Four Steps to Securing a Remote Work Setup

Remote work setups and their variants are more common than you might realize.

This is especially true in the knowledge economy. The reason countless programmers, marketers, designers, customer service professionals etc. mainly work in the office is because either a) they simply don’t question it or b) their managers say so.

If surveys are to be believed, it’s usually the latter. Many more of us would take a more remote-friendly setup if it were offered.

Well, if “remote” is your preferred setup then I have some good news.

You can tailor your job search to suss out remote-first or remote-friendly positions.

It’s easier now today than ever before.

Telecommuting is slowly but steadily entering the mainstream. Getting a work from home setup is more is, nowadays, more realistic than ever. The bad news? If you’re determined to go in this direction, you’re going to have to work a bit harder than the average job applicant.

Now, the reason I’m writing this post is because I have a lot of personal experience in interviewing companies and evaluating their approach to remote work. Yes, companies don’t just interview me. I interview them. That’s what a job interview is supposed to be. My last job wasn’t advertised as remote however, I negotiated a contract and setup I wanted.

Now, I’d like to tell you how to do the same.

Step 1 Towards a Remote Work Setup – Start with research

Researching new roles can be exciting but it can also be draining. Very draining, depending on your current frame of mind. Approaching your research in a structured manner can do a lot of good. Viewing it as a project and setting aside a few hours each day for it will ensure you get one step closer to your goal.

When researching, you have several sources to tackle.

  • Job Boards: All job boards relevant to your industry, NOT just remote ones. In fact, avoid remote job boards for now and just focus on your industry, skills and experience. Generally speaking, I think almost all of them suck and are in a desperate need of an update. However, they are an excellent source and unfortunately the best we’ve got.
  • Companies: Research companies, research roles. Create a big Excel list. Look for words like “flexible working”, “mobile working”, “work-life balance”. Note down any remote or overtly remote-friendly companies too. This is a lot more fun and tolerable than just drawling through job boards.
  • Your Network: You don’t have a network yet? Start building one. This takes time but can pay off in the future. Be active on social media. You don’t have to be glued to my smartphone (mine is mainly a portable wifi router, if I’m honest…), but a certain level of consistency and connection can go a long way.

This is your starting point. Don’t stick only to these, either. Research local companies in your field and see if they mention anything about “work-life balance” on their ads, etc. See what open positions they currently have and start to dig deeper. Now, this of course brings me to my next point…

Step 2 – Research roles

You’ve gathered your sources, now it’s time to research specific roles and see where you could theoretically see yourself as a fit. Now you’ve got your sources, it is time to start looking for actual jobs within your field or skillset. Depending on your telecommute/work environment requirements, you may have quite a lot of options to choose from.

You can use standard job boards to suss out remote roles. In this case, it’s best to use a keyword combination such as “[JOB TITLE] + “remote””, “[JOB TITLE] + “telecommute””, “[JOB TITLE] + “home-based””, etc.

Note: Check out my post on how to find remote jobs with Indeed

Go through your list of target companies on a regular basis. Even if you don’t see an open position, see if you can send an open application.

Step 3 – Start a Conversation

If you phone/email to ask a company about their policy, you’ve already started a conversation. If the answer is what you’re looking for, send a CV along or apply. Cover letters are just that: an icebreaker that introduces your experience to a company. If anything, it is a sales letter.

Depending on the feel you get for a company, it might be pertinent to ask about their work setup. Is the role office-based, but with a certain degree of flexibility? Do they only want you to be there now and then? These distinct, unfortunately, are not always clear on job advertisements. It’s annoying, yes, but there’s no harm in asking.

Note: When asking about location flexibility with specific roles, make sure to tie it in with further questions about the work in general. You’re not just looking for any old flexible job: you’re also looking for the next step in your career. You want to show your passion, motivation and how working remotely can actually help you achieve that.

 

Step 4 – Start to Negotiate

If you get to the next step of the hiring process, congratulations! Your work environment will often depend on the team you’re working with and your manager. It is in this interview that you now have the chance to…

  • Gauge what the company culture is really like. Do a lot of people work remotely, even some of the time? How used to communicating over Slack/Skype/video are your potential colleagues? Ask the right probing questions, as well as questions about the role.
  • Find out what terms and conditions you can put in the contract. What setups do other people have? Do some people work part time?

