On Working & Traveling With Your Tribe

I wrote about my approach to remote work and the pros and cons of living & traveling with my Remote Year tribe on the Tortuga Backpacks Medium publication, Life + Travel + Work.

Disclosure: I'm the marketing arm of Tortuga Backpacks. You know, in case you haven't thoroughly researched my work history. 

Here are a few excerpts from that piece (read the full article here):

On what I looked for in a remote job

I had a company wish list:

  • Focus on building a great product was more important than growth
  • A team I admired and genuinely liked
  • No culture of micromanagement.

The third is tough to feel out in an interview process. Accidentally accepting a role in a team that operated with micromanagement worried me. But what I didn’t realize yet was that micromanagement and remote work can’t really coexist. Especially not in a company that truly believes in the distributed philosophy.

Micromanagement is an easy trap in an office, where everyone can nose into the minutia of another’s work and a boss can see every little detail of an employee’s day-to-day. When countless meetings are spent hashing out the unimportant.

A remote team has no choice but to trust each other. We can’t see when, or how, our teammates work — we only see results. We must trust that our colleagues got to those results in a smart and respectable way.

Micromanagement doesn’t exist in our version of remote work because there’s no occasion for it to happen. It’s inconvenient to micromanage, it’s inefficient and it feels silly from afar. We don’t want to spend an hour hashing out the unimportant. We’d rather get the high level work done, trust each other with the details, and spend that hour however we choose.

Why I picked Remote Year

I don’t really know what I’m doing. I don’t want to flounder, to get in a position where I can’t do my job because I’m not well-versed in this way of life and accidentally picked a spot with a lousy internet connection. I want to explore, to see, to experience, to grow… but I also want to be a stellar marketing manager. I want a lot, and a lot takes a village.

So, I travel with a village.

Remote Year is a program for travel-obsessed professionals. Both seasoned nomads and those of us new to this life travel together. Everyone who believes that great work can — and should — happen anywhere is a candidate.

We live, work, and travel together, to twelve countries in one year, paying a monthly fee which covers airfare, accommodation, 24/7 high-speed internet access, and lots of community events. The logistics are taken care of. Not having to think about where I’m staying or how I’m getting there, frees me up to learn to work on the road; we just have to show up.

By joining Remote Year I’ve surrounded myself with a community of like-minded professionals. Together, we figure it out, and to support each other, as we learn how to make nomadism and remote work a sustainable life choice.

Because, wow, is the concept of full-time nomadism daunting.

A pro and a con

Pro: I’m Never Bored

How could I be bored when I’m in a new city worthy of my fascination every month? When there’s an opulent opera house and a rustic farm and a quaint cobblestone street calling for me? When Sabrina wants to hop on a train to a nearby neighborhood and Katherine wants to try a new restaurant?

Gone are the days of noodling on a computer to pass an afternoon, because it’s raining and my friends are out of town and I can’t think of anything better to do.

My Sundays aren’t spent scrolling through Reddit, they’re spent exploring, strolling through markets or swimming in faraway seas or horseback riding with gauchos.

Con: Boredom Has a Place

Of course, those quiet hours in front of my computer served a purpose. A refuge from the disquiet of overstimulation that allowed me to find sanity in times of stress.

Perhaps those were not times of boredom, but times of solitude. Finding peace is still crucial. The balance is more difficult when it comes at the expense of an exploration. A quiet evening in my little hotel room feels shameful when I can hear the distant sounds of tango music and peals of laughter from the patio next door.

I had to find a way to be okay with missing things. Because I can’t do everything, not well and not sanely, and have to make peace with that too.

My ‘boredom’ hours are now intentional times of quiet. Slowing down, I find time alone, I cook and sip peppermint tea and write in my beloved travel journal. Forgiving myself for not exploring all the time, not maximizing every moment is important; because this isn’t vacation. Digital nomadism is not an adventure-packed sprint followed by an exhausted crash. It’s real life, and it must last.

Taylor Coil is traveling the world with Remote Year, living in 12 countries in 12 months, while working as a marketing manager. Follow along to read more philosophies on work, stories from the road, and general (mis)adventures. Sign up for the weekly email, or else read more from the blog.