What I learnt from remote working abroad for a week

Remote working abroad… waking up with the beach stretched out in front of you, meeting and mingling with other creatives and blending work with a love for travel. Yep, that’s pretty much the crowning glory of freelance life. Because, what is more flexible thanto pack up your bags and say “Later peeps, I’m working in Bali for a month.

After travelling around Sri Lanka, I spent one week of remote working to test the tropical waters for myself. Here’s my experience and a few tips on how to make it the best experience for yourself.

What is remote working?

First things first, what is remote work? Remote working basically means a “new” type of work that goes beyond the traditional walls of office space. It means working from anywhere and still keeping that hustle going. This way of working is not necessarily reserved for only freelancers or entrepreneurs. Nowadays, employees often get a day to work at home or elsewhere. It can be a day or a month or it can be your entire year but it can also be a workcation, aka. where holiday meets work. 

Vacation Mode vs. Work Mode

It sounds pretty dreamy, working from a topical place or a new city but don’t forget that it’s also a challenge. Staying disciplined and actually getting work done won’t just magically happen without a lot of effort and self-discipline. We’re wired in a way that being in a tropical setting or even just a brand new city means one thing and one thing only: Vacaaaay. So when all of a sudden you realise “wait a sec I was supposed to be doing work,” it just goes against every fibre of your body to start working.

Look, I love the beach. So working behind my laptop with an ocean view feels like the holy grail of office goals. But turns out, the waves calling my name wasn’t great for concentration. Luckily as a freelancer, I go through all the ups and downs of self-discipline. It’s something I know how to overcome. If didn’t have this experience, I probably would have been floating in the sea all day. By challenging yourself abroad you’re also practising for back home. This will be useful to create more discipline in your day-to-day work schedule.

I’d say to give yourself some time to get into the rhythm – don’t go straight into an intense work mode immediately – give it time, get used to the place. After just two days of working I figured out I don’t function at all with the heat around noon, so I worked in the early morning hours, went to yoga, chilled at the beach and worked after lunch time when it cooled down. If you have a short time like me, it’s a little trickier to find out what works best for you, but the important thing is to keep trying different things or different spots to work at even in a co-working space. After 3 days I knew exactly what time I was most productive, where my favourite spot to work was at what time of the day and when.

Digital Nomad Office Goals

An ideal workspace or homespun office really depends on the person. You have the freedom to design your own remote working holiday. Whatever it is you need to stay motivated and inspired, it’s up to you to make that happen. The internet is overflowing with information so it’s easy to do lots of research before you leave. 

If you’re up for a remote working abroad, you don’t have to fly halfway across the world. For the Europeans reading this, there are places like Porto or Barcelona with great co-working/living places to check out. Or if you want to travel a bit further and prefer the hustle of a big city rather than relaxed beach vibes, head out to New York or Medellin. The point is to get out of your comfort zone, discover a new place, find new inspiration and just enjoy the freedom you have to work from anywhere you want. If you can escape the 9 to 5 office routine, why not?

When you’ve chosen the country or countries you’d like to go to, the next choice to make is where you’d like to work and live from. The options for a digital nomad abroad are endless. You can find co-working spaces that are also co-living spaces like Verse or Hubud. At these places, your holiday becomes a home, which becomes an office – and that is an experience in itself. You can also choose to book yourself into an Airbnb, hotel or guest house near a good co-working space. This way, you can enjoy the benefits of a co-working space and take a step back from the hustle somewhere else. 

Co-working spaces take away all the hassle of a remote working trip. Here you’re guaranteed good wifi,  desks or comfy chairs to work from, other digital nomads and good coffee. But these millennial hubs aren’t your only option. A charming Airbnb or hotel room with good wifi, a desk and anything else you’ll need to get work done will also do. Having a place catered to your needs as a remote worker is great and meeting new like-minded people even better. But a little peace and quiet at your own home-away-from-home can do wonders for your work as well.

Remember, it's still a holiday (sort of)

The point is not to drench yourself in guilt every time you relax a little. Don’t forget the vacation part of workcation. Free time is not only beneficial for your work progress, but it’s also necessary. Both your wellbeing and work will be better off. I did heaps of reading, journaling, yoga and just lying on the beach doing absolutely nothing. I’d suggest to really find something else you can do when you’re there. You could learn how to surf, go to cooking classes or just schedule in some time to explore the city and local food.

