Anywhere is Possible: Remote working from Sydney (Part 1)

By Rob Griffiths,

A Digital Nomad in Sydney

Following a stint in Dubai (read about it here) it was on to Sydney where I’d take my first real steps as a digital nomad. There were a few things we needed to pre-arrange to ensure my stint working flexibly from Australia was a successful one. The biggest challenge to overcome was the timezone difference – when my colleagues back in the UK were starting their day at 9am, my work day was over and it was 8pm in the evening local time.

Flexible working

This requires some flexibility from both sides – there are no times when both our work days cross over, which means if we need to talk on the phone then it has to be outside of the normal 9-5 for at least one of us. Before I left we booked in daily catch up calls at 8am UK time, 7pm Sydney time to ensure everything went smoothly. Whilst having a call at 7pm in the evening can be a pain, it’s the sort of thing you will need to get used if you wish to pursue the nomad lifestyle. Although these calls were booked in daily, the plan is not necessarily to have one every day – it’s just good to have the placeholder should we need one.

Communication is the key to making this work, we use Slack for our internal messaging and it’s a great place to drop in updates on what’s been done, and what is outstanding. At the beginning of each day I wake up to a list of priorities for me to work on, and at the end leave an update on where I’ve got to.

Working remotely from Sydney

My first week working in Sydney went well, the WiFi in my apartment is fast and there’s a table with chairs where I can set up base. My initial impression of working this way is a positive one – you wake up to a full inbox which you can sort through and pull out the actions you need to complete, then you’re free to get on with your day without distraction. This for me is the number one benefit of working from a different timezone – being able to plan your work day and having no risk of it being interrupted by a disruptive email coming through. I found myself much more productive without the daily distractions that come with office life at a media agency. The downside to this, of course, is that if an urgent email comes through you’re likely asleep and unable to action it. This is where you need to work for a flexible agency who is able and willing to pick up such requests on your behalf.

Another benefit I’ve found of working from a new location is you try much harder to head out and do things in your spare time. Back home it’s all too easy to fall into the same routine of finishing work, cooking some dinner and binge watching a TV series on Netflix. Out here I’ve made an effort to head out and do something every day, and I’ve felt a lot better for it. The difference in timezones also takes flexi-hours to a whole new level, there’s no need to stick to traditional working hours. One day this week I went out for breakfast and a morning stroll, this meant I didn’t start work until 11am and finished my day with my check-in call at 7pm, and it made no difference to my work output. In fact my employers were probably completely unaware of it until they read this post!

Living in Sydney

For anyone who hasn’t been to Sydney, it’s a beautiful city. I’ve only been here a limited time but already know I’d like to spend a lot longer here, perhaps even live here long-term one day. There’s a lot to do, with the obvious first point of call being the iconic Sydney Opera House. I was fortunate enough to be here during remembrance Sunday, where they projected images of poppies onto the side of the building in a striking display as we paid respect to our fallen heroes.

Sydney opera house with remembrance day poppies
Sydney Opera House on remembrance day

A 2-hour train ride from central Sydney are the picturesque blue mountains where you can combine gorgeous scenery with feeding the resident cockatoos. This is a trip you’d need to fit in on a weekend or a days leave due to the travel time, but it is one I would highly recommend. The train from Sydney takes you straight to Katoomba, which is roughly a 30 minute walk from the viewing point by the three sisters. There are plenty of further walks you can make from here should you wish, but for the less adventurous traveller Katoomba station benefits from being at the peak of the mountains, so there is no hiking up a hillside required.

Cockatoos at Blue Mountains
Blue mountains are a 2-hour train ride from central Sydney

It’s still early days in my Sydney adventure but this is very quickly becoming one of my favourite cities I’ve ever visited. Part 2 to come…

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.