Today, let’s talk about coworking and why I love, love love virtual coworking (and what the hell it even is).
First off though, I want to say that I’m a huge fan of coworking. But I hardly ever use coworking spaces. Sounds a bit weird, right?
The truth is, I totally get why coworking spaces work for some people. And in the past, they’ve worked very well for me too.
But now my work is very heavy on live calls, and it’s hard to find a coworking space with private Skype rooms. Plus, I am really extroverted and often I end up chatting more than actually working. #counterproductive
But I also struggle with the same challenges that most Digital Nomads encounter: loneliness and lack of motivation or feeling really unproductive.
I simply miss having colleagues, people to bounce ideas around, vent when I’m having a crappy day at work or share my wins when I’m having a good one.
Thankfully, I found an awesome way to get all the benefits of coworking, without having to change out of my pyjamas or pay hundreds of dollars for a desk every month.
Enter: Virtual Coworking.
Virtual or online coworking is a new trend amongst remote workers and freelancers and I think it’s here to stay. In the DNG Inner Circle we virtually cowork together all the time and I get so many questions about it that I thought I’d share why it’s awesome.
Here are 5 reasons why we love virtual coworking – and you will, too!
First, what the heck is virtual coworking anyway?
Virtual coworking means meeting online with one or more other real people (no robots involved… yet) to get some work done, hold each other accountable, and ideally make some new friends and build a professional network.
In the Inner Circle, we meet via Zoom for 2 hours at a time, set our goals and then work in Pomodoros. It’s fun, it’s productive and it’s totally location independent.
And here’s why this is so awesome:
1. Accountability from anywhere
If you’re anything like me, you might have days where you feel super motivated and get lots done before it’s even lunch time.
But on other days, I end up binge watching the Gilmore Girls until 2 pm or meet friends for a 3-hour brunch. On a Tuesday.
Don’t get me wrong, I love this flexibility and it’s great to be able to do this once in a while. But when it gets a habit, it’s not productive anymore and I start to feel guilty.
The lack of structure and accountability we have a digital nomads is super exciting in the beginning, but after the novelty has worn off, it can actually be a huge burden.
Virtual coworking is a great way to add accountability to your life, no matter where you are, how long you’re staying or whether there’s a big nomad scene.
Knowing that there are other girls working at the same time, getting their work done, is extremely motivating. And by incorporating virtual coworking sessions into your days, you start creating a bit of a routine, which can help so much with feeling overwhelmed or unproductive.
2. Make new friends
This is definitely my favourite part of virtual coworking, it’s a fantastic way to make new friends.
When I say loneliness is one of the biggest challenges not only digital nomads face, but most people who are self-employed or business owners, I’m not exaggerating.
Working by yourself every day sucks a bit, but it’s not always avoidable.
Over the past year or so I have made so many new friends during our coworking sessions, I can’t even count them.
Girls from all around the world join in and they all understand each other’s struggles, help each other out, ask for feedback, hire each other and yes, make friends.
When I used to work in a lab and hit a road block, the first thing I’d do was to share it with my lab mates. Sometimes they had faced the same problem already and could point me in the right direction, other times we tried to figure out a solution together.
It was fun to be able to bounce ideas around, get and give feedback and generally work together, even if we all had totally different projects we were working on. We still had each others’ backs.
When I started working online, I very quickly realised that I was pretty much alone with my questions. That’s why I started DNG in the first place. And virtual coworking spaces take this concept much further than a normal online community could.
During our coworking sessions, we see each other face to face but we can also share screens and links. We’ve audited each other’s websites, helped design workbooks, tweaked web copy and tonnes more.
It’s so great to have a space and bunch of women to ask these things in real time.
4. No more bye-bye’s
If you’ve been around the digital nomad block for a little while already, then you’ve probably tried out a few coworking spaces.
But they are really quite peculiar if you think about it. We want nothing more than escape the cubicle and once we have, we then pay good money to go work at an office.
Of course, I totally get the pros of coworking, I’ve had many a coworking session which was fun and productive.
But the big problem is, as soon as you say goodbye to your current location and move on to new shores, you’re gonna have to start totally from scratch.
It can be quite disheartening and even take a while to feel settled again. You have to reintroduce not only yourself every time you move, but also your business.
I found it easy to lose momentum.
