The first month of Remote Year has come and gone faster than I could have imagined. One day a group of 70-odd strangers showed up at Lisbon airport, ready to embark on a year-long journey that’s nicely divided into 12 segments – 12 cities, with a month spent in each one. In what seems like a blink of an eye, 1 month later we’re all back at the airport ready to move on to city number 2.
The concept of Remote Year revolves around the idea that nowadays, a great many of us have the ability to do our jobs entirely remotely. Remote Year provides us with the tools and necessities we need to do our jobs effectively while travelling. One staple in the experience is access to a shared workspace with high-speed internet. While each of us has a financial obligation with Remote Year, our primary obligation is to our respective employers. We all show up at the shared workspace according to our own schedules and get to work as if we were back at home.
The workspace serves as our home base in each city. It’s the one place that majority of us go to at some stage of each work day. Not only does it provide an opportunity for us to get to know each other, it’s also our primary touch point with our 2 program coordinators. In addition to seeing through the logistics of carrying out our stay in each city, the program coordinators are busy planning both professional and social events ranging from productivity workshops to community outreach opportunities to soccer games. All events are listed on a google calendar and nearly every day of the week there’s something going on.
While we’re all here to work, we’re also here because we love to travel. Since everyone is working on a different work schedule, there seems to be somebody out doing something in the city where in, at every hour of the day. There is also constant talk about upcoming activities and side trips. Not only are we planning which restaurants we want to eat at, which sports outings we want to organize, which museums we want to go to, which areas we want to explore on foot etc., we’re also planning what side trips we want to take – be it a day trip or a weekend jaunt. It’s really tempting to be in Europe to be able to take advantage of low inter-Europe airfares and the close proximity to so many cities throughout the continent.
It’s really cool to be travelling with such a diverse group of people. As you would expect, we’re a pretty independent, travel savvy and collaborative group. All it takes is someone to say “I’m thinking of going to (insert random city name here) next weekend, who’s in?” and next thing you know, hotels or Airbnb’s are booked, transportation options are considered, and preliminary research begins. When it’s time to hit the road, some people travel with laptops so they can work while they’re away, while others are completely off the clock and on vacation mode.
Though exploring each city, country, and peripheral countries as a traveller is a big part of the Remote Year experience, so is living in an apartment like a local for a month. This involves things like making trips to the grocery story, finding a nearby gym, and trying to communicate in a foreign language how to get a haircut. Occasionally we need ‘me’ time to contact friends and loved ones back home, update journals or blogs, or simply chill.
The crux of the Remote Year experience is time management. Our time can be loosely classified into 4 categories: work time, officially organized events and activities, unofficially organized events and activities, and free time. Seeing that there are elements from each category present nearly every day, it’s easy to see that organizing ones limited time can pose some challenges. My primary aim over the course of the year is to strike a balance between all these elements in the most satisfactory way possible. If the first month is any indication, it’s going to be a very event-filled and very exhausting year.