With remote jobs on the rise, more people are finding themselves able to work without the constraints of a 9-5 desk job. While remote work has countless benefits, such as the flexibility to set your own schedule, one thing this work style can’t account for is connection and human interaction, especially if you are working from home.
Human beings are social creatures, and after some time of working in isolation, most will begin craving social interaction and someone to chat to. Even with video chat apps like Zoom, Skype and Facetime, nothing beats a genuine conversation and connection with another person.
Remote work can have its downfalls such as loneliness and a sense of not being able to ‘unplug’, thankfully coworking; either at a coworking space or with a remote travel community such as WiFi Tribe; can help. If you have a remote job and you’re free to work from anywhere in the world, consider remote coworking.
In this post, I share how remote coworking can help you work smarter and stay productive, all the while traveling the globe and building personal and professional connections that can last a lifetime.
What is remote coworking?
Coworking is a model where people come together to work either independently or collaboratively within a shared space. Typically, this space is physical, such as a coworking space, however virtual or online coworking is a growing trend, particularly due to the increase of people working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Physical coworking spaces put a contemporary spin on the concept of the traditional office space. Coworking spaces offer freelancers, entrepreneurs, businesses of all sizes and remote teams a place to work alongside each other, sharing space, resources and each other’s company. People have the chance to meet, network and work alongside individuals they may not have met in any other setting.
Opting to work at a coworking space is a great change in pace, especially for those who typically work alone, however, another form of coworking exists, remote coworking, which takes this model and makes it location dependent.
Remote coworking is the process of working alongside others while traveling. Thanks to the rise of remote work, more and more people are finding themselves location independent and are choosing to combine work and travel so that they can build their careers and move through their bucket lists at the same time.
Traveling, mainly solo travel, can get lonely sometimes, so coworking, either at a coworking space or as part of a digital nomad remote travel program is a great way to meet people, make connections and remain productive.
Benefits of remote coworking while traveling
Whether you’re traveling alone and exploring a city’s coworking spaces or are part of a group like WiFi Tribe, you’ll find yourself remote working alongside new faces in a new place.
Like parallel play for professionals, here are some perks of remote coworking while traveling:
1. Make new connections and build friendships
No matter how comfortable you are in your own company, nothing beats being able to say “Hello” to another person face-to-face. Human beings are social creatures and if you’re working in isolation in your Airbnb, at some point, you’ll probably start feeling lonely. If you’re in a city that doesn’t have a strong nomad or ex-pat culture, or language is a barrier, you may feel even more isolated by not being able to make connections easily.
Joining a coworking space or remote travel program will put you in the company of others that are passionate, driven and likeminded. Often coworking spaces will host events for members to meet and mingle. If you are part of a remote travel program, you’ll be living with a group of people for some weeks. As remote travel programs draw people of similar values and intentions, you’ll be around others who will quickly become friends and lifelong connections.
2. Collaborate with peer coworking colleagues
One of the best things about coworking is that you have peers close by. If you ever need to ask a question or are looking for an opinion on a project, you’ll have others close at hand, unlike if you were working alone.
Coworking brings people together from many different careers and disciplines. At any point in time, you could find yourself working alongside a designer, software developer, nutritionist, growth marketer, accountant or translator. Each of these individuals has come from different places of the world, have studied in unique fields and have different points of view.
If you are brainstorming or problem-solving with your coworking “colleagues”, you’ll have the skills, expertise and experience from a diverse group of people, all strategizing with you. You may find your solution or treatment becomes richer, more significant or more interesting as it’ll have creative input from multiple viewpoints and schools of thought.
If you are coworking with a remote travel program, you’ll be in the company of your group for some time. You can tap into the resource of your travel program for feedback, guidance and support, which is particularly great if you are focusing on a project such as launching a new brand or product.
3. Stay motivated and accountable
A challenge facing those who work remotely in isolation is motivation. Having the discipline to get work done without peers or managers monitoring you is essential, especially if you’re easily distracted by pets, the fridge or the fact that your current Netflix binge show is just one browser tab away.
Remote coworking brings you together with others who also have important tasks at hand. Being in the company of people who are focused and productive will help you stay motivated and keep your work schedule on track.
Generally, in coworking spaces as well as the communal workspaces facilitated by remote travel programs, members are respectful to the next person’s workflow and habits and will tend to keep noise and distractions down.
Another great thing about coworking is finding accountability partners. If you have a large brief, are starting a new brand or need some external motivation for a particular work period, you can find a buddy to pair up with or a small group of individuals to work with as part of an accountability circle.
Setting goals, establishing progress benchmarks and having regular check-ins will help you stay the course, and in turn, you’ll provide support and care for another’s creative journey.
If you’re struggling to find focus while working from home, read our post Productivity Tips for Digital Nomads: Create Your Work Sanctuary, Wherever You Are.
