From Advertising to Digital Nomading Around The Globe
Where to start? I am a UX and UI Designer with a perpetual wanderlust. I was 15 years old when I started saving up for the day I’d leave Finland behind and go roam the world. But my mom told me to get a real job, so I compromised and started studying graphic designing at the fine age of 17. When I started Graphic Designing the world was a different place. I am not that old either, I just started young. In those days I never thought working remotely was an option, it was not a concept back then. I was working in advertising and pretty much doing print design, and if you needed to show your client something, it required me physically being there showing the work.
The change to a digital world has been fast. I am 34 years old and even during my lifetime I have witnessed and worked in a totally different world, with different kinds of opportunities.
The world was in turmoil in 2008 and I decided to sell my apartment along with my belongings and start travelling. At this point I was already banging my head against walls trying to convince my clients I was actually working, not lounging on a beach sipping mimosas. My laptop was heavy, the internet was slow and I wasn’t sure how any of this was going to work. And in the beginning, it really didn’t work. I have to say, trying to change ideas of what was normal, wasn’t easy. But it became my normal and I think that is what mattered to me, that is why I carried on and followed my own path.
Slowly and surely, my situation began to improve. The world was changing, the concept of the digital nomad started to pop-up every now and then.
When things really changed was in 2012 when I met the people behind IWA and we started working together. I was thinking “Why does a Finnish company have an office in Thailand?!!”. Since then we’ve been working together for the past 6 years, and nowadays I am part of their team as an employee. Fast forwarding to the year 2017, I have been working as a digital nomad for years and loving my travels around the world. I have surfed the beaches in countries like The Philippines, Costa Rica, Nicaragua and some remote Polynesian islands, I have seen the mountains of the Himalayas and drunk chai in the busy and dirty streets of Delhi.
In my world travels I have learned different languages and of different cultures. I have connected with people around the world. I will sit at my meetings, sipping my turmeric latte (I know, very millennial), work late nights, deliver my work on time, and in the morning, if I have time, I might go for a surf. I work hard and enjoy life at the same time and most importantly of all, I’ve stopped dreading Mondays.
I do not know the exact numbers, but figures for remote working and digital nomads are on the rise and they will surely continue to rise in the future.
Here are my tips on working remotely and being a better DGN:
1. Stop procrastinating. Sometimes the hardest part of a project, is actually starting it. Learn to deliver on time. Start your projects on time and ask if there’s something you don’t know. If you happen to miss a deadline for any reason, go to number 2.
2. Communicate. The surest path to not getting things done is failing to communicate with your team. If you are unsure of something, say it out loud. Also, simply ask how your colleagues are doing, it’s nice to be social from time to time, ay? Communication is key to any lasting relationship and that includes the relationship with your work.
3. Change your mindset. I call this the “entrepreneurial mindset”. Within a company we are all working towards a common goal, right? We all want the company we are working for to thrive. So, stop complaining and start delivering, if there’s an issue go back to number 2.
4. Be Social. Engage socially where you work and during your spare time as well. It is too easy to fall down an anti-social hole when working remotely, go see your colleagues at the office if possible. See number 2.
5. Learn, learn and learn. When I graduated as a graphic designer, the world was different. There was no such thing as working remotely (at least in Finland). The internet was fairly bad and it took ages to upload files. Well, as we can see the world has changed and it will continue to do so. So be curious, do not let yourself become oblivious thinking that things would stay the same. Learn new things, new tools, new processes. And to learn is to ask, so if you do not know something open your mouth, so go to number 2. That is how I got here.