Last year I bought a campervan. The decision wasn’t directly related to Accent’s move to remote working and had more to do with the freedom of our children becoming older and more self-sufficient, although the timing was good.
My wife & I use the van to go to festivals and for odd weekends away, but last autumn, I also managed to get away for a week to the Peak District on my own, which was my first taste of being a digital nomad.
I decided not to invest in a StarLink satellite setup or even an external aerial and Wi-Fi booster but to see how it went linking my laptop to my phone, increasing my data allowance and checking mobile coverage when planning where to stay. And that is something worth checking, especially if you are in the hills – the coverage in one valley can be excellent, whilst there is absolutely no signal in the next. Thankfully, the network coverage maps (at least with giffgaff) seem pretty accurate.
In order to get the most out of my days, I tried to arrange meetings in the morning, which I could conduct from the ‘van office’, keep my afternoons free for exploring, and then catch up on work in the evenings. I could be contacted via Teams on my phone if I was out and about, and often had my laptop with me, too, should the need arise. This arrangement worked well; I did have one progress meeting with a client from the top of a hill, but that worked out fine too, maybe the only issue being a little wind noise.
It was a very enjoyable shift in headspace, and I believe that it improved my productivity. Working on problems in new environments can make you think a little differently, and there was a definite sense of being able to step back and see the bigger picture. There were also fewer distractions. You don’t realise how many distractions you have working (in my case) from home – kids, deliveries, and just that mental list of things to do around the house.
Being in touch with nature is also great for general well-being, although the comforts and security of a van didn’t go amiss.
The technology all worked well; video meetings worked through a mobile phone connection both from the van and the odd hilltop, but do remember to check coverage before you set off. Maybe one of those furry microphone covers might be good for cutting wind noise for outside meetings! As a guide for anyone thinking about going down this road, an hour-long Teams video meeting uses about 1GB of data.
Can I see myself becoming more of a digital nomad? I will undoubtedly be getting away to the hills more this summer, but maybe becoming a proper digital nomad will have to wait until the kids have left home!