How did you start working remotely

Cologne -

Jan Ollig and Bea Uhlenberg have been to Bali, Thailand, Australia and South Africa in recent years. But instead of just traveling, both of them work. No matter where you are. Both have become experts in location-independent work. Many more people could dare to take this step, they believe.

The couple has dealt intensively with the topic of location-independent work - and shows on their blog what the working world of tomorrow could look like. In addition, in their book series “Go Remote” they present various professions and people who already work in the profession regardless of location.

In the books, the two authors give tips on how to work from home or around the world. What exactly is location-independent work, how it works and what advantages and disadvantages it has, the two revealed in an interview.

What exactly is location-independent work?

Jan Ollig: We all know classic work - everyone goes to their office and does their work there. With location-independent work (also called remote work, in German: working remotely), the main difference is that you are no longer locally tied to one location. In other words: no matter where you go, you just take your work with you or stay at home with it.

Bea Uhlenberg: Among other things, communication behavior is different if you work from anywhere. For example, while you meet in the office for an appointment in a meeting room, you make a remote video call.

How did it start with you guys?

Absolutely: I worked remotely for the first time in 2006 while studying, when I was in Valencia for a semester abroad. From there I was able to continue working in my part-time job. After university, I initially had my normal day-to-day work in the office, until I founded a management consultancy with a friend in which we worked with our team regardless of location.

Uhlenberg: I grew up mega classically in everyday work. At some point I was the personal assistant to the CFO of Media-Markt-Saturn. I didn't really like that and after a while in this role, I quit my job. I was looking for ways to reorient myself because I was generally dissatisfied with finance.

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I came across the topic of online marketing and built up this area in my parents' construction company. The company was in North Rhine-Westphalia - but I was in Ingolstadt with Jan and we didn't want to move. So I more or less slipped into location-independent work.

Where did you get the motivation to leave Ingolstadt and travel?

Uhlenberg: I read a lot about digital nomads and that really got me hooked: Now I have a job that is independent of location, now nothing keeps us in Ingolstadt. For example, we've been to Bali, Thailand, Australia and South Africa. We are currently in Calpe. That is near Alicante (Spain).

How long have you been doing this? Do you still have an apartment in Germany?

Ollig: We still have an official residence in Germany - that's where we get our mail. We are often on the go, but try to stay in one place for several weeks or months to empathize. We also need the time to set up our routines and to be able to do our work.

We have been doing this for more than two years. Before that, we had never been in one place for more than two years and always moved for work. We then turned the tables and have been going wherever we want ever since. Moving only for work is tiring in the long run and dampens motivation.

What are the difficulties?

Uhlenberg: If you travel every week and are on the road a lot, it can also be incredibly stressful - because you need a routine that you can build up and an infrastructure. You don't have to be under any illusions. It is sometimes annoying if, for example, you don't know the location yet and can't find a good WiFi network - you actually want to get started and work, but you can't because the infrastructure is blocking your way.

What are the advantages of working anywhere?

Uhlenberg: There are a lot of advantages for companies and individuals: For myself, I can decide: I will move out of the city or to another country and so I can also reduce my rental expenses and the cost of living. Companies save because they don't have to keep office space.

Keyword car: It's not just the costs, but also the commuting that is eliminated - many who work from anywhere are very relieved that they no longer stand in traffic jams for hours every day.

Was there a moment when you wished you were back in a normal office?

Ollig: No, not at all. Everyone has to know for themselves how they like to work. When you work remotely, you always have full concentration. You go where you can work well. In the office, on the other hand, it is often the case that someone comes up, asks questions and distracts you from your actual work.

Is it suitable for every type of person to work regardless of location?

Uhlenberg: That is really a question of type - if I need fixed routines, a fixed daily routine and always want to meet the same people, it is not necessarily advisable for me to work remotely. Some people also have to be careful if they only work at home - in theory, you don't even have to leave the house. That is why you should meet people so as not to isolate yourself socially.

Absolutely: It also takes a certain discipline to motivate yourself every day - especially if you are self-employed.

Can only the self-employed work remotely?

Absolutely: Not everyone has to be self-employed to work from anywhere. Many companies offer the structures to work remotely. Some also introduce fixed home office days so people can work from home at least once a week.

What if I'm fed up with my normal office job, what should I do first to work from anywhere?

Absolutely: First I have to see if I can work from home - it gets rather difficult with a butcher. If I work on the computer and can communicate with my colleagues digitally, on the other hand, the prerequisites are good.

First of all, I would always talk to my current employer and argue why it is better if I work remotely - like greater efficiency. A good way: rehearse, work from home and gradually expand it.

Can only typical office jobs be done from home, the café, or the other end of the world? Or are there any surprises?

Uhlenberg: Three professions surprised me the most: A stylist who gives her customers new cloakrooms online. She has people's photos sent to her, puts together outfits and shops for them online.

A nurse from the USA (they are allowed to write prescriptions there more than in Germany, for example) accepts calls from chronically ill people who need their medication and writes prescriptions for them.

A radiologist from the USA who has founded two companies. He set up a center with radiologists and hospitals and doctors can send them the pictures of examinations and they then evaluate them. Or private individuals can send the images from their CT or MRI if they want a second diagnosis.

Is location-independent work a good way to bring more family-friendliness into the German working world?

Uhlenberg: Yes, definitely. The fact that there is no commuting alone brings a lot more peace to the family. I can spend the half hour or hour that is longer available with my children. This is particularly interesting for fathers, since they are usually more on the move than the mothers and their children see less growing up.

For further reading: Bea Uhlenberg, Jan Ollig: “Go Remote! For copywriters and creatives ”, Volume 1, Wenn-nicht-Jetzt-Verlag, 19.99 euros

Bea Uhlenberg, Jan Ollig: “Go Remote! For the social and communicative ”, Volume 2, Wenn-nicht-Jetzt-Verlag, 19.99 euros

Bea Uhlenberg, Jan Ollig: “Go Remote! For technology, numbers & organizational talents ”, Volume 3, Wenn-nicht-Jetzt-Verlag, 19.99 euros