Anywhere is Possible: Flexible working whilst roaming the world

By Rob Griffiths,

What is a digital nomad?

Digital nomad is a term used to describe someone who has broken free from the conventional routine of fulfilling a 9-5 office job, to work remotely whilst travelling around to exciting new places all over the world. It’s a very tempting proposition for a lot of people; if all we need to do our jobs is a laptop and an internet connection, then why head in to the same office every day and follow the same routine? Why not work from a beach on the other side of the world?

Travelling whilst working in digital media

Travelling the world is something I’ve always been keen to do, but have never got around to for one reason or another – when young it’s difficult to raise the funds, and once you’ve settled into a career taking a year out seems like a big step backwards. Fortunately for me I work in the digital media industry where everything is online, and my employer is a progressive media agency with flexibility at the heart of their approach. This has allowed me to spend a month remote working from Australia, and to test out a new lifestyle by taking my first steps as a digital nomad.

When choosing a destination it can be quite hard to pick – with the only stipulation being that there is a decent internet connection, and suitable places to hotdesk, then the world really can be your office. For me, Australia has always been top of my travel list – the only downside being the cost and length of the flight out there. My adventure will consist of a couple of weeks in Sydney, followed by a trip up the East coast, staying in Byron Bay, Gold Coast and finally Brisbane. But first, a few nights in Dubai to break up the long flight over.

A stopover in Dubai

Dubai has always been a destination that’s intrigued me – and my first visit didn’t disappoint. The giant skyscrapers and vast shopping malls have to be seen to be believed, and they’re not just in one central location – there’s a Canary Wharf style block of skyscrapers in every direction you look. This was what surprised me most, the size of the city – at around 50 miles long and expanding all the time it’s certainly more than one central hub. Despite the size, getting around is a breeze thanks to the Metro system. Covering the length of the city and a day pass costing around £4 at current exchange rates, a Nol card should be first purchase you make upon leaving the airport.

Skyscrapers in Dubai
One of many ‘concrete jungles’ in Dubai

Due to my limited time in Dubai I took both weekdays I spent there as annual leave which means I can’t give a fair description of what working remotely here will really be like. However the WiFi at my hotel and in the malls was very fast and easy to access, and there were plenty of places you could grab a coffee and sit with a laptop at a table within the Dubai Mall. There is also free WiFi across the whole city, however you need a local mobile number in order to access it. Next time I visit I’ll pick up a cheap sim to take advantage of this.

Burj Khalifa illuminated
Burj Khalifa: The world's tallest building lit up at night

Overall I enjoyed my time in Dubai and can see myself regularly using it as a gateway to Asia/Australia by spending a few nights here to break up a long flight. I do feel that a few nights at a time is enough however. If you’re flying with Emirates then they offer a free coach trip to/from Abu Dhabi which is worth considering.

Dubai Digital Nomad score: 4/10

Whilst I’d recommend a few nights in Dubai to see the sights, that’s more than enough for me. Although I will almost certainly visit again, it’s not somewhere I’d consider spending a significant amount of time living and working remotely. It felt like a home away from home at times – all the local signs contained an English translation and there were all the brands we’re used to in the UK. However it’s hot, uncomfortably hot, and despite the familiar feel and being very welcoming in my experience, there are certain cultural differences that you need to be wary of.

If you would like to join Rob and the team here at aip, drop us an email and let us know why you think you would be a great fit.