At LiveCA LLP, the culture encourages us to take advantage of the fact that we work remotely and in my third year at the firm, I decided to take advantage of that opportunity. While Canada was slowly ending the winter season, I was enjoying 30-degree heat 4 blocks from the ocean.
I’m now sitting on my flight home after spending the last month of my life in Dominican and would like to share with you the experiences and lessons learned from my first workation. As much as I spent my fair share of time at beaches, exploring the culture and the absolutely astonishing country, I did have to make sure that I stayed on top of emails and was as productive as if I was working from my home office in Waterloo, Ontario – which wasn’t always easy.
It takes a lot more than just Wi-Fi to have a successful workation.
Once I made sure that there was Wi-Fi in the apartment, I could begin to prepare and plan to make sure that I was prepared for my next month in the Dominican. Below are a few suggestions of items to prepare ahead of you leaving on your workation: Expectations around vacation and productivity with co-workers
As much as you may need an afternoon off, it's important to set expectations around vacation time to ensure that clients expectations and deadlines are met while you’re away.
Plan for if the Wi-Fi cuts outI had bought a plan with my phone company that allowed for data, texts, and calling in the Dominican.
I had also researched to find a few restaurants and coffee shops in case the Wi-Fi stopped working which proved to be crucial later in my trip! A large part is planning your workload and knowing what you can do with Wi-iFi and what you can download and work on offline if necessary.Basic understanding of the culture of the country that you will be visitingI took three months of online tutoring lessons to learn Spanish before I left, which allowed me to communicate on a basic level in day-to-day life, such as ordering a coffee in the morning.By being prepared for your trip, it prevents a lot of stress and allows you to enjoy your workation that much more. That being said – you can’t always plan for those unexpected events.
When it doesn’t quite go as planned…
A large part of making sure that your workation is successful is being able to handle adversity and think on your feet. Below are two examples of times when it didn’t go as planned and how I handled these situations.
“Your laptop is broken?”
I woke up on my second day of work in the Dominican and my keyboard had suddenly stopped working – I could not login to my laptop. I used the data on my phone to call my managers and email my clients to communicate the issue and re-evaluate the expectations. Next I called our superstar LiveCA Tech team and after a bit of trial and error, we determined that it needed to be taken to Apple – only problem is I was in Santo Domingo. After a bit of searching, we were able to find an authorized Apple Repair Shop a few blocks away. In the shop, there was a lot of back and forth and broken Spanish but we were able to resolve the issue temporarily so that I could log in and meet my deadlines that day. Later that day, the tech team worked their magic and determined the root issue (a stuck control key), which were able to resolve remotely. It was a real wake-up call that as much as you can plan for the worst, you really do need to be prepared and have a backup plan in place.
No power for 2 days = HST returns by candlelight
In my third week in Dominican, I was on a call with my manager on Wednesday afternoon when the power in the apartment went out. This is a normal occurrence at the apartment, but would normally turn back on in about 5-10 minutes. This time, when the power came back on it blew a fuse, which cut power to the apartment and was going to take 2 days to fix. Again, I used my phone data to let my managers and clients know my situation and how it was going to affect the current deadlines that were set. I spent the next 2 days taking Skype calls and doing my day-to-day work out of a coffee shop a few blocks away and from a neighbour’s house that still had power. At night, I would download whatever I could and work offline by candlelight.These two hiccups could have had a catastrophic effect on my workation – but because I took steps to prepare for the worst and manage those expectations with co-workers and clients, these became highlights of my trip.
I’ll never forget the night I prepared an HST return in Excel by candlelight in the middle of a thunderstorm in the apartment in Santo Domingo!
Don’t forget the vacation aspect of your workation.
As much as I’ve spoke a lot to my challenges and experiences working in Santo Domingo for the past month, I spent a lot of time exploring the culture and the beautiful beaches and natural landscape that the Dominican Republic has to offer. On weekends we would visit a different part of the country such; the gorgeous white sand beaches at Saona Island, natural pools and waterfalls in Los Haitises National Park, and the markets and Boca Chica style fish of Boca Chica, beach just to name a few. Throughout the week, we would experience the day to day life in the capital such as getting groceries, negotiating for taxis, and exploring the city and all that it has to offer; a lot of amazing Dominican food and doing my best to learn to dance merengue. At the beginning and the end of the trip, we spent time in Punta Cana at resorts enjoying the sun, the palm trees, and the beautiful white sand beaches on the ocean.
Enjoy every day of your workation
As I sit on the final descent into Toronto, I’m reflecting on my workation. Had I not prepared like I did, this could have been a very different experience - “plan for the best, but prepare for the worst” is the mindset that you should have going into your next workation.
If you work remotely, take advantage of the opportunity that we have to visit a different country and explore a different culture. I’m looking forward to where this job allows me to visit next!
This is a guest post by Jeff Kelly, a former employee of LiveCA.