“The world of work is rapidly changing. Technology is helping more people than ever before to work remotely, allowing millions to offer businesses technical and creative expertise independent of geography. A Digital Nomad Visa represents a breakthrough in the way governments support today’s mobile workforce. We’re delighted to support the Ministry of Interior and are looking forward to making borderless working a reality for digital nomads everywhere,’’
Karoli Hindriks, CEO and founder of Jobbatical.
There has been a long list of studies trumpeting the virtues of flexible working, with one of the first revealing that flexible workers were generally a whole lot more productive than their 9-to-5 peers. Over a nine month period they found that flexible workers: achieved more, were off sick less often, worked longer hours and were happier in their work. These findings were replicated in a recent study conducted inside a Fortune 500 company.
So, sounds pretty good right? Let us start by telling you how we made the transition out of the traditional workplace and into a role that allows us to make a living no matter where we are in the world. (Hello from Ibiza & Vancouver!)
When we first began planning our joint venture, Stories Studio, We naturally decided Leeds would be the most logical location, being the best half way point between Harrogate and Sheffield. We visited a couple of co-working spaces, and although they seemed a great place to work from, none felt right.
Ideally we needed a styled office reflective of our brand, a place to store props, to style and shoot client products and of course somewhere we could make and photograph cocktails at 9am on a Tuesday morning without concerned looks from distracted co-workers. We quickly shifted our focus to finding an office space.
Whilst discussing one particularly expensive contender over dinner one Cold February evening, Emily joked that we could probably travel around Europe for a month, staying in beautiful Airbnb’s for the same price, potentially less than the office space we had just viewed and the content we could create would be far richer than that within four walls. So, naturally, we booked five stylish, affordable Airbnb’s and set off to pursue life as digital nomads.
Fast forward four months and despite having a little Studio space in North Yorkshire, as a team, we are currently location independent and proud. So far this year we have worked from Porto, Lisbon, Barcelona, London, New York, Canada and Ibiza. Experiencing a multitude of cultures, history, coffee and wine has done wonders for our creativity and network. But above all it has significantly improved the relationship we have with work. Admittedly, it wasn’t the easiest of transitions. We have become preconditioned to associate work with an office, guaranteed broadband and an ergonomically correct chair. Breaking the mould and working from wherever can feel, at first, somewhat uncomfortable.
Over the last four months we have learnt a lot about how to successfully run a growing business and maintain a great whilst roaming across the globe like free range humans. Here’s how we’ve coped so far :
Emily – Of course there are certain roles better suited to flexible working than others. But, if you need to focus intently on a complex task that can largely be performed without others, then remote working is a fantastic option. Apart from when your portable air drop printer decides it can’t connect to you and there’s no IT department, being exposed to new and diverse ways of thinking is tremendously powerful for boosting one’s innovative.
Amanda – No office, no fighting the rush hour to arrive at work perfectly. Essentially, I can start work at whatever time I wish, sounds great right? Realistically my 9-5 is more of a ‘from when I open my eyes, to when I close my eyes’. When you love what you do dedication comes naturally but we all have days where our motivation dips. On these days, I find simply admitting I’m not functioning to the best of my ability and taking some time out to go for a run, get my nails done, read a book or even take a nap. You do you!
Emily – So its half ten here and I’m currently Whatsapping Amanda on her flight from Chicago to Vancouver about a new project we are both super excited about – They have internet in the air now ? I actually didn’t even know they did that what kind of millennial am I ?! But no really whether its sending multiple voice notes too our lovely web developer Conal or sending Amanda 17 inspirational Pinterest quotes before she’s woken up, I feel very in tune with collaborating over the sea’s apart from when my face freezes of FaceTime and I look like something out of a horror film. (insert screen shot here)
Amanda – In our experience the best work is created when the two work simultaneously together and despite being in different countries we still find a way to make that happen. It’s also a great excuse for me to book a trip to Ibiza to see Emily, check out some of our latest collaborative efforts here . Our skills complement each other and our work as a result has become stronger despite the distance between us.
Emily – I’m not going to lie and say I’m the most organised person in the world – thank God I have Amanda and Asana ! Even when I was Creative Director of an agency of ten It wasn’t my strongest suit. It always comes down to when I’m feeling in tune with my creativity and have a rush of genuine excitement to do something, then I’ll happily sit with no concept of time the project is complete. This heightened enjoyment largely emerges due to the control I have over my work life and my work environment. We only work on projects that align with our values, whilst working at a time and location that suits me. It gets done and it gets done very well! My organisation though, well, it probably wouldn’t make any difference if I was sat on the moon or at a desk in Manchester.
Amanda – Emily and I aren’t always based in the same location. In July I will be travelling for a few weeks. In order for this trip to cause no hindrance to our work flow, it’s important for us both to be organised. Although, we use Asana to log our workload and deadlines. We provide each other with a weekly run through of what we are going to be working on and what we need from each other. For some tasks, Emily and I are quite dependent on each other – take for example this article. I write the words; she shoots the shots. It’s essential we are both working with the same vision to the same deadlines.
Emily – Overcoming the stigma. The real power of being location independent for us is not about travel at all, it’s about the ability to connect with opportunities beyond our local borders. It’s about getting inspired, finding a sense of belonging, and it’s about experiencing freedom, no matter where we live. Any aligned to Stories, will value that.
Amanda – I’d advise anyone considering a digital nomad lifestyle to be transparent with their clients about where they. Have confidence in the fact that you are doing nothing wrong. For Emily and I, our clients have chosen to work with us because they love what we create not because of our postcode. Therefore, the fact that we are here, there and this summer especially, a little bit of everywhere shouldn’t be an issue. With most things, as soon as you hide or attempt to mask your whereabouts you create the illusion that something is wrong. Best way is to always be honest, wear your location independency with confidence.
If you have any questions about how we have made remote working work, or if you’re a brand looking to collaborate with us please email firstname.lastname@example.org – we’d love to hear from you!