unseen, or risk being viewed as a slacker.
Prior to my trip our team instilled a daily roll-call in Slack. We list the role and tasks we accomplished the day prior. Then we list the role and tasks we are focusing on that day. This acted, and continues to act, as a vehicle for communication allowing team members to know who is working on what, and when. Having solid communication between the team will help remote workers stay in the loop. It will also help the in office team feel like the remote team member is continuing pulling their weight.
Traveling has an element of unpredictability so before my trip, I set up expectations as best I could. This assured my team that the quality of work would not change just because of a location change. Here are 3 topics I’d suggest discussing with your team prior to departure:
Usually productivity increases when your workspace is comfortable. Because of the instability of the internet in the local coffee shops, I ended up staying in my box of an apartment in Costa Rica. It only had a little table with two wooden stools. And let me tell you... sitting on wooden stools with a table too low for the stools for long periods of time is not comfortable. Without a comfortable work spot, I felt uninspired to work. It wasn’t until I traveled up to my next location, Nicaragua, which had a larger space and more internet location options that I felt like I had room to work to my heart’s content. When traveling to other countries, verify internet locations and the strength of internet if possible.
Time Zones can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome when working remotely. Some questions I asked myself before choosing a destination where, do I want to stay on an active support role or a passive one? Do I want to be available for my team during their work hours? I chose to stay as an active part of our support team so I needed to stay within the North American time zones.
I chose to go South of the border and was an hour or two in front of my team depending on location. This turned out to be awesome because we are based in California and traveling put me closer to our East Coast clients. As a bonus it’s always helpful when you can have at least a few hours of overlap with the team, this allows you to stay in the loop of the happenings of the team.Each team will experience their own obstacles and hesitancies with remote working.
Traveling and remote working will present different obstacles than remote working from home. With today’s technology it is a lot easier to be in the loop and still be a successful team player. Life is too short to work in the same office, work from around the world.