Interview: Glen De Cauwsemaecker

Glen De CauwsemaeckerGlen De Cauwsemaecker works is an Open Source Hacker working as a Freelance/Entrepeneur. You can follow him on Twitter and read him on Medium

1. Which are the main advantages that you find by working remotely?

Traveling is something I can’t miss, and 28* days of holidays just wont cut it. I tried it, while I was living in the UK for 2 years, but it just made me feel like a bird in a cage.

It would surprise the childhood version of myself, but I love learning languages. I suppose it’s part of my desire to meet new people and their cultures. Once you learn their language, you opened the gates and are ready to truly become one with the foreign cultures.

I’ve worked for two and a half years in open offices and they absolutely suck. I am definitely someone who loves hanging out with people, but being locked up with those people 45* hours a week is a bit too much to ask. Working remote allows me to schedule my own hours, be 100% productive.

2. Do you think you have disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?

I’ve only been working remotely full-time since about 6 months, but I can’t really see any big disadvantages at the moment.

The biggest concern is getting a good internet connection. Usually I have OK-ish WI-FI, but in emergencies I can always rely on my local 4G connection. You got to be prepared, you know.

I suppose you do miss out on the hanging out with colleagues, which can be fun at times. The company I work for also has a weekly review, where everyone can show off their work, which really is more fun than it sounds. As a remote freelancer I don’t participate in those, which could count as a disadvantage I suppose.

3. From which cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? Which has been your favorite one?

During my first job in Belgium I also had some freelance jobs for some American companies. At that point I was living in Mons, and it was pretty awesome, as I had a pretty comfortable desk in my own studio.

Since I’ve became a nomad I’ve worked only in Brazil, as I’ve been here since Christmas. In July I will move to some other South-American countries, but until then I’ll be working from here. Rio de Janeiro has been the city that I’ve been the longest and it’s definitely my favorite for now.

Rio DJ is an exciting city with events happening every day. Nature and mountains are also really close, which makes an afternoon-hike very possible. People are also very friendly here and are always willing to help you. I would recommend however to learn Portuguese as I did, as it will make your life much, much easier here. And like I said before, it will give you the true Carioca experience.

4. From which type of place do you prefer to work from? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others? Do you have any specific place?

I prefer to work from the place where I stay. I usually rent places from AirBnB. The prices on that website are really acceptable and it gives me a great temporary place to live and work.

While I work I prefer a space where I can work in solitude, with music flowing through my headphones. Renting a co-working space is too expensive for my budget, but I can definitely enjoy a good coffee-shop. In Brazil I wouldn’t do that however, as I don’t think it’s wise to show off a Macbook Pro in public. Safety is very different here than it is in Western Europe.

5. Which places would you like to travel to -from where you would enjoy and work from- as a remote worker?

I would love to explore every country on earth, and beyond. This year I’ll stay in South America as it’s the perfect place to practice both my Portuguese and Spanish. Next year I’ll hop via USA and will go to Europe for a couple of months. I haven’t seen my family and childhood friends in a long time, so it will be nice to see them once again.

After that I would love to live for a while in South-Africa, and practice my Afrikaans. In the meanwhile I’m also practicing my Korean as I would love to live in South-Korea for a while as well. I really feel that Seoul’s vibe is close to mine.

6. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe on hiring employees who work remotely?

Remote work requires effort on both sides. Like anything in life it has trade-offs. There are tasks that work well for remote work, and there are those that don’t. The trick is to give tasks that can be worked on by individuals without the need of realtime collaboration.

Email, Skype and other similar technologies allow you to communicate in realtime

7. Which tools do you use to work remotely?

As my job consists mostly of designing & developing software I need a laptop. I use a Macbook Pro. The battery life of these laptops is satisfying long. That and some old-school paper-notepad is all I really have hardware-wise.

Software-wise it depends on the assignment I’m doing. We use Skype for real-time communication and email for all the other communication. Gitlab, and Confluence is what we use for our projects and documentation. Lastly I also Cisco Any-connect as my VPS. All the software I mentioned is as requested by my employer.

8. How do you manage your business and taxes as remote working professional?

This is by far the most boring part of being an entrepreneur and freelancer. I only have one thing to say: Google Spreadsheets all the way.

9. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely?

It’s a big change in your life, but you won’t really know if it’s something for you until you try. You should definitely know yourself well enough to at least being able to make an educated guess if it’s something that would fit you.

In the best-case scenario you can convince your current employer to work remotely for them. You could transition by working remotely from home part-time, and than switching over to working remotely from wherever you are. If both you and your employer are not sure, you could try a trial-period together. What I mean by that, is that you could request to try working remotely from anywhere in the world for a short period, let’s say 3 months.

This is exactly what I did, and it worked out in the end. Three months allows both sides to get used to this big chance, and is a long enough period to show your ability to deliver tasks on time.

Also, don’t overthink it. Life is full of crossroads, but almost none of your turns will be irreversible. It’s more like a well city, you might miss a turn, but you can always fix it by making the next turn on your alternative path.


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