11 August 2020

Working remotely: 5 lessons from TreasurUp's digital nomad

Written by

Eward Bartlema

Photography by
Quang Nguyen Vinh (Pexels.com)

I’ve had the luxury of working at a company that was open to the idea of remote working long before we were all forced into it by Covid-19. I’ve also been lucky to work in an area that was almost entirely digital by nature - UX design and growth marketing. That’s why in 2018 an 2019 I had the opportunity to work as a digital nomad for TreasurUp in Asia. In the broadest sense, a digital nomad is a person who uses digital technology to earn a living while traveling. Here are 5 things I learned:

1. Work at a co-working space

Working from home can be distracting. Luckily there are roughly 20.000 co-working spaces worldwide that offer monthly or even weekly memberships for individuals. I’ve used Nomadlist to find the ones with the best internet speeds and ratings from other nomads. If you’re like me and have a lot of phone calls every week, make sure to check if private phone booths or meeting rooms are available. My top 3 co-working spaces are Dojo Bali, The Hive Taipei and Hub Hoi An.

2. Meet other nomads

The great benefit of working at co-working spaces is there are tons of people you can connect with and learn from. The best results for TreasurUp has been our partnership with Start Me Up, a company that has been providing us with a lot of amazing interns since 2019. With their expertise in areas of AI, data analytics and marketing they each had a real impact on our business. Furthermore, some of the best co-working spaces organize knowledge sharing events to learn new skills.

3. Don’t travel too much

In 2018, long before global travel was severely restricted due to Covid-19 I travelled to different countries every month in fear of missing out. But if you’re working fulltime this can get quite exhausting. That’s why most digital nomads tend to stay in 1 place for 3, 6 or even 12 months.

4. Spend time with your colleagues or clients

If you work in a different location than the rest of your team you have to make sure you’re not getting too detached from the team. Working remotely requires a higher level of transparency, not due to distrust but rather to increase your visibility. Every Monday I had 2-hour meetings with my colleagues to discuss our plans for this week but also to measure the ‘team temperature’. Furthermore, I created a Trello board where I logged my work for everyone to view.

5. Deal with different timezones

When working in Asia I worked at least 6 hours ahead of the Utrecht team. This meant that most of my meetings took place in the late afternoon or evening. This can be something to take into account if you’re not a night owl. Most mornings on the other hand were great opportunities for undistracted work.

Working remotely can greatly improve effectiveness…

Generally speaking I got more things done as a remote working than as an office worker. This was mostly due less distractions, especially during the morning. You will likely meet a lot of people that are valuable to you, professionally or personally. It is an experience I can recommend to everyone working in the digital field that wants to travel ánd work.

…But nothing beats a physical team meeting

It can be a lot harder to raise your face and get someone’s attention in an online team meeting than in an office setting, especially when you’re the only participant that has to dial in. This has improved since everyone in the team started working remotely, and you can increase your effectiveness by saving your agenda items for last. Nonetheless, nothing beats a meeting where everyone is in the same room.