A story of Biliq members, Leo and Nita.
Greetings from Biliq Bali! Today we would like to share a short story on digital nomadism and how it looks like from a nomad point of view.
Being in a coworking business, we have the fortune to meet many digital nomads, freelancers, remote workers and even holidaymakers who visit Biliq to find a quiet place to work and get some work done. This story is about Leo and Nita, a couple that came from different cultures and backgrounds who end up living in Bali.
We conducted an interview and find out how Leo, who is from Germany, and Nita, an Indonesian native to North Sumatra, manage to cope with the challenges of working remotely while being a full time employee. Also, to learn how to prepare for those of you keen to make a journey as a digital nomad. Both of them are coliving in a cosy boutique apartment in Kerobokan overlooking Bali's serene paddy field.
We Just Moved to Bali!
“I like Bali, I like it a lot,” said Leo and Nita who just moved to Bali about four months ago. Leo currently holds a full-time job as a robotic engineer in a company that headquarters in Germany while Nita recently found herself tasked with managing a fledgling travel agency based in Bali.
When we asked how they enjoyed Bali so far, Leo said that Bali is a natural and sublime introduction to Indonesia. Furthermore, he much prefers the humidity in Bali compared to his hometown that he claimed to be very dry most of the time. Apart from the weather, another biggest distinction between the two countries for him is the Indonesian food. After years spent in Indonesia, one day he went back to his hometown in Germany with Nita, and the food suddenly felt very bland and they craved for Indonesian food so badly, especially the spicy food. “Indonesian food is special because of the unique mix of spices. It is unique in a way that it is strong yet balanced in taste,” Leo said.
As for Nita, the biggest draw from this exotic island compared to other parts of Indonesia is that you can be yourself here because even though culture in Bali remains potent in existence, the Balinese are surprisingly very open, as long as rule number one is observed: respect the local culture. Moreover, it is an undeniable fact that Bali has been notably voted as world's best destination in multiple publications over the years. We totally agree with Nita here!
The Beginning of Becoming a Digital Nomad
Leo narrated his time when he was on holiday to Yogyakarta two years ago and met Nita who was pursuing her study. He had been contemplating on the sense of freedom of doing his work not in the headquarter but around the globe; so one day he told his boss about his dream of working remotely while being a full time employee. His boss originally consented for a 6-month tryout of remote work from June to December 2017. Eventually it became a long-term purpose and because the company sees Leo as an asset, they then decided to allow him to continue working on his passion and living in paradise. A dream come true indeed!
To most people, having such an arrangement would be a luxury, not a norm. However, Leo added “well some like it, some don’t” and we questioned why. In general, people would celebrate the freedom of not having to sit in their office all day. However, one should also be ready for the mental turmoil along the way. While being based in an office sounds mundane and predictable, the opposite of it could be challenging: the extremely unpredictable nature of work and travel. Also there will be additional headaches to manage, such as working from a different timezone, getting fast and reliable internet, finding a good place to stay that fits into the budget; and list goes on.
As for Nita, she recently got a job working at a start-up in the hospitality industry. For her, the tricky bit about working and living in Bali is that, she is staying in an island where most people come for a holiday, she needs to make sure that the chill and relax vibe doesn’t affect her work. The trick? "Work hard when you have to, and go out and have fun on your off days."
Challenges of a Remote Work Lifestyle
We have heard the saying “travel is a privilege”. Being able to travel long term and still make money along the way, is a dream for many people. So, what are the downsides then? Leo has this to say, “one of the challenges is definitely self-discipline and a sense of detachment. Doesn’t matter where you are, not having interaction with your colleagues, especially me the only one who is far away. I have spent three years at my current company so I know my colleagues well and have a good friendship with them but I can’t make a good connection with my new colleagues. So every time when we have to make conversation, it will all be about work. Secondly it is finding a quiet place to work, especially when I have to attend meetings regularly, I’ll need to be in a private and quiet room.”
Being six hours ahead from the headquarter, Leo must frequently adapt his workstyle to make the time difference work. In the earlier time, he had a dilemma on how to reach out to his colleagues on Skype calls without any disruption. It was a lot of hassle - going back and forth between hotel rooms and cafes to seek a stable internet connection. This is when choosing Biliq as a remote office became a clear option for him. “I really love the fact that you have two Skype rooms in Biliq!”
Finding Common Ground Amidst Differences
Since meeting for the first time in Yogyakarta, Leo and Nita has come a long way. For both of them, adjusting to a remote lifestyle (for Leo) as well as working full-time in a holiday destination (for Nita) is only half the story - the other half is to adjust with the different cultures.
Hailing from North Sumatra, Nita grew up in a Bataknese family where talking loudly is seen as normal and not rude. Leo never quite realized how loud it can be until Nita’s family made a joke on how he could still not be deaf after dating her for 2 years, Nita smilingly retold this incidence.
“Bali is a place where cultures from all over the world meet. I have my perspective, Nita has hers. They don’t necessarily match up but we have to figure out what is best for us - then it becomes a win-win,” Leo closes. Amen to that!
We thank Leo and Nita for sharing with us their story. We wish them all the best and hopefully, for Bali to treat them well.