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Silvia

How a Workation Can Increase Productivity

By | Digital Nomad, Javea, Productivity, Remote Worker, Travel | No Comments

With today technology and the increasing number of people becoming location independent, the old idea of taking a vacation to disconnect in order to reboot your productivity just doesn’t make sense anymore.

Instead, a workation might be the solution to make you more productive and focused on your work, whether you are a freelance, entrepreneur, or a company’s employee.

What Is a Workation and Why You Should Try It

Workation (literally work + vacation) is something more than just casually checking emails while you travel. It means actually fully immersing yourself in your work, while also dedicating time to unwind and relax, exploring a new environment, trying new things, meeting new people etc.

There’s no doubt that spending time in a different environment can make you feel more inspired and come up with innovative ideas and solutions for your work. We see this every day at Sun and Co., with our guests choosing to take a workation with us to escape winter in their home countries or spend time in beautiful Javea. After two or three weeks they all go back feeling better at way they do.

This being said, there are a few rules you should follow for a real productive workation.

Surround Yourself With Like-Minded People

When you go on workation, it’s important that you take your working mood with you. Having people around you that are also on a mission to immerse themselves in work helps a lot when it comes to motivation and not getting off the course.

Set Expectations

Before you leave for your workation, make sure that both yourself and everyone else (coworkers, clients, travel companions etc.) understands that working is actually going to be the main focus of your trip. Setting the right expectations means avoiding disappointment when sometimes you will have to stay inside and work on some urgent task, instead of going out to enjoy the sunny weather and beautiful spanish beaches. But it also means that your clients or coworkers back home won’t freak out when you’re not responding to an email straight away. Of course you will, you are not just on holiday!

Choose Your Accommodation Wisely

The place you stay will play a great role when it comes to your productivity, so it’s important to make sure you get all of these things:

A good internet connection;

A desk you can sit and work at;

An environment that is quite and peaceful, but also has places and activities nearby for when you want to change your setting or go explore.

Places like Sun and Co. offer all these three and much more, which is why coliving with us makes our guests always feeling super productive!

Establish a routine

From day one, try to set yourself a schedule and stick to it throughout your workation. Having the same schedule every day will help you stay organised, plan your time more effectively, and avoid pushing things off for later. Here are some of our favourite apps for an extra help on stay productive.

Stay in the same place for the entire trip

Traveling from one place to another not only takes time, but it also requires a lot of energy. Besides, If you’re traveling somewhere new every 3-7 days you won’t be able to fully take in the area, which on the long run will make you feel lonely and disconnected.  2-6 weeks is ideal for workationing and it will give you enough time to get used to the new environment, find a spot you can work, establish a routine and ultimately do good work.

 

Now that you know the rules for a productive workation, why not starting to plan your first or next one in Javea? Check out our availability or make an enquiry!

An Interview with Jennifer Lachs, Founder of the Digital Nomad Girls Community

By | Digital Nomad, Guest Blog, Interview | No Comments

Entrepreneur and founder of the ‘Digital Nomad Girls’ community, Jennifer Lachs is nothing but positive energy!

At Sun and Co. we had the pleasure to host her community of remote workers and female entrepreneurs twice already, and she’s coming back for the third time in June 2019 to run her Digital Nomad Girls Retreat.. Guess where? At Sun and Co. in Javea, of course 🙂

We sat down with Jennifer to talk about how she got the inspiration to start her business, the joys and challenges of life on the road, and how her view of ‘digital nomadism’ has changed with time.

Without saying anything about work, tell us a little bit about who you are and what you value.

I’m a bit of a contradiction actually. In a way I’m a free spirit, but I also have a very analytical, scientific mind. I’m an adventurer, but also a chicken. I love backpacking, exploring all corners of the world but am happiest in Disneyland.

I value friendship and connection, freedom of choice, freedom to explore and the freedom to learn new skills and reinvent myself.

I love food and think it’s one of the greatest pleasures in life to discover new dishes from around the world. My favourite dishes are ceviche, soup dumplings and laksa soup but I love everything to do with noodles or dumplings.

So, what do you do that allows you to be location independent?

It’s a long story, but now I run my own business called Digital Nomad Girls. It’s a community that brings together location independent women from around the world. I’ve run retreats and also have a membership site ‘The DNG Inner Circle’, a virtual coworking community that travels with you.

