Aaron Wagner

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The Future of Work

10 Best Cities on Earth for Remote Workers

Remote workers enjoy an enviable combination of freedom, productivity and job satisfaction. What better way to celebrate work and life than to travel while you earn your living! With countless breathtaking locations on the map, a bit of thought should go into your destination choices. You’ll want reliable internet, of course, as well as affordability,… View Article

Remote workers enjoy an enviable combination of freedom, productivity and job satisfaction. What better way to celebrate work and life than to travel while you earn your living!

With countless breathtaking locations on the map, a bit of thought should go into your destination choices. You’ll want reliable internet, of course, as well as affordability, nice weather  (however you define “nice,”) and workspaces to accommodate your productivity.

If you’ve got remote work and a passport, all you have to do next is decide where to venture off to. The following list of cities might spark interest and give you some ideas.

Canggu, Bali

Photo by Harry Kessell on Unsplash

One of the alluring factors of Canggu is, of course, its weather. With temperatures in the mid 80’s (F) all year round, it attracts surfers and digital nomads who love living outdoors.

For work, there are co-working spaces and plenty of cafes and restaurants, most featuring decent WiFi. Also, for being a resort village, Canguu is affordable.

Known for:

  • Laid back atmosphere
  • Culture
  • Beaches
  • Dining
  • Temples

TIP: Bring your laptop to Machinery Cafe, the “first and favorite locally owned co-working cafe in Batu Bolong, Canggu.” With coffees, meals, and plenty of new faces to meet every day, you can’t go wrong.

Bangkok, Thailand

Image by Alvin Aden Ardenrich Pan from Pixabay


If you’re looking for a large-city lifestyle mixed with a subtropical climate, you’ll likely fall in love with Bangkok. The capitol of Thailand and the country’s most populated city, it’s home to over eight million inhabitants. You’ll always find plenty of restaurants, nightlife and new things to do, which makes this exotic metropolis ideal if you’re an adventurer.

The traffic here is famously bad, so plan to get around by using the Skytrain (Bangkok’s Mass Transit System.)

Known for:

  • City life, including night life
  • Royal palaces and temples
  • Museums
  • Dining and Shopping

TIP: Looking for a place to get work done? For delicious coffees and foods of many types, start by heading over to (Not Just) Another Cup. Their menu is quite good, so bring your appetite along with your workload. 

Mexico City, Mexico

Image by Rodrigo de la torre from Pixabay

Mexico City is a land of urban sunshine and amazing street food. It’s less expensive here than in both the US and Europe, and it’s also home to many co-working spaces and coffee shops.

For lodging, Airbnb is a popular option with digital nomads in Mexico City. And for transportation, you’ll have access to a robust subway system (which is the fastest and cheapest way to get around the city.)

Known for:

  • A rich cultural center
  • Financial center
  • Music and theater
  • Art
  • Street vendors

TIP: To really get productive, check out the Punto Working Space for an inexpensive but accommodating co-working environment.

Belgrade, Serbia

Photo by Dragan Jankovic Faza

If you have an appreciation for culture, history and night life, run – don’t walk – to Belgrade. Yes, winter gets gold here, so come in the summer months if you’re looking for warmth and sunshine. But if you’re fine with snow, there’s a lot to experience in the winter season. Winter lovers flock to the annual Belgrade Christmas market, as well as Košutnjak forest (a beautiful city park/forest where you can hike and picnic.)

Known for:

  • Architecture
  • Nightlife
  • Sports
  • Fashion and design

TIP: For great coffee and a splash of music, consider getting your work done at Zaokret. And when you’ve wrapped up your work, order some beer as well.

Porto, Portugal

Image by nathsegato from Pixabay

Portugal has lovely weather and many sights to see, but it does get cold in winter months. Fortunately, Porto is more affordable than the more well-known Lisbon, which makes it ideal for remote workers who want to experience this country.

In Porto, you’ll have access to reliable public transportation as well as accommodating co-working spaces. (The co-working environments are better workspaces than the cafes in Porto.) You’ll also find several networking meetups and community lunch and drink events where you can meet other remote workers.

