7 productivity hacks we learned from digital nomads

19th July 2017

Or how to make your team 13% more productive

digital nomad productivity tipsThere’s an awful lot that forward thinking companies can learn from today’s uber-flexible digital nomads and we should know. Here at Secret Source we’ve been renting part of our office building as a co-working space for the last year and a half.

Spending time with this multinational workforce means some of their better habits rub off and I want to share a few of the best with you. So here are 7 hyper-practical tips we’ve picked up from digital nomads, that are helping us do better business. (If you’ve never heard of digital nomads find out who they are here.)

1. Go paper free

Use Cloud based tools to manage, collaborate and share work. Google Docs and Dropbox are probably the best known sharing tools out there and the former allows you to work directly on shared projects, But falling prices and increased competition have made more advanced options, with greater security or more sophisticated features, such as 4Shared and OwnCloud, affordable for businesses of any size.
As well as saving time, the ability to access important information from anywhere can have considerable advantages for customer service and field sales.

2. Computer screens look the same wherever you’re sitting

Trust people to work unsupervised. I read a report recently that claimed staff are 13% more productive when working from home. It’s not for every employee and might be unsuitable your business model. But if it fits, try opening up the opportunity to work one day a week from home and see how your team react. Chances are they’ll be more productive.

3. Chat smarter, talk less

With so many ways to talk to each other does it really matter if you’re in the same building as your team – or even the same country? Ditch regular forms of communication in favour of systems like Slack, Azendoo or one of the many new cloud-based collaboration and communication tools. Originally an internal messaging platform, Slack is our system of choice, serving as a chatroom, direct messaging service, file sharing app and management system combined.

4. Reach out for help when you need it

Rather than wasting hours trying to understand new technologies or forcing your staff to carry out time-consuming or repetitive tasks try hiring a freelancer. Sites like PeoplePerHour and Outsourcely have vast pools of talent, often ready to start immediately.

5. Take your accounting online

This is something we’ve been doing for a while and I’m surprised how many of our clients still use traditional paper-based accounting methods. Cloud-based platforms like Xero and Freshbooks make managing expenses, invoices and timesheets ‘click button’ simple. For an easy, lightweight and enterprise-ready solution I can recommend Quaderno – made right here in the Canary Islands by one of our neighbours.

6. Always be learning

Acquiring new skills isn’t something that only happens every 3 months in the meeting room, or on training away days. We notice a lot of Digital Nomads do their learning ‘on the job’ as they need it. Some educational sites – such as Lynda, CodeSchool and Udemy even offer certificates for completing courses in a wide range of subjects. For a quick fix make YouTube your first port of call – it’s packed with free tutorials, how-to guides and walkthroughs.

7. Some things are more important than work

productivity hacks from digital nomadsLet your people surf (or dive, or cycle or just hang out with their families) and work the hours that suit them best. If you’re anything like me you’ll do a lot of your best work outside regular office hours and research has shown that a flexible approach to working times can lead to greater productivity as well as happier staff.

If your team produce their best work at 2 in the morning – and it doesn’t disrupt your company’s time frame – why not let them, at least part of the time.

What do you think? Are you already using any of these Digital Nomad tactics in your business?

We are and we’ve found all of them have helped us do our jobs better. If you fancy a chat about smarter working – or better still hiring Secret Source for your next project – give us a call and ask for Richard or Rachel.

PS. Time is always on your side

One bonus tip, that didn’t make our list but I thought deserved a mention, is the idea of turning time zone differences from a disadvantage into a selling point. In our case this usually involves stressing to UK companies that even though we’re in The Canary Islands we run on GMT and keep regular British working hours. But when I speak with companies in the USA I let them know that because we’re a few hours ahead of them we can easily make early morning deadlines.