In the past I was a chemist and then became a freelancer after backpacking and gallivanting around the world for nearly 2 years.

What inspired you to start Digital Nomad Girls? Did it come from a lack of representation or more of a longing to create community?

To be honest, a bit of both. After travelling for a good few years I was really missing having close girl friends. And at the same time I noticed I was often the only girl at coworking spaces or digital nomad events. The online business world can also be quite loud and a bit overwhelming for women I think. So I had the idea to start a Facebook group to meet other girls who were trying to do the same thing as me. And it seemed there was a big need for it at the time.

How would you say that working remotely has impacted your life?

Wow, it has completely changed it. I studied chemistry and have a PhD in it too, so most of my 20s were spent in research labs and immersed in academia. Once I broke free from this to travel the world I knew there was no way back really. Being able to work remotely has opened so many doors. I think if I hadn’t discovered the digital nomad lifestyle I would either be working in a chemistry job I’d resent or be stuck in the work-save-money-travel cycle.

But more than that, working remotely has allowed me to meet hundreds of amazing women (and men) from all over the world, make new friends and even become an entrepreneur. It’s opened a lot of doors for me.

What’s the biggest thing you struggle with while on the road?

Well there are a few things actually, and I think it’s super important to talk about the ups and downs of this lifestyle. Work-life balance and productivity are definitely big challenges but if I had to pick just one thing I’d say it’s a lack of community. Thankfully, I am meeting incredible people all the time and I make new friends quite easily. But it’s hard to have to say goodbye to new friends all the time, and it doesn’t really get easier. That’s why online communities are so important for us digital nomads.

You’ve been here with us at Sun and Co. a few times. How would you describe your experience here to someone who is on the fence about coliving?

Yes, twice already! And well, I’m a little biased because I think you guys are amazing and that Sun and Co is incredible. Apart from the beautiful house and the lovely town (seriously, Javea is dead cute) I think you’d struggle to find many coliving spaces that care so much about their colivers. As soon as you arrive at Sun and Co you feel like you’ve arrived home. The other colivers were always super friendly and open, the vibe is very relaxed, no-pressure but fun and a bit adventurous. I would love to spend time at Sun and Co every year, to get lots of work done and hang out with awesome people.

If you’re on the fence, don’t even think about it anymore and just book! I can’t think of a single thing that I don’t like about Sun and Co. Oh well, maybe that there isn’t one in every city.

Being a digital nomad full-time can sometimes be hard. How would you explain your personal transition over the years from constantly traveling to choosing one place as your “home base”?

Yes it can definitely be exhausting. I think after 3 years of almost full time travel including 1 year of jumping from city to city every month while working basically full-time, I needed a break. It’s hard for a digital nomad to say, ok, I’m staying here for a while and I won’t move. But you have to listen to yourself and your body. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with travelling slowly, or having a home base. I think that’s so important to know.

At the same time, what I am experiencing now is that it’s equally important to listen to yourself when it’s time to move on. It’s easy to get comfortable and get used to your routine. But too much of that is also not good and I noticed over the past months that I was getting itchy feet. I was nervous to hit the road again full-time but since booking the flights I am just excited to travel more again and explore new countries.

When do you feel you’re happiest?

Woah, that’s an awesome question. I think when I am meeting new people and making new friends. When I’m connecting with people who have similar dreams and goals as me. I think some of my happiest weeks have been during the DNG retreats, two of which were in Javea.

Oh and when I eat really good food with my boyfriend Simon.

What is one thing you wish you knew before starting your location independent journey?

There’s no right or wrong way to be a digital nomad and travel. Don’t listen to the gurus, to people who want to teach you how to live this life. You have to figure it out yourself and your travel style also adapts over time.

One thing you can’t leave home without?

Oh so many. My ear plugs and sleeping mask for practical items and my hula hoop for fun.

Imagine that you had one month to travel anywhere in the world (money not being an issue), where would you go and why?

Such a hard question. (20 minutes later…) My first thought was India but it’s such a cheap destination that I think I’ll go with Italy. I absolutely adore Italy and would love to drive around for a month, take cooking classes, stay in little villas, eat cheese and drink wine all day. Sounds like a dream.

Or for something more exotic, definitely Japan. I’d love to see the cherry blossoms and eat my way around the country.

