Below are a few questions I received from my colleagues in regards to my digital nomad experience with Remote Year.
Q: What's been the hardest thing about the digital nomad life?
A: Being away from my loved ones. This is the longest I’ve gone without seeing my parents and siblings. I initially thought I wouldn’t go home for the entire year but I quickly changed my mind after two months in the program. I can’t imagine going an entire year without seeing my family.
Q: Are you struggling with the temporary home situation or homesickness?
A: Somewhat, every month my accommodations change as well as my roommates. Adjusting to new roommates and a new bed every month can be challenging. I also miss my bed back home.
Q: What has been the most difficult thing about working on an adjusted schedule, how does that work for you and your team? Have you had to make accommodations for your job, based on your mobility, access, or time zone changes?
A: I’m more of a morning person, but on this journey I’ve had to spend a lot of my time working nights. Trying to stay focused late at night has been an adjustment for me. On the other hand my team has been very accommodating and understanding of my work schedule which changes constantly. I rely a lot on my phone and use it as a backup if the Wi-Fi isn’t strong enough for video or voice calls on my laptop. Thankfully Polycom offers mobile apps for RealPresence and Skype for Business.
Q:What has been the impact on your productivity?
A: At first I was really nervous about not being able to focus with all the distractions, but it turns out I’m working more hours in comparison to being home. Some of that has to do with the time zone difference, I try my best to be available for my team during east coast hours. Even though I might sign off for the day, I still check my emails to make sure there are no fire drills or urgent matters I need to address. It’s hard to disconnect from work in those hours I’m offline and I really want to continue to prove myself to my team which can be a struggle in this situation. I don’t want my career development to stop because of this year, I still want to take on more responsibilities and grow professionally. It’s been important to find a balance.
Q:What was the greatest challenge both professionally and personally that you had to overcome to take the leap?
A: Professionally I would say, getting the courage to ask my manager to allow me to participate in Remote Year, then asking the VP of America Sales at the time to approve my participation in the program as well. I took the risk on asking for something that was new to my department. And as I said above, it’s been a challenge leaving my loved ones for so long.
Q: Any cultural differences or nuances around work itself that you've noticed? People's attitudes towards work, schedules, etc.
A: Not really. My team has been really supportive of my work schedule. Each city we are given a co-working space that is available 24/7 which is convenient.
Q: You are traveling with 75 other nomads? What is the makeup and mix (gender, age, profession), and how has that influenced or enhanced your experience?
A: My Remote Year group, Darien started with 74 professionals, although many people have left the group due to personal and financial reasons, or they chose to travel on their own. This link is an overview of my group.
Despite the fact that many have left the trip, the people I’ve met on this journey have been amazing, we have become a family. We support and care for each other. I even had the opportunity to teach my first yoga class to the group.
Q: What lessons have you learned about remote working? (i.e., technology needed or space constraints) have you had to make accommodations for your job, based on your mobility, access, or time zone changes?
A: I’ve learned many lessons while on Remote Year here are a few:
Organize your schedule in advance of each week
Learn to utilize your mobile phone (hotspot, mobile apps, calendar etc.), this is your remote lifeline
Technology is key to your success for communicating (Skye for business, slack, google hangout, FB messenger, WhatsApp, etc.)
Q: Do you feel this is a life-changing experience? If so, how?
A: Yes, it has been life changing, being able to work in and travel to all these countries has opened my mind to a new way of life. I want to incorporate certain things that I liked from each country to my lifestyle post Remote Year, such as working from coffee shops, co-working spaces and attending digital nomad events back at home. Adjusting back to my old life will not be easy, but these small lifestyle changes will help a little.
Q: How has this journey impacted your personal life and career aspirations? What have you taken away from the experience?
A: I was initially nervous to blog about my experience as a digital nomad for Polycom but it has proven fruitful. I want others to continue to read my blog posts and get a taste of my journey as a digital nomad, I want to serve as an example for those with remote working aspirations. Additionally, I would love to continue to live the digital nomad lifestyle even after Remote Year is over.