Conclusion

Finding work isn’t easy. It can be a long, hard slog and in terms of job interviews, you may kiss a lot of frogs (hopefully not literally…). You will also interview companies where you think, “Yes… This is it!” only to be rejected in favour of a candidate who may have slightly more experience or one extra skill than you.

Whatever it is, and whatever work environment you’re looking for (remote or not), you need to remember that ultimately it is up to you to get a setup that you want. There are more jobs out there than you think.

Tackling Remote Work’s Biggest (Personal) Challenge

I love remote work. It lets me be me, without getting in the way of a career I’m passionate about. Plus, the money is nice.

While I took to it like a duck to water, the same cannot be said for other people. Sure, there are benefits but it also comes with quite a few downsides.

If you’ve sat in an office for most of your professional life, switching to a work from home position is a big change. You’ve got issues with communication: forget about sauntering up to your colleague’s desk or nipping down the hall. You have to call them  (sometimes on a phone! ) or at least send a message. Even then, they may not reply but you need an answer NOW…

If you work in a globally distributed company, you may have a few time zone issues. Of course, that’s something any half-decent project manager can work around.

You may, however, be very easily distracted by housework. That certainly brings some people’s productivity down.

To top it all off, in spite of the “freedom” remote work brings… you may end up grinding more than your in-office counterparts.

But wait, there’s more!

Telecommuters find that working remotely can increase loneliness.

This affects even those of us who strongly prefer working from home.

I guess I’m a bit of an odd fish in this sense. Working on my own usually means I’ve got far more social energy than I would if I spend every day in an office, surrounding by people. Once I’ve closed my laptop, I can’t wait to get out into the world and spend some good, quality time with people.

beer hand
…and booze.

However, not everyone is wired the same way. Work often becomes a large part of most people’s social lives. In some cases, it more or less is their social life. I find this very strange because I prefer to hang out with people different to the ones I work with, but each to their own.

So, when you’re suddenly thrown into a “remote” environment and all your interactions are done via email, phone or video call… It can get very lonely very fast.

Since many of us are creatures of habit, its often difficult to break out of the cycles we find ourselves in. Suddenly, you realize you haven’t left the house or physically interacted with a single person all week.

What, then, can telecommuters do to ensure they get regular, healthy social contact? Coworking spaces can ease the burden but let’s be realistic: there might not be one near you. Or it might be ridiculously expensive.

Unfortunately, this means taking your social life into your own hands. Luckily, it’s not as difficult as you think.

Creating and maintaining a healthy social life

The good news is that maintaining active social contact and putting yourself in a position when you regularly meet new people isn’t at all that difficult. It does require that you have a bit of confidence in yourself, though. You should at least be comfortable talking to new people.

NOTE: If you want a wealth of ideas and tips on improving your social life, check out these experts tips on how to make new friends.

 

So how do you make new friends? Well, you can…

  • Join specialist interest groups. Look for Meetup groups in your area and make a commitment to actually attend them. Preferably go to groups centered around a topic that interests you. And yes, that topic can just be “drinking” if you’re as devout a barfly as I am.
  • Attending networking events. This isn’t just great for your social life. It can also do wonders for your career. Remote workers tend to be physically isolated and have fewer options when it comes to networking. This is something you need to take into your own hands.
  • You can still do a lot of it online. I’ve mentioned how digital nomad communities can help you make new friends before you arrive in a new destination. These online groups centering around remote work and the nomad lifestyle shouldn’t be your only source of networking but rather, they should complement it. Additionally, these communities are great for making contacts in your new chosen destination.

Again, don’t forget to check out the expert tips above as well! Different techniques work for different people. Additionally, consider your online networking/socializing as a complement to getting out there and interacting with the real world.

The Key to Expanding Your Social Circle: Stay active, be patient

Making new friends and connections is a lot like applying for a remote (or any!) job. You could get one tomorrow but it is more likely to take a while. It has happened to me but hitting things off with someone straight off the bat doesn’t always occur.

