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The Digital Nomad Life

The Autumn colours are mind blowing in Japan.

It’s a brave new world because of the changes precipitated by Coronavirus. Because working in offices became impossible, in order to to keep operating, companies in countries with extended lockdowns had to transition to a 100% work from home setup. It forced them to explore long term solutions that would keep up productivity levels. We had no idea how much this would improve the lives of so many people.

Now that lockdowns have ended and people are still working remotely, this newfound time is being put to good use - cooking beautiful food, evening picnics with friends or opportunities to do interesting courses. How far can it be stretched was a question rattling around in my head, and the commitment to exploration of the digital nomad life became a real possibility that simply didn’t exist before.

A work from home paradigm is now a core staple of many roles and as long as you can work with a significant time zone crossover the reality of doing the digital nomad thing is within easy reach. The hardest question to answer is: “where should I go?“. Once you know that, there are a few core things you need. A quiet space to work, a good reliable internet connection, a timezone that can slot in with your team’s core working hours, and a thirst for adventure and exploration.

In my case, as a long time lover of Japan the where was easy to answer. The logistics also fell into place as a few years ago my wife and I bought a gorgeous ski lodge high in the Japanese Alps in a little town in the north of Nagano prefecture. We previously only spent the winters there but the idea that it would make a base to explore Japan outside of the winter period was really exciting. We already have an internet connection and a 14 room ski lodge to call the office plus other infrastructure like exploration vehicles, a Suzuki Every Kei Car (Every Box) and a Mitsubishi Delica (Beastie Box), a proper coffee machine and of course access to excellent beans. Single Origin from Sydney set up a roasting house in Tokyo a couple of years ago so quality beans are easy to order.

Set up in a Japanese guest house overlooking temples and the fishing town of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture

Set up for the Digital Nomad morning at a Japanese guest house overlooking temples and the fishing town of Onomichi in Hiroshima Prefecture

The next step was to pull up our roots - sell our car in Sydney, put all our furniture in storage, get phone diversions set up so our clients aren’t disadvantaged. I wanted to be able to receive and make calls from an Australian phone number. I switched my plan to SouthernPhone on their cheap $10 a month plan that allows for free call diversion to an Australian land line. Grabbed an Australian land line Skype number which then rings on my phone no matter where I am. I set Skype so I can call anywhere in the world and it shows on the receivers phone as my Australian mobile. Sorted. Next step... hop on a plane. Amazingly that went without a hitch even from a locked down Sydney. We arrived in Japan on a Saturday morning and headed off to our new base to do quarantine. It was a kind of great way to get set up and back into the working rhythm with pretty much nothing else to do for 14 days.

The office at Snowball Chalet has become the base camp for our Japan adventures

Having a home base even as a digital nomad is a big plus

Japan is 2 hours offset from the normal working hours of my team which is just perfect. I start at 7am (I’m an early riser anyway) and finish 2 hours earlier than normal. There is a lot of exploration to be done in our little corner of Japan so every afternoon feels like an adventure which normally ends with a delicious meal in a quaint teishoku, izakaya, ramen house or soba lounge. Of course there are plenty of opportunities for adventure further afield and with good planning, late checkouts and really fast 5G phone connections it is easy to get 5 hours of work in before checkout and the last hours of the working day in a cafe or hotel business lounge. Then back to exploration as we while away the afternoons driving to the next spot where we rinse and repeat.

I can see the digital nomad life being an amazing punctuation for people’s working lives. There are new opportunities to have a fascinating lifestyle, living in cities all over the world, travelling and exploring cultural and culinary wonders. Thanks to Lookahead’s flexibility and willingness to explore alternatives to the 9-5 lifestyle of old we have created an incredibly rewarding life with a perfect balance of work, play, adventure and exploration.

Ancient Japanese towns are amazing and the exploring there is such a joy

Travelling through Japan and finding little villages that have been frozen in time is such a joy