1. What do you do for a living, how did you become a digital nomad or remote professional and where you are based now?
I currently work as a digital consultant for a variety of brands across U.S, Europe and Australia. My role within those companies are quite varied which helps with the enjoyment factor and learning new skills.
I became a digital nomad after working agency side for many years. I have done quite a bit of traveling in the past and wanted to prove to myself that it was possible to earn an income and see the world and still deliver a great service to clients.
I am based currently in London, but was in Australia last week and heading to San Diego in two weeks time.
2. Do you work by yourself or in a team?
All the consulting day to day work is done by myself however I do have a small team of subcontractors that will help heavy lifting of work if required. I also use services such as codeable.io or peopleperhour if I have code / development issues.
3. How many people work at your company? How many of you work remotely? / Where do you work from (where is the team based)?
A lot of my subcontractors are based in Europe and Asia. The number of people working for me is not fixed as many work on a job per job basis
4. Why did you decide to start working remotely?
I do not feel there is a requirement to be stuck in one place, 5 days a week with all the technology around. I also find I am more focussed when I am not distracted by office politics and countless meetings.
5. How do you keep connected with the team and clients? Do you meet somewhere frequently? If this is the case, where and how often?
I use a combination of Skype, Teamwork.com, Jira and slowly moving towards using Slack. Some of my clients use Asana and Jira therefore I have no option but to use those platforms. I rarely meet any of my subcontractors and if I was to it would be more for a social visit than work related as we do enough communication through Skype / Teamwork. I speak with most my team every couple of days.
6. Which are the biggest benefits and advantages that you have found by working remotely?
Focus. I can be more productive in a couple of hours working remotely than I could be in a whole day stuck within an office.
I can attend more international meet ups / conferences whilst also visiting that city rather than having a purely business related trip.
My working hours are flexible, therefore if I wake up at 5am which I do some days I can get a few hours work done and free up time during the day to learn new skills or visit new places.
7. What are the biggest challenges you face working remotely and how do you overcome them?
When speaking to a potential new client I do prefer to meet face to face and although this semi possible with Skype or Google Hangouts it’s just not quite the same.
Internet connection is the biggest issue by far. It does not matter whether you are in a 5* hotel or roadside cafe there is just no consistency or reliance on internet connections globally. The issue with the internet is not usually day to day work but more when taking Skype meetings. I also find that international roaming can be an issue if you are not prepared.
8. Do you think that you have lost something by working remotely?
I would say no to that. I am guessing somewhere I have lost potential work because of being away however I would not say that is a negative thing when compared to the upside.
9. Which are the benefits and disadvantages for them to work with someone remotely? Have they ever told you something about it?
I would say the singular biggest benefit is the removal of general office distraction and noise. I often find that when working in different timezones I can really focus on the task at hand and provide more detailed documentation as opposed to being caught up in email chains.
10. Which places, cities, countries have you work from since becoming a remoter? Which has been your favorite one?
Bali, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, Hong Kong, Australia, America, Germany & Philippines.
11. Which type of place do you work from in particular? Coworking spaces? Coffee shops? Somewhere else? Why and which are your favorite ones?
I like somewhere that has little distractions. I like to find somewhere with a view, fresh air, good coffee and juice and if there is banana bread even better. I do tend to avoid coworking spaces as I find them noisy and there is always someone looking to tell you about their app idea.
My favourite place I have ever worked from was http://mangobayphuquoc.com/ – food was amazing, views even better, coffee brilliant and always good wifi.
12. How do you manage work-life balance?
I enjoy working and enjoy helping clients succeed. My work – life balance has kind of blended together which works for me.
If I am out in the evening and and an email comes in, I would be happy to reply as that is how I like working. I don’t feel like I have a work vs life battle and therefore I am happy to carry on as I am.
I work strange hours, different timezones yet as long as I am happy and my clients are happy then it works. I however am not much more stricter when it comes to taking “full” holidays and happy to leave the laptop / phone in the room.
13. How being a remoter / digital nomad has changed you?
I feel a lot less stressed than I used to. Now I have the freedom to work hours that I want to work I find I am far more productive. Rather than sitting at a desk and being unproductive for parts of the day but forcing myself to be there I can now take a break and then come back to that task / work with a more focused productive mindset.
Despite my reputation I am a much happier person :). I feel like I can offer a service I want to offer rather than what the agency I work for wants to offer.
14. What do you do to avoid distractions when working?
I usually avoid coworking venues. My Bose noise cancelling headphones work a treat, can’t recommend them enough especially when on public transport.
I recently bought a privacy screen which has allowed me to work without the worry of anyone seeing client private data and meant I stopped looking over my shoulder every 5 minutes.
I turn off all my phone notifications and Skype notifications to avoid distractions when concentrating.
15. What would you say to companies that don’t believe in hiring people working remotely?
It’s not a bad thing – it’s their company and its their choice. I would ask why to see if I could help alleviate some of their concerns.
16. Which tools do you use that facilitate your life as a remoter?
All the obvious ones like Skype, Gmail, DropBox, EverNote, 1Password and more and more I am using Slack. I would say my favourite tool for task management and client management is Teamwork.com.
17. Which places would you like to visit next -enjoy and work from- in your remoter journey?
It has to be New Zealand or French Polynesia however I would probably prefer not to be working whilst visiting those places. I do plan to start taking mini retirements as mentioned in Tim Ferriss, The 4 hour working week book.
18. Which advice would you share with people looking to start working remotely?
I would set clear service level agreements with clients and use a project management tool to ensure there is complete transparency. I would also let clients know when I am traveling. One thing I did not do and would always recommend is always pick up local sim cards to ensure you can tether if required although it’s always easy to find somewhere with basic wifi.