The key here is remaining patient and knowing that good things are around the corner. You just have to sow the seeds yourself first.

How Much? Some Top-Paying Location Independent Careers

A long time ago, I began my online career as a freelance writer (aka: in my case, “I’ll write anything for money!”).

My first jobs came from awful content mills. Later, I got my own clients – some of whom paid a pittance. Others were more generous. Eventually, I learned to ask for what I was worth.

money counting
And then I was loaded… LOADED, I tell you! (Not really.)

During this time, every project and assignment had one thing in common: I could do my work from anywhere. Admittedly, my take-home pay wasn’t huge. It didn’t matter. In those days, I was happy to cover my rent and my bar tab. Oh, and food. I also had to pay for food.

Everything I did was via email or Skype (Slack didn’t exist in those days – well, not to me anyway). Communication, corrections, outreach and client acquisition were all handled over the Internet. Okay, so you can bet that I also placed my Internet bill as equally high in importance!

welcome to the internet
My first day on the job was weird, but that’s the Internet!

Fast forward several years later and I see countless blogs and news articles talking about the benefits of working remotely. There are studies proving its effectiveness and even big companies like Stripe have openly talked about implementing a remote work policy.

There’s also a lot of press around digital nomads, those devil-may-care go-getters who live wherever they want and maintain a career. Well, okay, digital nomadism takes a lot of planning so “devil-may-care” probably isn’t the right description for these individuals.

But what’s the state of location independence these days? If you want to live and work anywhere, do you have to resign yourself to freelancing and financial insecurity? It simply begs the question…

Can you really have a location independent career that commands a high salary?

Way back when, many employers used “remote” as a reason to pay their employees less. It is still a phenomenon that sadly occurs today when talking about remote work and salary.

With more and more highly skilled and specialized work from home jobs appearing, this should no longer be the case. Anyone with a unique set of skills and years of experience can command a better pay packet and still work from wherever they please.

After doing a bit of research, I uncovered quite a few pretty surprising, high-paid (and often senior) roles that don’t require you to be in the office.

NOTE: While these high-paying, location independent careers can be found, it may take a bit of work to convince bosses to allow for any degree of remote work. But keep in mind that it is possible. In addition, your level of seniority may give you an advantage.

 

Let’s Dive in: Location Independent Careers That Pay a Bomb

Recruiter

Wait… That’s not a tech job. Nope, but not every remote job has to be in tech (despite what telecommute boards will have you believe). Even so, this job may seem like an odd choice to slap the label “telecommute” onto, but let’s hold up for a minute…

Have you ever been approached by a recruiter? If so, where did they approach you? It probably wasn’t on your way to work, or when you were at home feeding the cats/children. Most recruiters contact candidates via phone, email or (more commonly these days), social media (LinkedIn being the favorite).

So, you can bet your ass most recruiters spend a lot of their time behind a desk. They can recruit from literally anywhere… Making this a very viable remote job. Of course, it also depends on the specifics. Some recruiters work within specific areas. Others are more international in their scope (I was approached by a recruiter from Malaysia).

How much do recruiters earn? According to Workable, the average salary is US$ 45,360 per year. That’s average – it can go up to $70,000. Depending on your success level, it can be even more.

Project Manager

Project Managers work in a wealth of different industries. Yes many are in tech, but this is a job that quite literally pays people to make sure shit gets done. So, when it comes to being remote-friendly, it may not immediately seem that most suited. After all, shouldn’t a Project Manager be checking up on their colleagues, ensuring that targets and deadlines are met?

Well, think about it. How many Project Managers do you know who actually go out into the field to check if things are being done? I’m sure it happens in some industries, but for many others… It’s just not necessary. Even if the project isn’t specifically technical, Project Management is simply a title for those who run projects and coordinate workflows. They are in charge of workflows, task management, prioritization, cost proposals and ensuring execution. They should also be highly organized.

The bottom line is that most of a Project Manager’s job is based on organization and communication. There is also a lot of PM software house there which was created specifically for this role – which lends itself very well to remote work.