Known for:

  • Architecture
  • Urban environment
  • Port wine
  • St. John Festival (São João  Festival) on June 23-34
  • Universities

TIP: For a few cafes that are great for working in Porto (since they have plenty of outlets, tables and WiFi,) take your work over to Mesa 325, Brando Casa do Café, or Combi Coffee.

Tampa, Florida

Image by Michelle Maria from Pixabay

For digital nomads who want to experience adventure in the US but don’t have the budget for New York City or Silicone Valley, Tampa is a perfect choice. It’s sunny all year, there’s no shortage of night life, and it offers the rare benefit of not withholding state income tax.

Known for:

  • Arts and culture
  • Water sports
  • Ybor’s cigars
  • Clubs and nightlife

TIP: For productivity, a couple great places to get work done are the Felicitous Coffee House and the Foundation Coffee Company. Also check out Hyde Park Village for more choices.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Deensel – High-rises of Puerto Madero

Buenos Aires is another location where you can ditch your winter wardrobe. Many remote workers love this destination because of its diverse population and bustling cosmopolitan areas. It’s also attractive to travelers who love theater and art.

Although Buenos Aires is Argentina’s largest city, it’s nonetheless quite affordable for visiting and living. It also has a large subway system and offers public bike sharing.

Known for:

  • Multiple ethnic groups, languages, and religious groups
  • Rich music traditions
  • Film/cinema
  • Television networks
  • Fashion

TIP: Bring your workload to Mooi Restaurant for an attractive environment and brilliant foods and treats. Tea Connection is another most-visit venue.

Berlin, Germany

Photo by Harald Krichel

One aspect that makes Berlin so attractive for remote workers and digital nomads is its central location. Seated in the heart of Europe, travelers are well-positioned to visit anywhere else they want on the continent.

For work, there are plenty of cafes and reliable internet connections in Berlin, along with co-working spaces and networking events. Also, since many people speak English here, it’s easy to get tips from locals who know the area.

Known for:

  • Performing arts
  • Science and higher education
  • Nightlife
  • Museums and galleries
  • High standard of living

TIP: Don’t miss this workspace hotspot! Located on the ground floor of Microsoft Berlin, the Digital Eatery offers free workshops, WiFi and technical support.

Prague, Czech Republic

Photo by Jaromír Kavan on Unsplash

Prague has become an attractive destination for expats and remote workers all around the world. It’s welcoming of tourists, full of history, and rich in museums and galleries. Not only is Prague loved for its reliable transportation system, fast internet and other urban offerings, but it’s also affordable enough for the digital-nomad lifestyle.

Known for:

  • City life and clubs
  • Universities, science, and high-tech centers
  • Prague Castle and the Prague astronomical clock
  • Historical exhibits and museums

TIP: Check out Café Pavlač for a unique remote-work experience. It features a café, bar, art gallery, great food and friendly staff.

Beijing, China

Photo by 郭友柏

Beijing is a bustling urban environment where you can experience unique adventures and meet many business- and tech-minded people. It features a wide range of weather, from cold and windy winters (but little snow) to hot, humid summers. There are plenty of co-working spaces in this city, as well as a robust public transportation system to get there.

Known for:

  • Science and tech
  • Business
  • Nightlife
  • High-speed rail networks
  • Universities

TIP: For co-working, check out the SimplyWork coworking space, as well as WeDo in several locations.

Have you traveled and worked in any of these cities? Or have you been somewhere not mentioned in this post? We’d love to hear from you, so let us know about any tips you have for new remote workers or aspiring digital nomads.

By Feb 3, 2020
Management

10 Traits of the Best Remote Managers

A recent Inc. article recalled a time back in 2002 when Google tested a hypothesis that managers were a “necessary evil” and weren’t important. This hypothesis wound up being incorrect, but it ultimately led to Google’s discovery of ten traits of highly effective managers. Interestingly, these traits seem to be even more critical for managers of remote employees…. View Article

A recent Inc. article recalled a time back in 2002 when Google tested a hypothesis that managers were a “necessary evil” and weren’t important. This hypothesis wound up being incorrect, but it ultimately led to Google’s discovery of ten traits of highly effective managers.

