(Remote) Remote Working
I started consulting at the beginning of this year, with the plan of combining travelling and consulting. I was concerned as to how companies would react with my not being in the office for my work - joining in only via video calls and the like. With the pandemic hitting, this problem soon turned into a thing of the past.
Video calls and messaging platforms such as WhatsApp and Slack are now the de-facto methods of communication, and with many companies deciding to partially or fully close down their offices, will probably be a more acceptable method of communicating and working for the future. This is great news for me, as I won’t be viewed as unusual with my style of working!
With the move to allow inter-provincial leisure travel in South Africa in August, I decided to put my plan to the test and trial some more remote methods of remote working, with a trip through Magoebaskloof and the Kruger Park.
After a week of working from watering holes, and searching for signal a few minutes before a video call starts, I have some information I’d love to share with anyone considering a similar way of working.
Firstly, the cons:
- Signal is by far your greatest enemy. I tried to ensure I was setup at a location with good signal before a meeting started, but at times you would lose that valuable signal in the middle of a meeting, and have to wait for the cell station to reboot — not ideal. WiFi is always preferential, but is not available in more remote locations.
- Data costs will be your next challenge. I highly recommend buying a mobile WiFi router with a nice data bundle — much better than continuously updating your phone package and paying a higher cost. I learnt this the hard way!
- Preparation is also key. It’s great being ready for your video call next to a watering hole, but not as ideal having to pull over on the side of a busy road if you have timed your travels incorrectly. Also be ready to switch over from laptop to your phone if necessary — have the correct apps installed and ready to go!
- Power will be your next problem. Ensure your phone, laptop, and other equipment are fully charged each night. (Alternately, install an inverter in your car like I have!)
There are some very worthwhile pros to remote working too:
- Aside from the obvious (fantastic) benefits of travelling and exploring whilst working…
- You control your time. The lack of signal was a bonus for me, as it forced me to schedule work time, and when I was done, I’d leave the signal area and have that time strictly to myself. This ensures you are not continuously responding to and/or thinking about work.
- My creativity opened up — working from different and amazing locations every day really put me in the right frame of mind for problem solving and creativity.
My last advice would be to always maintain your professionalism. Not all your team and clients will be on board with your trying something new. Ensure there are no missed deadlines or inconveniences for them that could be attributed to your travelling, and they’ll have to accept that your location doesn’t hinder your work. Also — try not to brag about your location (too much) and derail the meeting.
Now get travelling and experience a new way of working and living :)