At Envato we have a 'work anywhere' policy that lets our staff work for a few months each year from anywhere in the world (providing there's a reliable internet connection).
Envato UX Designer Damir Kotorić left our headquarters in Melbourne a couple of months ago to work remotely in Serbia, where he grew up.
He shares some reflections on living the remote life.
Community gets real
One of the best things about working remotely has been the chance to connect with our Envato community offline, in their own backyard.
Before I left for Serbia I posted a comment on our forums to let our Balkan members know I’d be in their part of the world.
In return I got a dozen replies and a handful of emails. I arranged a meet-up in Belgrade, and caught up with authors who talked to me about how Envato fits into their lives.
Envato meet-up in Belgrade.
Two of our Bosnian creatives showed me around the university campus where they teach design. We even played tennis together. This is what I love about Envato!
Hanging out with Envato community members Zoran Maric (zokamaric) & Zoran Iliskovic (belegija) in front of their University campus in Doboj, Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Slow days happen anywhere. In an office they're normally due to interruptions, emergent work or meetings.
But when you’re working remotely and asynchronously, an unproductive day can be more challenging.
Early on I’ve had days where I’ve worked long hours just to do the minimum amount of work needed for that day, which can be frustrating. It’s important to remind yourself that it’s OK to have slow days, but I still feel disappointed if I don’t have much to report at the end of a day.
On the upside, productive days are way more productive. It’s like a work-from-home day on steroids! I've found I get into a state of flow more easily, which makes me a happier employee.
My work and interaction with colleagues is mostly asynchronous. Every morning I get an update, and then I hammer away at the work.
My DIY workstation is serious shittybattlestations material.
My makeshift stand-up desk at home isn't quite as good as the stand-up desk I have back in Melbourne, but does the job. I get to alternate between standing up and sitting down, which is kinder to my spine than sitting all day.
Catching up with HQ Tools like Slack and Google Hangouts make connecting with head office easy most of the time. Our Double robot is pretty neat too!
Taking the Double robot for a cruise.
What that looked like back in Melbourne.
When things are printed out on pieces of paper and stuck to walls with people gathering around them, it can be tricky for me to follow the conversation and input my ideas at a distance.
A good facilitator will point a laptop camera at the whiteboard and use a thick pen, or use a tool like Trello to make it easier for me to contribute. This helps a great deal with remote work and makes me feel included.
I imagine in the future we'll take it for granted that our team members aren't in the same room. Our work will be structured in a remote-first kind of way.
Since leaving Bosnia in 1992 I haven't had the chance to return and live a typical, day-to-day life.
My grandpa is 82 years old now and I can’t express how grateful I am that I can spend a few months with him while working for Envato.
At the end of the day I get to walk to my aunt’s place and see my childhood home along the way. In the evening I get to read a book in my grandpa’s garden, or go for a walk and discover the city where I was born but never had the chance to explore in detail.
These small moments are very special to me and I'll happily remember them years from now.
Sightseeing in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Then there are the weekends. In Europe there’s an endless amount of things to do and see. You have to be careful not to burn yourself out, but when you get the balance right you’ll come back to work on Monday full of inspiration and energy.
The future of work
It’s a true blessing that our generation has the opportunity to rethink how we work. At Envato we have all the ingredients (a digital business, a worldwide community, progressive culture and smart people) to be pioneers of a distributed and global workforce.
I still have a month and a half before coming back to Melbourne, but would recommend this experience to anyone!
Thanks Damir! We'll see you back in Melbourne soon. (And keep those gorgeous photos coming!)