Thanks to various developments in technology, going to the office every day to fulfill your obligations is not always necessary anymore. Many workers are beginning to work remotely—whether from home, the bakery across the street, or even while traveling in another country. And this trend is rising all around the globe. Just in the U.S., remote working raised from 9% in 1995 to 37% in 2015.
Managing a global team is becoming easier every day with all the technology and tools that allow communication and flow of information faster than ever before. Some of the most important benefits of working remotely, both for employers and employees, are as follows:
- It is more likely that the employer can attract and retain skilled workers, with the right qualifications, from all over the world.
- Employers can reduce big overhead costs, such as office space, if most or all employees work from home.
- Employees can save travel time, and they have the option to choose the working environment they prefer, giving them flexibility to find their work/life balance, which often leads to a boost in their productivity. Several testimonies portray how good it is to have this autonomy in your daily life.
But remote work is not suitable for every company or employee, and some argue there are some major disadvantages that must be taken into account, such as a lack of social interaction that makes it hard to promote an organizational culture or work collaboratively. Yahoo, for example, even ended the option to work remotely for their employees. It is important to evaluate all the benefits and detriments before deciding whether working remotely is a good option for you and/or your company. The nature of the job, the need for interaction in order to fulfill the tasks, the organizational culture and clients’ needs are just some of the factors that the North Carolina Department of Commerce has listed as the main considerations that must be taken into account before deciding if working remotely is right for you.
Working Remotely: Popular Options
Most commonly, people working remotely are freelancers and entrepreneurs, but recently other types of employees choose and have the option to work remotely. Many people relate remote working to working from home, but that is not necessarily true, as working from a coffee shop is also an option and co-working has become a new trend.
Working from home is currently one of the most common options, due to the money and time savings. But maintaining separate work and home schedules is not easy and a bad perception of your company can be caused as clients may reconsider your company’s professionalism and soundness. These are factors that will make you think twice when considering this option.
Working from a nice spot where you can have a good coffee and snack while you get access to free internet may seem like a good option, but working from a coffee shop is actually not always that great of an idea, especially if work requires you to make a lot of phone calls. Loud music, people chatting, and not having a good internet connection all affect your ability to have a quality call.
Given some of the detriments of working from home or the local coffee shop, another option is co-working. This concept is quite new and it may mean something different for different people. Many of us have not even heard about it, and some do not understand exactly what it means. Whatls, a glossary for technology definitions, defines co-working as: “a business services provision model that involves individuals working independently or collaboratively in shared office space.” These shared spaces aim to promote a collaborative environment for remote workers and provide necessary office features such as wi-fi connection, reservable conference rooms, a communal printer or fax, kitchen, bathrooms and lounges, and some of them even offer 24-hour access.
One example of co-working spaces is Office Nomads, which gathers remote workers, independent professionals, and small teams and promotes the creation of a collaborative community where relationships are more important than competition.
Fresher Options for Co-Working
Even though the co-working model is quite new, as the first designated co-working space opened in 2005, there are even newer models for working remotely. The new trend involves working abroad while co-working and co-living. This means a mix between student housing and hotels, as you get your private serviced room and you get to share common spaces and resources. This is possible thanks to companies like Remote Year and Roam, which offer multiple packages and destinations, so you can have a year of travelling and adventure while you keep working.
Remote Year: Extended Adventure Commitment
This startup is looking for participants who want to experience the work and travel lifestyle for a year. That is why every 12 months they bring together 75 digital nomads from all around the world to travel, work, and explore 12 cities. The idea is to spend one month in each country so the community has enough time to get to know the local culture and their business ecosystems, promoting the formation of personal and professional networks on the way. Remote Year expects to pave the way for digital nomad lifestyle, shaping the future of work.
How it works
With a down payment of $5,000 and a monthly fee for the next 11 months of $2,000, you will have access to private accommodations, 24/7 internet connection, activities, community events, and all transportation between destinations. Participants must already have their own remote jobs.
With destinations such as Lisbon and Prague in Europe, Kuala Lumpur and Hanoi in Asia, Rabat in Africa, Buenos Aires and Bogotá in Latin America, and many more, Remote Year offers programs starting at several dates throughout the year. If you want to be part of this experience, the first requirement is a basic level of English; you need to apply through their website, and if you are accepted, you will be matched with the program that best suits you depending on your interests, date availability, and time zone preferences.
The inaugural year was 2015-2016, and 75 digital nomads out of 25,000 that applied had the opportunity to be part of this experience. There were many learning experiences from this pilot project, but the biggest insight for these travelers was “Your best work happens when you feel inspired. It’s hard to find inspiration in routine.”
Obstacles on the way
As 2015-2016 was the first year, of course not everything went perfect. Unexpected experiences happened through the year, such as moving from amazing accommodations in one country to terrible accommodations in another one; a lack of diversity in the staff group that led to cultural misunderstandings; and unresponsiveness from the team to participants’ feedback. Some cities did not have the best spots for working and an excess of alcohol led the group to a college-like lifestyle. Some of the adventures that happened in this pilot program resulted in the loss of some of the participants along the way.