Interestingly, these traits seem to be even more critical for managers of remote employees. Here are the characteristics and why they matter for boundaryless teams.

1. Be a good coach.

While coaching is beneficial for in-office employees, it’s even more crucial for remote teams who don’t meet and influence each other in person. The best remote managers coach their employees by helping them improve their productivity. They also help their teams sharpen their career skills and coach them toward staying self-inspired and self-motivated.

2. Empower teams and don’t micromanage.

While micromanaging is ineffective in the office, it’s an absolute death knell for remote teams. Constant emails and Slack messages to the same employee regarding every aspect of their work reflects a complete lack of trust by a manager. It means the manager has no confidence in the employee’s talents.

The best managers trust their remote teams. They empower their staff with the tools and coaching needed to do excellent work on their own.

Operating with a high level of trust requires good hiring practices. So hire the most skilled people on earth (an ability made possible by remote work) and then trust them to do what they do best.

3. Create an inclusive team environment, showing concern for success and well-being.

Many companies have a mix of remote teams and in-office employees. Managers need to foster morale and a strong sense of community. If a distant team member feels left out of the company’s social structure and culture, their sense of isolation will make their work suffer. Managers can’t let this happen.

4. Be productive and results-oriented.

Traditionally, a primary measure of employee performance has been the number of hours spent in the office. But managers of remote employees need to shift this standard to one of results. As long as an employee is performing well, when and where they work should be of little concern.

5. Be a good communicator. Listen and share information.

Communication has always been important in business. But with distributed teams, it becomes even more important. As a general rule, managers should do what they can to communicate overly. All staff must be receiving the right communications at the right time, regardless of their location.

6. Have a clear vision/strategy for the team.

As the Inc. article pointed out, “with no North Star, employees sail into the rocks.” Especially with a remote team, a manager should involve the entire employee base in the creation of the team strategy for success.

7. Support career development and discuss performance.

I already mentioned the mistake of neglecting remote employees and allowing them to feel isolated. It’s also essential to help them grow in their careers and make sure they know they’re appreciated.

Help them work through their weaknesses, point out opportunities, and acknowledge them for their strengths. When employees aren’t physically present with their manager and co-workers, career development needs to be an even stronger effort than it is with office workers.

8. Have the expertise to advise the team.

The best managers are highly proficient advisors who gain trust and admiration from the team. These characteristics are especially important for employees who don’t often (if ever) see their managers in person. The leader of a remote team should be even more skilled in their trade than the highest-performing team members.

9. Collaborate.

The need to collaborate is magnified with remote teams. Team leaders should be aware of the latest apps for messaging and video conferencing. Managers should also encourage their people to test tools and suggest new ones.

10. Be a strong decision maker.

Boundaryless teams must have someone to count on for quick, proactive decision making. Otherwise, the “out of sight, out of mind” nature of a distributed workforce will lead to attitudes of “it’s not my job.”

Remote teams need to know a project’s direction, and everybody should understand who is doing what. Managers should be trustworthy, quick-thinking, and decisive.

By Jan 14, 2020
Boundaryless Landscape

Six Remote-Work Myths That Need to Die in 2020

The problem with today’s remote-work myths is that they cause needless apprehension that prevents companies from being competitive. These myths also prevent hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide from being as productive and fulfilled as they could be. In this post we expose the myths that might hold companies back from becoming bigger, better, and boundaryless.

Forbes recently published an article titled 10 Potential Developments for Businesses When Adopting Remote Working Arrangements. It featured ten members of the Forbes Finance Council.

Although the article was insightful in some sections, I found that it ultimately spread more myths than facts.

The problem with today’s remote-work myths is that they cause needless apprehension that prevents companies from being competitive. These myths also prevent hundreds of thousands of employees worldwide from being as productive and fulfilled as they could be.

The first six points in the Forbes article were mostly accurate. Remote work creates:

  • More Accessibility and Flexibility
  • Lower Labor Costs
  • Reduced Space Needs
  • Improved Employee Longevity
  • Reduced Scaling Costs
  • Increased Effectiveness While Capturing Top Talent

But the article’s last four points are where the myths emerged.