Lastly, where do you see yourself/what do you see yourself doing one year from now?

One year from now I might still be in Mexico or maybe in the States on a road trip. I’ll still be working on DNG and my membership site, the DNG Inner Circle, and I’ll be organising a retreat in Mexico. Or maybe I’ll be back in Europe and living in Sicily for a few months.

Rapid Fire

Window or aisle?  Window

Carryon or overweight?  Overweight!

Favorite city you’ve visited? Sydney

Favorite tool for remote work? Asana and Bear

What song do you currently have on repeat? The Moana soundtrack

Anything else you want to share?

I’m so glad that there are spaces and communities like Sun and Co. who make the digital nomad experience so much easier and more fun. Thanks for what you do guys and I can’t wait to return soon!

Where can we find you on the web and social media?

You can find me on my website digitalnomadgirls.com, on Instagram and in my Facebook Group.  

Interested in joining the next Digital Nomad Girls retreat in Javea? Get in touch with Jenny and mention you’ve heard of her through Sun and Co. to get €200 off the normal price ticket!

How I Became A Digital Nomad: Lessons Learnt From My Time With Remote Year Program

By | Community, Digital Nomad, The Team | No Comments

Two years ago I quit my office job in London, sold all my stuff, packed my life in a 23kg suitcase, said goodbye to all my friends and flew to Colombia to start my year-long adventure working as a Program Leader with the Remote Year program. It was like they basically invented my dream job and then offered it to me. I was over the moon, and terrified.

By the end of March 2017 I had successfully led a community of 50+ digital nomads, who were working remotely and travelling around the world. For 12 months we lived in 12 different cities across Europe, Asia and South America, always together.  Intense? I felt like I’d aged 5 years in 12 months, and sometimes struggled to understand how profoundly the experience had changed me.

The thing is, travelling always changes you in some ways. But travelling as part of a community is a completely different story. Here’s three important lessons I learned in the process.

Stop talking, start listening

When you’re constantly travelling from place to place and meeting new people that are also doing the same, you want to be able to create meaningful relationships in a short period of time. You quickly realise you don’t have the time nor the energy for small talk. But if you step back and take the time to really listen to others, you’ll be able to tune in very quickly with whoever you meet. Everyone has an interesting story to tell, and it’s often not what you were expecting.

No matter how open-minded and well-travelled you are, you will judge

Being forced to spend time with people that I wouldn’t normally choose to hang out with in a familiar environment made me realise how often we tend to judge a book from its cover. Back home, we tend to stick to people that we feel are similar to us and make us feel comfortable. However, if we take the time to dig deeper and push through the initial ‘awkward’ feeling, we will find that people that are very different from us are those that we should seek out and hang out with more often. They are the ones that would offer us a different perspective and really make us richer individuals.

Location independent work is the future, and communities are the key. As long as they foster vulnerability

Before I started to travel with a bunch of 50+ strangers, I had heard the term ‘tramily’ (travel + family) a few times from previous colleagues at Remote Year. And I was skeptical. I thought there was no way I would get attached to these people, as nice as they were, to the point that I would call them ‘family’. Once again, I was wrong. Travelling for a long period of time will eventually make you feel uncomfortable and push you to your limit, revealing who you really are and hence making you vulnerable. Nobody likes their dark sides to be exposed, but when your insecurities and fears are revealed and you have no choice but opening up about who you really are, that’s when the deepest sense of connection arises. Vulnerability is the most powerful tool for creating communities that really feel like families. It allows others to better understand you, accept you and love you for who you are; it instantly erases the defensive walls that we all build and that prevent us to have real, meaningful, heart-to-heart connections.

A year after saying goodbye to my Remote Year program and tramily, I find myself starting a new adventure at Sun and Co. I am excited to have the opportunity to witness and spread the word about coliving, a new way of living and working for digital nomads based on communities, collaboration and meaningful connections. It’s a revolutionary concept that is hard to explain and understand without having experienced it.

If you’re skeptical, like I was, you just need to come and try. You’ll never want to go back 🙂

What being a digital nomad means for your taxes

What Being a Digital Nomad Means for Your Taxes

By | Business, Digital Nomad, Guest Blog | No Comments

As a digital nomad, what are the tax issues that you need to be aware of? How is income reported, what provisions are there for full-time travelers, and what are the pitfalls? While location independent work is on the rise, tax regulations struggle to keep up with it and there are still a lot of grey areas in the matter. Regulations also vary greatly from country to country, so it’s always recommended to do some research of your own or talk to a tax professional.