How much do Project Managers earn? According to FlexJobs, US$65,000-US$105,000 a year. I wouldn’t sniff at that.

Senior Business Analyst

Now we’re diving into more technical jobs. Probably one of the more droll-sounding yet highly-paid careers out there. I’m willing to bet a lot of people in this profession often have the right (or the need) to work remotely. Basically, a Senior Business Analyst makes sure that processes run smoothly: they test for bugs in software, troubleshoot technical issues and ensure that things are maintained to a specific standard.

So, as you can see, it involves a high level of technical knowledge. At the same time, you don’t need to be a full-on developer. Technical skills aside, a healthy dose of business acumen is also necessary.

Well, what about the money? FlexJobs states that the average salary for a Senior Business Analyst is $57,000 – $90,000.

UX (User Experience) Researcher

One of the “newer” tech jobs. UX Design and Research are EXPLODING at the moment. What’s handy about this profession is that it requires a lot of skills that are transferrable from other professions (such as aspects of digital and performance marketing). Specifically, UX Research analyse websites and sales processes before recommending solutions to increase customer satisfaction and increase revenue. Actually, it even goes beyond revenue – UX isn’t just for websites, it’s for just about every piece of technology handled by humans.

This job can be “fully digital”, but plenty of researchers also get together in person. Since that’s not always possible, it’s also a very viable “remote” career.

What’s the compensation? Payscale.com says EUR 46,000 per year (if you’re American, convert it yourself – I’m too lazy).

Teleradiologist

A what?

Basically, a radiologist who works remotely. Traditionally, the majority of health care jobs could only be done in a specific location. Doctors, nurses, medical specialists etc… Teleradiology is that little bit different. Their input is needed on X-rays which are normally sent to them, making it a very viable remote career.

Of course, this particular role is quite rare at the moment.

What’s the compensation? US$100,000 – $400,000 per year, apparently (thanks, FlexJobs).

DevOps Engineer

Probably the least surprising job when it comes to telecommute-friendliness. It’s an IT job. As a highly skilled profession, they work closely with software developers and other tech staff to oversee code releases. This is a role where you have to break the barriers between development, testing and operations. Basically, you hold the digital presence of a company together.

And of course, since it’s all on a computer there’s really very little need to work in an actual office.

How much $$? According to FlexJobs, the average salary is US$80,000-US$100,000.

What Can Digital Nomad Communities Do for Me?

For the introverts among us, the following is unfortunately true: people need people.

Human beings are social animals. Even those of us who prefer limited social contact need it sometimes. That’s why online communities have always been popular and will always remain popular.

That’s also why online communities based on specific niches and interests do well (if that niche is big enough).

For the working globetrotters among us, online digital nomad communities serve to fulfill that need. These platforms let you chat with other nomads, exchange ideas and can even be used to network (important even if you have a permanent remote job – even more so if you’re a freelancer). On top of that, they’re a handy place to make new friends.

bloody hands
Don’t let the above picture alarm you – meeting strangers off the Internet is less risky these days (though a hint of caution is ALWAYS advised).

Believe me, as a digital nomad you’ll need to learn how to make friends. Not everyone can just wander into a bar and start chatting to people. Starting friendships online offers a way of easing you into the process (not very different from online dating – just with fewer dick pics… we hope).

With all of that said, probably one of the biggest advantages of digital nomad communities is…

…the ability to contact other nomads already living in your new destination.

Let’s get down to the nitty gritty of this particular type of community and see how exactly they can benefit you as a nomad. Maybe you already had an idea – but now its time to execute it.

Networking: Speak to other nomads in your industry

With the rise of remote work, it’s easier than ever to network without having to go to boring business meetups. Social media allows for a fluid exchange between people in the same industry – and that’s truly a blessing. Especially as a freelancing nomad, you should always be on the lookout for new gigs and opportunities. This means cultivating relationships.

The likes of social media platforms such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook can help you network with professionals in your industry who may or may not be nomadic. However, digital nomad communities will get you in touch with those who are not only in your industry, but who also know the nomadic life. Your unique experiences may very well help you land a new gig, part-time job or full-time remote position.