Myth 1: Remote Work Creates “A Need for Sophisticated IT Solutions.”

Turing's Boundaryless Landscape of Remote Distributed Products

Turing’s Boundaryless Landscape of Remote Distributed Products

According to the article, remote work “requires sophisticated IT solutions to execute properly and ensure work continues seamlessly at work or at home.” What the article doesn’t mention is that an entire landscape of apps exists for ensuring that work continues seamlessly.

While these apps are certainly sophisticated, IT departments aren’t needed to use them.

Myth 2: Remote Work Leads to “Fluctuating Productivity Levels”

According to one of the article’s contributors, “it can be challenging to help your remote employees to either maintain or improve their productivity levels when required.”

The reality is that remote workers are generally more productive than office employees, and we’ve known this for quite some time. See, for example, this study from 2015, this one from 2018, and this one from 2019.

Myth 3: Remote Work Creates “Communication Issues Leading to Bigger Costs”

According to one of the contributors of the article:

Communication is at the root of most problems, so a resource strategy that makes communication less direct will be challenged. What is lost is synergy, collaboration, accountability and more that benefit most from face-to-face experiences. What is gained are inefficiencies and, therefore, costs.

There are several misconceptions there. In reality, the robust landscape  of communication tools makes it possible for remote professionals to collaborate as effectively (or even more effectively) than office employees.

Face-to-face communication has diminished in the office. On-site employees are already accustomed to emailing their colleagues or touching base via Slack. Since office employees are already using these apps to collaborate with co-workers down the hall or a couple cubicles away, they might as well be working remotely. There’s no difference.

Further, when office employees do come together for in-person meetings, the chief complaint is, “I could’ve saved an hour of my workday by getting a Slack message instead.”

So, contrary to the claims of the article, remote work does not lead to communication issues, inefficiencies, or greater costs. In fact, remote work boosts communication and efficiencies, thereby reducing costs.

Myth 4: Remote Work Creates “Negative Energy”

No other myth makes me scratch my head as much as this one – especially when the same Forbes article, in the “Improved Employee Longevity” paragraph, contradicts this negative-energy paragraph. (Earlier in the article, one of the contributors correctly writes, “Letting your employees work one regular day from home can do wonders for morale.”)

Here’s the “negative-energy” blurb, quoted from the last paragraph of the Forbes article:

The culture of a team and an office is becoming very important, and not having the team all in one place can create negative energy.

Wrong.

As studies like this one have demonstrated, “Among other findings, we learned that remote work or the ability to work remotely makes employees happier, feel more trusted, better able to achieve work-life balance, and more inclined to take a pay cut to benefit from added flexibility.”

Myth 5: An Office Is Needed for a Healthy Corporate Culture

The culture of a team and an office is becoming very important…

While a healthy team culture is indeed very important, it’s certainly not true that an office is necessary for this. In fact, two-thirds of knowledge workers think the office will disappear by 2030.

The reality is that the landscape of communication tools makes a robust team culture possible with no central headquarters. Remote teams collaborate without the necessary evils that accompany life in an office – including gossip, corporate politics, micromanaging, and other negatives that suffocate a good team culture.

Myth 6: Remote Workers Don’t “Work”

Again focusing on the last paragraph of the Forbes article:

We see more and more employees who want to “work” from home. I believe that less work is being done, and other employees see them as not being team players. Things come up during the day, and when things go sideways that is when employees can bond the best.

It’s staggering that there are still executives who view remote workers as delinquent slackards who spend their workdays watching YouTube or playing Fortnite while getting paid.

Obviously, this is nonsense. As with any other job situation, not working will quickly lead to getting fired.

Again, refer to the studies I mentioned above in Myth 2. Remote workers are generally more productive than office employees.

Further, contrary to the above quote, on-site employees certainly view their remote counterpart as “team players.” If a weakest link is pinpointed, remote workers know that they can be replaced just as easily as office employees. There’s as much incentive for remote workers to pull their own weight as there is with office employees.

In the 2020s, Companies Who Don’t Offer Remote Work Options will Lose

According to Buffer’s State of Remote Work Report, 99 percent of their survey respondents want to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers.

