Remote Work on Tour: Part 2 — Stimulated, Isolated, Integrated and Supported
Have you ever flown far away to go and live with a group of 50 strangers with no way back? Did you ever purposefully push yourself far out of your comfort zone to challenge yourself and your boundaries? What would be your purpose? As Naum Kaluzhny started his own multi-month remote working adventure seeking to find out more about himself, he was reeling and raving, thrust together with a diverse group all on their individual journeys.
Occasionally daunted at the prospect, Kaluzhny was excited to end 2018 adding a bold new dimension to his experiences by joining a Remote Year program for four months while continuing to work for his employer, communications and collaboration platform, Fuze. Arriving in Cape Town, which would be home for the first month, his commitment was reconfirmed when the border guards initially blocked his entry. No return ticket. After demonstrating evidence of his onward flight to Morocco in a month, he was allowed to enter South Africa, starkly aware that he had no easy escape route!
Kaluzhny was ready to meet his cohort — 50 varied individuals whose curiosity for new places, people, and perspectives had brought them together. A packed initial schedule kept everyone busy with high pressure social conditions forcing interaction. A myriad of events and activities sought to amuse, divert, connect, and bond them — from hikes and wine tours to paragliding, from dinners and parties to shark cage diving.
Interpersonal relationships quickly developed and Kaluzhny felt the sense of community growing. Newly-created, shared experiences promoted empathetic understanding, deemphasized individual differences, and bridged gaps. These also distracted people as the initial simulated-vacation aura faded and geographical distance from all that they were familiar with became more obvious and potentially isolating.
Kaluzhny found kinship in the different motivations that had inspired the participation of other group members — a mix of employees and freelancers, ranging from two college students to a couple of empty nesters. He was encouraged when he realized that the majority had purposefully sought out this forced separation from what was comfortable to catalyze personal breakthroughs and sea changes.
Kaluzhny was intrigued to find everyone prepared to grow internally through this remote adventure. Some group members looked to initiate similar purposeful personal journeys of discovery to Kaluzhny’s own — where were they in their lives, what was next, and why? Others — many introverted developers and designers — were launching themselves into this small discrete universe deliberately to try more open and involved approaches. Could they push themselves to engage differently and how would that feel?
Incorporating focused work time into these busy initial weeks delivered intense individual experiences this first month. Participants tested their organizational skills as they tackled time differences, new work environments, mental separation from corporate and client relationships, combined with prolonged absence from family and familiarity.
Efforts to bridge psychological distance kicked in for Kaluzhny and others as they began to acknowledge their new home base reality. Balancing work and play, connecting remotely and locally, became a focus as everyone took active steps to find their optimal working life rhythm. Kaluzhny saw them all making progress to adjust for their tasks and obligations, time management challenges, FOMO distractions and calls to clients, teams, and managers.
By the time Kaluzhny faced any real pangs of homesickness or challenging moments, he was already settled in enough to decompress with new friends or take purposeful time alone to organize his thoughts and tasks. The first month was a rush to meet, bond, and acclimate which became part of Kaluzhny’s own learning about his capacity to absorb so many new stimulating inputs and experiences. It has been thrilling so far for him, including occasionally reaching towards his outer limits and expanding his thresholds and capacities.
In just a few short weeks, the dream of Kaluzhny’s Remote Year adventure has become his existence — in all its dimensions. He is evolving with more understanding of himself, his traveling cohort, their own perspectives and realities, and how they are all growing, personally and professionally, individually and together, in the process.
Next — Part 3: Moving to Marrakech.