Get the lowdown on your new home, before you travel there

Are you currently living in Strasbourg, France but looking to move further east – like Berlin, or even Kiev? Sure, there are a lot of ways you can find out about your new prospective home before your plane even touches down. Plenty of travel sites and blogs are available – you can look at cost-of-living stats and even connect with expat and international groups in the major cities of that region (which I would highly recommend).

Online digital nomad communities can offer you that – and more. If there are a few nomads living (or who have lived) in your next chosen destination, you can strike up a conversation and ask them what it was like. They can give you insight specifically unique to nomads (such as how easy it is to find affordable, low-cost accommodation) and how much coworking spaces cost.

Make friends before you arrive

Okay, I wouldn’t call complete strangers “friends” just yet – but digital nomad communities can give you the opportunity to connect with people in real life. If there are any nomads living in your destination city, simply hit them up and see if they’d like to go for a drink, show you around etc. It can be a good way of combating the loneliness that often creeps up when you arrive in a new place for the first time.

And of course, meeting a new person can cause a chain reaction and get you introduced to others.

So then, what are some good digital nomad communities?

You can find a good list of them digital nomad communities here. However, the following are what I’d consider my “favorites”.

Nomad List

You could say that Nomad List is more than just an online community for digital nomads. It’s also a tool – a database of 2000+ cities from all over the world. In addition, it offers to connect users with 100,000+ digital nomads who live in these cities. Additionally, Nomad List offers a remote job board. There’s a basic, Slack-style chat room that you can openly see and sign up to. Topics are segregated by a hashtag (#) under names like “#Toronto”, “#Crypto”, “#United-States” and “#Startups” (there’s obviously FAR more than that).

To actually participate and chat, you have to create an account and login. Luckily, you also get access to their other features. This can be great for scoping out new places to live.

Global Digital Nomad Network

There are also quite a few not-so-great digital nomad communities out there… Often what makes them bad is simply the fact that there aren’t many active members. That’s what’s great about the Global Digital Nomad Network (from WebWorkTravel). What’s more, they’re on Facebook. Yes, Facebook is still relevant in a lot of cases!

Flylancer

The focus with Flylancer is on meeting people “offline”. So of course, you can create an account, login and chat to people. Not everyone on Flylancer is a digital nomad: but many of them are freelancers and remote workers. What does this mean for globetrotters? It’s means that there are some excellent options when it comes to networking.

Meetup.com

Meetup.com has been going for quite a while. Unlike other communities on this short list, it’s not specifically geared towards digital nomads. However, you’ll find interest groups of almost every type here. Looking for friends? See if there are any social activities happening in the city you’re currently living in.

And… if there’s a demand for something, you can create your own group as well!

Conclusion

If you just want to meet new people, its important to pull out all the stops. Networking and gathering new contacts for job and business opportunities may require you to join a different type of community whereas expat groups may be good for just meeting friends. Whatever the case may be, you need to understand your own needs before choosing a community.

 

Setting Up Your Mobile Office

A mobile office is probably one of the most essential tools for a digital nomad. You need to be able to whip out your laptop and work – from almost anywhere. Especially if you want to practice the art of efficiently working and traveling.

In most cases, this means getting a travel-friendly laptop. One that has enough processing power for you to complete tasks (especially if you work with videos and/or other graphics). It must also be light so that you’re not dragging a weight around – and must fit any bag you carry.

Of course, setting up a mobile office goes far beyond buying a laptop.

There are a couple of other tools that make the set up even easier.

The basics of a mobile office

Choose the right laptop

I’ve just said this, but I’ll repeat: the core of an efficient mobile office is a good laptop. You must able to (easily) carry it around. Make sure it fits snugly into your shoulder bag/backpack. Make sure the screen is big enough (some people can work with small screens, others go crazy).

antique typewriter 400x
Typewriters are cool and retro… but would you really want to lug one around?

With regards to size and compact portability, Dell and Acer have some pretty nice models. Acer’s TravelMate range, in particular, is designed exactly for what it says on the tin. Size-wise, Apple’s computers aren’t terrible either.

