When you think of remote work, what comes to your mind? Think about it: every time we think about something along the lines of 'digital nomad' or 'working from home,' we imagine the best scenarios. Sometimes, we hear about people who gave up their nine-to-five jobs for a hammock in the forest. At other times, we read testimonials of remote workers who ditched their office jobs to work on the beach in Thailand. In these different stories, however, there is one thing we don't hear about: not every place, beach, or forest is proper for enjoyable and productive work. In fact, it can become quickly distracting to work in a particular area, especially if it is most often associated with pleasure, relaxation, or holidays. So, forget about these pictures of laptops sitting on beach chairs in Mexico. Instead, think of a cute café or a cool coworking space. Chances are this is the place you will really be your most productive.
This week, it is freezing and rainy in Hamburg, and I'd rather be somewhere warm! So, I will be telling you all about why working on a beach, or even just the idea of it, may not be so good after all. Call it self-convincing! Although we associate the idea of sitting on a beach chair with a drink in hand as freedom, this feeling can quickly disappear. What you had previously seen as 'pleasant' or 'relaxing' can become associated with work. Therefore, it can make it quite difficult for you to have a productive workday wherever you are. If you haven't yet checked it out, make sure to take a look at our article on finding the best work environment to stay productive while being remote! On this note, let's talk about beaches and work.
Is it comfortable?
Let's be honest: unless you go to the beach on a rainy day, going to the beach usually means squinting to see anything or wearing very, very strong sunglasses. The beach is excellent to tan, or perhaps to do some water sports, but working in the heat and blazing sun is usually more distracting than anything else. Also, think about the sand everywhere. This is something I just can't wrap my head around; sand in my laptop, bag, just… everywhere.
Additionally, the idea of having a pina colada in hand while answering clients is usually glamorized and seen as the one thing to strive for when working remotely. Think about it again, though: can you work well when you have a drink? If you are like me, a simple glass of wine completely rids me of energy and makes me want to go to sleep, let alone a cocktail (or more!).
Ultimately, the idea of sitting on a beach in the sun may be seen as the best place to be to get work done as a remote employee, but is it practical? Probably not.
Are you productive?
With discomfort comes something even worse… a lack of productivity. Let's be clear here: the beach is terrific for vacation, but how productive are you really when lying on a chair, too warm and unable to see much? Personally, I know I would not be as focused as I am while sitting at a desk. Thus I would get very little done. As a digital nomad or remote employee, your goal is to get work done to make a living (and hopefully more), right? If so, think about the environment you are in. Is it prone to productivity? Is it going to allow you to jot down all your ideas and to get everything done as you would elsewhere? Also, think about the money you are spending instead of making. By buying that pina colada, even if it is only three or four dollars/euros/pounds, you are slowing down your productivity. Thus, you're making less money, and meanwhile are spending more of it than if you were to find an apartment that is prone to productivity.
Once you have figured this out, you can think of the bright side of all this: not working on a beach does not necessarily mean that you can never go to the beach. In fact, not working on the beach will give you something else: a place and moment of relaxation that you would otherwise not have. If the beach becomes your workplace, where do you go when you take time off work at the end of the day? Instead, keep this paradise-like place for your time off, the time where you decompress and can simply chill out. Believe me, it will make a huge difference! Instead of spending this money on drinks while working, you will feel a lot freer once you finish a big day at work and can finally head off to the beach bar for that well-earned pina colada.
Location freedom is excellent, but…
Of course, a big part of Standups is about supporting businesses and employees in their quest to find and employ remote employees. However, we also care a lot about being down to Earth, and, most importantly, realistic. Because of this, it's important to mention that location freedom can be both a blessing and a curse. As we've discussed above, the beach may sound like heaven to work in, but trying to fit this idea of 'location freedom = beaches and palm trees' can lead you to bankruptcy!
So, what should you do instead? As we do in all our blog posts, we like to end on a positive note. So, I've prepared a few tips and tricks for you. Working remotely is great; you get to visit new places, learn new languages, and can experience countless different cultures. However, this does not mean that you are on an endless vacation. You still need to get the work done.
Find the right workplace
Finding the right place to get work done will set you up for success. This will differ from one person to the next. Think about it: where do you work best? For example, some of my employees work very well in cafés. However, others who live in more crowded cities such as London cannot work in loud and hectic cafés. Some will find that having a place to go to, such as a coworking space that they can simply drive to every day for a few hours or so, works wonders for their productivity. What's your most productive environment?
As we are mostly talking about nomads at the moment, let's also take the time to discuss living spaces. Finding Airbnb accommodation that you can work in is essential as well. In certain instances, you may not be able to find a coworking space or might not feel comfortable using an expensive laptop in a café. In Morocco, for example, an employee of mine found that hotel cafés and restaurants tended to be more tourist-friendly than local cafés. Coming in with a 2000 USD laptop did not precisely feel appropriate nor respectful in most local ones. So, having a place to get work done when you cannot leave the house is important. Make sure that the apartment has a desk or a table with an appropriate chair!
If you prefer coworking spaces, make sure to ask for a free trial day before and to see whether they offer networking events as well. This is a small plus that can bring quite a bit to the table; this way you can meet other nomads, find potential clients and can really immerse yourself into the community. A coworking space with little to no social activities is likely to be a bad workspace, for lack of a better word.
Finally, if you feel like you have to sell this 'location freedom on the beach' lifestyle idea because of preconceptions of what it really means to work remotely, why not do the opposite? Instead, why don't you share your experience working on the beach with others and see who agrees with you? You may be surprised to find that most digital nomads disagree with this idea of working on a beach or somewhere associated with relaxation, and might even make friends in the process. Who knows?
In the end, finding a workplace that works for you and that allows you to be productive and thus to earn more is, in my opinion, what you should strive for. Instead of being half as productive on the beach, spend half the time that you would on a task and then head off to the beach. Get that pina colada, enjoy the time off, but don't mix the two. On that note, I wish you a great and productive week ahead!
It's never been more natural and more accessible to leverage the benefits of distributed work. Check out our list of essential tools for remote work that will help you set a basic toolset and help your team to collaborate and communicate better in the remote work style — be sure to give Standups a try within your distributed team and get started enjoying the benefits of remote work with our platform.