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  • Writer's pictureKirsten Westeinde

Remote Year

Updated: Jul 15, 2018

Do you ever daydream about dropping everything and travelling the world? I do. Constantly.

We’ve all heard stories of people quitting jobs they hate, selling all their worldly possessions, and setting off to see the world.

The issue with that narrative for me is that I love my job. Having to leave it all behind to travel is not appealing to me. I have been happily employed by Shopify as a software developer for a year now, and don’t see that changing anytime in the near future. So it seemed like traveling the world was just not in the cards for me at this point in my life.

But then I found out about Remote Year.

Remote Year brings together a community of 75 professionals from across the globe to spend a year, working, travelling, and exploring 12 cities around the world. Spending one month in each city, the community will connect with local cultures and business ecosystems, forming lifelong, borderless personal and professional relationships along the way.”

Remote year coordinates travel and accommodations for you, and provides an office space in each city. All you need is a job that allows you to work remotely.

Shopify quickly saw that this will not only be an amazing life experience for me, but also an opportunity to reach markets that we don’t otherwise have a strong presence in.

I will be spending the next year living and working in the following cities:

Cordoba, Argentina Population: 1.3 million

Buenos Aires, Argentina Population: 2.9 million

La Paz, Bolivia Population: 789,585

Cusco, Peru Population: 348,935

Istanbul, Turkey Population: 14 million

Prague Czech, Republic Population: 1.3 million

Belgrade, Serbia Population: 1.35 million

Cavtat, Croatia Population: 2143

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Population: 1.589 million

December - Chiang Mai, Thailand Population: 398,169

January - Phnom Penh, Cambodia Population: 1.5 million

February - Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Population: 8.22 million

I cannot wait to begin the next chapter of my life as a digital nomad. It will be a great opportunity to continue progressing both personally and professionally. Some things I’m really looking forward to are:

The Community

Sharing this experience with a diverse group of professionals from all over the world, who have a common passion for travel as well as their careers, will be very enriching. One of Remote Year’s core values is fostering a collaborative community.

Authentic Experiences

Living abroad and immersing yourself in different cultures is a surefire way to broaden your understanding of the world and enhance your compassion towards the people living within it.

The Cities

I can’t wait to explore these 12 amazing cities and get to know them as a local and not just a passer through.

However, it’s not going to be all fun and games. Transitions are hard. Human beings have a natural aversion to change, which can make major lifestyle changes difficult.

Transitioning from working in an office, surrounded by my coworkers, into a traditional remote role (ie working alone from home or coffee shops) would not be easy for a social and extrinsically motivated person like myself. I get a lot of pleasure out of working in an awesome office and being surrounded by intelligent people. One of the main benefits of the Remote Year program in my eyes is that I get to maintain the social aspect and sense of camaraderie that comes along with going to “the office” everyday, while gaining the skill set to be an effective remote worker.

I find the most personal growth happens when you step outside of your comfort zone. I am looking forward to being almost exclusively outside of my comfort zone for a year and seeing where this takes me, both personally and professionally.

Aside from the psychological challenges that must be overcome to live this type of lifestyle, there are also many mundane obstacles: visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, health insurance, money, the list goes on.

Figuring out a communication strategy so that your team continues to function smoothly is also important, even more so when you are operating in different time zones. This is a learning experience for all of us here at Shopify, as we’ve never done anything quite like this before. But we are embracing this change and learning from it so that we can be constantly improving.

I think this will be a very worthwhile investment as the remote workforce is continually increasing and I see no change in this trend. As millennials continue to make up a larger percentage of the workforce, their desires will need to be catered to. As stated on the Remote Year website, “Millennials have shown that they prioritize experiences over ownership with the rapid rise of the sharing economy“, making them perfect candidates for remote work.

In fact remote work has gained such popularity recently that a new term has been coined to describe this demographic: Digital Nomads are individuals that leverage technology in order to work remotely and live an independent and nomadic lifestyle.

Thanks to constantly improving technology, people no longer need to be in physical proximity with each other to get great work done. More and more companies are realizing this, and are hiring for remote roles, allowing them to tap into a much larger and more diverse pool of candidates.

I am grateful to have the chance to join the remote workforce for a year. There will be many lessons learned along the way, and I hope to share them all with you. Until next time!

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