Coffee shops or exotic beaches? This is how to make the most of remote work!
You’ve probably heard the expression: ‘digital nomad’. Rollout has a long history with digital nomading. For us, it really means nothing more than taking a long, hard look at ourselves, and just think it through: what could the immense freedom of remote work really do to our lives?
‘Digital nomadism’ might be overhyped, but the term ‘home office’, on the ther hand, is incredibly bland.
It really feels like the corporate world’s imagination can only stretch this far: either you are sweating within your cubicle in the office, or stuffing your face on the couch in your living room.
In this article, we will explore all the main layers of remote work beyond just staying home. First we talk about what it’s like to work close to your place, but not actually at home. After that, we explore what happens when you really spread your wings and go far, far away…
It’s so much more than just ‘working from home’
‘Remote’ is incredible. It’s a once-in-the-history-of-humanity opportunity, which will have a great effect on how we work, how we play, where we live, where we go, and how we are looking at life in general.
In a previous post, we discussed how Balint and Tamas, our sales experts, suggest approaching business events and international travel. When you go for a healthy mix of focused work and intense fun, your mindset will enable better opportunities for your professional life.
The first project Balint, and Rollout founder Balázs worked on together, was Digital Nomad Hungary. This is an information and event hub for all the expats and nomads in Budapest, which actually is a very popular destination for remote workers. They created a guidebook for this community.
Funnily enough, this was the first truly remote job for Balint, so he poured his experience into the ebook in an ‘as-you-go’ manner. While working on the book, he explored the many coffe shops the city has to offer, looking for the best places to work from — away from home.
Because, well, ‘home office’ just doesn’t cut it for everyone. At least, not always and not exclusively.
Coworking Spaces vs Café’s: Which one is for you?
Balint never really got the hang of coworking spaces. But that doesn’t mean they could not work for you. Here are some of the pros and cons:
- they cost roughly the same as the stuff you buy in coffee shops
- the people you meet there are remote workers exclusively, so it’s better for networking
- but Balint enjoys the more relaxed vibes, with the occasional curious dog, cute family or studying students
- they are less spontaneous and lively as café’s: if you want to do deep work, this might be an advantage
- location and clientele matters: when a large group of loud tourists descend at the table next to you, your session might be over in terms of meaningful work
Balint just loves good coffee. Fair and square. He is a coffee enthusiast, he loves chatting with baristas, he likes the loud buzz of the grinder, which can be distracting in a meeting. This is something that gives added value to his workday.
Now, some café’s welcome you with open arms for working remotely, but it’s not always the case. Think of it this way: are you an asset or a liability for the place?
If the café is busy and you occupy a table, the place is losing money on you. Maybe your laptop and cables are obstructing the natural flow of the café.
However, when you are visiting a place that is not crowded at all, your presence might be a blessing.
Most coffee shops now realise their role on this landscape, and try to control the presence of remote workers in a way that is optimal for them. One easy way to do so is to build power outlets to some of the tables, but not all of them…
Now more and more places have ‘no laptop table’ signs, for example when they prefer you not to occupy a table in the popular breakfast hours. Others change their menu up a bit to cater for an audience that resides there for long hours: if you eat a late breakfast, a daily menu lunch and have a coffee afterwards, it can be a good deal for you, and for the place that hosts you for 4–6 hours.
Weird, but it happens: some of these places block some websites. Balint can’t access his own website from a café he visited…
Now, enough of the city. Let’s talk about taking remote work much further!
What’s your dream destination?
For Balint, all signs pointed to Mexico.
More than a dozen of his nomad friends planned to spend some time together there during the winter of 2021. He was interested in the culture, loved the food, the beauties of nature, the escape from the European winter, and the lots and lots of sunlight. Mexico is not very cheap, but at least it’s not very pricey either.
He even got his accomodation through his digital nomad contacts. It’s always useful to reach out to the communities — Balint made good use of local WhatsApp groups once he got there.
Balint usually spent the mornings with work — this made it easier to stay in touch with the European partners. He usually went to the beach in the afternoon or took a sunbath on the rooftop terrace. He chose shorter workdays, but worked almost every day.
