Jennifer Lachs runs Digital Nomad Girls, the largest community of location independent girls around the world. She organizes coworking retreats, manages a blog and more while doing freelance writing on the side. You can visit her Facebook group, Facebook page Instagram or website.
1. How did you start working remotely? How did you make the switch?
In my old life I used to be a chemist, but I changed direction after going on a round-the-world trip in 2013. I started out as a digital nomad by setting myself a challenge of taking on any online job I could find. I did SEO writing, ghost writing, translation, social media management, WordPress web design… a little bit of everything.
2. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?
Oh, there are so many. For me personally, the freedom to move around and travel the world while working is the biggest advantage. Travel is my passion so this is what drove me to become location independent. But there are other huge advantages.
I think especially for women, remote work offers a lot of flexibility to pursue a career and have a family (AND travel). It’s also great to be able to go and spend time at home in case there’s an emergency, someone gets sick etc.
3. Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?
Well, it can get a bit lonely to work from home. Especially when I travel a lot, it can take me a good few days (if not weeks) to find a routine and balance again.
Of course, this is different for everyone, but I noticed I settle into new places quite slowly. It’s also a lot of work to build up a professional network as a remote worker. It’s mainly online and you have to invest a lot of time to make connections, but it’s also a lot of fun.
4. From which cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote? Which has been your favorite one?
Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Germany, UK, Italy, Spain and the Dominican Republic so far. My favourite places were probably Chiang Mai in Thailand and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria in Spain.
5. From which type of place do you prefer to work? Coworking spaces, coffee shops or others? Do you have any specific place?
I actually work from home quite a lot, especially if I’m staying longer in one place and am renting an apartment. In Chiang Mai I worked mainly from coffee shops and I really enjoyed that. I do also like coworking spaces. They are great for focus, to meet people and to get some inspiration and help on your projects.
6. Which places would you like to travel to while working remotely?
Oh so many! I’d love to go to Morocco soon. Next year I’m planning on spending some time in Mexico and Colombia, hopefully Central America and South East Asia too. I also love Australia, but sadly it’s expensive and the wifi is terrible.
7. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?
I think they are missing out on a huge opportunity. Hiring remote workers means they can tap into a much larger talent pool compared to hiring in just one city or maybe the country.
Offering remote working options is a huge draw and is great for employee engagement and retention. Especially women will look more and more for flexible opportunities. I think there’s never been a better time to start offering remote jobs.
8. Which tools do you use to work remotely?
I use a ton of tools and am always experimenting with new ones. Some of my favourites are Toggl for time tracking, Asana and Trello for project management (I actually use both but for slightly different things), Noisly for concentration, Slack for communication and the Google Suite for everything else.
9. How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?
This is always the tricky and annoying part. There isn’t a perfect option for me yet, but I am registered in the UK. I get mail sent to family, and taxes can be paid online.
10. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies making the remote switch?
For companies, I would suggest talking to as many people as possible who actually work remotely to find out where possible issues can arise. I’d set up a sort of practice program where people can work remotely for a week from home, then from a different city close by, then for a week from a different country etc. It will be an easy way to get used to it and iron out any problems before employees move abroad for months on end. It could also be a great idea to take the company on a week or month long coworking retreat to test it out together.
For people who want to work remotely, I would write down in detail why you want to work remotely. It might sound weird, but there are many different reasons why people want to do this (to travel more, to have flexible hours, to spend more time with family etc) and knowing your Why will help with finding the perfect remote job.