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This article was published on March 9, 2016

5 awesome lessons I learned from working remotely

5 awesome lessons I learned from working remotely
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.

Hello Belo.

A little over three months ago, I traded rainy Rotterdam, the Netherlands for sunny Belo Horizonte, Brazil to give my relationship with my girlfriend a true shot. I was definitely up for the challenge, since I enjoy going out of my comfort zone and push my boundaries.

Brazil has always been high on my list – I did a six month internship in Rio de Janeiro in 2013 and fell in love with the warm weather, local food and relaxed lifestyle. I knew my decision would have impact on my professional life, but thankfully TNW supported my decision and we worked out the details regarding working remotely.

Belo Horizonte
It was motivating to know that my employer had confidence and trust in my ability to operate from abroad.

Here are my five key takeaways from working remotely:

You’ll have more energy

The first major improvement for me was no more commuting.

I lived in Rotterdam and with TNW HQ located in Amsterdam, the daily journey took me around two to three hours everyday – sometimes more due to public transportation delays or cancellations.

At first it was all good, I was traveling back and forth with my fellow Rotterdam residents and colleagues Cecil, Joey, Dimitri, Henri and Joel on a daily basis. We often discussed work and used this time to be productive. After six months the early mornings and late nights took a toll on me, I started feeling fatigued after work and it affected my entire lifestyle.

Remote working allowed me to be flexible in my weekly schedules, I felt a difference right away. My energy level went up and there was room for my passion again: sports.

I decided to join a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu training session at a local gym and immediately I was hooked. I practice Jiu Jitsu three to four times a week now and even won a bronze medal in my first tournament two weeks ago.

Having the right balance between work and your personal life can instantly improve performance and work results.

Less distractions all around

The second improvement was less distraction, more focus.

Working in an office with 40-50 colleagues is a lot of fun. However, it can also be pretty distracting.

Imagine drones flying around, hover boards passing by, Boris juggling seven oranges, colleagues challenging you to video games or ping pong matches. Just another day at the TNW office. Don’t get me wrong, I highly support these kind of work environments, but I enjoy the serenity of working independently.

Working remotely requires discipline, independence and proactivity, it is true, but it gives back silence, peace and concentration.

Slack all day and all night

We at TNW are hardcore slackers, the messaging application makes it very easy to communicate with the team and stay up to date on everything that is happening in all of our offices.

Slack has recently launched the new conference call feature, another convenient solution to improve internal communication. We have a channel per department e.g. sales, marketing, events, which help conversations stay to the point and on topic.

As long as your company has a reliable channel that can keep you updated, you are good to go.

Engage with your new surroundings

When moving to a new country or city you will likely be confronted with many new impressions and experiences. The important thing is to be open minded and adapt to new situations and cultures. Put effort in learning the local language or engaging with new people and growing your network. Taking this approach, often brings out the best in people. At least in my case it does.

A similar mindset applies if you decide to work remotely in your own city.

I’d advise to look into co-working spaces, which have been popping up on a global scale these last years. These spaces are excellent to meet new likeminded people, get inspired and start collaborations.

In larger cities, you’re likely to find a co-working space such as WeWork. With 78 locations in 23 cities, it’s already one of the leaders in this field.

Use timezones in your favor

If you decide to move abroad and leave the confines of your workplace for a sunny spot for you and your laptop under a palm tree on a tropical beach, there’s a big chance you’ll have to start dealing with different time zones.

Depending on the situation and the regions your company is active in, I recommend you use the change of timezones in your favor.

In my case, as a Business Development Manager, it gave me a reason to explore new opportunities in South America. Shift your focus to possibilities that weren’t there before. For example, moving to Brazil improved my overlap in work hours with San Francisco and New York compared to when I was in Amsterdam.

I recommend Worldtimebuddy to convert and effortlessly compare multiple time zones at a glance.

Key takeaway

For those who have been contemplating working remotely, I’d emphatically say go for it!

Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be permanent. If your field of work allows it and you can get the job done solely with a WiFi connection – take the leap.

For the ones that are a little less adventurous, start with a smaller step. You don’t have to move abroad to change your surroundings. Replace working from the office with a local coffee joint or a co-working spot now and then.

Whatever you do, don’t fear change. Change is constant. Instead, embrace the opportunities it offers you.

Read next: 21 tools that will help your remote team work better together


This is a #TNWLife article, a look into the lives of those that work at The Next Web.