Last summer, my husband and I left our home in Austin, TX and traded in our desk jobs for the opportunity of a lifetime, working and traveling throughout Europe and Asia-Pac in pursuit of adventure, the great outdoors and above all, WiFi.
Over the past 12 months we’ve lived what I believe my generation would call “the dream.” We managed to free ourselves from the demands of everyday life, and take up a strict diet of work, sleep and tourism. I remember leaving Austin last July in what felt like a getaway car, whisking us away after a heist of a lifetime. So many of my friends talk about putting the grind on hold and traveling, but here we were getting to do it. How did we get so lucky?
My husband, Will, had talked about traveling since the day I met him, but over the past 6 years there was always something to distract us from making the decision. Last spring we came to the conclusion that if we didn’t live out our dream now, it would never happen.
But what about my team?! I couldn’t bear to leave my job. Then it hit me. Why would I have to?
Teleworking was on the rise and with my global role in the company, I thought I was a strong candidate. More importantly, I worked for PGi, a company whose mission it is to make remote working easier. In fact, THIS is what we do best! We bring people together in meaningful ways to get work done quickly and easily, no matter where they are.
With the support of Will and a few Starbucks Doubleshots®, I put a proposal together that had me bouncing between PGi offices around the world, two weeks at time, relying on PGi’s cloud-based, virtual meeting solutions, iMeet® and GlobalMeet®. Fast forward a few sleepless nights and a flight to Atlanta, and I was in my boss’ office pitching him on my idea.
Writing this a year later, I can tell you it hasn’t been all “Eat. Pray. Love.” around here, more like “Eat. Work. And work some more.” but we’ve seen some truly amazing things throughout our tour of Europe and Asia, and I’ve had the unique pleasure of visiting PGi’s 25+ global offices along the way. Straight from my year as a Digital Nomad/WiFi Scavenger, here are 13 Tips for Working Anywhere and Everywhere:
- What Kind of Remote Working Best Suits You? Before leaving the office have some fun with the “What’s My Work Style Quiz,” my non-official guide to determining if you’re a candidate for remote working. It takes endurance, flexibility and plenty of energy and optimism to make it through remote working challenges, so proceed with caution.
- Remember Who You’re Pitching To: Most likely your boss is asking himself/herself three questions. Can you do your job outside the office? Could you actually do it better? Will this make you a happier, more satisfied worker? Leave the emotions aside and speak to these questions. Come armed with all the details but only get to them if they are ready.
- Be Prepared to Negotiate: Despite the benefit to PGi, they didn’t ask me to travel, I asked them. In exchange for the opportunity to adventure for a year, I gladly assumed the cost of my travel and lodging, which as you can imagine, paled in comparison to the chance to keep my job while seeing the world. Ideally both parties should feel as though they have won big.
- Pack your Digital Tool Belt: In my mobile office, I have plenty of back-up devices to combat WiFi failure, weak reception or dead batteries. I choose the Kindle 3G for free, emergency cellular internet almost ANYWHERE in the world, my iPhone (personal) for apps and Blackberry (work) for email, my Logitech 350 headset and tons of helpful apps– TripAdvisor for restaurants/lodging, WorkSnug for finding an office for the day, iMeet® to teleport back to Austin and GlobalMeet® for joining/starting my web conference.
- Choose Your Location Wisely: Not all web worker paradise is created equal. Between cost of living, connectivity options and time zones, finding the right place to land can be a challenge. We consult ThePriceofTravel.com for the “best value” cities to visit, we also enjoy scoring a hotel deal on Booking.com (lifesaver in Europe!) and it also helps to stay away from local holidays and high seasons.
- Stakeholders = Customers: Take note from small business owners and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset. Your stakeholders should now be considered customers and to stay “in business,” you’ll need to do whatever it takes to ensure expectations are not only met but over delivered. This mindset will help you focus your day on what really matters to the business.
- Forget the 9-to-5: For better or worse, the 9 to 5 is over when you take up residence as a Digital Nomad. You’ll find that sometimes it takes twice as long to do half as much work when you’re constantly on the go so instead of focusing on hours, measure your contribution in how well you’re meeting your goals. If it takes 20 hours of overtime, during bizarre hours to accomplish your weekly goals, so be it as long as everyone (including yourself) is happy with the agreement.
- Don’t Let Small Costs Keep You From a Big Win: In the beginning, anything and everything will inevitably go wrong. Don’t let the small cost to fix the situation keep you from a big win. Gladly pick up the cost of airport WiFi, splurge on that long distance call, and in the name of efficiency, hail that taxi! The value of being on time will almost always surpass the cost of getting there. Read the rest of this entry »