Even though travelers that stayed until the end assure that the experience was worth it and that it helped them grow as individuals, create lifelong friendships, and unforgettable memories, the company still has to keep working to improve. After the first trip, four more have already shipped, and the next one will begin next August. According to the company’s newsletter, there were more than 100,000 applicants for the programs starting this year, and the number keeps growing.
Roam: Live as the Local Community
Different from Remote Year, Roam offers community immersion in each location you travel to, so it is not only you and the other digital nomads, but also a new group of locals everywhere you go. The company offers social activities such as meetings, classes, and events for every member of the community (travelers and locals), private rooms with big beds, linen and personal bathrooms, and shared working spaces with 24-hour high speed internet service and communal areas. The opportunities are currently offered in Miami, Madrid and Obud (Bali), and are coming soon for Buenos Aires and London.
How it works
This company is an experimental community that is currently aiming to help people better manage work, travel and adventure. A weekly fee of $500 gives you access to your own private room, co-living spaces, and different local communities around the world, with the possibility of coming and going as you please throughout the year.
Roam also offers another option ranging from 6 meeks to three months, usually for summer, so people can have a peek into what a year in different countries would be like. The perfect mix between private rooms and shared spaces in three different continents allows guests to discover new cities with different people.
Once you are confirmed for the trip, the company will help you with renting your house, finding a home for your pet, assisting in visa processes, and helping you find good flights between destinations. Other pluses such as local sim cards, transportation, and 24/7 concierge service will make your Roam experience great.
Roam is full of people like Muriel Ighmouracène—entrepreneurs who want to take a break from their busy life and manage their business from a distance for a while. The french mom travelled to Bali with her daughter and is staying there for two months. She highlights the possibility to work with other digital nomads with her same mindset, exchange stories, and get to know the world.
Cristoph Fahle, creator of Bethaus co-working spaces, also participated in this experience. The entrepreneur stayed in Bali for 5 weeks and liked the experience so much that he even started reconsidering our modern living spaces in urban areas. He enjoyed the mix between having privacy in your room but also getting to share thoughts, experiences and business ideas with other fellow travelers. This made him wonder why people have lost this sense of community and started isolating from each other, to the point that most of us don’t even know our next door neighbors anymore.
While experiences with Roam seem generally positive, the program’s weekly fee is a factor that disappoints people who like the idea but are not able to afford the price. Steffani Cameron, member of the BC Association of Travel Writers in Canada states that paying $2000 a month for a “unhotel for hispters” is just not for her. She argues that many entrepreneurs or digital nomads like her just don’t have that kind of money. She suggests that it is a community of people from the same income level who don’t really dare to go “full nomad,” rather staying in a safe place where they can be sure all their amenities will be covered—ultimately missing all the adventures and fears that come with traveling.
Shorter Co-Working Options
If you’re not quite sure about going “full nomad,” there are shorter options or options more tailored to specific types of workers/travelers.
WiFi Tribe: for younger nomads
Another option with a slight twist is WiFi Tribe, a traveling co-living community designed for remote workers. Participants will have access to accommodations (single private, double private, or shared), a working space, and high speed wi-fi connection. With a minimum two-week stay, the company offers different destinations in various continents throughout the year. The program offers daily fitness classes, weekend trips, healthy breakfast and dinner during the week, and a community of like-minded, down-to-earth people, with whom you can have knowledge exchanges. As the tribe travels around the world, you can join them wherever you want and also leave when you want. All you have to do is apply for a position and pay a fee that ranges from $800 to $1400 per month.
Hacker Paradise: for a flexible Experience
Like Roam´s shorter option, Hacker Paradise also offers the modality of working remotely but in a single destination, from 2 weeks to 3 months. Also with a rigorous application process, the startup aims for entrepreneurs, developers, and designers who can either work remotely or want to focus on a specific project. The company takes cares of accommodation and working space so that travelers can focus on being productive. With their first trip in 2014, the company has now hosted more than 200 persons in destinations such as Barcelona, Berlin, Tokyo, and Taipei. A bonus, they offer activities that will boost participants’ potential, such as lunches to share productivity goals, presentation days and workshops on topics like negotiations or developing business ideas.
Common Thoughts on the Benefits of Co-Working
People who have the opportunity to work remotely often agree that one of the most important factors that affects their productivity while working outside of the office is the company, the people you are co-working with. It is not necessarily hard to find a remote work, but travelling by yourself can get lonely sometimes. Diego Bejarano Gerke, co-founder of WiFi Tribe, told the Huffington Post, “I’ve been working remotely since graduating from college and it gets lonely. It’s hard to make a network. I used to live in these remote places and I would work really, really hard, but I wouldn’t get much done. I discovered through Ibiza and other experiences that I do my best work when I meet other like-minded, driven people.” Also, people who have these types of experiences concur that getting to work in these environments increases people’s motivation and therefore directly affects their productivity. The opportunity to broaden your horizons by getting to work side-by-side with people from different professions, cultures, backgrounds, and ways of thinking is a plus you can’t find anywhere else.