What I love about virtual coworking is that you never have to say your bye-byes anymore. Because you can work together from anywhere in the world, you can stay up to date on each others projects and challenges and help each other out.
5. Get sh*t done
And last but not least, you get lots done. Even though our sessions are just a few hours long, we get tonnes done because we set goals together, check in regularly and also get much better at judging how long certain tasks actually take.
The girls use the virtual coworking sessions for all sorts of tasks, from boring admin tasks that need to get ticked off, to creative work. Others have written whole online courses over multiple sessions, or used the time to pitch new clients.
It’s totally up to you what you work on and the focused time can be beneficial to all sorts of tasks.
For example, I love writing my newsletters during virtual coworking, but I also often do customer support, emails or batch social media content.
After a few sessions, you’ll get the hang of what tasks you like to tackle.
So, is it time to try out some virtual coworking yourself?
There you have it, virtual coworking is awesome and definitely a trend that’s here to stay.
So where can you try out virtual coworking? You can either make a virtual coworking date with a friend, of even better, join our virtual coworking community, the DNG Inner Circle!
We have coworking sessions almost every day now, hosted either by myself or a member. Plus we do other fun ways to foster real community for us nomad girls, like live Q&As, Virtual Mixer Parties, our Book Club Meetups, Monthly Goal Setting and lots more fun stuff.
Sometimes, when the right people get together at the right time and place, magical things can happen. This is probably an accurately cheesy, yet true, description of what I experienced last week at the first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat.
Fourteen girls from 10 different countries around the world met at Sun and Co., a unique coworking and coliving space in Javea, Spain for a week of mastermind sessions, skill shares, adventure, and coworking.
I am still completely high on the energy, inspiration, support, laughter and love us girls shared during the 7 days we spent together. In the short 48 hours since the retreat finished, one of the girls has already published an article about it on the Huffington Post, one girl has created a logo and name for her business and is about to quit her job, and another has successfully more than doubled her hourly pay on Upwork securing a new client already!
I can’t wait to see what the next weeks and months will bring and what these incredible ladies will come up with. But for all of you who couldn’t join us, here are a few lessons I learned during the first Digital Nomad Girls retreat.
1. The DN community is incredibly supportive
Many of the girls who attended the retreat still had corporate jobs and often our friends and families don’t really understand the digital nomad lifestyle and why we would want to pursue it. This can be a huge obstacle, especially when you have to leave behind a stable, traditional career. Being surrounded by people who understand what drives you means you can skip the explanations and justifications and instead get support, advice and inspiration.
Over the course of the week and many a mastermind session, we discovered that apart from our wanderlust, we had something else in common: most of us undersold ourselves or didn’t really believe in ourselves. Every single girl had one or multiple great business ideas, but each of us didn’t expect to be able to actually monetize these projects. On top of that, it’s a fact that self-employed women regularly set their rates much lower than their male counterparts, often by more than half the price.
We spent a lot of time talking about how to raise prices, find better paying clients and outsource work to make more time for creative work and passion projects. But more crucially, being surrounded by other girls who encourage you, share ideas, help with accountability and believe in you more than you do, can be a life-changing experience. The support of other women really can help you achieve your dreams.
3. Coliving helps create strong bonds
The reason why digital nomads love retreats and coworking experiences are the relationships they form within the community. In my opinion, there is no better way to form these bonds than living with people for a while.
I had plenty of ice breakers prepared for our evening BBQ at the first day of the retreat, but after preparing a meal for 20 people together, the ice had clearly melted all by itself (the sangria might have helped a little, too). Living and working under one roof is an intense experience, but it also accelerates friendships and business connections. Even after this relatively short time we all trusted each other with our business ideas and were comfortable sharing personal and business challenges, which often doesn’t even happen with your best friends. Sun and Co. was the perfect location for our retreat and the support from the owners made all of us want to return as soon as possible.
4. Every single one of us has something to share
Before the retreat started we generated some ideas for potential skill shares and the girls came up with great suggestions. A few were unsure, however, if or what they could share with the others, some even wanted help identifying their strengths. Over the course of the retreat it crystalized that all the girls had valuable lessons to share, whether in life, business or travels. Initially shy girls were slowly opening up, literally blossoming, sharing their experiences, offering tons of insights and a great deal of compassion and support. Important skills that one of us might have taken for granted were invaluable lessons for others. What was holding most of us back was a lack of confidence and awareness of how useful certain skills (even if very niche) might be to others. In the end, we all overcame this and shared freely, I hope this will continue on after the retreat.