As you can see, going on a trip while working really feels similar to a vacation. The change of scenery and the unusual circumstances, like visiting an ocean beach every day with zero pressure of your ‘holiday’ running out, definitely gives you a huge mental boost. It’s not ‘ruining’ your time abroad, quite the opposite: it helps you ease into your days and makes absorbing what is actually happening with you a smoother experience.
The pros and cons: what can you expect if you decide to try digital nomading?
Digital nomading is a slower, deeper kind of travel. When you leave your home, things start happening to you — things that are in direct connection with personal development. Your experiences slightly change you in different ways, and this means that you will become a better, smarter, more well-rounded professional, whatever your work is.
Balint suggests actively looking for events, places and activities that the locals use, live, and love. For sure, a lot of people think of themselves as ‘travelers, not tourists’, but staying longer gives you more opportunities to explore and experiment.
One example Balint gives is that he joined a local Brazilian jitsu ( a martial art he practices) club and went down to training five times a week: with local Mexicans, without even speaking Spanish! He just put his head down and tried to follow the instructions. After a few weeks, he felt he could trust those guys with his life. So, don’t stay within the fixed frames of your original identity and community. It makes the process of growth faster and more colorful for you.
Think of it this way: when you are home, how much more valuable your own insights are about how to handle medical issues, what are the best pubs and which museum is worth visiting? It certainly beats Google, or Trip Advisor, that’s for sure.
Balint mentions powerful culture shocks, meeting tons of new people and getting to know their stories. We don’t know about you, but we are Central Europeans. Now, what do you really think ‘corruption’ means? How do you decide if a neighbourhood is dangerous or not? What kind of animals can you encounter in your yard, the bathroom, or in your bedroom?
Do you trust the police, or do you expect them to simply take the money you have you during a routine check, and wave you goodbye? What do you do when the waiter adds a large tip to your bill without consulting you first? Can you handle that the time period you get your visa for is semmingly completely random? And if you overstay, you get locked up instantly, for an undefined duration of time?
Getting exposed to situations and circumstances like these, you get just a bit more ‘grown up’, it is like unlocking a new, yet unknown level in adulthood. It’s unknown, because it’s locked away. You need to go places and see the world to get access to it. And sure, Mexico is ‘exotic’ from this perspective, but you can get a taste of these culture shocks right across the first border you can get to, or even within your own country, but in a corner of it that’s yet unexplored by you. Seeing for yourself, talking to the people there. You will definitely learn. It’s a given. All you need to do is just go.
Danger is an easy excuse. And you don’t think about it when you board a vehicle on your regular commute. Because the dangers you are used to, they don’t count as such. Dangers in an unfamilar environment seem much more terrifying.
The longer, the further, the better — but now Balint thinks that every small step counts, it delivers something new, it shapes you.
‘Don’t get me wrong…’ says Balint, the gastro enthusiast: ‘ I take propbiotics every day since I got home months ago, and I’m still waiting for my digestion system to get back to how it was before.’
So, is it a sacrifice? For sure. Is it worth it? One hundred percent. Having a home, a community to belong to is a basic need for us humans — but making use of the liberties granted by the digital world is also an important, maybe even evolutionary development for us here, in the 21st century.
Speaking of community: what do you exactly think about your friendship? Who do you think could join you on your quest to see the world and return as a better person? Will they stay in touch? Or will they fade away when you are not around? You will learn a lot about the true value and meaning of your relationships when you decide to embark on a long journey. The time you spend on the go is also a time you lose from your regular life. People will change, grow, things will happen and you won’t be a part of that story. This is one of the main reasons why nomading is scary for a lot of people.
One thing that often comes up when people talk about travel is that it’s just some sort of escapism, that nomads are running from something, and it’s ultimately futile. You are literally made of where you grew up and it always gets you in the end. Nonetheless, Balint thinks that home is somewhere you can come home to, and travel just makes you appreciate it even more. You get new perspectives, identify values that you’ve taken for granted before.
You will not necessarily get your best new business deals while traveling, but you know what, that can happen too! Balint got two projects that are currently in the prepation phase for Rollout IT, one on the beach, another one on a rooftop party! Good job, mate!
So, what are you waiting for? Are you ready for the next chapter? Or are you already an accomplished remote worker? We would absolutely love to hear your own stories, doubts, memories, dreams, adventures, tricks and tips, and your own, big realizations about remote work. Let us know about them in an email or on our social platforms!
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