However, if you are a US citizen digital nomad you’re in luck! We spoke with Krystal Pino, seasoned accountant, digital nomad and founder of Nomad Tax, a firm dedicated serving the nomad community when it comes to small business and personal tax issues.

Keep reading to find out Krystal’s recommendations when it comes to dealing with taxes for US digital nomads.

Krystal Pino

 

Making a Federal Case Out Of It

First and foremost: the foreign earned income exclusion (FEIE). The tax code provision states that if you are outside of the United States for either a set number of days, or you’re considered a resident of another country, you could be exempt from paying federal income taxes on a portion of your income ($103,900 for 2018 and $104,100 for 2019). Hold your horses though, it’s not automatic simply because you’ve decided to travel. There are tests that need to be met.

First is either the bona fide resident test or the physical presence test. Under the bona fide resident test, you’re considered exempt should you qualify as a resident of another country for a full calendar year. For those of us constantly on the move, there’s the physical presence test (PPT). Under the PPT, you need to be outside of the United States for 330 out of 365 rolling days (which means you can use any 365 day period, not just January-December).

Once you pass the PPT, the next thing the Internal Revenue Service wants to know is where your tax home is. For our FEIE purposes, this tax home is not your residence, or abode (discussed later), but rather refers to how and where you make your money. If you’re self employed, you make your money wherever you are. Congrats, you’ve passed the second test!

W-2 employees take a little bit of an extra look at the nature of their work and assignment. You’re going to have to convince the IRS that your remote work is for the benefit of your employer and not only personal. Not impossible, but it weakens your case for the FEIE.

But wait! We’re not done yet!
The last thing the IRS takes a look at is what is called your ‘abode’. This is a referral to your social, family, and economic ties to the United States. Own a home in the US and not renting it out? Still voting in local elections? Have a car registered? Strong family ties? While none of these automatically disqualify you from the FEIE, they could potentially weaken your case that the US is not your permanent home, and this lifestyle of travel is only temporary for you and you’re trying to get out of paying taxes for a bit.

Self(ish) Employment Taxes

Another important thing to note when considering the FEIE is that it only applies to FEDERAL income taxes. None of us are exempt from paying social security and Medicare taxes. Good news for W-2s: you get to split this with your employer, and it is already taken care of for you. Those of us who are self employed are responsible for the full burden (12.4% for Social Security and 2.9% Medicare), although a credit is offered for half. Self employed and don’t want to deal with SE tax? You can mitigate your SE tax by setting up your business as an S Corporation, but this does subject you additional tax filings.

State of Affairs

So, what about state taxes? While some states do have foreign earned income exclusion provisions, most of the time you’ll still be subject to state taxes. Traveling full time? CA, CT, DE, ID, MN, MO, NY, OK, OR, and WV all offer safe harbor provisions, provided you’re out of the state for a number of days and subject to other residency requirements.

State residency is another hot topic among US digital nomads and something my firm looks at intently. Residency can be both hard to break and to establish, especially when trying to do it from overseas. Thus, consider it before you leave or talk to someone who’s already done all the leg work.

Deductions Reasoning

Finally, another frequent question I get is “what can I deduct?” 
If you’re a W-2 employee: nothing. Sorry. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act basically got rid of anything you could previously deduct.
For self-employed individuals, the answer is: it depends. First, consider the nature of your business and the nature of your travel. The IRS states heavily that business expenses must have a clear business purpose, and nothing that is considered personal is allowed. What you can deduct include coworking space fees, trips made specifically for client/business work, meals with clients, and professional fees, which are still deductible simply as if you were sitting still.

Congratulations, you made it this far! Dealing with taxes can be daunting, but it should be on your top priority list when planning your life on the road.

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5 Tips to Hire Top Talents For Your Remote Team

5 Tips to Hire Top Talents For Your Remote Team

By | Business, Guest Blog, Remote Worker | No Comments

Going remote can be daunting at first when you want to build and scale a business or agency, but as long as you hire the right team members straight off the bat, you’re well on the road to success. The top talents aren’t drifters; rather, they’ll stick around for the long haul, which is exactly what you want.

