At the risk of sounding trite, there are many things we are left with to digest regarding the pandemic. Its profound effect on society, and difficulties and opportunities it has created. Further still, how it has changed our lives in ways that we have yet to discover. One of which is how today’s landscape for the work environment has evolved and how we choose to respect the ebbs and flows of it.
The realization that we are not only able to work remotely efficiently, but arguably more productively, was an epiphany for many, myself included. The call for companies to continue this trend was as loud as ever. In my job search, Crossfuze ticked off many of those boxes, including the notion of being able to work from anywhere. Even so, it is rather nerve wracking to come to your superior to entertain notion of working abroad. I discussed this with my direct report and braced myself for opposition. Instead, a rather short exchange of agreement followed. A litany of reasons was not needed? Only a request to keep him apprised of my timeline and communication of the schedule I would work.
With his blessing, my husband and I launched ourselves into full on planning mode. Flights and initial accommodations were booked. Travel insurance with added health coverage for international travel was purchased. We sold, including my car, most of our possessions. We gave away plenty and the rest we carefully packed in a 10x10 storage unit. We engaged a property manager to lease our home in Denver. Tentative itinerary of locations was shared with family along with photocopies of IDs and passports. I hired a tutor to help me learn conversational Spanish and brushed up on my French. We stripped down our belongings to the bare minimum, and only packed one check in and one carry on each for the six-month stint in Europe across multiple seasons. Budgets were created and savings replenished. We will have three homebases, London, Barcelona, and Lisbon to travel in and around to. There was no point of return, this was going to happen.
It has not been all rainbows and butterflies. In London, our living arrangements fell through last minute, not once, but three times with Airbnb as we tried in vain to rebook. We worked with several realtors to find us a short let, but many required an annual lease. Working in cafes was not a sustainable solution. The glares from the baristas when you’ve clearly overstayed your welcome hampered productivity. Public places like libraries had very early closing hours and many needed either residential or university ID as proof to use. A bout of Covid illness and allergy related hives ensued. In Barcelona, my husband and I were victims of pickpocketing on two separate occasions. We understand that our friend Murphy will always be along for the ride and our problems are trivial compared to others. Still, the word “stressed” does not accurately capture my feelings during this time.
However, for the things that did not go our way, many things did. Thankfully, our conference - Crossfuze Way, was just the week prior before we left so I was able to meet our wonderful EMEA team before heading to London. It was a warm welcome to see familiar faces and to be able to work with them in person. Eventually, we found a short let that was flexible for the duration of our stay. We continued to use Airbnbs for the rest of our travels with planned contingencies in place. For our homebases, we found a co-working space and paid for a private desk for each of us since our living quarters was limited in space due to being in the city. This ensured we always had a dedicated workspace and reliable internet. Also, it gave us 24/7 access since most workspaces had shorter hours for hotel desks or day passes. This also presented an opportunity to meet other digital nomads of kind. The weekends and times between work hours were ones of exploration of our new environment and living life as locals to the fullest. Learning a few key phrases in the local language goes a long way. Simple pleasures were enjoyed like reading on the tube, meditating in the park, or eating a plethora of amazing cuisines. Being able to experience the beautiful meshing of cultures, sights, and people are just a few things I will never forget.
It is a privilege to be able to work in this capacity. I am fully aware many roles, financial obligations, and prior and current responsibilities are not conducive to this lifestyle. I am humbled by our blessings and honored to be given a chance to become a better world citizen. I also realized that none of this would be a possibility without the support from leadership at Crossfuze. To work for a place where those in charge earnestly practice what they preach is incredible, I will not be able to express enough of my gratitude. Thank you for the lessons of freedom with responsibility. I feel much more engaged in my position and reenergized due to my changing environment. The individuals here I have met (and have yet to meet) have been a dream to work with.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I’ll end with a few final thoughts. I’ve had my apprehensions of working in a 100% remote environment, despite all the freedoms it allowed. The first time I met anyone in person was at Crossfuze Way, almost ten months after hire. It is mind blowing to me as I reflect. All of that to say, Crossfuze has made and continues to make tremendous efforts to create that sense of belonging. Every work environment will continue to come with its challenges, but you do get out what you put in. With that said, leave your comfort zone, and welcome this unnerving and exhilarating experience. It has allowed so much time for introspect on the values and tenets you have in your life. Bon voyage!