In just a few short years, business has completely transformed. Technological advances have changed the game and led to a revolution in the ways it’s possible to work. For a lot of jobs, the environment can now be completely flexible. And far from dreaming of the corner office, many of us now dream of an office on a beach — or anywhere in the world — not tied to one location.
Cloud and communication technologies mean it’s a very real possibility to work from anywhere, anytime. All that is really required is access to a reliable Internet connection, and then systems and projects open up.
Desire for digital business
Entrepreneurs are redefining global business by relocating to almost every corner of the globe, and running successful businesses not tethered to one geography. However, as with any business decision, there are pros and cons to choosing to become what is popularly known as a “digital nomad,” and although it can seem attractive on the surface, it’s certainly not for everyone.
Many business owners state that one of the catalysts for going solo is choosing both when and where you work. It’s little wonder when commutes seem to be getting longer and more stressful. The lure of flexible working arrangements that allow you to be there for family commitments, embrace passion projects on the side or simply accommodate the working hours which generally suit you best is considerable.
Even in established businesses, the impressive new technology which allows globally collaborative, digital working is becoming a lot more of an attractive option. If you employ others, the highest-quality candidates are now searching for companies that are on board with flexible working arrangements. Some may prefer to work from home, want to travel, live somewhere remote where the commute is long and unpredictable or simply know that they can give their best performance when not trapped in a rigid 9-5 at one desk.
What it takes to be location-independent
More and more jobs in the digital age are eminently suitable for becoming “location-independent” professions. Consultants, project managers, designers, advisors of all sorts — all are roles ripe for distance working. As most of the work of these roles involves communication and management — via email and telephone — or even lots of face-to-face client meetings that have to be traveled to as well. A lot of eCommerce operations can also be run successfully from any location, as long as it can take deliveries, store goods, and ship them out. The strength of their brand is independent of their location. The marketing and sales-management function can be done from anywhere on the planet.
In the last decade, so many systems have come to the fore that enable this independent style of working. From collaborative project-management tools like Slack or Trello to cloud software systems that allow for email marketing and customer record management, the game has well and truly changed. Check out these mobile-device management features if you want to give your workforce the tools to do a great job from anywhere — and also give yourself the analytic feedback to be able to accurately assess their performance.
It’s entirely possible in some industries to run your entire business from your smartphone. You can set up email to be able to respond from anywhere right on your phone, or subscribe to a “follow me” telephone number service, which allows you to give clients one telephone number to contact you, which then finds you wherever you are. But the real key to making your business work from anywhere in the world is embracing cloud computing. This will let you access applications from anywhere, and having a robust customer-relationship management system with remote access is both more secure — the encryption on the servers for cloud computing is heavier, plus there’s no danger of a device with stored information being stolen or lost — and more flexible, enabling rapid, effective, 360 management of incoming business.
Discovering clients when the world is your oyster
If your business isn’t already established, but you want to travel and work, then one issue can be meeting clients without access to a permanent base. Most cities now offer co-working spaces and meeting venues that can be hired temporarily; this is enormously useful. It gives you a suitable surrounding to meet in person and discuss business. The key to making this work is to chunk meetings together into a couple of days so that you can work from this base and take care of things that require a professional environment. Business-support organizations, local authorities and hotels often provide temporary work and meeting spaces that small businesses can hire, as well. In addition, the right online software is designed to help you virtually meet with clients and partners and share documents easily — the next best thing to meeting in person.
Preparation is key
Once you’ve sorted your work, there is a lot to plan before going afar. You’ll need to invest in a light and portable laptop and be sure that you have a reasonably priced international data plan or plenty of access to Wi-Fi to enable your working life. It’s also a good idea to have a reasonable amount of savings to cover rental deposits on a place to stay, as hotels are expensive and not sustainable in the long term. Or you could consider a house swap, where you can exchange homes with someone in another country. House-swapping websites like Home Exchanges can facilitate this and get you where you want to go.
Investigate whether you will also need a visa or a work permit for the country you are going to, as many need to be sorted out months in advance of your arrival. You will also need to research local laws and customs, see what immunizations you may need for traveling, find the best deals on flights to get to your destination and possibly open a bank account in your destination country. Running your business from anywhere might mean freedom, but it comes with a fair amount of personal admin!