4. Build your professional network and learn from experts
Working in isolation not only is a social life buzzkill, but it can affect your professional network too. Without regular interactions with other professionals, you may find your professional network growing stale. Networking opportunities are an important aspect of business, even more so if you’re a freelancer and need to secure a steady stream of work and income.
In this day and age, there are thousands of forums, Facebook groups and online spaces where people can network. Still, these virtual relationships can take time to nurture, unlike in-person meetings where connections happen much easier.
Coworking helps you connect with others in a professional capacity. You have the opportunity to discover what another’s line of work is, and if there is synergy and overlap, there may be opportunities to work together. If you have a skill or offer a service that is in demand, you may find plenty of leads and prospective clients.
Since you will be working alongside professionals with years of experience in their fields, you’ll have opportunities to learn from your peers. During a WiFi Tribe chapter, there are several skill shares and masterminds taking place where experts share their knowledge. Here, you’ll learn from some of the best in the business, and enjoy a direct line to ask questions and implement tactics with expert supervision.
Depending on your needs, if relevant to your business, could even find a mentor through your remote coworking experience.
5. Shut down, switch off and enjoy time away from work
One of the biggest disadvantages about working remotely in isolation is that your work and play time bleeds into one another. Especially when working from home or an Airbnb, it can be particularly difficult to separate work time from chill time, and to stop working at a decent hour.
When you are working alongside others, you can find yourself falling into similar patterns: planning coffee or lunch breaks and after-hours drinks or dinners together. This structure lets you schedule your day with periods of deep work and social time, and helps you prioritize more than just your work.
Establishing a good work/life balance is essential to prevent stress and burn out. Hard work is important, but breaks and rest periods away from your computer is just as critical as the work itself. Remote coworking and working with those who you genuinely want to spend recreational time with, will help you close your computer and connect with others IRL, even if it’s just for a midday meal every day.
This is even more relevant if you’re brand new to a city and want to take every lunch break, dinner date and after-work drinks opportunity to see more of the place you’re calling home for a few weeks. With a remote travel program, you’ll have several new friends to explore the city with, so you’re more inclined to work smarter during work hours so that you can really enjoy your time off.
Interested in reading about the best cities for remote workers? Read The Best Places For Digital Nomads To Work From.
My experience of remote coworking with WiFi Tribe
I joined the WiFi Tribe in 2018 for the Rio de Janeiro chapter. At the time, I didn’t find a coworking space to work at, and while there were a few coffee shops nearby, not all of them had wifi that was up to scratch.
Thankfully, WiFi Tribe set up perfect workspaces in each of the apartments. Diego, the WiFi Tribe co-founder and chapter leader took care of fitting out each apartment with internet connectivity and wifi extenders, and, if ever those failed, there were multiple mobile wifi devices as backups.
I loved waking up early and having coffee on the balcony before smashing through my to-do list. I was used to working in coworking spaces back home so loved having friends to talk with, bounce ideas off of and plan lunch dates with.
Not only was I extremely productive in this remote coworking environment, but I also discovered a few ways in which I wasn’t running my business optimally and ways to improve. I don’t think I would’ve found these insights if not for WiFi Tribe and the coworking set up the chapter offered!
The benefits of virtual coworking
In the heat of the Covid-19 pandemic, thousands of people were forced to stay indoors and work from home indefinitely. Unable to go anywhere or move around freely, even seasoned remote workers felt stuck, isolated and starved of human connection.
While there were plenty of opportunities to connect with colleagues in Slack channels or hold video calls with peers and friends over Zoom or Skype, creating a work-friendly home office environment beyond meetings and calls became a challenge.
To remedy this, virtual coworking brought people together to offer some semblance of what you’d experience at a physical coworking space, coffee shop or working alongside friends or colleagues.
The first time I’d had a virtual coworking session was during the WiFi Tribe Online Chapter. On a Zoom call, I found myself with some familiar faces and some new ones. We’d set a timer for 45 minutes and work in silence with our microphones muted until the time was up. Between work sprints, we’d chat about our projects and catch up.
I loved the coworking sessions so much. There’s something really comforting about working alongside another person, especially during the pandemic where social connections are delicate. Not only is it great to share your projects, get feedback and test ideas, but it was as if sharing the space, even though it was virtual, made me more hyper-focused to the task I’d set for the sprint session.
Months after the Online Chapter finished, myself and three other Tribers still have coworking sessions, roughly once a week.
If you have a remote job or are working remotely during the pandemic, I highly suggest holding or joining a virtual coworking session if you haven’t already. If you have friends or family that are keen to cowork, invite them to a Zoom or Skype chat and follow a similar format to the 45-minute sprints mentioned above.
Ready to find a remote job and travel the world while you work? Read about the Best Remote Jobs and Careers for Remote Workers (2020 Edition).