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Workation: five tips for working from abroad

Home is where the office is! As an entrepreneur – and nowadays also as an employee – you can work wherever you want. Delicious. But going with so-called ‘workation’ for a while isn’t always about rosé in a hammock and can also be a challenge. You have to deal with time difference, broken WiFi and unexpected deadlines. Kim Trotz is an experienced expert and gives tips.

Co-founder of The Freelance Qommunity

Kim Trotz became a freelancer after moving to Verona for two years, but missed the social aspects of working together. In 2018, she and her friend and business partner Kiki Calis organized a networking event for the ‘lonely freelancer’. That grew into the platform The Freelance Qommunity. Their mission? Making freelancing the best profession in the world.

So how do you actually do that: traveling and working at the same time? Kim Trotz, co-founder of freelance platform The Freelance Qommunity, experienced what it is like to work for two weeks from Argentina. She shares five insights with concrete tips to inspire you to treat yourself to a well-deserved workation.

Tip 1: Make sure you book (something)

Because of procrastination with the nice motivation – ‘no, it’s not going to work out right now’ – it can almost never happen if you have to keep a company running. Because a family, money or customers can (unconsciously) stop you. Try to really own that freedom of enterprise, make a choice and make sure that you make an appointment with yourself, a colleague or friend to really book that destination.

For me it became Mar del Plata, Argentina. My girlfriend worked there for Dept Agency for a few months and so it kind of fell into my lap. Website wejustgotback.com for more information. I already booked the ticket in November. Booking early has a few advantages: you can look forward to something, it saves money and you have time to prepare and transfer everything. But of course your dream destination does not have to be on the other side of the world.

​​Qommunity colleague, aka Qollega, Alex Malone calls himself a ‘freedom warrior’ and says about this: ,,I avoid the term digital nomad and find remote working a tool to see more of the world. Working remotely for me means working where and when I am most productive. So I consciously choose my working hours and choose work and living places that give me energy and make me happy.”

A midweek trip by train to Antwerp, Berlin or Maastricht is just as fun, very sustainable and can therefore be done more often per year. Tip: make sure you travel on Friday and allow yourself some vacation days. In Patagonia, for example, I was really offline.


Tip 2: Make clear agreements with yourself

The journey to your destination is the time to throw your autopilot overboard. It is an ideal way to (re)discover yourself. What hours are you most productive? What makes you happy? Flow along with the habits of the locals and so consciously block that siesta in your agenda. Manage your own and others’ expectations by communicating everything crystal clear in a transfer that states what you will and, above all, will not do.

My Google Calendar showed when I was available for my team. My appointment with myself was to work from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. so that I could make my own plan afterwards. I made a conscious decision to work full-time for two weeks and then take two weeks off. Qollega Emmelie Steentjes did things differently: ,,Don’t work full-time remotely if you’re not going to stay in one place. The digital nomad life is really fantastic if you go for a longer period of time. I spent five months in Kenya and got to know the country really well. You spend longer in a place that really connects you with the local community and the talk goes beyond ‘where have you been’ and ‘where are you going’. I was working three days a week during that period and that was really perfect!”

‘It sounds easier than it is: letting go of the Netherlands. I unexpectedly encountered some setbacks on the road and I just couldn’t ignore them’


Tip 3: Make sure you’re really there

It sounds easier than it is: letting go of the Netherlands. I unexpectedly encountered some setbacks on the road and I just couldn’t ignore them. I went into a frenzy at first. Fun fact: that doesn’t work if you’re sitting from the other side of the world and trying to solve everything at once. But sometimes it is really liberating to view your life from a distance, literally and figuratively. You also see what you do have and I found out how much is well organized in the Netherlands. It may sound quite spiritual, but by surrendering some struggles to the universe, a lot of things resolved itself for me. It helped to to say to myself, ‘it is what it is’.

Qollega Eva van Keijteren also experienced this: ,,In Mexico I feel myself flowing away from ‘doing’ back to the natural state of ‘being’. A state that we sometimes lose in Amsterdam. When we are in being, we are open and receptive to life. We let go of the doing of the mind. But letting go means fear for many. We have a deep conviction that we forget our to do’s, miss deadlines and everything goes wrong. While the natural flow of life demands something different from us.”


Tip 4: Stay connected to your network

OK, of course you shouldn’t let go of everything. Stay connected with your team, customers and network. Schedule check-in calls at fixed times with your team and customers. Make sure you check your LinkedIn or Slack regularly to stay informed of what’s going on. It is very tempting to disappear into your foreign bubble at some point once you have landed. Determine a rhythm for yourself, remain transparent about your to do’s and ring the bell in time if something doesn’t work because of external, unexpected struggles such as bad WiFi or muscle pain from a tango lesson. But of course you don’t have to let us know 24/7 on your socials what kind of ‘fantastic workplace’ you have.

Also share vulnerable or beautiful insights. Or don’t post at all if that will actually bring you even more connection with yourself (I did both). When you travel alone, you not only connect better with yourself, but also with local people. Being open to this gives a lot of new energy and learning to do things differently on the home front. Qommunity also creates other new ways of working and traveling. For example, you can choose to use your network by really going on holiday and leave things alone for a while. Qollega’s and animation designers Dion Luijten and Sjoerd Jones create the out of office of the future. Because while Sjoerd is on vacation, Dion takes over all his freelance animation assignments. ‘My Google Calendar looks like a kind of Lowlands block programme. Brainstorms are neatly followed by lunch, coffee and travel time’


Tip 5: Don’t plan everything

My greatest learning. No joke, I’ve been laughed at a few times by many Argentinians. My Google Calendar looks like a kind of Lowlands block program. Brainstorms are neatly followed by lunch, coffee and travel time. In South American they plan exactly nothing. A blessing and a curse, I guess?

Qollega Julia Koopman thought she could also plan productivity by getting away from it all for a while: ,,I had in my head that if I worked on top of that mountain in Switzerland, all my to do’s would – literally – be like snow in the sun. to disappear. I was counting on a hyperfocus and hoped to get some work done in the mountains. Once there, I discovered that you also have to go with what comes your way and sometimes you have to shorten your to-do list a bit. By adjusting my expectations, I was eventually able to enjoy remote working more.”

The Argentinians who laughed at me did make me think: look at life day by day. If you suddenly feel like going out after work on Thursday, you don’t have to wait until Friday. Tomorrow is tomorrow. Then we’ll see again. Eva also believes that we, as ambitious go-getters, often ask too much of ourselves: ,,If we no longer have to, but are only allowed to, what happens then? Then we take the time and give space to deeply feel who we are and who we want to be. Then we build a life from our authentic essence, from the inside out and not the other way around. Then we experience the freedom and freedom of choice, which we do not always feel, but always have. Then we experience the focus and clarity in our mind to get things done without pressure or stress.”