5. The support doesn’t end with the retreat
Which brings me to the 5th lesson I learned. One of my biggest goals for the retreat was forming lasting relationships, both professionally and personally, that would continue on after the retreat had ended. The idea was to form accountability groups or find partners to check up on, help each other out with technical or logistical work and generally support each other.
It has only been a couple of days, but already we have formed a slack network with different sub categories and have used it to exchange ideas and hold each other accountable. Feedback has been solicited, people have hired each other and we are working on passion projects together. As we coined during the retreat “One week is good, forever is better.”
While these 5 points barely scrape the surface of what I learned this week, I hope they offer a glimpse into the learnings of our very first retreat. Only two weeks ago I was hesitant to think of organizing another one, despite many, many girls asking about possible next events, but now I simply can’t wait to get to know more of the lovely ladies in our little Digital Nomad Girls community at the next retreat.
I’m sure most of you know those nights; it’s a balmy summer evening, you and your best friends have decided to party through the night, and after around 12 rum and cokes you come up with an incredible business idea. One that you absolutely must pursue, it’ll be incredible and change your lives. Like a selfie stick that’s also a walking stick… No?
Well, at least that’s how I imagine Karsten, co-founder and captain of Coboat, the first coworking catamaran, came up with his idea. It may sound crazy, but I am writing this while sitting on deck of Coboat, on a balmy summer night in the Agean Sea in Greece. How did I get here? Let me explain.
What is Coboat?
Put simply, Coboat is a coworking space on a sailboat. But this description doesn’t do it justice, as the project incorporates so much more. Being a sailing ship, Coboat is in a unique position because it can travel around the world, connecting people and organisations from around the globe. Their ultimate mission is to bring people together, draw attention to the difficulties our oceans are facing and help to find solutions.
Digital Nomad Girls on Coboat
Coboat officially launched in June 2016 in the Mediterranean Sea where they’ll be sailing until November. The team invited a handful of influencers to spend some time on board to see for ourselves what it’s like to sail and cowork on the open seas. I was lucky enough to be picked, and within a week had packed up my bags in rainy England and travelled to Paros, Greece.
So, what is sailing on Coboat like? Can you really work there? And will you get seasick? To answer all these questions and more, I documented a typical day on Coboat:
A bit blurry sadly, but I’m driving a boat!!
A Day in the Life of a Coboating Nomad Girl
8 am: “Early” wake up. Awake in a beautiful bay in the Agean Sea, somewhere between Paros, Siros and Athens. The sun is shining, there are no clouds to be found and you can start your day by jumping into the deep blue water.
After a morning swim we sometimes do yoga, it helps that we have our very own yoga instructor on board, guest Lilou from France.
9 am: Brekky time. Our ship chef Jacob has already prepared a fresh breakfast for us. Sometimes it’s fresh fruit with muesli and delicious Greek yoghurt, sometimes avocado, bread and eggs. It’s always lovely and you’ll be super hungry from your morning swim already.
10-12 am: Work hard. We’re not just here for fun, but also to get some serious work done. Chill out on deck or in the cabin while you get client work and other business done. The speed and reliability of the wifi really surprised me, I could connect every time I tried. Here’s a speed test I took one evening.
Before lunch: Time for a workshop, an idea incubator or another dip in the sea (or all!). Every Coboater gets the opportunity to present a project, goal or challenge they are working on and will get feedback from the other nomads on board. The projects we discussed ranged from turning a handmade flower-crown business into a social enterprise, to ocean protection programs for local islands in Greece and, of course, Digital Nomad Girls. A special shout out to Becky, the incredible Coboat community manager, who not only organised and structured our days, but also ran and supported all our idea incubators and did a tremendous job of connecting people.
Around 1:30/2:00 Time for lunch (see breakfast), yum.
