With the whole world being their home and workplace, digital nomads, members of Remote Year community, develop unique experience that they once might have dreamt of. A new business venture, designed by two partners, Sam Pessin and Greg Kaplan took off on the 1st of June taking a group of 75 participants, who can afford to work remotedly for a year, on a round trip around the globe. In the words of Sam Pessin, their aim is to bring together a group of diverse people to work, collaborate and learn from each other while travelling. When their journey entered in their third month, MediaChange talked with two of the Remote Year members about their initial impressions after their stays in Prague and Ljubljana. Both are certain that the programme offers them a unique opportunity in pursuit of their career goals.
The idea about working remotely and travelling at the same time is very appealing. However, the attractiveness of new surroundings could tempt people into working less and travel more. Only a quick glance over the co-working area in the centre of Ljubljana, shared by “Remotes”, shows how determined the members of the group are to get their jobs done. When we visited the Poligon Creative Centre, which was their working space during their stay in Slovenia’s capital Ljubljana in July, the place was bustling as in one of the popular cafés that typically evolve into digital nomads’ shelters. With their headphones on, most of them sat behind his/her laptop immersed in their work, while a few others discussed something with their colleagues on a big sofa or at the café tables.
The majority of the Remotes are regularly employed and some are freelancers and entrepreneurs. Sara Cousins who describes the Remote Year Programme as “a perfect opportunity to marry a career and travel” has a permanent employment. As a Member Services Coordinator at EMPEA, the global industry association for private capital in emerging markets, she is holding a lot of meetings with local fundraisers and investors. “It has been a real balancing act holding these meetings along with my typical responsibilities on a working day,” says Sara about her biggest challenge of working remotely.
“People are really focused on work. I notice a big distinction between people who are working freelance or have their own companies and those who are working for other companies because they have to shift their hours and they are working in the afternoon as their headquarters in USA do, while the others can just work in their own time,” she explains.
Her employer accepted her ambition to join Remote Year and work from different places around the world for a year very positively. It makes a lot of sense for the company that she works remotely since they are focusing on emerging markets. “It's a great opportunity to meet with people you don't normally see. My company really understands the value of it,” she acknowledges.
Startups need to compete with the world
Sila Nur Isik has her own digital agency Mind the Ad. She is from Istanbul, the city, which is the fourth on the Remote Year list to visit. She moved to London eight years ago, where her agency is headquartered.
“In the beginning of this year I started to work with startups for business development and partnered with two startup products, AppAnalytics and ContentFry. When I was working with them I experienced how nowadays everything has become literally global, digital connectivity is booming and working environment is 24/7, that’s why startups need to compete with the world and not just focus on one location. I was eager to find out what is happening in other countries, what kind of business models other digital agencies have, how they approach business, what kind of competition they face, and what is in it for my digital agency. In London, there is a lot going on every day but we do not have a chance to look around what is happening in Malaysia, for example,” Sila said in our Skype conversation.
Then she came across an article shared by her friend on Facebook , where she learned that applications for Remote Year were being open. She decided to apply but didn’t really expect to be selected, since more than 25,000 people had already applied. Then she had an interview with Sam Pessin, Remote Year’s co-founder. She could lay out her vision about her agency going global, exploring different business models, products and services in similar companies. She also explained her desire to meeting in person counterparts from many companies as possible.
“From the moment I’d got the news I was accepted everything happened so quickly. In just a month I found myself in Prague, surrounded with 75 people from different places,” says Sila. Contrary to her Remote Year colleagues from USA who have to comply with their headquarters’ time zones, she will be able to work in the local time throughout the entire Remote Year journey since her primary goal is to meet and bond with local digital and mobile agencies and entrepreneurs.
She quickly noticed that Slovenian companies have to go global instantly and just use their small-sized local market as a test. “As I was looking at some of Slovenian websites I noticed that they were all in English. Generally they look very nice, so the companies are aware that their market is global. The country is more vibrant and are more open to people from abroad. And they all speak English.”
It was a good choice for Remote Year to start in Europe, because culture and lifestyles among countries are similar, and getting around is very easy. “Well, I don’t know about Asia, it might be more challenging, but I’m looking forward to it!” Sila doesn’t hide her excitement over the months to come.
After Europe, Asia is the next continent the Remotes will visit, followed by South America. You can follow the Remote Year stories on their blog: http://www.remoteyear.com/blog/.
On the photo: Sara Cousins in Sila Nur Isik, the Remote Year members.