What it's like to work remotely from all over the world

Jul 14, 2017

Imagine this: You wake up in Berlin (or Prague, or Rabat, or Sao Paolo), spend the morning in a museum and brunching at a cafe, maybe take a scenic walk through the city. And then, just as the clock strikes 9 a.m. in New York (or Chicago, or Los Angeles or wherever your hometown is back in the U.S.), you settle into your desk at a co-working space and get to work. 

Maybe you log four to five hours on the computer before switching over to your phone and heading to dinner in the city you're traveling in, checking-in periodically on your own schedule. 

That's the goal for people who do remote work while traveling — see the world in the off hours, work a full day from anywhere. Businesses like We Roam, a remote work travel company, are cashing in on people's desire to travel. The company coordinates trips for professionals who want to work while traveling — or travel while working, depending on how you see things.  

"We curate groups of professionals who have the ability to work remotely. And we get them in groups and kind of build out these itineraries where they can travel together in these communities around the world, stopping for one month at a time at different cities," said We Roam founder Nathan Yates. "We take care of all the logistics...and they pay us a monthly fee."

For $2,000 to $5,000 upfront and $2,000 a month, We Roam provides airfare, housing, co-working space and monthly networking events and cultural activities for its trip participants. The group of travelers will spend one month in each city, working their way around the world. 

The price may seem steep, but depending on where the travelers are coming from, $29,000 a year for housing, utilities, work space and travel is comparable to a year's rent. 

"For people in New York, and LA, and London, and Berlin and Sydney, a lot of people are paying more than that for apartments. Being able to give up their apartment and do this and get all the travel, it makes sense," Yates said, "but there is a struggle kind of outside of that...we have a lot of interest from people in South America, and Asia. It can be a struggle to make the finances work...even in the heartland of the U.S. in some cases. I think the way you bridge that gap is the companies getting more involved and treating this as a benefit, and supplementing some of the cost."

Yates says that We Roam is looking into ways to make their trips more cost effective down the road. But even at the current price, business is growing. We Roam just launched its second trip, and will launch a third in October. 

Across the board, the market for remote work travel businesses is growing. Last year, 43 percent of Americans worked some time remotely, according to a Gallup survey. That number has been increasing since 2012, and many expect it will continue to do so, based on the technological innovations that have made remote work so easy. There is also a desire, especially among the growing millennial workforce, for flexible scheduling.

"Most people assume...that it would be a lot of freelancers [taking these trips]. The tech community comes to mind. We found that we were putting together a really diverse group of people. We have everyone from doctors and lawyers and finance people to marketers, to programmers, to engineers, people in fashion," Yates said, "it's more about the type of company they work for."

As the remote work trend continues, it's possible that the remote work travel market will expand. Yates and the We Roam team are hoping to grow even more and capitalize on travelers working remotely from companies based in the United Kingdom and Australia. 

Yates said that around the world, there are many more progressive businesses full of young professionals who could be working remotely. "Currently it's still such a niche space," he said, "there's such a small percentage of the people who could be doing this that are doing it."