Lunchtime on the high seas
Afternoon: It always depends on the wind and weather conditions, but in general we tended to set sail in the afternoons to make our way to another bay or island. This is the part that I was a bit worried about as I tend to get seasick. Our first day was quite choppy and I did end up being seasick, but it passed quickly and after swim I was as good as new. You’re not very likely to get much work done while sailing (unless it’s a very smooth sea, which we also experienced), so take care of your work in the mornings and evening. Sailing time is also prime tanning time, don’t forget sunscreen!
Relaxing and tanning time 🙂
Evening: Upon arrival at the next island we drop anchor, and have a good splash around in the sea, read a book and just relax.
Before dinner, we usually fit in another idea incubator or workshop on deck while watching the sunset over the islands.
Dinner time: Most days we had dinner on board, but we also went ashore a few times to have a nice Greek meal and some drinks. It’s great to be able to explore the islands and cute towns a little bit. I wish I’d had more time/money for shopping.
Fun time: we either had a few drinks, just chatted or went out to a restaurant, but we also developed a nasty TV habit on board. Below Deck is a great new trashy reality TV show about a crew working on a superyacht. The first episode took place in the same spot we were moored, so naturally we became obsessed.
Time for bed: I often finished a few bits and bobs of work before bed (like writing this post). The cabins are super comfy and after such a long day of fun, coworking, networking and masterminding, I slept like a baby.
Next day, rinse (in the sea) and repeat.
Doesn’t sound too horrible, eh?
Overall, my experience on Coboat was brilliant, but I also want to include some challenges we faced during our time on board, to give you the full picture.
Rule No. 1 on Coboat: The plan can change.
And it will. You have to be really flexible and a bit adventurous, too. If you’re planning on doing a full 50 hour work week, you’re in the wrong place. I am lucky enough that I could prepare a lot of my social media client work ahead of time, and that cleared my schedule a bit during my time on board.
If you’re working on a business idea, new project or goal, however, then Coboat is perfect for you. I literally felt #ideaslapped after my incubator session and know the others did too.
Rule No. 2 on Coboat: It depends on the wind
That’s a sentence you will become familiar with, after all, you’re out in nature and need to plan your trip around the wind and waves. Our captain always tried to keep sailing times and rockiness to a minimum (I like to think he did that so I wouldn’t have to hang over the railing at the back of the ship too much) and planned the route accordingly. Every morning Becky updated us and we arranged our plans to fit in with the sailing schedule.
Tips for Nomad Girls onboard Coboat:
A stay on Coboat is adventurous and can be unpredictable, but doesn’t come without its ‘luxuries’. All cabins have their own bathrooms including hot showers and toilet. If you happen to have your period while on board there are certain rules that have to be followed. Actually, there’s only one rule: do NOT throw anything down the toilet! And that includes tampons and any other sanitary products. Not only is this terrible for the ocean, but it also blocks the ship’s toilets, and then the poor crew will have to deal with the mess. If you want to avoid the wrath of the crew as well as a lot of toilet talk, then stick to this rule.
I would totally recommend using a menstrual cup like Moon Cup, which is environmentally friendly, easy to use and pack, and healthier too.
If you’re ready for the coworking adventure of a lifetime and are willing to be flexible, then you’ll have a brilliant time on board the world’s first floating coworking space!
I had such an amazing time that we ended up planning a Digital Nomad Girls Coboat takeover!
If you want to join us for a week of adventure, sailing from Spain to Morocco in October, find out more here!
A lot has been happening behind the scenes at Digital Nomad Girls recently and we’re very excited to announce many new projects over the next few weeks and months, including our very first Digital Nomad Girls Retreat.
The community is steadily growing and to celebrate our 3000th member in the Digital Nomad Girls Facebook group we have teamed up with Coboat on their inaugural trip! Digital Nomad Girls get €100 off your week’s sailing trip with Coboat!
If you haven’t been hiding under a rock somewhere, you’ve probably heard of the world’s first coworking catamaran, Coboat. While their own boat is being refitted in Thailand, they went into Pirate Beta mode.
Pirate, you say? Yep, they simply chartered a beautiful 50 feet catamaran (a Lagoon 500 called Maranthounta) and turned it into another co-working boat, as you do!
The catamaran is equipped with fast WiFi and will be sailing around the Mediterranean Sea from June to November. Can you imagine a more idyllic place to wake up every day than the turquoise coves and picturesque ports of Greece, Spain or Portugal? No, we didn’t think so.