If you want to keep your best employees, boost productivity, and gain the ability to hire world-class talent from around the globe, don’t listen to the remote-work naysayers. In the 2020s, remote-friendly companies will be the most competitive.

By Jan 8, 2020
Cartoon graphic showing remote workers
The Future of Work

Benefits of Remote Work Outweigh the Challenges

Once in a while, we see pushback to the remote work phenomenon. Some people cite loneliness, but meetups and community events can overcome this. Others mention the stress of being “always-on” or “always connected,” which can be alleviated through effective work/life scheduling and setting reasonable availability expectations. There are a couple of other objections, but… View Article

Once in a while, we see pushback to the remote work phenomenon.

Some people cite loneliness, but meetups and community events can overcome this. Others mention the stress of being “always-on” or “always connected,” which can be alleviated through effective work/life scheduling and setting reasonable availability expectations. There are a couple of other objections, but they can all be overcome and managed.

As tweeted by David Tabachnikov (@davidtab), Co-CEO at ScholarshipOwl,

Socializing: Work from a co-working space, have a flight budget, have offsites
Meetings: You don’t “need” meetings, and yet you can still have them.
Water cooler: Donut bot,
Collaborators: Figma, Docs, Zoom Screen Share, shared whiteboards
Can’t focus at home: Anticafe, Co-working

And a good point was made by an opinion blog post in The Globe And Mail:

“So is the answer to get rid of remote work and bring everyone back together to work harmoniously together? Well, no, for so many reasons. From having to build more office space to having more cars on the road every day, moving away from remote work could not happen without huge costs, many of them involving worker horror: As much as it may be lonely to work alone all the time, it is not clear that many remote workers really do pine for the opportunity to be in the office kitchen every day. What they do want, however, is to still feel that they are connected to their colleagues and part of a team. Creative companies are succeeding at this, whether through virtual weekly meetings or retreats, or just encouraging people to call and talk to each other rather than e-mailing and texting.”

We agree.

By Dec 19, 2019
Boundaryless Landscape

Why a Landscape of Remote-Work Tools is Better Than One “Super-App”

Why remote teams need an array of tools from which to choose instead of one all-encompassing app.

On November 22, Forbes published an article titled The Most Exciting Tech Trends For 2020, From Five Leading Investors Around The World.

One of the contributors was the highly-esteemed Sarah Smith, Investing Partner at Bain Capital Ventures. Her interesting take on tech trends pertained to remote teams changing how we interact and which tools we need for workforce productivity. To quote her:

“As more and more tech leaders are facing a talent shortage in the U.S., they are building teams remotely. As a result, many of them are starting companies to enable better experiences for remote teams focused on productivity and communication. There are a plethora of tools popping up aiming to be the next generation of Slack, Zoom, and note apps like Quip and Evernote.”

“I believe the way leaders, managers, teams, and all employees interact and work is changing quite rapidly, but it is not yet clear if one super-app will stitch together everything a remote team needs or if we’ll deploy even more apps than before. More importantly, I’m keen to find tools the create the trust, empathy, and companionship that inherently comes with in-person interactions which are mostly lost in a fully remote working world.”

Sarah’s thought of one super-app that stitches it all together is an intriguing one, and I tried imagining such a tool for a moment. (I also imagined the glitches in its first release!)

But then I started thinking of the benefits to the current array of remote-work tools available. Three come to mind.

More tools enable more/better features. First, no matter how super a super-app would be, it’s unimaginable that it could provide all the features and uses provided by the current remote-enabling tools listed in the Boundaryless landscape (above)

More tools satisfy diverse teams. Second, the multitude of apps on the market reflects the beautiful diversity that remote work makes possible. One of the most significant benefits of remote work is that it enables companies – even the littlest ones – to employ incredibly diverse teams of professionals from around the globe. Diverse teams need to experiment with an array of tools. It’s unlikely any single app, no matter how tremendous, can satisfy the unique requirements of every organization.

An entire landscape of tools promotes innovation. 

