The Eagle Blog

A Remote Work Experiment

As we all know the Winters in Canada can be long and brutally cold … in years past my wife and I have taken a warm weather break in the February/March time frame, heading south to the Caribbean, Mexico or Florida.  It was a welcome break, especially for a guy who is definitely not a Winter person.

This year we are experimenting with a different approach to Winter and have chosen to work remotely from a warm destination for six weeks, and perhaps start a new tradition!  I thought it might be interesting to talk about why we can do it, how we are doing it and perhaps add some lessons learned for the future.

How Are We Able to Do it?

Clearly this is not something that just anyone can do … our special circumstances mean that we can.  We own our own business, we have an excellent management team in place that operates the business on a day to day basis, a large portion of our daily activities are on the phone or computer and there is no requirement for us to be face to face with people for most of our meetings.  In fact, we generally operate our National business out of Ottawa or Toronto, and where we are has little affect on our ability to do our job.

Making it work.

Clearly the biggest factor for us was technology … we needed to have a good/reliable internet and phone connections.   With the good internet connection comes the ability to Skype, of which we are taking full advantage.

We have a regularly scheduled courier bringing physical mail to us here, and we will need to figure out how to send stuff back if needed,  We also have the ability to scan documents so there may not be a need for couriers back to Canada.

With those issues solved we felt we need somewhere big enough that we could both work, comfortably and with some privacy.  To achieve that we rented a nice house for the six weeks, and given we want to enjoy our time here we have a pool and the beach is across the road 🙂

We picked up some supplies here … a relatively cheap printer and paper (we elected not to bring those down with us).  We are still considering getting a local Florida mobile phone, but have not done so yet.

Some Lessons …

The biggest thing, like in most things in life, is attitude … it would be easy to “slack off”, not put in the hours and treat this more like a vacation.  We are still refining the routine that will work best for us, but we have set up little “office areas”, and we are disciplined about our work.  We have goals for the six weeks, we have a couple of larger projects to get done in addition to our normal routine work, so we have forced ourselves to “get it done”.  Being business owners we have lots of motivation, but I can see that this would probably be tough for many people … there are definitely lots of potential distractions.

On a smaller note, establishing a routine that feel right can be tougher than you would expect.  Coming here felt like coming on vacation, so it has needed some mental discipline to keep focused on the fact that we need to work … and we have lots to get done!

We chose to drive down from Canada to Florida, and while the early travel was through some nasty weather, all in all it was a good decision.  We were able to bring more “stuff” … and our dog, who actually prefers the cooler weather!

Early Thoughts …

As yet I have no regrets, I feel like I am productive and I am enjoying nice weather.  Of course when I heard about Canadian temperatures in the -50C range I was sold!

Kevin Dee is CEO of Eagle (a Professional Staffing Company)
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3 thoughts on “A Remote Work Experiment

  1. Little trick.. Go for a walk at a scheduled time. Grab some Timmies, then back to home, but as an employee, not a vacationer. Makes for a good separation.

  2. Isn’t this in violation of US law? Did you apply for a specific Visa? If so which one. (I’ve been told this is basically impossible to do within the current law).

  3. Joe. I was not doing any work in the US, not taking work from the US or competing for jobs in the US. I was basically managing my Canadian business from the other end of a phone/internet line. I was not in the US 182 days which would trigger a need to file taxes in the US. I was bringing dollars to the US, renting a house, spending money in the local economy and supporting Florida restaurants. It would be not much different than vacationing in the US and having to deal with business issues back home via phone and internet … happens all the time. I don’t believe I was offside.

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