And to celebrate with us, the lovely sailing nomads have created an exclusive offer for all Digital Nomad Girl members. When booking a full price week on Coboat, (from calendar week 27 onward) you can use our exclusive code to get €100 off. Simply join our Facebook group or sign up here to receive the code:
You will need to fill in the application form on their website and once you’ve been approved as a worthy co-pirate, you will be able to add your discount code.
So where will they sail? In June and July Coboat will be exploring the turquoise seas of Greece, from Lemnos to Paros and beyond. After that, the sky (uh, sea) is the limit, but rumour has it the trip will lead to Italy, Croatia and Spain.
The days at sea will be spent co-working on your projects, networking, snorkelling, swimming, practicing yoga, scuba diving, kayaking, playing board games and more, you definitely won’t get bored. And you’ll be sharing this incredible experience with other digital nomads from around the world.
Worried you’ll get seasick or anything else you’d like to find out? Then check out their detailed FAQs here.
Now, what are you waiting for? Grab your discount code and sunscreen and sail away!
Please share in the comments if you’d love to become a digital pirate!
Please note that the code is only valid from calendar week 27 onwards until the end of 2016 (might be extended).
In this series we will discover new destinations for digital nomad girls every month. We’ll feature our favourite nomad destinations as well as upcoming new hotspots.
This week our guest blogger Mira Arnold, from the CoworkInn Dahab, talks about Dahab, Egypt as a new nomad location and answers an important question for digital nomad girls: is Egypt safe for female solo travellers?
Dahab – an unusual digital nomad destination
Egypt has always been a place for nomads: bedouins, hippies and now digital nomads. It’s true, so far Egypt is not exactly known to be a digital nomad hotspot but it has a lot going for it. Only about a five hour flight away from Europe, the country offers fantastic weather conditions, cheap living costs and nomad-friendly visa policies. Most nationalities are given a 30-day visa on arrival, which can be extended to three months easily. It’s also easy to buy SIM cards that give you affordable data packages with which you can work.
Free and reliable wifi on the other hand is limited – which might be one of the biggest obstacles for becoming a digital nomad country. However, big cities like Cairo, Sharm-El-Sheikh and Dahab offer a choice of places to work. Cairo also has a big start up scene that focuses around the Greek campusand The District the first coworking space in Egypt.
Women traveling alone – how safe is Egypt?
Being a Muslim country that made some headlines with terrorist activity in the past, Egypt struggles with the conception of many travellers, especially women, that the country is unsafe. While this might be true for some parts of North Sinai and some neighbourhoods in Cairo, big city problems, like almost any other mega city on this planet, most of the country is very safe to travel.
Outside of Dahab or other tourist areas you will want to keep your knees and shoulders covered walking the streets. The biggest challenge for you will be language problems as it can be hard to find people who speak English outside the tourist areas. It might come as a surprise that visa offices, for example in Mogamma, the biggest one in Cairo, are no exception for this. So if you want to extend your visa, bring an Arabic speaking friend or ask a local to help you translate. It also helps to have a little vocabulary on hand that allows you to ask for and understand directions. Good neighbourhoods for Western travellers in Cairo are Maadi and Zamalek, while Dahab and other Red Sea towns like Hurghada and Marsa Alam are also easy to visit. Mark important landmarks, your hotel and places you want to explore on Google Maps and you will be able to wander around just fine.
What is there to do in Dahab & Egypt?
Egypt has long been one of the most popular travel destinations in the Middle East, and for good reason. Dahab has one of the best diving and snorkelling scenes in the world, centred around the Red Sea. Beginners and pro divers will find amazing dive spots with hundreds of tropical fish an colourful coral reefs, something that is getting harder and harder to find nowadays.
The desert is also an incredible place to explore, whether on camel-back, by foot or by jeep safari. Try to spend at least one night under the stars; the experience is breathtaking.
Egypt’s amazing cultural heritage (pyramids anyone?), kind-hearted people, beautiful weather and excellent food make it a great spot to spend some time.
Coworking: Dahab for Digital Nomad Girls
The CoworkInn Dahab is Dahab’s first coworking space. It offers its guests a beautiful sitting area right at the sea as well as some more private desks and a meeting room. There is plenty of space to get in touch with other co-workers and discuss your newest project. During dinner with bedouins under the starry sky of the desert coworkers quickly become friends. Water sport lovers have been visiting Dahab for a long time and it’s a great place to discover new hobbies like kite surfing or scuba diving.