However, the hiring process has for a long time saddled all businesses. When we don’t hire the right people, productivity slows down, morale drops, and we have to spend money repeating the process until we get the right person in.

The last thing we want is to hire an individual who suddenly vanishes from the online world.

For your company to be a success, you need to bring the A-players to your team. The thing is that, with everyone working remotely, you might need to be a bit more creative with how you identify and “seduce” the top talent.

Let’s take a look at 5 tips to hire top talents for your remote team.

 

5 Tips to Hire Top Talents For Your Remote Team

Know Where to Look

There are a variety of places to look for remote workers, from Craigslist to LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is one of the best places to find your next hire because you get the advantage of seeing an individuals resume, testimonials and credentials there and then. Plus, they’re just a DM away. If you do decide to use LinkedIn, switching to a recruiters account gives you access to perks that a regular account doesn’t have. Then, you need to use keywords like “remote graphic designer” to find potential hires.

Moreover, if a talent really is the best talent, it’s highly likely that they’ll be on LinkedIn. And they’ll probably have examples of their work for you to browse.

Global freelance platforms like Upwork and Freelancer are worth taking a look at, too. These hubs allow clients to post jobs — long term or short term — and multiple businesses have used them to hire the best talent. The problem is that, while there are top-rated remote workers on these sites, there are also lots of dead wood, too. As such, it might take you some time before you find the right person for the right job. However, these platforms allow clients to give freelancers feedback and scores so that you can take a look at an applicants profile to determine how skillful, motivated and reliable they’ll be for you.

 

Outline Your Why

The best remote workers don’t have to work for you. Unlike an office worker who might be terrified of being made redundant because they’ll never find another job, the best remote workers always have other clients they can work for.

This is why you need to sell the job to them.

Outline your company’s ‘Why’. Why should someone work for you? Share your company’s vision with remote workers. Explain your purpose and where your company is heading. What are the perks of working for you? Why should the best talent choose you?

The more attractive you can make your company appear, the easier it will be for the top talent to want to be a part of your future.

 

Go for the Experience

When assessing who is right and who isn’t for your team, it’s a good idea to take a look at how experienced the remote worker is. This doesn’t simply mean how experienced they are in terms of the role — it also means how experienced they are as a remote worker.

For example, if someone has literally just started working remotely, it might not always be the best idea to hire them. They could be a starstruck remote worker who quit the 9-5 grind in the hopes that working remotely would bring them a better work/life balance. Ultimately, however, they have no track record and you don’t know how motivated they’ll be as a remote worker.

Instead, it’s much safer to go for remote workers who already have a proven track record working remotely. If they’ve been doing this for 2+ years now and have strong testimonials to back them up, they’re well worth considering over young pups who may end up like rabbits caught in headlights. They might be good at what they do, but are you taking a gamble?

 

Assign a Test Project

When hiring a remote worker, it’s typical for a company to assign the candidates a test project first. This gives you a better insight into the quality of their work, as well as the speed at which they work. Turnaround time is key, so it makes sense to test each candidate first with a small (but paid) project.

 

Be Communicative

The top talent wants to see a few things from a prospective company they might work for before they commit. One of them is good communication.

The best talent know that communication is the bedrock of all good working relationships, and it’s important to remember the reasons why someone has decided to work remotely in the first place. It might be that they did it for family reasons, but a prime factor is often that the individual doesn’t want to work for a boss they hate anymore.

The top talent can pick and choose who they work for. If they no longer want stress in their working life, they won’t work with someone they dislike.

Poor communication skills can easily make you appear unappealing to a remote worker. If you take too long to respond to messages, or if your messages are often blunt, impersonal and full of criticism, it’s going to put the best talent off.

Be a good communicator. Be friendly, personable and open. Stay in touch with your prospects and your hires. Offer feedback and offer criticism, but offer praise, too. Be positive. That way, it will be a lot easier to hire and keep hold of the best remote talent.

 

These are 5 top tips to hire top talents for your remote team. Look in the right places, sell your company to the worker, go for the experience, run a test project by them and be communicative. If you can do all this, you should be well on your way to building a stronger team.

 

About the author: Aljaz Fajmut is a digital marketer, internet entrepreneur, and the founder of Nightwatch a search visibility tool of the next generation. Check out Nightwatch blog and follow him on Twitter: @aljazfajmut

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