As part of my preparation away I have been thinking about what I want to get out of the year away. It is a unique opportunity. There will be 75 people from around the globe all with different backgrounds. The opportunities for knowledge transfer are numerous. It is likely that I will be one of the older members of the group and many of my travelling companions are likely to be associated with traditional computer based careers. I doubt there will be another environmental consultant – but you never know.
I’ve also decided to embrace social media. I joined Facebook and LinkedIn relatively late having resisted for many years. I made a promise to a friend that if I got a place on Remote Year I would join Twitter and thus I have ventured into that world as well. I’ve also spoken to several people who suggested that I write a blog about the experience. I’ve read up about the different platforms available and the need to have a purpose to the blog. So a few decisions had to be made.
I aim to try and provide some interesting narrative about the experience and include some work related aspects to the discussion. Therefore, LinkedIn seemed to be the most appropriate platform. However, I also want to include details of my travel experiences but really need to make these different to other travel blogs.
When I first went travelling it was before technology played such an integral part to so many peoples’ lives. In 1997 mobile phones and the internet were not common place, particularly in places like India. I made a monthly phone call back to the UK to let my family know that I was still ok. Internet cafes were only just starting and we only found a handful in the space of 6 months. Compare this with now with the expectation of instant connectivity to enable us to work anywhere (almost) on the planet. In just under 20 years the world has changed beyond recognition but enabled such possibilities. In the other aspect of my blog I would like to compare the experiences of my original travels to my travels of today. It is this aspect that I would like to bring out within this platform.
I’m hopeful that Remote Year will help change the way that many of us work. For people who undertake computer based work is there really a need for us all to travel into the office; adding to road congestion and pollution; and eating into our valuable time? To enable more people to work remotely, employers need to trust that employees will work and deliver what is required. The reality for many employers who embrace these new working practices is that employees appreciate the level of trust and work just as hard, if not harder than before. There are further advantages for everyone: by allowing a better work life balance employees are happier, more focused and employee retention levels tend to be greater. I’ve spoken to several people who have moved companies primarily to be given greater flexibility in the way that they work. I’m hopeful that we are starting to see the working practices of the future.