Digital nomadism: Embracing the changing world of work by Emilie Carver


How it all started
I met Ronelle and Tanya from Red Ribbon Communications in a hotel lobby in Mauritius in 2019. We were both involved in communications projects for clients at the African Airlines Association AGA.

Red Ribbon subsequently contracted me for a media project in Mauritius for one of their international clients in the cybersecurity space. When I saw Red Ribbon is advertising for an Account Director position earlier this year, I applied and started working remotely from Mauritius for Red Ribbon in February.

It’s been about three years since I’ve jumped ship from the classic employment mode – and I am loving it! I know, there is a lot of buzz going around the remote working topic, so I would like to share my first-hand experience.

Developing my working environment
As for any job, working remotely requires that you feel comfortable in your environment. Personally, I’ve decided to create an office space at home with views of my garden. I sometimes sit on the veranda when I want to work on more creative pieces. For video calls, I implemented a virtual background, a great way to look more professional without having to spend a lot of money re-decorating the room. I look forward to my life as a digital nomad, discovering new places around the world whilst working remotely.

Apart from the physical environment, I am also growing my cultural sensitivity. Adjusting to the new ways of doing business as I believe it will make a difference in the team dynamics and the results. I had the opportunity to study and live in Cape Town a few years ago and it’s thrilling to be able to connect with this country so dear to my heart again.

South Africa undoubtedly has a big part to play in the fourth industrial revolution and I am honoured to be at the heart of its tech industry, helping local and international tech disruptors to build their reputation, product awareness, brand visibility and share of voice in the marketplace.

A set of disciplines
I have also created some rules at home, so I can stay focused. Having a routine is how I manage this new world of work. However, we also have to keep in mind that we are at home and thus can enjoy some flexibility. So, a not-so-typical day would look like:

● I wake up in the morning, dress up like I would do to go to work (well, maybe a less more formal wear)
● I have a start time and an end time
● I set-up a daily check-in with the team in the morning
● Enjoy a sandwich or a typical Mauritian food
● I do allow myself to go out in the garden, breathe, take a coffee break or play 5 minutes with the dog or talk to my niece when she wants to catch up

Remote working requires that we accommodate our personal life as well; it’s all about having a good balance. As an Account Director, my role also entails providing support to the team. We have set-up solid collaborative tools to work better together whilst building on each other’s strengths. In the end, it boils down to trusting each other that the work will be done. Ernest Hemingway said: “The way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” I like how from the very beginning; I have found common ground with the whole team. What I like as well, is that we take feedback seriously. As many teams are facing Zoom fatigue, we implemented no-meeting-Fridays to actually get some work done. We have embarked on a journey where the traditional working environment is not a sine qua non to productivity.

Work hard, play hard
Who said that we could not have fun whilst working remotely? The daily check-ins with the team are essential for me to feel the pulse, share our challenges and find solutions. I enjoy this special time ‘together’ as it sets the tone for the rest of the day.

As an agency embracing remote working, it’s great and refreshing to share online social events together. I especially enjoyed the Gnocchi and Tiramisu Masterclass which will be the first of many bonding moments.

I feel remote working gives us the space to enjoy the best in each other. At Red Ribbon, we’ve also implemented yearly face-to-face gatherings where the team in South Africa and Mauritius will meet for a week somewhere around the globe. As we wait for travels to be safe again, we enjoy the online team building until we meet (in person) again!