The Digital Nomad experiment: An update

In my December Blog, I mentioned that for a period of time, I’d be attempting to work remotely to see if it was possible for me to manage to work remotely and could I manage my workload being physically away from my teams.

It’s not all about Sangria!

When I mentioned that I would be working from the sun, there was the expectation that I’d be sitting at my desk working with a glass of Sangria… This could not have been more from the truth! I became even more strict with the use of my time and what I was spending my time on.

Starting out the morning on the patio

The Good:

Here’s a summary of the good things that I’ve seen from my virtual working:

  • I’m Selective: I’ve become more selective with my time and have really focused on: Is this important? Do I need to spending time on this? I’ve also made an attempt to work/record things more digitally rather than simply relying on my trusty notepad.
  • Concentration: My ability to focus has literally spiralled out of control here. I’m a lot more focused and dedicated to getting the work done. It could be the abundance of Vitamin D and sunlight but I’ve found that I’m more alert and able to think clearer as a result.
  • Creativity: I’ve worked hard this month on my work/ life balance and have really made an effort to talk walks/runs as part of my day. I think combined with the overdose of Vitamin D, I’ve had a lot more ideas and been able to be a lot more creative. I’ve already come up with a lot more ideas for 2020 and already started preparing 2 of my talks that I’ll be presenting later this year.

The Bad:

Here’s some of the negative things that I’ve found during the experiment:

  • The Internet: Oh, High speed internet… how I’ve missed you! It’s definitely been an adjustment moving to a slower location and I needed to use my phone a few times to make sure that my connection was stable enough to run calls but it definitely took a period of adjustment.
  • Time was not my own: I sometimes struggled to get in the work mood when the beach/pool/mountains called me. It took a few days and discipline to make sure that I did what I needed to do. This did mean that I often worked in the evening but I often enjoyed the relative quietness that being remote brings.
  • Hello? Are you there? Admittedly, I did this experiment over the christmas holidays so there was a few occasions where I was unable to get hold of people.

The Ugly:

What could be ugly about paradise? Well… It’s mainly around frustration! Working on an island means that I’d often need to adjust to “island time” and this was often in direct competition with my ability to be on time or get access to the rooms in nomad locations. Island time is where everything runs just a few minutes behind everyone else. As someone who is committed and likes to be 5 minutes early rather than late, this was a struggle for me to get used to.

Learning points:

The main things that I’ve learnt over this period is around effective communication and not just relying on the closeness of my team in getting things communicated or done. I’ve also made sure that I’ve followed up with not just an email but also used IM where convenient to contact people. It’s also given me a greater respect for my remote teams and the challenges that they face on a daily basis with technical obstacles.

Could I do this Long Term?

The simple answer is Yes. I’d need to make sure that I’m in a location with a more stable internet connection but I cannot see any reason why this could not work on a longer term. I’d really like to try this in a different timezone to see how this change would effect my productivity as a Project Manager.

If you’ve been a digital nomad, how did you find it? Did you have a similar experience to me? or find it different?

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