It’s all about community
But just offering a nice place to work and a couple of trips isn’t enough; following the nomad tradition the focus lies on hospitality and building a community. This makes Dahab a perfect destination for solo traveling digital nomads.
Mira Arnold still holds a long list of ideas for her co-working space, from workations to special offers for families and team building events for companies. You can get in touch with her through her website or Facebook.
Have you been to Dahab? What is your favourite nomad destination? Please let us know in the comments below!
For many digital nomads, the biggest perk of being location independent is to be able to chase perpetual summer. Why should you stick around cold, grey and sleety Berlin/London/New York when you could be living it up on tropical co-working spaces by the beach?
Sure, winter clothes are fun to wear for the first month, but wouldn’t it be nice to swap your woolly socks and Ugg boots for shorts and flip-flops?
However, as much as we love the DN stereotype of the laptop on the beach, it’s not exactly practical or comfortable to work from a deck chair.
That’s why we’ve compiled the top 5 Co-working Spaces by the Beach
Bali has long been the number one for many digital nomads, so it’s no surprise to find a whole bunch of cool co-working spaces dotted around the Island. Dojo Bali is a relatively new space in Canggu, literally a one-minute walk from Echo Beach, you couldn’t be much closer.
Dojo is open 24/7, offers high speed (85Mbps) wifi, lockers, Skype booths, surf racks and even a pool and shower.
Their daily drop-in rate is $10, monthly plans range from $36 to $146.
Koh Hub, located on the Thai island Koh Lanta, is one of the most popular co-working spaces in Thailand. They put a lot of emphasis on community with communal lunches, events, activities, workshops and more. The space is open 24/7, has high speed Wifi (100Mbps download/30Mbps upload), Skype rooms, air-con rooms and a garden area.
If you really want to immerse yourself in the island culture you can even book a room in their KoHub apartment, only a short walk or scooter ride form KoHub away.
The daily rate is $11, for a week it’s $51 and the whole month $152.
It can’t get much more tropical than this. Bocas Del Toro, an archipelago of islands on the Caribbean coast of Panama, is pure paradise, and now you can also get some work done there. In your free time you can explore Starfish Beach, go diving, snorkelling, stand-up paddle boarding or just float in the warm waters.
The space can accommodate 20 people a day, has indoor and outdoor rooms (built over the Caribbean sea), they offer activities and accommodation, too.
The Canary Islands are definitely one of the digital nomad hot spots in Europe at the moment. Warm weather year round, affordable rent and a fun community are drawing more and more people to the Canaries. Las Palmas is the most popular spot and the community here is growing rapidly.
The Wifi is fast with 100Mbps download and 20Mbps upload, they offer free coffee and water all day, have a relaxation area with TV and couches and even showers to freshen up after a trip to the beach.
CoworkingC is open 24/7 for full members and from 9-18h every day for daily users.
They offer a free try out day to check out the space, after that it’s $15 per day, $50 per week and $150 per month.
If Hawaii is your next dream destination then you should definitely check out The Box Jelly co-working space in Honolulu. The first co-working office in Hawaii, the space is beautifully decorated and offers all the perks needed to get s**t done. Private conference rooms, fast Wifi, event space for rent, lockers, free water, kitchen and even a treadmill desk (!?!), work on your bikini figure while checking those emails!
The space often holds events and activities for its members, so you definitely won’t get bored.
The daily price is $25 and it’s $199 for a full month.
Cape Town is becoming somewhat of a start up hub in South Africa. The city is beautiful, there are lots of outdoor activities and beaches to explore in your free time. Check out TwentyFifty, a co-working and community space in the heart of Cape Town with event, working and communal areas to network and meet people. One of their best perks is that they offer you a personal business and postal address, very useful if you’re planning on staying for a while.
Wifi is 20Mbps up-and download.
Daily rate is $9.50, monthly $113 with 24/7 access.
Here you have it, 6 exotic co-working spaces by the beach! Now, what are you waiting for? Pack your sarong, sunscreen and laptop and book the next flight to the beach!
What are your favourite co-working spaces? Don’t keep em secret, share in the comments 🙂