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This article was published on July 14, 2016

How to make remote working work

How to make remote working work
Derk Van Lomwel
Story by

Derk Van Lomwel

Business Development Manager

Derk works as a Business Development Manager at The Next Web and is based in Willemstad, Curaçao. He has a huge passion for sports, travelin Derk works as a Business Development Manager at The Next Web and is based in Willemstad, Curaçao. He has a huge passion for sports, traveling, tech and startups. Reach out to him on Twitter: @DerkvanLomwel.

I recently moved back to Curaçao, a tiny island in the Caribbean where I grew up. Before, I was living in Belo Horizonte, Brazil from where I managed to get some amazing partners on-board for our last conference in Amsterdam.

This experience of managing to organize our biggest and best conference to date and bringing together 20,000 people from all over the world for a week long Tech festival with a remote team made me realize that with the correct tools and tricks, remote working can be super productive and beneficial.

Focus has already shifted and we’re now busy again with preparations for our upcoming event in New York, Momentum, and my contribution will mostly come out of Workspot Curacao, the island’s best co-working space.

workspot curacao

In my last post, “5 awesome lessons I learned from working remotely”, I shared my first takeaways from my journey as a digital nomad. Now that our team has become even more remote with people living in three different continents, we’re focused on how to improve work processes and productivity. We are constantly learning to make it happen and I wanted to share some new things with you.


One thing that all remote teams have to deal with is finding suitable times to schedule meetings that are convenient for all parties. A tool that comes in very handy when you need to schedule calls or meetings with companies from all over the world is Calendly. Simply create a shareable link based on your time preferences, share it with the desired people, have them schedule a meeting instantly in your Google Calendar and you’re all set!

For the meeting itself I slightly prefer Skype over Hangout or I find that it’s more personal and from a sales perspective, it offers an extra touch point for a follow up. With Skype you’re able to quickly send a message through the chat and keep the conversation going, which isn’t possible with Hangouts or


Another thing a lot of companies struggle with when working remotely (or even with everyone in the same room) is keeping team meetings efficient, effective, and on topic.

We, at TNW, have given this a lot of attention and have recently introduced WorkLife to improve meeting structures.

worklife screenshot
Since the integration with Slack, WorkLife has added a lot of structure and efficiency to our team meetings. 30 minutes before each meeting I get asked by app bot if I want to add anything to the agenda or I can have a look at last week’s notes and to do’s. It has never been easier to manage a shared agenda, collaboratively keep notes and assign tasks to team your team members.

We still haven’t perfected it but it’s safe to say we’re doing better than these guys:

Benefit from the currency

Besides some of these struggles and difficulties you have to overcome while working remotely, there are many things to benefit from. One aspect I’d like to give a little extra attention to: pick a location that works in your favor. By moving abroad you can instantly change your costs of living if you make an educated choice in location.

For example, if you’re earning in Euros, Dollars, or British Pounds, it’s very attractive to live in Central or South America. Countries like Colombia, Chile, and Brazil have fast growing startup and tech communities and can offer a more relaxed or outdoor lifestyle compared to Europe. You could also consider the Caribbean, Asia or anywhere else that gives you an advantage.

You want to create a favorable situation for yourself in terms of the currency you earn in compared with the currency you will spend in – having lower costs of living will give you more financial freedom and one less thing to worry about. And when do you get your best work done? When you feel good, right? So when researching locations, keep this in mind.

Old rent, new rent

One of the things you want to avoid is paying double rent. I recommend Airbnb to rent out your place (especially if you’re situated in one of the larger cities in Europe where there is a high demand from travelers from all over the world) and to also find something new in your desired destination.

I actually managed to make sweet margins while renting out my apartment in Rotterdam, with the help of friends managing it in my absence.   

Can I just leave?

I understand that for many people, going abroad seems like a very big step and it’s probably not ideal to move if you’re committed to a serious relationship or if your job simply doesn’t allow it. But if those factors aren’t holding you back, then why not?  

At first it might seem overwhelming to arrange. Experience has taught me after several moves that you just need to take a step by step approach and slowly you will cross off the entire list.

Key takeaways

The note I want to leave you with today is, if you are considering to move and work remotely, focus on creating a favorable situation for yourself. It will give you much more freedom to be creative, stress free and focused on your work.

Derk in the bathroom

If you want to make things happen, you’ve got to take action, make decisions, and take advantage. It takes discipline and courage, so plan ahead, make a good deal with your company, trust your team and have a very good and stable internet connection. You’re all set

I’d love to hear some of your remote working experiences or tips & tricks. Send me a tweet: @DerkvanLomwel or connect on LinkedIn.