Warning: The title may sound counter-intuitive to some. After all, a typical image of a management professional is somebody who dons business attire and works long hours. That’s especially true if you are a finance professional. None of this conforms to the digital nomad lifestyle! But relax, sit back, and read on!
To be fair, I have been managing teams remotely since over 2 years. I manage a team of financial analysts who work remotely. I travelled within India with my work for a few months. However, this June, I took a step and worked from different locations in SE Asia for 4 months. Now that I’m back to my home base, I’m taking the time to consolidate my learning from the tour. One of the most prominent learnings is the learning as a manager. By manager, I strictly refer to the concept of team leader here to keep the post less abstract.
What has changed since I became a digital nomad?
Coming to the point, being a digital nomad has helped me as a manager in various ways. To start with, travelling has made me more sensitive, culturally. This comes especially handy as I’m handling a remote team, spread out at different locations in continent-sized India.
Being a digital nomad is also like setting an example in front of the team. It’s like giving the team members reasons to love their remote job and stay motivated. No wonder, I felt good when one of my colleagues recently decided to start travelling with work.
During my journey, I also got an opportunity to talk in front of 30-odd fellow digital nomads in Chiang Mai on “How to manage a team of remote workers?” Preparing for the talk gave me a lot of insights about me and my management style.
Focus on Learning and coaching
Secondly, once you are on the road, you realise that life is not about the destination, it’s about the journey. As a manager, this helped me focus less on milestones and more on the learning and development of my team members.
Travelling helped me look beyond professional relationship. It helps one look beyond the current job and execution. In the process, you become less transactional and build lasting friendships with your colleagues.
Being a digital nomad has also helped me learn from people on the go and use the learning to be a better manager. I met digital marketers who helped me be better at my work, which requires marketing content. I got a lot of productivity tips from seasoned digital nomads. I pass on all the learning to my team. Further, being on the road helps you spot some emerging trends in the concept of work, which helps you be a better coach for your team members. I got to know more about Bitcoins and other emerging technologies to help my team members stay up-to-date.
There are challenges in managing a team on the go. However, if you get past the icebreaking stage with the team, it’s really a cakewalk. Stay tuned to the blog for more content.