Business

Being a Remote Worker Didn’t Stop Me From Being Promoted to Management

  • Andre Maxwell got a remote job as a Solutions Architect at Okta in March 2022.
  • He picked up his laptop in Dallas and continued his life as a digital nomad, traveling to 16 countries.
  • Maxwell was promoted to senior management and said performance was the most important factor.

This essay as told is based on a transcribed conversation with Andre Maxwell, a digital nomad who works at the cloud security company Okta. The following has been edited for length and clarity.

I was in Tulum, Mexico when I joined Okta in March 2022 as a Solutions Architect. I had already been a digital nomad for almost a year, working as a cybersecurity engineer at a small tech company.

Many companies were still working primarily remotely, and my role at Okta was remote. I applied and went through the online interview process. When I got the job, I picked up my computer in Dallas. This is where my permanent address and my belongings were located – the latter in a storage unit. I continued traveling from there.

Since then, I have visited 16 countries, including Thailand, Japan, Mexico, Finland, Austria and many more. I change locations every few weeks or months. My lifestyle is unique, but I believe in work-life balance.

The Logistics of Remote Working While Traveling

I work 9am-5pm central time, Monday through Friday, no matter where I am. I adjusted my sleep schedule to accommodate my company’s work schedule when I started traveling. I start work at 5 p.m. local time from Dubai or 10 p.m. from Japan. Normally, I get into the new rhythm within a few days.

Finding good internet is always my top priority – I plan ahead before traveling to a new place. I’ve worked in places that typically don’t have the most reliable infrastructure. When I was in Tulum, there were often power outages due to bad weather. I mapped locations, such as hotels, with backup generators to ensure I never lost internet or electricity during my stay.

The cost of living in sunny, coastal areas of the United States, such as California, is much higher than in many countries I travel to. The lower cost of living combined with my American salary offsets my travel costs.

Traveling means I can live my best life in the sun

I never travel to places where I should start working in the morning. As a night owl, I prefer to have the day to myself and work at night.

For example, working in central time from Barcelona suits me since I start at 3 or 4 p.m. If I’m depressed and not feeling well, I can take the day for myself because of the jet lag. I wake up, sit in thought, do something that makes me happy, and mentally recover before starting the work day.

I hunt in the summer. I can’t stand being cold. In the morning, I go for a walk. I’m going to have breakfast and go to the gym.

Many of my trips are inspired by food. I’m a foodie at heart. Discovering new restaurants and cafes in a coastal town, near the water with the sun shining on me makes the sacrifices of digital nomad life worth it.

For most people, not seeing family, adjusting their sleep schedules, and living out of a suitcase would be unbearable. But I’m living the life of my dreams and these sacrifices don’t seem as important to me. I often talk to my family. Discovering new places, chasing the sun and having new experiences are more important than a feeling of routine in familiar surroundings.

How I Got Promoted While Working Remotely

I was promoted to senior management in January. I’m in my late twenties. Although I am relatively young for this position compared to what some would consider the “industry average”, I have 10 years of experience. This in-depth knowledge has helped me succeed in my new role.

I applied for the promotion and went through the application process. I don’t know if I faced any competition, but I was promoted because I’m known for my good work. Being known for outstanding work makes it easier to climb the ladder in any organization. My work-life balance contributes to my performance.

Being a digital nomad has never been a problem at work. I perform well and that’s what matters for my business. I never let anything that happens in my personal life affect my professional life. My career is something I am very proud of. I always want to excel. And I think that helped me get to the position I’m in now.

I wanted to get into management to focus on streamlining business processes: how my team works, how to best engage with our customers and provide them with the best possible quality. The people I manage are also remote and we all work independently, so an office environment would not benefit our workflow.

I don’t have FOMO about working in an office

I don’t fear returning to an office because I’ve been customer-facing throughout my career. If your role depends primarily on you and your ability to perform, then I think it’s much easier to take the digital nomad route. People who work in a close-knit team have less flexibility and could benefit from face-to-face time.

I might have appreciated the community aspect of an office and the happy hours, but I never experienced it, so I don’t feel any worse off without it.

I meet new people all the time while traveling. More than I would get if I worked in the same office every day, so I don’t feel like I’m missing out on any of the personal aspects of the office.

The value of an employee also depends on their happiness

A healthy work-life balance produces better results at work. Leaving work and finding yourself in a new field that you love simulates the brain differently. I work better because my travels make me happy.

I love my work. Every new environment I enter, every new city or country boosts my happiness. A psychologically healthy person is more valuable to a company.

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