Working remotely from Bali: The promised land or working in isolation?

Yann Schaub
on
November 2, 2017

This series follows Joshua and Yann — a Developer and a Designer at Firmhouse — on their one month journey working remotely from Bali instead of their main office in Rotterdam.

At Firmhouse we call ourselves a hybrid company. We have our main office in Rotterdam but we don’t need to physically be there to do our work. Half of our team works remotely from the Netherlands most of the time already.

I’m one of the guys that frequents the office. I like going there and seeing my coworkers. But I have to admit that I’ve always been drawn to the thought of location independence aka. The Digital Nomad lifestyle. Why would you want to limit yourself to one physical location when you can do most of your work remotely anyway?

One tweet made us finally act on it. So we drafted up a little game plan and pitched it to our bosses Bob and Michiel. They liked the idea.

Rules of the game

To make this work, we agreed on two things:

  • Always make sure to work from decent places that offer high speed internet
  • 4 hours of overlap everyday. We want to be online between 08:30 and 12:30 AMS time. For us (GMT +8) that means 15:30 until 19:30. It’s up to us how we spend the rest 4h of our working day.

You may also ask yourself: What’s the benefit for Firmhouse here? Of course that was also part of our game plan 😉

  • Putting our Tools to the test: Is our process strong enough to handle a time difference of 8 hours?
  • Can we eventually hire fully location independent team members aka. Digital Nomads?

As for personal goals: Figuring out if this style of working suits us. Everyone I talked to envied me for it. But is it actually that great? And then there are also our sideprojects we want to push forward.

Canggu — a nomads dream?

We both combined this with a holiday. So after Joshua finished traveling Vietnam with his girlfriend and I disconnected myself from the outside world on Gili Air, we met in Canggu.

The reason we chose Canggu as our first destination is simply because it’s a digital nomad hotspot: It’s close to the beach, it has high speed internet, cost of living is very cheap and it’s home to the well-known Dojo Bali Coworking space.

Canggu ranks #6 on nomadlist.com (https://nomadlist.com/canggu-bali-indonesia)

We plan on moving around for a bit and explore different cities like Ubud — but for now we’re here.

On a different mission

I arrived on Sunday evening and met up with Joshua who was already there for a couple of days. After exploring the city by scooter we sat down for a beer at a busy surfer bar. I looked around all those beautiful people having a great time. And it made me feel isolated.

How am I going to connect with those people? 99% of them are only here for a couple of days. And they’re on a completely different mission than I am.

I wonder if I’m actually able to be productive here. Traveling to far away places usually means adventure, beers and relaxation. Not getting work done.

For the first time in my life I get the opportunity to work from anywhere in the world; it’s what I’ve been preaching for years and years. But do I actually want that? Does it suit my way of living?

I guess we’re about to find out! In the next four weeks we’ll try to give you as much insight as possible on how it feels like to go from working in an office five days a week to working remotely from the other side of the world.