As part of our Digital Nomad blog series, we’re featuring three DocuSign team members that have experienced, firsthand, the digital nomad lifestyle. This week, our Director of Developer Content, Tony M, shares his story.
My name is Tony and I’m a developer at heart. Whether it’s for my main role or a hobby, I’ve always been involved in creating technical content and developing software. In fact, I’ve written 15 technology books, mostly on Microsoft SQL Server. I’ve been at DocuSign for almost two years, and my current role is as Director of Developer Content.
I also work remotely — what some refer to as being a “Digital Nomad.” As a Digital Nomad, I’ve got an entire floor in my house dedicated just to work. I’ve been a Digital Nomad for about 15 years, but I only learned about the actual term recently.
Technology Advancements = Changing Conventions
Part of working in the digital age means there are a lot of changing attitudes around typical workplace traditions. A lot of this is due to the advancements in technology that allow people to work from anywhere. We now have tools like WebEx. And while many people work on-site, they still use technology that allows them to be flexible where they work.
For example, you might have some people in your office on another floor conducting a meeting via WebEx. You’re not there in person anyway, so does it make a difference if you’re on another floor or at home? The focus should not be on where you are physically — but that you produce results.
The Importance of Trust
The opportunity to work remotely depends on your manager. They are the ones who need to have trust that the employee is putting in the hours and doing the work — with no real way to track it. I had some clients where the trust issue was a little bit of a problem (not with me specifically, but in the concept) — but ultimately, it’s a corporate culture thing. Do they allow it? Do they not allow it? Some companies want everyone there face-to-face all the time, others believe it’s too restrictive. Some are progressive, some are conservative.
I’ve always worked in technology, and from my experience, I would say high-tech companies are more open to remote working. Yet, I feel there’s no substitute for face-to-face time. For this reason, I come out to the DocuSign headquarters every few weeks. I generally stay the whole week and make myself productive by having lots of meetings and working sessions. Even though I work remotely — I really appreciate having the face-to-face time. It builds and fosters better connections than working remotely full-time. After the week is over, I go back to New Hampshire, do my work, have remote meetings and then repeat the cycle. To me, it’s the perfect mixture of office and remote working.
The Digital Nomad Lifestyle & The Future of Work
Everyone works differently. For me, I can’t work in complete silence. So I crank on the music. Sometimes it’s classical, other times it’s hard rock (depending on the current task) — but regardless, I keep it loud because that’s what gets me working. Everyone has their own thing they need to be able to work — mine is that I need it to be loud. I also really like being with my dogs — so that’s a huge benefit about being a remote worker. In fact, I lost one of my dogs earlier this year and she was 14. I realized that I worked remotely for her entire life so both of our lives were better for it.
Here’s a tip I learned a long time ago: You want to be a remote worker? You need to conform to the company — not the other way around. For example, I wake up early on east coast hours but I don’t stop working until west coast hours are done. Being a Digital Nomad is not for everyone. You have to have a lot of discipline. You also need to have the right tools for the job. I have 4 desktop computers, each with 2 monitors (8 total), 3 laptops, and 2 server racks. I also have a 1GB up/down internet fiber connection and a whole-house generator to automatically switch-over in the case of power failure. The point is that over the years, I have invested in my ability to be a digital nomad.
Above: A Look Inside Tony M’s digital nomad home office.
As workplaces continue to progress, technology will continue to improve, and therefore, remote working will become a bigger and bigger option. The features within tools will improve and allow even greater collaboration and the ability to communicate from anywhere. We may even have 3D features for communication.
While this is exciting I think that no matter what — it’s not going to be for everybody. I really believe that. But, I also believe that for many people the future of work includes greater and greater flexibility in how they work. I am so glad for the ability to work as a Digital Nomad through the power of technology.
Curious about the history of the Digital Nomad and the future of work? Take a look at Meet the Digital Nomad.