Why We’re Sending a Shopify Developer Around the World (And How You Can Connect With Her)

Why We’re Sending a Shopify Developer Around the World (And How You Can Connect With Her)

Tired of working in a dingy office building with fluorescent lights? Itching to escape the confines of your home office? Bored of the endless Bon Iver playlists at your local coffee shop?

Imagine you could work from anywhere. Where in the world would you go?

From Kuala Lumpur to Mexico City, cloud technologies are making it possible for designers and developers to work from almost anywhere there’s a WiFi signal. For many freelancers, this often means the freedom to move out of their home office and work from different locales.

But a number of people are taking the remote lifestyle to an even greater extreme by packing their bags and jet-setting off to exotic locations. This trend has become so popular that there’s even a term to describe these remote workers. They are called digital nomads and they are leveraging the power of technology to redefine the working lifestyle.

What is a digital nomad?

Digital nomads are individuals that use technology to work remotely and live an independent and nomadic lifestyle. They depend largely on wireless internet, smartphones, and cloud-based applications for their work.

Digital nomadism is particularly amenable to industries such as web design and development where the majority of the work is done online. Furthermore, freelancers are well-suited to remote lifestyles because they aren’t accountable to other co-workers. As a result, many freelance web designers and developers can work from almost anywhere there’s a solid WiFi signal — whether that’s on the couch at home, a shared office or co-working space, or even a lounge chair on a beach in Bali.

If you think being a digital nomad means flying solo, however, you’re wrong. With more and more freelancers and full-time employees taking their work out of the office, communities and services supporting remote workers are springing up all over the world. There’s ROAM for example — a global co-living subscription that allows remote workers to sign one lease but live in any of its properties around the globe. Or DNX — a conference entirely devoted to digital nomadism.

Curious about remote work but not sure if you can commit to a permanently nomadic lifestyle? There’s even a program called Remote Year which brings together professionals from across the globe to spend a year working, travelling, and exploring 12 different cities around the world.

The challenges

Like everything, working remotely has its ups and downs. While remote workers have the freedom to travel and see the world, great freedom comes with a price.

First, transitioning from working in a traditional office space to moving from place to place every few months can be psychologically challenging. Human beings have a natural aversion to change, so moving around all the time can be taxing. Furthermore, remote work can often be quite lonesome, especially if you’re in a place where you might not be familiar with the local culture or speak the native language. Finally, remote workers can have a hard time separating work from leisure time. Even the most disciplined remote worker can be tempted to procrastinate from work when there are new cities and stunning natural landscapes waiting to be explored.

Aside from the psychological challenges that must be overcome to live this type of lifestyle, there are also many mundane obstacles: timezone differences, visas, vaccinations, travel insurance, health insurance, money, and of course, access to reliable WiFi. Figuring out a communication strategy with your clients or co-workers is of the utmost importance, although it can often lead to Skype meetings at two in the morning.

The rewards

If you’re willing to tackle the challenges associated with a digitally nomadic lifestyle, the rewards can be incredible.

For example, many nomads frequently point out the creative benefits of working in new spaces — a fact that is supported by a number of recent psychological and neurological studies. In an article by The Atlantic, Columbia Business School professor Adam Galinsky remarks that “foreign experiences increase both cognitive flexibility and depth and integrativeness of thought, the ability to make deep connections between disparate forms.” In other words, forcing our brains through unfamiliar experiences makes our brains more “plastic” — they are more adept at breaking out of hardwired neurological pathways to create new ideas (reading fiction has a similar effect). “New sounds, smells, language, tastes, sensations, and sights spark different synapses in the brain and may have the potential to revitalize the mind.”

Can’t afford a plane ticket or tied up with other commitments that keep you at home? Fortunately, Galinsky's study suggests that you don’t have to travel far to get the creative benefits of a nomadic lifestyle. Sometimes simply moving to a new neighbourhood or doing something that breaks your ordinary routine is enough to reinvigorate the mind and spark fresh ideas. So if the beach in Bali isn’t an option, maybe try that new local coffee shop or take a weekend road-trip to a nearby town.

Meet Kirsten

Shopify Developer Around the World: Digital NomadTo better understand the benefits and challenges faced by freelancers and remote workers working in the digital space, we’re sending one of our developers on a Remote Year. Enter Kirsten — a software developer on the Shopify Partner Team. For the next 12 months, Kirsten will travel the globe to get a sense of what a remote lifestyle looks like. She also wants to connect with our Partners around the world to get your insights on how we can improve the Partner Program and serve you better.

Coming soon to a city near you

Want to connect with Kirsten and share your insights about working remotely or with Shopify? Here’s where she’s going to be over the next few months:

Map with points of travel

Cordoba, Argentina

Population: 1.3 million

Shopify partners: 6

Dates: February 28 - April 3, 2016

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Population: 2.9 million

Shopify partners: 59

Dates: April 3 - May 1, 2016

La Paz, Bolivia

Population: 789,585

Shopify partners: 4

Dates: May 1 - June 5, 2016

Cusco, Peru

Population: 348,935

Shopify partners: 2

Dates: June 5 - July 3, 2016

London, England

Population: 8.5 million

Shopify partners: 1754

Dates: July 3 - July 31, 2016

Prague, Czech Republic

Population: 1.3 million

Shopify partners: 20

Dates: July 31 - August 28, 2016

Belgrade, Serbia

Population: 1.35 million

Shopify partners: 29

Dates: August 28 - October 2, 2016

Split, Croatia

Population: 178,102

Shopify partners: 4

Dates: October 2 - November 6, 2016

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Population: 1.589 million

Shopify partners: 99

Dates: November 6 - December 3, 2016

Chiang Mai, Thailand

Population: 398,169

Shopify partners: 19

Dates: December 3 - December 31, 2016

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Population: 1.5 million

Shopify partners: 48

Dates: December 31 - January 29, 2017

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Population: 8.22 million

Shopify partners: 27

Dates: January 29 2017 - February 26, 2017

 

Cordoba, Argentina
Population: 1.3 million
Shopify partners: 6
Dates: February 28 - April 3, 2016

Buenos Aires, Argentina
Population: 2.9 million
Shopify partners: 59
Dates: April 3 - May 1, 2016

La Paz, Bolivia
Population: 789,585
Shopify partners: 4
Dates: May 1 - June 5, 2016

Cusco, Peru
Population: 348,935
Shopify partners: 2
Dates: June 5 - July 3, 2016

London, England
Population: 8.5 million
Shopify partners: 1754
Dates: July 3 - July 31, 2016

Prague, Czech Republic
Population: 1.3 million
Shopify partners: 20
Dates: July 31 - August 28, 2016

Belgrade, Serbia
Population: 1.35 million
Shopify partners: 29
Dates: August 28 - October 2, 2016

Split, Croatia
Population: 178,102
Shopify partners: 4
Dates: October 2 - November 6, 2016

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Population: 1.589 million
Shopify partners: 99
Dates: November 6 - December 3, 2016

Chiang Mai, Thailand
Population: 398,169
Shopify partners: 19
Dates: December 3 - December 31, 2016

Phnom Penh, Cambodia
Population: 1.5 million
Shopify partners: 48
Dates: December 31 - January 29, 2017

Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Population: 8.22 million
Shopify partners: 27
Dates: January 29 2017 - February 26, 2017

Want to connect with Kirsten? Reach out to her on Twitter at @shopify_remote

About the Author

Gillian is a Partner Marketer for the Shopify Partner Program. She likes Oxford commas and owns four different copies of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare.

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