This article describes my experience of moving to Bali and how I work with a stateside team while I’m remote. I wanted to tell this story after I found out about a conference that happens here in Bali at the end of June called Running Remote 2019. I’m going to be attending and know I’ll meet a ton of other remote lifestyle professionals in the world and think having this story written out and the tips I deliver within it may help those I meet at the conference too. If you are a remote employee, you might want to check out this conference as well and if you decide to, remember me, Wade Sellers, and definitely say Hi if you attend. Okay, let’s get to it here.
In my personal journey to the other side of the planet, I left the U.S.A. without changing my job, team, or role. I work for a software company based out of North Carolina and I became their sole international employee when I moved to Bali at the end of 2018. This all started when I asked my manager a simple question. “Hey Paul, I know we can work remotely here but how remote is… remote?” He quickly replied with, “Well, where are we talking about here?” To his surprise I answered, “Let’s say I moved to Asia… If I came up with a plan to make this work, would you entertain the idea?” He not only agreed to hear me out and listened to my official proposal 2 weeks later. Paul worked out the small details with me, and then supported my ambitions when he passed my plan to the company’s senior leadership. I was granted the opportunity to make this work with the condition that we would evaluate the success of this 2 months after I moved and we would decide together at that point if this could remain a long term option. Immediately overfilled elation at how real this just became, I began to take on the next challenge to this. How would this work with my team? They were all stoked for my new adventure but I knew it would take more than their blessing for this to actually work. It’s been 6 weeks now and I have succeeded in not only surviving but thriving as a remote teammate with the company and my team. I’m going to share the 3 largest elements to success here with you now.
1) Make Things Seamless
Bali is 13 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Standard Time. My team works a Monday through Friday, 9am – 5pm work schedule. This means that to meet them in those hours, I work an overnight 10pm – 6am schedule in Bali. Yup, that’s right… Nightshift. I can hear your grumbles already but let me sell you on this quickly. You’ve already decided to abandon your previous “normalcy” when you chose to live away from everything that’s safe and comfortable back home. So remove the notion as well that you “are supposed to work a day schedule” and adapt to this new daily you.
Here’s why nightshift rocks when you live in paradise. Internet is FAST at night when people are at the bar swigging Bintang’s or are asleep in their beds overlooking rice fields. And… Don’t worry about having FOMO. You still keep your weekends. If you’re working in a CoWorking space… It’s DEAD QUIET and all yours for the taking! There’s less stimuli surrounding you here at night so I find that I stay on task for longer time periods. Also you haven’t lived until you take a 3am “lunch break” dip in the pool under the stars all by yourself. This gives me the feeling of pure luxury every time I indulge in this act. Also, let’s be real here… Bali is hot during the day and many places are not air conditioned and if they are, aren’t really keeping it cool enough. Working outside at night with a cool breeze is pleasant to me. I also enjoy working from bed when I want. Seriously, nightshift is pretty rad in Bali. I also truly enjoy having the entire day for whatever I want to fill it with. Side projects, temple and waterfall visiting, yoga… You name it! You have the whole day for you, EVERY DAY. It’s much more awesome than you think to bite the bullet and take on work at night when you live in a beautiful paradise during the day. Wanna surf the day’s first wave? Close the laptop at sunrise, slug an espresso and get down to the beach right after shift. “Wait Wade, when do you sleep then?” Personally I listen to my body and knock out when it tells me to. Sometimes it’s right after work until lunch time and sometimes it’s in the afternoon and I wake in the evening. Heck, sometimes I take a pair of naps in a day and sometimes I’m too stoked to sleep at all because of fun activities and I just push through a nightshift and live with the fact that I’m tired and I’ll catch up the next day. People… Bali gives you freedom to make life all your own. Remove the all these rules your culture stamped into you.You can work a shift tired. You’ll survive. You can sleep through a whole day. It’s okay. Life has far less rules you actually need to follow than you think. Make your life up daily.
2) Early is on time. On time is late!
This is a mantra I learned early in my military career. I make an effort to arrive 10 minutes early to every meeting I can. I invite the team to join me. I know my team is curious about this adventure and I know their time is valuable. This is an excellent way to “bring the team into your life” more while remaining on task to the work at hand when the meetings officially start. This also affords me a buffer of time to work through any connection issues I might have depending on where I am in the world. You never want to be the 1 in the meeting that always has the terrible connection. Make doing business with you as effortless as it possible. Putting in the extra effort, pre-meeting, adds more time-on-task through my day. A side effect of this small gesture is that you are always the first in the meeting which shows initiative to your seniors. “But, Wade. What if it’s not your meeting?” Ask the organizer to start the meeting early and mute their mic/speaker. If they aren’t in back-to-back meetings, they usually don’t mind.
3) My Secret Weapon – Random Virtual Lunches
When you leave the office and work remote, you lose a lot of those special little moments with your team. The elevator smalltalk, chats at the water cooler and parking lot, and those impromptu post work happy hour sessions. My tactic is simple. Initiate virtual lunches with a different teammate at least once a week. They grab something to-go or pack a lunch, and we post up in a virtual meeting to have a bite and chat. It could be filled from work topics or that newest show on Netflix or even describing your new vegan, yogi, surfing enriched lifestyle you’ve taken on with your new digitally nomadic tribe. This bonding moment has proven excellent in building deeper connections with my teammates and it has increased how well we work together. Working remote adds a layer of separation. Deploying strategies to tear the wall down will payoff in more ways than you know.
I’m going to bring up these 3 strategies and more with fellow digital nomads at the next Running Remote Conference this summer in Bali. If you’re coming to the Running Remote Conference, I’d love to connect with you. Details for the event can be found here. USE the promo code: dojobali. Lastly, fire an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to talk more about how I succeed working remotely within a stateside team.