Many entrepreneurs have a vision of successfully launching an online company and being able to work from anywhere in the world. They dream of traveling and globe-trotting, entirely funded by their digital business. While it’s not at all impractical to pursue and succeed in this, there are a few things to consider before diving head first into working remote.
First, communication is not as easy-going as it seems
When you travel, especially if you’re in a different timezone than your clients or colleagues, you will struggle to keep in touch. Remote meetings can make you feel out of touch or like a bystander to conversations. Tone and meaning can get lost in email and other digital communication. You’re going to miss being able to turn around and talk to someone or give them a quick, unscheduled call. You will not have any way to work around this aside from scheduling remote video calls. This can take some getting used to.
Solution! The only solution that we have found that works best to maintain a connection is to work on the timezone and typical working day of the people or businesses you work with for at least a part of your work day. This could mean waking up at the crack of dawn, or working through the night. Before you jet off somewhere, be sure you can handle the shift in lifestyle that comes with changing your working hours (and the inevitable jet lag!).
Second, you’re going to be glued to your devices
You won’t be able to step away from your device as easily as you imagine. Even when you leave your laptop to collect dust over the weekend, your phone will be your go-to. It’s important to not let work take over your life when you’re living abroad. Remember, you moved to enjoy yourself in a new country - so make sure you actually do that.
Solution! We decided to forgive ourselves on the weekends and disconnect from everything. This is difficult to do when running your own business and is not a great idea for social media. To make up time, we’d often work earlier and later than a typical day during the week. Social media was jeopardized, but we’re not big on social media anyways, so frankly we could have cared less.
Maybe not the best location to be working from. At least there's a chair and desk!
You’ll also be attached to your wifi signal
Many people have told me that they envision cracking open their laptop and getting to work right from the beach. That’s great if your beach has a lightning speed internet connection (and please share with me which beach this is), but most don’t. This means you’ll be holed up in your home, a co-working space, or a busy coffee shop during your workday. We chose places to stay based on whether or not there was a wifi signal. When away from the wifi, I relied on my phone to provide updates via email and internal communication channels.
Solution! When the wifi connection is brutal, it can honestly ruin your experience. You rely on this wifi signal to maintain your customer relationships and well, run your entire company. If you have booked a place based around the wifi and it’s less than optimal, you can try getting a wifi extender to boost the signal, but you may be out of luck. We recommend finding a co-working space where the wifi is more of a guarantee. There are many spaces that charge reasonable rates to use a hot desk a handful of times a month. You can save those days for important remote meetings and things that require more wifi than a simple email.
Finally, this is not a vacation. You’re working remote. Find somewhere you can live.
This is the most important piece of advice we can give. Lisen and I have traveled and worked out of a few different locations and found that what we love is living in city centres. Though we could have sworn we’d do anything for the beach, we realized we don’t like living in the suburban or touristy neighbourhoods that surround them. We want to be able to walk to all amenities, and if we have to drive or bus to the beach, that’s fine with us. It took us a few trips to realize that it wasn’t the type of beach or the country - it was being outside of the bustling city that drained us. For all the beaches offered in Spain, the Caribbean, and California, being in the city is what felt like home and where we kept traveling out to whenever we had the chance. Know what you need and like in a home to live in it with ease and you’ll have an easy transition to a new location for working remote and operating your business.