Image showing the landscape of tools and companies in the remote-distributed-teams ecosystem

At Turing, we believe that innovation is an inherent good. It pushes humanity forward by promoting competition and a cycle of continuous improvement. To support this cycle as well as the ecosystem of #Boundaryless companies, we’ll continue to update the landscape whenever we learn about new companies that are helping to push the state of remote, distributed teams forward.

By Dec 10, 2019
Tweet: Women in the Gig Economy
Interviews

A 7-Point Checklist for Remote-Employee Success in 2020

Forbes contributor Diane Mulcahy recently interviewed Krystal Hicks on the topic of “why companies don’t trust their employees.” (Krystal Hicks is the founder of JOBTALK – a resource for career-curious professionals throughout every phase of their journey.) When I read Krystal’s observations in this article/interview, it occurred to me that they were so good, they could easily serve as… View Article

Forbes contributor Diane Mulcahy recently interviewed Krystal Hicks on the topic of “why companies don’t trust their employees.” (Krystal Hicks is the founder of JOBTALK – a resource for career-curious professionals throughout every phase of their journey.)

When I read Krystal’s observations in this article/interview, it occurred to me that they were so good, they could easily serve as a Checklist for 2020 Remote-Employee Success.

So I decided to organize them into that list! Here are some highlights from the interview, along with my added seven checklist points (in bold headers.)

1. Do You Trust your People?

Diane Mulcahy asked Krystal why so many companies are slow to implement remote or flexible work policies. Krystal’s response? “It’s trust. There’s no trust. And the mistrust stems from leadership.”

To quote Krystal further,

“Companies that are attracting incredible talent demonstrate that they trust their employees. They provide people with a choice about where to work, and the tools, like video conferencing, to make sure that they’re successful… Trust is the new currency, and the best talent wants to work for a company that trusts them.” 

2. Do You Measure Productivity Effectively? 

Krystal told a story about a client of hers who was concerned that remote workers wouldn’t work as hard if they were unsupervised. Her response to this fear is excellent:

“The real question for companies and leaders considering remote work policies is: How do you measure productivity when employees are at their desks in front of you? And if you do not measure them in the office, then it’s difficult to assume that people are going to be less productive at home. Companies need to figure out how they can implement metrics to measure productivity for everyone, no matter where they are working.”

3. Do You Have The Right People Managing Your Remote Teams?

“The Achilles heel of most organizations is promoting the wrong people into people management roles,” Krystal said.

“I think we have this epidemic of people who were great producers who received promotions into management, and they are terrible managers. There was an assumption made that because they were a great performer, that they would be a great people manager. And I think those are two starkly different things. And I’ve seen it be such a devastating move at so many of the clients that I’ve worked with because bad managers will chase out great employees.”

4. Have You Shifted from Blockbuster to Netflix?

 Diane Mulcahy asked Krystal what she means when she uses the term Managerial Darwinism. Krystal explained that what she’s saying is “adapting or dying. It is the understanding that there is Blockbuster and there is Netflix – you have a choice about which one you’ll be.”

5. Do You Accept That You Have Less Power/Control Over Employees Than You Used To?

 “Employers have less power because they no longer have the same level of control over their employees. Most importantly, they don’t own the financial future of their employees anymore. More employees have side gigs and no longer rely on their employers for 100% of their income. They’re earning money outside their full-time job, and that changes the power dynamic.”

6. Do You Hold Retention Interviews?

According to Krystal,

“I’ve heard of a lot of people say that they do exit interviews, but I believe there is such good information in retention interviews, where you talk to people that have been at the company for 3, 5, and 10 years and learn: What has kept them? Companies have amazing employees that they are not leveraging as a source of information.”

7. Do You Budget for Consultants? 

Krystal has observed that companies are thinking about consultants differently.

“They’ve either already had success working with a consultant, or they hear about other companies that have had a good experience, or they’re watching their high-performing employees leave to become independent consultants. Companies are realizing and recognizing that consultants are a reliable source of talent.

I’m also now seeing companies start to budget for consultants, which is a significant shift, and a strong indicator of demand, because when a company has a budget, they’re going to spend it.”

One more quote from Krystal Hicks helps conclude our checklist:

“The stakes are high for companies to figure out remote work because employees are really demanding it.”

By Dec 6, 2019