Moments like having dinner at a local place or just relaxing, often make room for great ideas. As a copywriter, sentences or phrases for clients will come up when the pressure dials down. Just make sure you have notebook handy and go out and chill. We don’t get enough chances to really be by ourselves and relax back home. So grab the chance when you can. 

If you’re a freelancer, entrepreneur or if your employer gives you the opportunity to work elsewhere, I don’t see any reason why not to try out some remote working. Have a little googling around, ask your community and figure out what you need to get lots of work done abroad. Remember, you decide the terms of your remote working trip. That’s the best part.

I’ve added a few of the best co-working and co-living spaces for you to check out yourself:





You can also check out https://nomadlist.com/. Pieter Levels, an Amsterdam Entrepreneur, has set up a list of the best cities to live and work remotely in. It scores cities on things like internet, safety and fun.

Ngrane realiseert nieuwe website First Consulting

Photos by: Angela Tellier

Ngrane realiseert nieuwe website First Consulting

Published on October 19, 2018

Out of the box en no-nonsense, dat is waar de Amsterdamse consultancy organisatie First Consulting voor staat. Tot voor kort straalde de website van de consultancy organisatie dat nog maar weinig uit. Ngrane heeft daar met de ontwikkeling van een geheel vernieuwde website verandering in gebracht.

Maarten Icking, oprichter van First Consulting:

“Stephen, David en alle andere professionals van Ngrane hebben ons écht een totaaloplossing geboden. Dat is meer dan goed bevallen.”

De vraag

First Consulting is met 210 medewerkers, 40 toonaangevende klanten en een hoge kwaliteit een serieuze speler op de consultancy markt. Maarten: “Met onze oude website deden we onszelf tekort. Daarom schakelden we creative director David van Delden en managing partner Stephen Garcia van Ngrane in om First Consulting online neer te zetten als professioneel, maar ook jong en fris consulting bedrijf.”

Waarom koos First Consulting voor Ngrane?

Die keuze was snel gemaakt. Want waar First Consulting end-to-end consultancy dienstverleningen biedt, levert ook Ngrane totaaloplossingen voor online vraagstukken. Concreet waren we bij deze opdracht verantwoordelijk voor de online strategie, design, ontwikkeling, tekst in Nederlands en Engels, fotografie én video.


“Ngrane heeft ons gedurende het hele traject ontzorgd.”

Hoe doet Ngrane dat?

Dat Ngrane full service oplossingen kan bieden, komt door het unieke concept waarmee we werken: een hybride collective model. Kortgezegd houdt dat in dat Ngrane werkt met een kernteam, aangevuld met een community van meer dan 50 freelance digital experts. Dit kernteam heeft als belangrijkste taak het bouwen van lange termijn relaties, zowel met opdrachtgevers, als met de freelancers uit het netwerk.

David van Ngrane:

“Met onze community van freelancers kunnen we per opdracht een team van professionals samenstellen. Service op maat, dus.”

Wat vonden we van deze opdracht?

Maarten van First Consulting: “Eigenlijk lijkt Ngrane wel op ons. Net als wij, gaat Ngrane echt voor kwaliteit: ze zijn scherp, ze verrassen ons vaak met slimme ideeën en zijn doelmatig eenvoudig. No-nonsense dus. Stoutmoedig zijn ze zeker ook: staan ze ergens niet achter? Dan gaan ze de discussie zeker aan. Dat resulteert in vertrouwen.” Ook Ngrane zelf vond het een leerzame opdracht. “Wat ik inspirerend vond aan First Consulting, is hun aandacht voor het menselijk aspect. Persoonlijke groei, korte lijnen en een echte klik tussen mensen, dat is waar het om draait,” aldus David.

Ngrane en First Consulting samen:

“We zijn niet alleen blij met het eindresultaat, maar met het gehele traject.”

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Ngrane’it goes live: let’s join forces!

Photo credit: Angela Tellier

Two months ago, I joined the Ngrane family, teaming up with Stephen and David to build the hybrid model for the new workforce: part traditional agency and part freelance talent platform. As an experienced recruiter, I have taken on the challenge to innovate the trade I work in.