Have your own power supply

Ideally, wherever you work should have power outlets available. Having trekked through cafes in various European cities, I’m aware that this isn’t always possible. Especially on trains. If you’re working 10+ hours without an outlet, you need to have a backup supply handy. Plenty of power banks are available nowadays.

potatoes
Delicious and nutritious but not a great source of power. Seriously, invest in a power bank.
Note: Make sure you find a power bank that can charge laptops! There is a difference!

Bags!

I’m not very fancy when it comes to bags. My current office holder is a cheap Ikea design – yet its perfect thanks to the various compartments it has. A lot of bags these days have a special pocket specifically designed for laptops, so make use of it. In addition, make sure there are separate compartments for USB cables, plug adaptors, your phone, etc.

Plug Adaptors

For a mobile office, these couldn’t be more important. Even in Europe, there are differences between plugs depending on whether you’re in the UK or on the mainland. Tuck a few necessary plug adaptors into your bag and leave them there. It will seriously throw a spanner in your plans and leave you scrambling to go to the next electronics store if you forget.

Headphones

If you have regular meetings, you should really conduct them in a quiet space. It could be your bedroom or a bathroom… Noisy cafes aren’t advisable. That being said, headphones are still a plus. Not just in terms of having a meeting, either: you may simply want to drown out the surrounding noise and concentrate on your work!

Setting up a mobile office really is that simple… Although it can be as elaborate as you like. The main point is that you want to be able to whip it out and start working wherever you are.

Are Remote Work and Travel Really a Good Mix?

The year’s drawing to a close and this has been playing on my mind. Especially since I’ve done a lot of it this year. Remote work and travel seem to go hand in hand… but sometimes I just wonder how well these two things really mix.

I’ve worked from home (read: “remotely”) for a long time. I’ve also traveled and worked, sometimes simultaneously. This year, I’ve really been abusing those privileges. Planned and unplanned stints to Spain, the Black Forest, the windy city of Hamburg… And constantly going back and forth to Ireland (thanks, Ryanair, I guess…).

The true beauty? Only a fraction of those journeys involved actually using my vacation days.

Amidst this traveling though, I wondered…

With all the extra stress and planning involved, are travel and remote work really a good match?

Is it better to sit at home and focus? With only the occasional stint to the coffee shop? In some cases, I’d say yes (at least for me). Then again, it often depends…

Successful remote work and travel

The fact that digital nomads exist tells us that successful remote work and travel probably does happen. Of course, a lot of that is self-reporting, so it should be taken with a pinch of salt. A nomad’s lifestyle often involves hopping from city to city, country to country. Very frequently, too. But is this actually feasible for the majority of people? Or would most of us pass out from the stress?

I’ll be honest here. If anything, I’m more of a part-time digital nomad. I don’t think I’d enjoy the hustle, at least not long-term. When it comes to work, I’m very focused, very proactive and communicative with my team: but add the extra stress of constantly organizing flights and sorting out accommodation, I think I’d go spare.

That’s just me though. I guess I’m more of an opportunistic digital nomad rather than a “part time” one. I use my remote work privileges to travel when the mood strikes.

How to (effectively) travel and work remotely

Okay, so remote work and travel can be done by some people – especially those who thrive on constant activity. But if you’re a remote worker who still wants to at least occasionally travel, it’s good to keep a few things in mind.

  • When it comes to a job -any job- remember: it’s still a damn job! You cannot shirk responsibility because, oh no, you’re now on a plane and there’s no wifi.
  • If you are “working on the go”, prepare for it. This is easier for freelancers than full-time remote workers, of course. If you’re traveling that day, let your teammates/clients know you won’t be available at certain times. Don’t just randomly disappear in the middle of the day.
  • Be equipped! If you’re traveling on trains and buses, make sure you have enough battery power. And enough mobile data!
  • Be mindful of timezones and adjust your worktimes/arrangements accordingly.
  • As always, communicate if you have any problems and let people know.

A lot of this is just common sense. Which unfortunately isn’t all that common.

Becoming a Digital Nomad – How Do You Make It Happen?

