Sitting on a white sandy beach in warm sunshine as palm trees sway in the breeze may sound like the perfect holiday, but for many digital nomads it’s just one of many of their remote work offices.
Apple, Amazon, Dell and American Express are among the flurry of businesses decentralising their teams, and it’s increasingly becoming the norm.
More than 50% of Australian employees working remotely for at least half the week, according to International Workplace Group, with experts predicting there will be one billion digital nomads by 2035.
Founder of Collective Hub Lisa Messenger told The CEO Magazine she is constantly fascinated with being able to do thing differently, including the way she works.
“The workplace changes all the time and never so much as in the last 10 or so years, with the advancements of technology,” she says. “Our minds have to change, and I think other things are starting to take priority like health, wellbeing and flexible workplaces.”
Exhilarated by the idea professionals can build a business empire without a physical office space, Messenger experienced the concept firsthand working from every corner of the globe.
“If you have a full-time office, it’s reliant on the best people being a 10-kilometre radius from the office,” – Lisa Messenger
Messenger is set to release her latest book, Work from Wherever, in August following her year-long experiment as a digital nomad inspired by her magazine editor.
“Four years ago, the editor of my magazine asked me if she could go travelling for four months around South America and I thought she was mad,” Messenger says. “But if it’s based on KPIs and output, I thought why not.
“She literally travelled around South America and, every week, articles landed on my desk and it ran like clockwork.”
While flexible workforces promote increased creativity, they also encourage businesses to employee talented staff from various locations rather than sticking to a narrow talent pool determined by geography.
“If you have a full-time office, it’s reliant on the best people being a 10-kilometre radius from the office,” she says. “People also function better at different times. I have friends who get up at 3.59am and work until 2pm, or some people work really well at night.
“People also have different priorities in their life; they have kids or hobbies. So, if we could actually support them to have this flexibility when they’re working, as long as systems and processes are in place, everyone seems to be happier.”
Messenger, who was working comfortably from her inner-Sydney home during our interview, says the point of being a location-independent professional is to merge adventure, ambition, exploration and success to allow a purposeful life.
4 ways to work anywhere and be successful
Set strong KPIs
Redefine the meaning of success
Creativity is key
“Managers and executives have to put into place really strong KPIs and what they expect in terms of output,” Messenger explains. “Every day, I’m fed different numerical data across all aspects of the business. And every Friday, everyone has a much more comprehensive report they have to send through.
“You can see quite quickly who is performing and who’s not.”
“It sounds wonderful to work on your own terms whenever you want to,” she says. “I think when you show up to an office there is a sense of purpose. You need to create this and be self-driven and motivated.
“You don’t want to be working from home and opening the fridge 11 times an hour – that’s not going to work for anyone.”
“For 17 years, I pretty much sat in an office and that was largely associated with ego or external measures of what success should look like,” Messenger says. “The measure of success was a big office and a big team. I think there’s a better way.
“I’m all about pushing the boundaries. This is how the job exists in current form, but if I utilise technology, how can I do this is in a different way? It’s quite extraordinary what you can come up with.”
“Humans will be replaced in many aspects of jobs by automation and robots, however, not the human side of things – the interaction and creativity,” she says. “It’s one of the most important things.
“The more people that can train themselves to be creative, to be able to think differently – being able to have that aspect is what’s going to really lead the way.”
Lisa Messenger’s new book Work from Wherever: How to set yourself free (and still achieve) is available from August 2019.