With the global pandemic stretching into its second year, remote work has become widespread, socially accepted and commonplace. With a laptop and internet connection, anyone can work from anywhere. So, why not an island?
Blending work life with a tropical lifestyle may seem like a paradox, but the new digital norm has created a legion of professionals taking remote work to the next level. The combination of freedom, active lifestyles, and scenic surroundings make an island an ideal destination for intrepid professionals. Meet three digital nomads who are taking remote work to the next level.
Find the Type of Work that Allows You to Travel
Ben Oliver has work-traveled ever since he caught the travel bug in his early twenties. “I’ve taught English in Chile, earned room and board by working in hostels in Colombia and Brazil, studied abroad in Spain, but mostly I’ve worked normal office jobs in the US, taking six-month breaks every year,” says Ben. His long trips led to long résumé gaps which weren’t an ideal look for employers.
In April 2020, he was interviewed, hired and trained as a new account executive of Austin-based Product Development company Gembah without physically meeting a single coworker. The added autonomy allowed Ben to work from wherever he could get a Wi-Fi signal.
Ben says the move from an apartment in Austin to his new base in Costa Rica was a huge boon to his overall wellness.
“From a workload perspective, it’s exactly the same as working from my apartment, but my job satisfaction is through the roof. There’s nothing better than closing your laptop for the day and walking five minutes to the beach or catching some waves early in the morning before logging in for your first meeting.”
Finding the kind of work that allows him to work remote remains key to his success.
Plan Ahead and Break Up Your Day
Linka Baumgardt has worked remotely across six continents for the last several years. “You don’t have to have a routine unless you want a routine, and the routine can be whatever you want it to be,” explains Linka, now the Head of Marketing for women’s food company Agni.
“I break up the day as I want. A few hours in the morning, a few hours in the afternoon and no commuting time.” The flexibility allows her to pursue passions like kitesurfing and climbing during scheduled work breaks in the day.
Yet, that flexibility comes with unpredictability as she has learned the hard way. “Time differences can be tough if you are someone who takes a lot of meetings like me. It is good to know if you are a night owl or a morning person before deciding where to work remotely, because that way you can sync up your most productive hours with the time difference to your company’s location.” Sticking to work, attending meetings, and finding social occasions with colleagues takes willpower in paradise.
In addition, a stable internet connection and finding supplies in each new location remain obstacles. Linka says research is key and those that can forego creature comforts do the best. Don’t expect Amazon Prime if you’re outside the U.S. or Western Europe. Worst case, if you don’t gel with a certain location, there’s always another one flight away.
Find Your Workspace
“I’m a reformed New Yorker,” jokes Thierry Daher, a French producer and serial entrepreneur. “I realized early on that I could work remotely. The thing that makes me happy is to start my day with surfing and end my day with yoga. That’s what I call my happiness sandwich.”
He looked at locations within a four-hour flight radius from New York, and when he landed in the Dominican Republic things just clicked. “I came with the mindset to really test if I could work here. I got an Airbnb to test it out. Flew back to New York, closed out my apartment and then moved back here.”
Thierry now runs a remote workspace called the Surfasana Lab in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. Complete with high-speed Wi-Fi, coffee, snacks and daily wellness exercises like a propriety form of yoga that incorporates surfing movements, the Lab now caters to an eclectic band of digital nomads.
“I have 25 years of experience working remote as a freelancer. The Surfasana Lab is my dream office. I am just sharing it with other people,” observes Thierry from a custom-built conference room. “Happiness has a tremendous effect of productivity. We try and make a space where wellness meets work.”
The globalizing force of the internet has opened up a new world for aspiring professionals seeking digital nomadism. Despite the unpredictability of local infrastructure, more professionals than ever now live and work digitally across the globe.
With over 11,000 habitable islands around the world, the only question remaining is how remote can you go?