Craig Holbrook shares his experience of fully embracing a Work from Anywhere lifestyle in Morocco. He also shares tips for how you can WFA, too.
One appeal of the Work from Anywhere (WFA) idea is that you can choose a work location where you may explore new areas of the globe, involve yourself in local communities and continue to earn a living.
People I know have moved to remote islands and started charitable foundations for underprivileged children, have spent a week in France working and touring, and (my favorite) have taken an 8-week grand tour of the American West working and vacationing simultaneously.
The possibilities are endless to mix work and exploration. There is also an argument that hybrid work can have creativity and productivity benefits, but that’s an argument for a later day. It will likely take corporate America some time to embrace, but I predict remote and hybrid work will be commonplace in years to come.
Did You Really Mean Work from Anywhere?
I am “working from anywhere” right now in a quiet beach town outside of the capital city of Rabat, Morocco.
I want to explore the duality of working and vacationing. I know it’s a foreign concept to many, so let’s walk through a few pertinent topics, including:
- Should I take my vacation at the end or beginning?
- Should I mix it up with small trips throughout?
- What are the big challenges in setting up your base of operations?
A bit of background: My wife is from Morocco. We come to visit every two years. Spending part of our retirement here is in our long-term plan. The people of Morocco are welcoming and hospitable. The legends of extraordinary Middle Eastern generosity are all true – it’s a wonderful culture and civilization. We thought this would be a perfect “dry run” of working from anywhere. It should inform my future decisions.
Many of your decisions about how to structure your WFA plan will have to do with the demands of your work. Ask yourself (and your boss) what schedule will be least impactful to productivity and continuity. In some cases, working three days a week for a month may be perfect for your role. Imagine having four 5-day weekends in a row! In others, it might be better to vacation a solid 2 to 3 weeks all at once.
I chose to vacation first and then work for a few weeks and it seems to be working great. The most important question you might ask yourself is: How can I most completely decompress on vacation?
Let’s Get Started with WFA
Getting set up for remote work sounds relatively straightforward. I would tend to agree with a few caveats. Whether you are renting an Airbnb, a hotel or you have your own place, spend some time working these items out in advance of your first day:
- Secure a room for your exclusive workspace (with a door that closes). A desk and a chair certainly help me to anchor my space and to focus. If you are in a distant time zone, a room is especially important given that you may be working off-hours locally.
- Obtain high-speed internet. Don’t rely on the hotel or existing Wi-Fi. Most countries have affordable portable Wi-Fi solutions. In Morocco, $20 USD per month gets you great internet service. Portable Wi-Fi avoids the delays of lighting up a landline.
- Test your connections for slowdowns and such. My internet here slows down after 5:00 PM GMT which is prime work time for the US. Folks are probably coming home from work locally and using broadband.
- Plan your work schedule. This is something I am still monkeying around with. Five hours earlier than EST gives me time in the morning to get some personal things done and still have a few hours of quiet work time before the US wakes up. My last meetings tend to be at 7:00 or 8:00 PM locally. I am still getting meeting requests for 9:00 and 10:00 PM local but have been able to move those earlier. Set expectations with your work team and block your calendar to make it easier for them.
In conclusion, if you or members of your team are considering work from anywhere for a short or an extended period, take some time to plan and coordinate this first experience. I knew that my first experiment would be an important precedent both for myself and my team and I wanted to get it right. As a manager, know that you will likely have employees that want to do this.