Episode: 0 – introduction
Date: April 26, 2020
Host:Koen Blanquart

Hello and welcome to the introductory episode of the transnational. I hope this to be the start of a journey where I can share some insights into transnational living and working. I seek to help us look differently at the way we’ve been organizing our work. You know how many people talk about traveling when they retire. I’ve been no different. An idea to work for 50 something years, then to retire and hope there is enough money saved and enough health left to see the world. But at a certain point, I started to feel this was the wrong approach for me, and I decided to change this prescribed structure to an arrangement that was more in line with my desires. My feelings to combine work with the opportunity to be free and see the world at the same time led me to a nomadic life, working, and traveling combined. Some call it a digital nomad. Others will talk about location independence. I started calling it my transnational life.

About 10 years ago, I started dreaming of expanding my horizons. The first step was a move to the USA. In essence, the move to a transnational life starts with departing from the current situation or location. Only when disconnecting from the old, we’re allowing ourselves to be at home in a new, a different place. And for me, that new scene was New York City. But while leaving a lot behind, the wanderlust was still with me. And so I started to add workcations to my routines while managing the business development of a growing big data company. And the balance tipped over from travelling when I can, to a situation where I was in the office only when strictly needed. All-hands meetings, brainstorms, and some commercial conclusions still require some good old face-to-face interaction, after all. But without realizing it, I suddenly was more on the road than at home. And it felt great. So I kept on going and tried to organize my work around me. I could get more done in less time, and creativity sparked every time I changed my views.

And that’s where it starts to become clear to me. Building an organization in a transnational way enables workers to generate the best conditions under which each of them can work. Plus, it allows any team to add the right talent they seek, independent of where these people are located. I started to see the reasons why so many organizations, some of them considered as very innovative, didn’t embrace remote work more. I found a few excellent reasons to do so and many pretty horrible ones. I encountered incredible people in countries that I would never have thought I’d live in. I didn’t just meet tons of interesting personalities who lived in the places that I visited on my journey. I also met fellow travelers, remote workers, digital nomads, location independent entrepreneurs and however they love to call themselves. I learned a lot from them. The approach to organizing work, the way they look at the outputs and not so much at the inputs of their business, how they start companies without a physical location and still manage to attract incredibly skilled co-workers. They showed me new ways of managing a remote team. They found ways to expand their reach to find needed skills where they were available. Some of the digital nomads I met partially outsource their job that way. I learned to understand the advantages and disadvantages of being an entrepreneur without brick and mortar. Whether staff travels or not, an organization with remote work in its DNA has broad differences with the classic organization that allows incidental homework. I also saw the downsides of this lifestyle, from money issues over loneliness and failing technology, to absurd homesickness to that non-existing home. No watercooler discussions with colleagues and not being present when the team faces a crisis are difficult to cope with at times.

And so it became clear that I would write about this and document this lifestyle, not to encourage other digital nomads to stay the path, but to help organizations to understand what the remote lifestyle is like, and what the benefits are of enabling a remote workforce, and what it takes to allow people to do so. But also what it means for processes and systems in the organization and what pitfalls and downfalls might be. Being an excellent procrastinator myself, it took a while between the moment this plan started and its actual execution. It took a corona COVID-19 crisis to get me to act and get this podcast going. In the next episodes, we’ll talk to entrepreneurs, to psychologists, to market analysts, remote workers, and business owners, both who believe this is a good or bad idea and so on. We’ll seek insights in transnational thinking, facts and experiences to make us all better. I look forward to taking you on the journey to create more transnational thinking.

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