New to Digital Nomadism // Interview with Outsite Member Sammy Schuckert
Outsite member Sammy discusses the opportunities and challenges that emerge from running a 100% remote team, and how he is adjusting to life on-the-go.
Outsite Member Sammy Schuckert took some time while visiting Outsite Hawaii to chat with us about his travels.
He co-founded a sharing economy startup (thangs – stuffsharing with friends) back in early 2016. Founding a company, that operates completely remote, is what got him into the world of digital nomadism.
Outsite: Tell us a bit about yourself.
Sammy: I’m currently on my second big remote working trip since I started getting into digital nomadism last year. I was born and raised in a small city near Heidelberg in Germany. Since March this year, I started to work at IBM as a User Experience Designer. Besides that I continue to work part-time as CEO at a small remote startup I co-founded in 2016.
I realized a couple of years ago, that my whole life so far, has been about entrepreneurship. Since I was a child, I loved making and selling products. While in middle school I drew comics and sold them to my fellow students on the schoolyard. Or I bought huge packages of candy after school, repackaged them and sold these the next day in school. The list of things I made and sold in middle school continues from comics and candies to game modifications and self-published magazines.
This desire to make stuff ultimately brought me to design and start my own business. I studied communication design in undergrad, and did my master’s in strategic design earlier this year. Strategic design lives at the intersection of design, research, and business. While doing a research project on the sharing economy back in 2013, I fell in love with the concept.
How long have you been nomadic and what inspired this lifestyle change?
Heads up, I’ve still not become a complete nomad yet. I consider myself a part-time digital nomad - a person that works remotely while traveling from time to time. I may become a complete nomad in the future, but for now, this works for me.
I first started to get into the nomadic lifestyle when I founded my remote startup (thangs) last year. This was also the first time I’ve heard about digital nomadism.
It was time, I needed a change, I needed to get out of my comfort zone. The idea of traveling while working got me. With my new earned freedom through my startup, I gave it a try.
In March 2016 I started a remote working trip throughout California for a month. While on this trip I met inspiring and like-minded people, all while being able to do my day-to-day work. Also, the time difference gave me a productivity boost. Working while my co-workers and friends in Germany where sleeping meant less distraction and getting more done.
What has been the most challenging part so far?
Working remotely requires a lot of planning and communication. If you are not together in an office it’s sometimes hard to feel close to your co-workers. Waiting for Slack replies, not knowing who is working right now and finding a time to meet, are all big issues for remote co-workers.
Out of our own need as a remote startup, we came up with a workaround to fix these coincidences.We set up a Teamspeak server (Voice-over-IP server) and committed being available on the server while working. This brought us closer together, caused a more effective communication, and less time waiting for text message replies.
As Teamspeak has it’s limitations and is actually made for gamers, we started to develop our own solution. A web-based voice communication software for remote teams called Lito.
Any crazy/fun stories you'd like to share?
On my trip throughout California last year, I met someone from Germany. We stayed at the same hostel and did some sightseeing together in San Francisco. I hadn't seen him after my time in SF, nor did I know where he was headed. It so happened, that on my first day at IBM this March, we ran into each other in the cafeteria. He had started an integrated degree program with IBM at the same time that I started to work at IBM. It's a small world!
How does Outsite fit into your current lifestyle?
The Outsite locations are the best places for escaping your daily grind and networking with open-minded people from all around the globe. The community is great, I was able to make friends, have fun and extend my business network at the same time. I count my stays at Outsite locations to one of the best experiences I've had working abroad.
Any advice for 9-to-5 workers looking to make the leap to nomadism?
I would recommend that you try it first. You don’t have to become a full-time nomad immediately. Give it a try for a month or two, then evaluate if it’s what you want to do. Get into nomadism slowly. As great as it sounds, it is not for everyone. As with everything, if there’s an upside, there’s a downside, too. Therefore, get clear on why you want to do it and what are the benefits for you.
If you think this is something you want to do, don’t be afraid to bring it up with your boss. More people than you think have heard about digital nomadism. Tell her/him why you want to work remote and how you will continue to do your job remotely. Because what matters is the work you are contributing, and who says this can’t be done from the beach