Home exchange and remote working

From Amsterdam to Marseille, from Rome to Barcelona. In many years of remote working, I have often relied on house swapping to have a home away from home. A few working days in a different city or a relaxing holiday. Earlier this year I wrote for Caryzma about one more reason I like it, sustainability. The piece is below as well.

Home exchange, an opportunity for sustainable holidays

We reduce our reliance on paper and plastic by using real china and glassware during our hot full breakfast” states a large hotel chain. We are “banning the use of overfished species in our restaurants” claims one of the competitors. “The industry’s largest soap recycling program” and “our guests allow us to change linens every other day” are other commitments.

Every major hospitality company is taking action but is that enough?

What about renting a flat? For years, Airbnb has been promoting the environmental benefits of home sharing, claiming “reduced water usage equal to 13,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools” by their European guests. That was before they had to defend themselves for the affordability of housing and contributing to gentrification in a lot of big cities.

Is there a simpler way to enjoy a holiday in a more sustainable way?

There are alternatives to hotels and online marketplaces and some of them aren’t even that new. Home exchange , also known as house swapping has been around for almost 70 years. Glamorized by Cameron Diaz in The Holiday, you offer each other’s homestays without monetary compensation. And it is more sustainable than hotels and lodges by 67%. OK, I made this number up.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

If Airbnb listings “generate less waste, use less water, and drain less energy than traditional hotel accommodations”, staying in another family’s home has the all benefits of home-sharing without the drawbacks. With home exchanges you maximize the use of existing resources, staying at flats and houses that already exist without Airbnb’s negative side effects.

“Just below half of Airbnb hosts in North America and Europe provide single-use toiletry products for their guests”.  I can not recall any single-use shampoo in twenty home-exchanges across Europe I have stayed in. But I had nothing but positive experiences from Amsterdam to Rome, from Marseille to Barcelona. You can work and take holidays in different cities, living almost like a local.

Where to start and how?

While joining one of the many networking services helps, you can also ask your Facebook or LinkedIn contacts. You might just find an alternative holiday. And if you’re considering a stay in a Bauhaus in Berlin, get in touch.

Resources

A few starting points to learn whether home exchange is for you:

10 things you need to know about home swapping
Home Exchange A How-To Guide for Travelers
The guide to everything HomeExchange
How to home exchange

How remote work can help us to reconnect with nature

We need to kick the indoor habit and new technologies and the rise of remote work can actually make that possible. My thoughts on how remote work can help us reconnect with nature as originally posted on Caryzma.

Just a couple of generations ago, most jobs had a significant outdoor component. Today, instead, most jobs are performed in an environment with air conditioning and artificial lights, working indoors every day.

But as Vybarr Cregan-Reid wrote in the Guardian, we are only beginning to understand the health risks associated with living and working indoors. And “for the sake of our health, we need to kick the indoor habit“. New technologies and the rise of remote work can actually make this possible.

Too many people associate the dream of working remotely, almost entirely in the tech sector, with working from the beach in Bali. A grand vision, a dream for many, but hardly a practical or sustainable approach for most.

On the flipside, others see location independence just as a way to avoid the commute and stay away from the office, to work alone in the bedroom, or share a desk in a co-working space.

If spending too much time at home or in the office confuses our bodies, how can we work remotely without being simply addicted to the WeWork of this world? Is “free coffee” a good reason to spend the whole day indoors? How could we swap an ergonomic chair in the office for a wooden bench near the lake? Can we really work outdoors?

If working in the woods every day is not feasible, there are different options that can add some outdoor time for most office and tech jobs. Here are a few suggestions:

1) When you’ve got a one-on-one meeting, go for a walk and have a walking meeting. This TED talk by Nilofer Merchant tells you why and how.

2) Not every conference call requires visual interaction. No matter what platform you use (Skype, WebEx, Google Hangouts Meet, etc.), there is a mobile client. Ride your bike or relax in the park while listening to your company’s weekly meeting.

3) Most cities have large parks, a good 4 G coverage and natural areas just a few metro stops away. Try to spend half a (work) day in a forest carrying your laptop or taking a few papers. An old tree stump in the forest could be a temporary stand-up desk. You’d be surprised how much your time management is going to improve.

4) We all need more training: want to see some of the presentations of a cool conference? Catch up on a few new Coursera courses? Bring the tablet to the local park or woodland. You’re going to focus better and get some fresh air, too.

As Vybarr Cregan-Reid concluded, “If urban planning for the future is to succeed, it must take into account all human needs: not just food, water and shelter, but sunshine as well.” So forget about the air conditioning, the artificial lights and the noisy cafes, take the challenge to work anywhere and make it more sustainable as well.

The Accidental Remote Worker

To celebrate my first ten years working remotely for Funambol, I am looking forward to talk next week at the Berlin Meetup Remote Future Summit 2019 at Factory Berlin, an event organized by Remote-how.

Berlin Meetup Remote Future Summit 2019

The topic of my presentation?

“The Accidental Remote Worker: 10 Years of Lessons and Mistakes Learned”

Working ten years around Europe from cafes, living rooms, co-working spaces and sometime forests: from time management to outdoor opportunities, from home exchanges to dead laptops, a few lessons and mistakes learned by an accidental remote worker.

If you are in Berlin next Thursday, signup on Eventbrite and join us at Factory Görlitzer Park.