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Expectations vs. reality: Here’s what nomadic remote work is really like during a pandemic

Within the latter half of 2019, I bought and gave away something that wouldn’t slot in a suitcase and began living the life of a digital nomad.

It’s rapidly changing into a cliche to say so, however 2020 certainly wasn’t what I anticipated. Like everybody else, my touring days are on maintain and I write this text from Tbilisi, Georgia on the Remotely from Georgia allow. Regardless of settling down, I believed I’d share a few of what I discovered from my 12 months as a digital nomad.

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It looks like everybody has needed to learn to work remotely at this level, however there have been some elements of my expertise which might be pretty distinctive to this way of life. I work at a Philly-based skilled companies agency that focuses on geospatial software program for good referred to as Azavea. Although now we have a number of distant workers, my state of affairs is pretty distinctive for the corporate. Earlier than I left, and as we adjusted to the change, my crew and I got here up with some methods to take care of the inherent variability of the digital nomad way of life.

Coping with time zones

Given the clear potential for time variations (my first cease, for instance, was six hours forward of the East Coast), we agreed to a cut up schedule. I must be on-line from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. ET however the remainder of my day is versatile. We did this in order that I may nonetheless have regularity and conferences with my colleagues at affordable hours, however not need to develop into nocturnal.

This has labored fairly effectively for almost all of my travels. The late “on” hours are made up for with the pliability I’ve with the remainder of my day. All instructed, this was an excellent compromise and I’ve been engaged on this schedule in numerous time zones.

“The place are you now?”

There are a number of people within the workplace who I don’t get to work with as a lot as I would really like, and I needed a approach to make my present location clear. To assist with this, I do two issues: Add calendar occasions that span my time in a location and add the situation to my Slack profile utilizing the standing characteristic.

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Alex Lash’s Google Calendar reminds coworkers of her present location — now, Tbilisi, Georgia. (Courtesy picture)

I began out doing this only for my calendar, however realized fairly rapidly that individuals didn’t all the time discover it there. Including it to Slack had the additional advantage of colleagues having a cause to achieve out to me to ask in regards to the new place I used to be in or share their very own suggestions and vacationer locations. This was undoubtedly the perfect half, because it allowed me to have impromptu conversations with individuals, regardless of being miles away from the workplace.

Alex Lash’s present Slack location. (Courtesy picture)

Flexibility and embracing the chaos

Unhealthy and spotty Wi-Fi, getting bitten by stray canine (everybody’s OK), transit hiccups, world pandemics … All of the planning on the earth can’t account for every little thing. I’ve made positive to be versatile with my schedule, and comply with work outdoors of the “on” hours when need-be. Common one-on-ones (that are already one thing we do at my firm) have allowed me to maintain my supervisor conscious of every little thing that’s occurring.

No 2020 digital nomad article (or actually, any article) could be full with out some point out of the various challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic introduced.

The beginning of one thing

When the pandemic first began, there was a lot conflicting data that it was troublesome to know what to do. Flights again to Philadelphia could be many hours lengthy and a number of stops, to not point out hotbeds for the virus. Numerous nomad Fb teams cropped up, so I started following all the newly made instruments and trolling by boards to maintain up to date on restrictions, information and information on what others in my state of affairs have been doing.

Searching for a spot to remain put

I ended up staying in my nonpermanent residence when the pandemic hit, moderately than taking one of many emergency flights again to Philadelphia. There have been a number of causes for this, however actually the largest needed to do with the already most troublesome to plan a part of my digital nomad journey: I had been touring with a cat.

Turtle! (Courtesy picture)

As soon as it turned clear that the COVID-19 virus wasn’t going to dissipate in the summertime (bear in mind once we thought that was a chance?), I started in search of a extra long-term resolution in order that (a) I wouldn’t need to go far and (b) I may lock down safely. Thankfully, international locations had began asserting new visas and entry permits for individuals like me. I used to be in the end deciding between Estonia’s Digital Nomad Visa and Georgia’s Remotely from Georgia program. Georgia’s program gave me extra safety — when you apply, you hear again inside a few weeks and are assured entry — and appeared to vow a much less harsh winter than Estonia, so I signed up and hoped for the perfect.

Settling down in a brand new nation

So virtually a 12 months into the nomading way of life, I’m successfully staying put in Georgia. My life since March isn’t a lot totally different than it might have been again residence. I spend most of my time watching a great deal of motion pictures, video chatting with pals, doing random crafting hobbies, and dealing. It’s actually been a wild trip, however regardless of the stress and uncertainty that this 12 months’s challenges has introduced, I’ve managed to continue to grow professionally and personally.


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