We've recently come back from three weeks away from the office but working, it's the opposite of a staycation - a field office? A workaway? It's kind of like remote working but but with more of a holiday feel.

My dream, when I started building websites over twenty years ago, was to one day work at the beach with a laptop and a mobile phone, connected to the internet. The closest I got yet was at a mountain retreat in southern Spain. The technology component is now a reality but the environment leaves a little to be desired - it's really hard to read a screen in direct sunlight 😭 

For people like us, remote working really is now a reality. I follow a group on Reddit called Digital Nomad which is full of photos of people working on laptops in beautiful surroundings.

We went away for a few weeks to escape the noisy festival Las Fallas in Valencia, which feels to me like living in a war zone only more colourful. We spent a week with the lovely David and Emma who run Las Chimeneas, a guest house in the Sierra Nevada in southern Spain, and they let use their yoga retreat to take some intentionally misleading photos showing how we were hard at work in their rural idyll.

We were, in fact, working hard. We've got a big project on the go at the moment, and once we got back to the guest house we reconnected to our office server, internet phone and hooked back up to our big screens and keyboards.

For this trip we didn't think it was fair to hog Las Chimeneas' bandwidth, so we bought a new wifi router that allows you to connect a SIM card so you can work over a high-speed cellular connection. We found a network, Tuenti, that offers serious contracts (20GB of data per month at ~30Mbit/s speed) with no minimum term, so we cancelled it when we got home. On average we used about 2GB of data every day, so this was fine for a one-week stay but would need more planning for a longer trip. The mobile router does need to be connected to the mains for power, so to work outside the guest house we had to tether our laptops to our mobile phones for internet. 

This all depends on having good mobile data coverage but in Spain, 4G/LTE is available in most places, even remote and rural ones like the Sierra Nevada. Coupled with our slimmed-down office that packs into two suitcases, this set-up meant it was really easy to transport our workspace to a new location - a location much more interesting than a Starbucks with free Wi-Fi.

Staying in one place for a week or more meant that we could get our regular work done while enjoying short excursions in the mornings, lunchtimes or after work and longer day-trips at the weekend. Even better, we could change our work schedule depending on the weather to really make the most of our visit.

It was great to get away for a few weeks, and equally wonderful to return home afterwards. It can be really hard for us to take holidays because it's just the two of us and we're self-employed, but even though we spent the whole time working we really feel like we've had a long vacation, and so we'll be doing this again soon!

Tagged under: Hot topics   Mobile   Remote working   Hardware   Health   Team   Leisure  

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