Ever dreamt of running your business with nothing but a phone and a laptop from a beach in Thailand? For a growing number of entrepreneurs, this is becoming a viable reality.
Back in 2007, a ground-breaking business book called The Four Hour Work Week: Escape the 9-5, live anywhere and join the New Rich, was published by Tim Ferriss. In it he proclaims how to “outsource your life and do whatever you want”. It’s a blueprint for how to “work less and live more” – with motivational examples of how he applied this approach to his own life.
“Our culture tends to reward personal sacrifice instead of personal productivity,” he says. “I now aim for one month of overseas relocation or high-intensity learning for every two months of work projects.”
For many people, travel ranks highly in their concept of what a perfect existence would be, and the idea of being able to work from exotic locations – where you can take a refreshing swim in the sea before looking at your emails, for example – is the Holy Grail.
As more and more co-working spaces are set in cities for entrepreneurs who need a hotdesk or affordable shared office space (click here to read about WeWork in London), the idea is being transplanted to holiday destinations overseas for “digital nomads”.
Having a dedicated co-working hub is appealing because although freelancers have, for some time, been free to use hotel wifi while sitting by the pool, it’s a set-up that can end up being quite lonely and unproductive. There is something about being surrounded by other professionals who are working on their own projects that creates a stimulating environment where ideas can be shared. It’s motivating and there is the opportunity for networking and collaboration.
In a September 2015 article from The Guardian, digital nomad Lea Woodward describes how she left her job at Accenture in London to be “location independent”, moving with her husband first to Panama, then to South Africa, Turkey and the Caribbean, among other places.
She said: “There is definitely a trend for remote working. Previously it was such a strange concept that you had to overcome that mind-set. That has been the big thing. The tech is there and it has been for some time and now you’re getting companies like Buffer and Automattic which are 100 per cent remote. They have 100-130 people in their organisations.”
In Tenerife, Coworking in the Sun offers 20 desks for 19 euros a day or 65 euros a week, along with the option to take Spanish lessons and digital marketing courses. There is also an on-site gym and free weekly leisure activities such as flamenco dancing and beach volleyball. For 125 euros a week you can also take a ten-hour surfing course.
Over in Ubud, Bali, 400 sqm tropical coworking space Hubud is ideal for people on sabbatical or relocating to the country. Located just 80 metres from the Sacred Monkey Forest, the beautiful semi-al fresco bamboo complex provides free wifi, deskspace, a 20-person conference room, a Skype booth and a healthy organic cafe. It also hosts up to 30 events a month for personal and professional enrichment.
Between February 24 and 28, Hubdud is holding the Coworking Unconference Asia – for “co-workers, community leaders, corporate renegades, solo/social/intra-preneurs, philosophers and futurists to come together and define the future of work”.
What kind of people use Hubud? According to its website: “Our members reflect the wicked diversity of people who choose to live in Ubud: tech startups, social entrepreneurs, creative design pros, private equity folks, filmmakers and photographers, writers, coaches, development consultants and marketing geniuses.”
Unlimited access costs US$275 month but there are cheaper packages for those who won’t be using it as intensively. You can even pay with Bitcoin.
For anyone unsure about taking the leap from a full-time office job to being a digital nomad, Hubud also runs a six-day intensive workshop called 9-to-Thrive.
The “route to freedom” course includes six nights’ luxury accommodation, a Life Pivot Plan, daily yoga and meditation classes, meals, secret excursions around the island and a free Clifton Strengths Finder assessment. Costing US$1,800, the next ones will run August 7-13 and December 4-10.
Another exciting project is Hacker Paradise, a community of tech designers, developers and entreprenuers that travel the world. The first trip organised was to Costa Rica in 2014, but since then the collective has taken groups to destinations ranging from Estonia to Vietnam. Accommodation, workspace, hack days and barbecues are all taken care of.
Coming up this year is Bali (March 13-April 9), Chiang Mai (April 17-May 14) and Porto (June 5-August 27). Prices vary depending if you want lodging included or not, but two to three weeks in Portugal including housing will cost US$725 a week.
Not everyone will be right for the workaway adventure so there is an application process that has to be gone through. A blog post on the Hacker Paradise website says: “For our South East Asia batch, we had over 180 applications, and we interviewed around 100 people.” Only about 50 people were selected.
If you want more information about the growing trend for co-working abroad, visit Coworking Visa Map to discover more locations around the globe to escape to.