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Off the Grid, On the Clock: Tips for Truly Remote Work

By Nathan Guss|6 min|March 2024

Dreaming of swapping your home office for a wilder destination? Read on for some tips for remote work in remote locations.

Would you like to take the term “remote work” literally? Are there faraway beach, mountain, or forest destinations without internet access that beckon? Technological advances now let you work from almost anywhere—even off the grid in isolated locations. I’ve recently covered how to optimize your work setup and strategies during working vacations (aka workations) in more conventional short-term rentals. This article covers working when taking the road less traveled with less cell and Wi-Fi coverage.

For expert insight into this topic, I didn’t need to look any further than SiniSTAR employee Félix, a web developer. Drawn to the stunning desert landscapes and prime surfing, he traveled through Baja California, Mexico, in the spring of 2023. Having just joined the SiniSTAR team, he was eager to tackle new challenges with a dynamic team while enjoying some outstanding surf breaks. Despite being in isolated areas, he worked full-time, adeptly balancing his work duties with exploration. Here are some tips and insights I distilled from his experience.

Communicate your remote work plans early.

Being upfront about your plan for remote work is crucial. Félix was so ahead of the game that he discussed his upcoming five-week trip to Mexico before even accepting a position at SiniSTAR. In fact, one of the reasons he started to work for the company was that it gave him the flexibility to try this type of work arrangement. While you probably don’t need to be quite that proactive, his experience highlights the importance of being on the same page as your employer well before you hit the road.

Choose a destination that fuels your passions.

Choose a destination or a lifestyle that fuels your fire. This inspiration helps you overcome the inconveniences and discomforts that come with remote work taken literally. It will give you the inspiration you need to be productive despite the inevitable inconveniences of roughing it in isolated locations. In Félix’s case, he faced several snafus during his van life adventure, such as electrical issues and occasionally a lack of amenities, such as bathroom facilities. However, his love of surfing led him to Baja California for its breathtaking landscapes, world-class swells, and diverse cultures. All that more than made up for any drawbacks. For him, the opportunity to merge his work with his passion made every inconvenience worthwhile, turning potential setbacks into integral parts of an unforgettable adventure.

Get a reliable internet connection.

So, how do you work remotely without Wi-Fi or a reliable cell signal? If you have a very understanding employer, you could go old school and keep a flock of homing pigeons. But Félix came up with a more practical solution: Starlink, a satellite internet service developed by SpaceX. This service provided him with high-speed internet access even in the most remote areas. It allowed him to stay connected with his team and work efficiently, regardless of his physical location. The reliability of Starlink meant that he could join virtual meetings and handle his work tasks as if he were in a traditional office setting, without the worry of sudden disconnections or slow speeds. He noted, “I had a high-speed internet connection every day, even in the most remote areas. […] When I had a virtual meeting with my team, it was as if I were in Montreal. No slowdowns or sudden disconnections.” Investing in a reliable internet solution like Starlink can make the difference between a frustrating remote work experience and a productive, seamless one.

Maintain a structured schedule.

Resisting the desire to get out and explore when in a new, enticing place can be a significant challenge. Félix says, “It can be hard to resist the urge to explore when adventure is at your doorstep! So, you need to have a schedule and stick to it!” By establishing a structured schedule, he effectively balanced his work commitments with his adventurous spirit. Every day, he started his full workday early at 6:00 a.m. Baja California time, aligning with his team in Quebec. This allowed him to spend his afternoons surfing and roaming through his surroundings. The disciplined approach made him productive at work while still allowing him to make the most of his trip.

Prioritize communicating with your team.

Ideally, your team won’t need to think about you being in a van on a faraway beach or a cabin high up in the Rockies (although if you want to stoke their envy with a stunning Zoom backdrop, why not?). Félix ensured that his remote location wasn’t a barrier, maintaining a presence as if he were working remotely somewhere nearby. As part of the above-mentioned strict schedule, he committed to being available for his team's 10:00 a.m. EST meetings in Quebec, despite the three-hour time difference. This allowed him to effectively manage his work and always be in synch with his coworkers despite being constantly on the move.

Now that you know how to do it, it’s up to you to daydream and come up a destination. Where is your faraway getaway?

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