The Office is no longer a term that conjures up images in ones mind of a cubicle, a water cooler, and narrow corridors leading to cold, empty meeting rooms.
As more and more people leave high rise employment in search of a life that is created around their passions and has more meaning, a day at the office is almost becoming too unpredictable to describe.
Not a bad office hey:
She proudly said as we alighted from our kayaks after a morning paddling the same waters that Captain Cook anchored in over 200 years ago, yep, in 1770.
“I’m probably one of the very few people in the world who actually loves to go to the office on my days off.”
Or Kevin, from KingFisher Bay Tours, who runs 4WD tours on famous Fraser Island repeatedly asked the question of us,
“What do you think of my office?”
“Funny that Kevin! Today, it’s our office too as Craig was riding shotgun!”
We had a dream for years that one day we’d create a lifestyle where we had the freedom to live and work wherever we wanted, whenever we wanted.
See I was pretty tired of the four walls of a classroom that inflicted rules upon me such as I could only go to the toilet at recess or lunch!
WTF? Do you know how much coffee I consumed before morning bell just to help me cope with the day ahead?
I still have a morning coffee, except now I’m not preparing it in the storage room that also housed the toilet. I kid you not.
Now I have it in places like this:
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks or play time all consumed with the computer. It’s fabulously freeing and I wouldn’t give it up for the world. But, there are some disadvantages to it too.
So if you’re thinking of pursuing this digital lifestyle and starting a virtual business, there are a few things you need to know about the digital office! (But if your office is like Janina’s, Kevin’s or Neil’s, then you probably won’t have too many cons!)
The Pros of a Digital Office
1. You can set up wherever you please
Need to quickly get something done while you’re on the run? No worries, just whip out the lap top or your mobile device and you’re in the office.
Our driving time on our road trips is when I get a lot of my work done – as long as the kids are napping in the back seat or enjoying another Frozen rerun on the tablet.
And of course just out and about experiencing our travels is being in the office as we’re sharing as we go.
2. You only need a lap top and a few devices
You don’t have many overheads with a digital office – well not ones that relate to furniture and leases. All you need is a lap top and perhaps a couple of mobile devices.
Because of the amazing digital world we live in now, we can even get by without printers and filing cabinets and office stuff.
Still feel like you need some office time? Co-working spaces have become a good option for people who need temporary access to those facilities.
3. The setting always changes
Travel has pretty much ruined me in terms of needing a lot of change to keep me engaged and happy.
I start to feel claustrophobic and get severe cabin fever if I’m in one place for too long. With a digital office, I can change my setting to suit my mood every day, or hour if I wanted!
Even if I’m settled in a town I can always go to a new cafe, library or anywhere that has wifi.
4. Inspiration and creativity has more sparks
Following on from the previous points, I find the change of scenery often sparks more inspiration and creativity within me.
Just think of a new beautiful sunset, a new inspirational quote on the wall, a different conversation to eavesdrop on in a cafe.
Different colours, decor, music and services always opens my mind for thoughts on possible blog posts or new products.
5. You own flexibility
One of the greatest joys of life is the ability to control your every decision. Don’t feel like working till the afternoon, you can. Got a busy afternoon, head to your office in the morning instead.
6. The online world gives you all you need
All the systems, tools and people you need to run your business can almost always be accessed online. This saves you time, space and reduces your costs of housing your employees or clients.
The Cons of a Digital Office
1. Internet connection
Grrrrr. I said GRRRRR. If you want to be a digital nomad in Australia, get prepared to drop plenty of f-bombs.
Not only do we pay a FORTUNE for internet, a lot of the time we can’t even get decent service. It’s the biggest limitation with our digital office.
Forget trying to get free Wi-Fi at cafes or through your accommodation. We just roll our eyes now whenever it’s offered as we know it will take 5 minutes to load the homepage. (Although the Fat Frog Cafe in Airlie Beach is winning the award for internet that works right now!)
You can’t run a digital business without internet connection, and trying to constantly find places that fit this need can put a major dampener on your experiences.
There are some places we’d love to visit for a week or more, but we can’t as we can’t get internet connection and our business is not at the stage where we can leave it for that long yet.
Read More: The Pathetic state of internet in Australia
2. Screen glare
Nothing annoys me more than to have the office to make everyone want to quit the cubicle, yet the glorious sun makes it impossible to do any work. You have to sneak back over into the shade or indoors where it’s cooler and nowhere near as glamorous!
At the moment I’m sitting in a cafe with my computer under the table to avoid the glare! (the sun feels good on my back though!) I believe there are some computers now designed to overcome this issue. It is obviously not the Asus Ultrabook!
3. Sometimes I just need a permanent Zen office
I really do hate not having a set place for things like my notepad, pens and a library I can easily access for an important reference or quote.
I’d also love to create a permanent Zen-like space for my office, with quotes and inspirational pictures, crystals and candles, rather than having to scout from cafe to cafe, beach to beach, to find the right vibe – quality problem!
4. No printer/scanner can be a pain
We’re getting by without a printer, but every now and then I wish I had one. Like at the moment, I have to get an important document signed for my accountant, but don’t have the time to find a place to print and scan it.
If I had my own the task would be completed in 5 minutes. I do not like to keep my accountant waiting – she’s the important one who keeps us in line!
5. Distractions are more prevalent
There’s so much inspiration and creativity sparks happening with your digital office, but there’s also a lot of distractions.
That glorious sunset usually needs to be matched with a beer. The conversation you hear in the corner about your next destination probes you to ask a question and pick their brains.
The people watching is just too much fun, or you just can’t get comfortable so you go for a walk instead. And then there are gloriously still waters that beckon you to go stand up paddle boarding. Sorry, the work can wait!
There’s no supervisor cracking the whip or keeping your time so you gotta have a ton of self-discipline.
6. Sometimes you have no desks and chairs
The worst digital office are beds or the floor. Sometimes you just don’t have an option. Or sometimes a chair is so uncomfortable that you might as well be on the floor.
A digital office is not so great for your skeleton. Although you gotta admit, working in this is kinda cool:
7. Power can be an issue
It still amazes me the lack of power outlets in cafes and airports and libraries in Australia. You find the perfect chair and vibe, but you lose battery.
We’re always on the hunt for power. Too many devices that need charging to stay connected to do the job! It freaks me out how much power we use, and are dependent on in modern society.
It hit home for us when we stayed in a cabin in Tasmania that had no power, and we had no battery left on our lap tops. We had about 5 deadlines that week and could do nothing about it!! It was stressful.
8. Hard to line up Skype meetings
Most digital nomads are scattered across the globe far from their team members, or clients.
That means lining up Skype meetings and the likes can be a nightmare. (Not to mention in Australia we don’t have unlimited mobile data plans and the data it chews means we can’t do many of them). Skype and phone calls are always the last point of call for me now.
It’s much easier to get it done via email even though it might involve a few days of back and forth emails. It’s impossible otherwise to line up the right dateline times, the right schedule times, and the right internet service.
9. Steep learning curve for the non-techy geeks
If you’re non-techy like us then the learning curve for a digital office can be a little steep and frustrating.
There are so many great tools and software programs, but you need to dedicate the time to learn them and understand them! Far too challenging for us.
We outsource a lot of stuff now to those who get it. (More about who works on our team in an upcoming post.)
What are the pros and cons of your digital office?