Sofie Couwenbergh is a remote based Copywriter, content strategist, and travel blogger. She’s the founder of Let Me Write That Down for You and Wonderful Wanderings. You can find her in Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.
1. How did you start working remotely? How did you make the switch?
In 2012, I launched my travel blog WonderfulWanderings.com out of the need to do the kind of writing I wanted to do. At the time, I was working as a copywriter for an international publishing house but it was a job that didn’t allow me a lot of creative freedom.
What started as a hobby, soon turned into something bigger and at the end of 2014, I quit my job and became fully location-independent.
2. What do you think are the main advantages of remote work?
For me freedom is the biggest advantage by far. I work whenever I want, for as long as I want, on whatever I want (well, almost). Don’t get me wrong: I still often work more hours today than I did in my office job but I’m also able to take two or three weeks off to go travel without having to ask for anyone’s permission.
I also like that I’m responsible for my own business success and don’t need to depend on colleagues to be able to get things done. Lastly, as travel is my great passion, working remotely allows me to travel the world without having to give up my income. It’s the perfect lifestyle for me.
3. Do you think there are disadvantages or that you’re missing something by working remotely?
I know some remote workers miss having colleagues but I like working by myself. For me, personally, the biggest disadvantage is that I always have my laptop with me and so I can always work. There is no clear divide between work time and time off and I often struggle to get away from my work when I don’t have any social activities planned.
4. From which cities or countries have you worked since you have become remote?
As my oldest business is a travel blog, I’ve worked from many cities and smaller towns already. Just to stick to some countries: Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Thailand, the UK, Portugal, Spain, and Austria.
I’m currently on a mission to find a new home base and so far, I really like Lisbon, Valencia, and Berlin – all three very different cities by the way. I’m inclined to stay in Europe but I’m hoping to “trail” a few cities outside of Europe as well, even though that will have to wait until this COVID-19 craziness has died down a little.
5. From which type of place do you prefer to work?
I think I’m a bit atypical in that I prefer working from home. I know it limits the number of interesting people I get to meet but I work best in absolute silence and that’s quite hard to find when going out, even at coworking spaces. A friend did take me to her coworking space in Berlin where it was super quiet and I could see myself working there, but then again, I like being close to my fridge as well 😀
6. Which places would you like to travel to while working remotely?
I’ve never been to Mexico so I’d like to travel there at some point, as well as to Vietnam. I’d also love to go back to Magnetic Island in Queensland, Australia. I visited a friend there last year and loved how beautiful and relaxed it was.
7. What would you say to the companies that don’t believe in hiring employees who work remotely?
Until you try it, it remains a mere belief ungrounded in experience. Ask yourself whether you want to hire the best possible people for the job who’ll be more productive because they get to work when they’re at their best, or whether it’s more important to you to just see someone in the office and micro-manage. I’m guessing the answer will be the former.
8. Which tools do you use to work remotely?
I use Asana as my task and team management tool, Google Drive for a whole bunch of documents, spreadsheets, and SOPs, WordPress to run my websites, Gmail and Zoho for email, Surfer and Ahrefs for SEO, Canva for stock photography and image creation, Lightroom for photo editing, and Evernote as my online library of interesting things. I’m probably forgetting a few but I’d say those are the most important ones.
9. How do you manage your business and taxes as a remote working professional?
I keep up with my accounting on a weekly bases and have an accountant who processes everything and also files my taxes for me.
10. What advice would you give to people looking to work remotely and companies making the remote switch?
To people looking to work remotely: that you don’t have a fixed working schedule anymore, doesn’t mean you don’t need one. We all have moments of the day when we’re more productive than at other times. Figure out when you do your best work and structure your days around those times.
If you work for a company that still requires you to be available between certain hours, figure out how to schedule the rest of your days around those and don’t just wing it. It will be exciting to have a lot more flexibility but having a bit of a routine is less tiring and will allow you to be more productive.
For companies: don’t micromanage. There’s no point in letting someone work remotely when you still require them to check in with you x times a day. Find a system that keeps the communication with and between your employees going, set up systems so that everyone checks in when they need to check in, but also give them the freedom to use their newfound flexibility to become more productive and happier that they’re working for you.
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