The goal now for Ngrane is to create a haven of support and collaboration in which I have become the ‘Chief Of Talent’. Working as an intermediate between digital specialists and the businesses that seek their unique expertise as well as boosting talent acquisition.

The industry asked, we’re making it happen. As the number of freelancers and the demand for their specialized skills is skyrocketing, so is the request to smoothen out this process between the two. We believe that as the way we work has taken a new route, so should recruitment. Which is why we started Ngrane’it as a separate unit from the Ngrane Digital Agency. It is a platform with personality that caters to unique digital talents and couples them with brands in need of their skills, both as flexible freelancers or long-term and on-site.

So far so good, as we’ve got our first success story on our hands: creating a perfect match digital talent and the company, Ernst & young.

Now that Ngrane’it is officially live, we’re looking to join forces. So, is your talent digital? Are you looking for exciting new projects to work on? Or is your business looking for specific expertise?

Send me a mail, call me (+31 614222952) or come over and meet the team!

Oiling the wheels of a new workforce

Ingraining personality into a platform that smooths out the freelance lifestyle. One independent worker at a time.

The digital evolution is turning efficiency into freedom, with specialised freelancers now on demand more than ever. Work experience has been redefined and Ngrane’s managing partner, Stephen Garcia, has got a few great ideas up his sleeves regarding this evolution. Lots of ideas actually, which he will try to explain in a nutshell but always ends up being more like a TED Talk. Combining personal experience with in-depth research, he devised a new platform strategy that works as a hybrid between traditional and modern work values. We haven’t got an actual TED Talk but we talked to him about his ideas and vision for the platform with personality.

The workforce has taken the fast lane when it comes to flexibility and freelancers are officially becoming the norm. Stephen has noticed this trend first hand “There is so much more demand for new specialised skills, such as user experience designers, app developers and digital marketing experts. This new workforce is a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and skills, more high profile and attractive than ever before,” he says. As a Digital Agency, Ngrane works with both freelancers and full-time employed staff, as Stephen puts it the agency is a “crossover between the modern workforce and traditional values.”

“This new workforce is a melting pot of diverse backgrounds and skills, more high profile and attractive than ever before”

Living an autonomous and independent lifestyle does not come without a few downsides. Often freelancers miss a sense of belonging, a community and personal contact. These values, linked to traditional workforce, are lacking in many platforms, including those that pair talent with business. According to research done by JPMorgan Chase, one in six online platform workers is new every month and 50% stop within one year. Stephen tells us that a lot of this stems from the demise in human connection “Platforms should address the lack of engagement with existing workers, and recognise and meet their diverse motivation and needs. One size just does not fit all. The market is expanding rapidly with the increase of freelancers and other trends. The current platform models are lacking 3 factors that research shows are crucial for long-term success. Therefore Ngrane will focus on these 3 areas; personalisation and coaching, premium service and tools, and collaboration and community.”

“It’s in our name, Ngrane comes from ingrain, we’re in the business of creating deep-rooted relationships.”

The new hybrid model

Ngrane will become a hybrid model for the new workforce: part traditional agency and part freelance talent platform. It will bring back meaningful and long-lasting connections into the digital arena. “It’s in our name, Ngrane comes from ingrain, we’re in the business of creating deep-rooted relationships,” says Stephen. The model acts on both a physical and digital environment. The physical will build on human connections through co-working spaces such as WeWork, organising events, personal coaching and by creating a sense of comradeship between freelancers. Instead of working at home on the couch, Skyping everyone or spending your hourly rate in a busy Starbucks: a co-working space can add a little traditional comfort to your trailblazing lifestyle. Stephen goes on to tell us that, “Whilst the digital platform model will serve for efficiency in attracting, organising, developing and managing talent. Freelancers will have the space to work on their own goals, maintaining their personal freedom, without compromising on social belonging. This model will foster happiness, creativity, productivity, and social connections. Fostering even better results.”

“We are a collective of unique individuals”

Ngrane’s new model will take user experience beyond just the digital arena. What we often forget is that user experience is about much more than just being efficient, a personal connection can weigh in just as much. “We elevate the unique skills of each individual,  tailoring our service to each freelancer and giving them more room to pursue projects that inspire them and fuel them creatively,” says Stephen. Yes freelancers can have it all and Ngrane is going to make it happen.