Becoming a digital nomad is often a slow, steady process. You don’t wake up one day and suddenly decide to start traveling and working remotely. For many, it happens gradually, step-by-step. Sometimes there are a few lucky accidents. For the most part, it is planned. The best part is that there are plenty of ways to switch over to the location independent lifestyle. For those interested in beginning this new adventure, there are several important points you need to cover before you jet off.

Any major lifestyle change takes a lot of mental and emotion energy. The nomad lifestyle is no different.

You can read all the blogs and articles you want on digital nomadism. You can follow the many well-known nomads on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc… But if you don’t actually take the steps yourself, you’ll still be sitting in that open-plan office.

If you want the nomad lifestyle, you need to be honest with yourself. Do I have the right skills to travel and work remotely? If not, do I have the attitude and initiative to learn them – and overcome the obstacles that may be presented to me?

And what are these skills?

  • The ability to put up with a high level of discomfort and frustration. As a nomad, you’ll travel a lot. You’ll plan trips that go awry. If you’re freelancing, you’ll deal with the trials and tribulations that it brings. You need to be incredibly stress-resistant. The same can be said for physical comforts: get used to sleeping on sofas, futons and having to use your mobile data efficiently.
  • The ability to be alone. Being a digital nomad means being alone sometimes. You’ll go to a new place, make lots of great friends and then leave again. Sure, you’ll stay in touch with them. Maybe meet them again occasionally. When you move on to your new residence though, you’ll need to make a whole new group of friends. And that’s not to mention the reduced contact you’ll have with friends and family in your home country.
  • The ability to work independently. You’re not just a digital nomad: you’re a remote worker (whether freelance or employed). You need to take your work seriously. You need to be proactive and disciplined: your clients and your company are counting on you. They won’t be looking over your shoulder. Additionally, they won’t accept many excuses for not handing in work on time or being communicative.

You must either have these traits or be willing to develop them. If you’ve never traveled much, then this lifestyle will be a big change from what you already know.

The first (basic) steps to becoming a digital nomad

If your job ties you to one place, becoming a digital nomad is impossible. If you work as a nurse in a hospital, for example… Well, they kind of need you there. You can’t fix bandages and take blood tests without being present. Not yet, anyway. If you work in a shop – the same applies. And a great many other places.

For some, switching to this lifestyle also means changing careers. And that can be a HUGE leap.

On the flipside, you may have an in-office job where you don’t leave your desk. Literally everything you do is on a computer. You’re surrounded by colleagues and you travel to that office daily. Good examples are accountants, programmers and even project managers.

The change here won’t be as big, but you may have to argue your case with your employer. Which brings us to the skills of remote working. And I would say…

One of the most important telecommuting skills is communication. Effective remote working is sloppy at best without consistent, clear communication.

When switching to a remote work environment, you must make sure…

  • You’re GOOD at clearly and proactively communicating over text, voice call, video call and email… Whatever method of communication your clients/employer needs.
  • If you must change careers, see how many of your skills can be transferred to a remote work environment. Are you a good copywriter? A visionary graphic designer? Or are you a diligent account? All of these are standard, well-paid remote jobs.
  • Know what you are looking for in a remote job (not just the other way around). In truth, it’s not that different from finding a regular one. You’re just not going to be physically present.
  • If your current job can theoretically be done remotely, see how easy it could be to make the switch. Your current employer may surprise you.

Remember: Having a remote job (whether employment or freelance) is an integral part of being a digital nomad. If this is unfamiliar territory to you, get learning!

Beyond work, know what the digital nomad lifestyle entails

You don’t truly know if you like digital nomadism unless you try it.  But let’s just say you’ve managed to become location independent. You work from wherever you like: your home, a coffee shop, whatever. You’ve got a full-time remote job, or perhaps a couple of steady clients. What then? Well, now it’s time to move.

This means being organized. You have to book flights. Take care of visas. If traveling to a country that doesn’t speak your language, you may have to learn a few words and phrases in a foreign tongue.

Becoming a digital nomad is about becoming a traveler. For many, it’s their first step on the path to becoming a global citizen. It can a beautiful, enriching and exhilarating experience. But you have to put the work in.