"If you think adventure is dangerous, try routine. It is lethal." - Paulo Coelho
An Offer I Couldn't Refuse…
Becoming a full-time digital nomad, during a global pandemic, doesn't really make sense. However, that is exactly what I'm about to do. I will spend the next year abroad for the sake of happiness and love. Ironically, the reason that I can travel is the same reason why many people are not traveling.
When my company led a couple very poignant, all-hands sessions about how a global team can work effectively without being in the office every day, I couldn't refuse the opportunity to work from abroad.
"Because in the end, you won't remember the time you spent working in an office or mowing your lawn. Climb that damn mountain." Jack Kerouac
Love in the time of COVID-19
I got married earlier this year in Africa (where my wife is from). After the wedding, I had to return to my home in Seattle for work. My purpose for travelling now is to re-unite with my wife. We have been working through the visa process to move to Canada together. I'm a dual citizen, which makes it effortless for me to immigrate to the "Great White North," but the process usually takes eight to twelve months. We decided to figure out a way to be together again as soon as we could.
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch
Outside my comfort zone
I had previously travelled for work often - delivering workshops, making customer visits, and trying to solve interesting problems with technology - but that was normal. Just a couple days here and there, like most road warriors, and I knew this was not going to be like that. I began reading articles and blogs on how digital nomads work abroad, then pitched the whole thing to my boss. With some guidelines and expectations in place, I was lucky enough to get special permission to work while abroad for two months, the only exception being a week off for our honeymoon. I had been granted this very unique opportunity to follow a fairytale romance, but without knowing exactly how to make it work, it was undoubtedly going to be a challenge.
There was a lot of planning ahead of me, especially around the logistics. How would I have reliable power and internet connectivity? How would I maintain connection with my co-workers, and continue to bring value to my customers? How would I stay awake through the night to match normal working hours in Seattle? For each question that arose, we were able to find a way to work around it. Of course, there were a more than a couple tense moments when our plans had to change due to a power outage, or issue with WIFI, but we always managed to find a solution. (I also learned that you can't always trust a mute button when my "colorful" language, an expression of my frustration for problems with my tenuous WIFI connection, was crystal clear to not only my boss but the customers on the call as well. Oops!)
All in all, I just had to mentally shift my perspective and accept that while I couldn't plan for everything, we would find a way to work through any obstacles. This meant being extra transparent, flexible, productive, and hard-working. This was so much more than simply going to the office and plowing through the week as usual. There were no doldrums of the "mid-week blues"; there were no hour-long commutes; there was only me and my wife in a small hotel room, making an unusual situation work – both for us and for my employer.
“They told me to grow roots, instead I grew wings.” – Louis de Bernières
Leaving on a jet plane
"Work from Anywhere" is now an integral part of my company's culture. I'm extremely grateful to be able to keep a job I love and re-unite with my partner across the world. TimeXtender has embraced the benefits of the "new normal" that is working from home for many of us in the technology industry. The company's founders, Heine and Anne, believe that providing the greatest amount of flexibility to their team is an invaluable tool and essential to promoting happiness and balance, as well as boosting productivity, as we continue to re-define what it means to work. Focusing on outcomes - rather than timesheets - is in the TimeXtender DNA. Why? Because Time Matters. Where we spend our time (physically) isn’t as important as the quality of the time spent, and how we spend that time matters even more.
For me, it meant shifting my focus away from the daily 'clock-in, clock-out' routine to something more modern and results-driven. I work with my boss to set goals and benchmarks for myself, and we make it a point to stay in close contact about progress and results. This style of management can be arduous, but it is imperative for this kind of situation. It turns out that I am waaaaaaaay more productive not working from an office (I tend to become easily distracted be normal office noise and commotion). I’ve found my best "deep work" state at home, and this style of working allows me to bring even more value to my company - and ultimately, our customers. This is a win-win-win situation! Fitting, as this win-win-win mentality is another one of our mantras here at TimeXtender.
My plan, as it stands now, is to put my stuff in storage and move across the world for an undetermined amount of time. For the first leg of my journey, I will be traveling to the UAE to be re-united with my wife. We are very excited to begin our lives – and this grand adventure – together in Abu Dhabi. Stay tuned for more updates!