All posts by Paul Carollo

Paul Carollo is a Product Strategist focused on collaboration and remote working software solutions. A veteran of the telecommunications industry, Paul is currently on sabbatical, living and working from the road with his wife Jesse. He's using this time to adventure around the US and Canada and seriously test the limits of remote working capabilities. Paul is an avid outdoorsmen with a serious passion for technology. You can follow his adventures via this blog or on Instagram @gertygoes.

Blog Series: The Future of Work Experiment, Final Episode

FOW EP 7.2Sadly the experiment has come to a close and we’re slowly settling back into a more stationary life in Michigan. We certainly miss life on the road, but we’re learning to appreciate our routines and the ability to grow roots in our new home. It’s hard to describe what it feels like to know that this great adventure has come and gone, but it’s certainly a feeling of extreme gratitude at having the opportunity at all.

 

Hopefully we’ve been able to show people in some small way that anyone can pick up and travel if they really want to. There is so much beauty and adventure around this country, continent, and world – all you have to do is go out and see it for yourself. We’ve found leaving the comfort of our predictable lives has been extremely challenging at times, but with that challenge has come the reward of more free time to truly experience the world.

 

We weren’t looking for anything specific in our travels evidenced by the fact that we literally had no plan. Waking up each morning to a new day where anything is possible was the best and most uncomfortable part of our travels. It’s so easy to grow accustomed to lives where we are scheduled down to the minute. While that can be great, it makes it so easy to forget what it’s like to just wing it and take whatever comes with no expectations.

 

FOW EP 7.1

Of course one of the main goals of the trip, and the reason for this blog series, was to push the limits of the Future of Work. We were equipped with a solar powered 1993 VW Eurovan, an iPad with a Verizon data plan, our iPhone 6’s on a Sprint cellular plan, and a MacBook Air just in case the mobile devices alone weren’t cutting it. Through a bevy of mobile apps, access to ReadyTalk’s awesome products and mostly reliable cellular/ Wi-Fi connectivity, we were almost always in contact and able to work from wherever we were. Interestingly, I think we only broke the MacBook out a few times on the whole trip proving that mobile is so much more than just enough for the remote worker. At this point, working from the road is only limited by your personal attention span. A scary thought for this brave new connected world, but the possibilities for flexibility as an employee are immense and exciting.

 

While this chapter of our vagabonding journey is over for now – we are hopeful for many more miles in our moody old van in the years to come. We learned a whole lot about living life on the road and slowing down a little bit to enjoy what’s right in front of us. Hopefully you’ve enjoyed following along and learned that the Future of Work isn’t all that futuristic anymore… it’s happening right now.

FOW EP 7.4FOW EP 7.5

We are forever thankful to the great folks at ReadyTalk for supporting this adventure. Their willingness to think beyond traditional work paradigms has kept them innovative and a best company to work for many years in a row. Goodbye for now and thanks for following along!

Blog Series: The Future of Work Experiment, Episode 6

Everything they say about New Zealand is true. The people are insanely friendly, the terrain is wild and diverse, and there are more sheep than humans. We had an incredible time touring the South Island and soaking up the sites and culture of that far flung land. Curiously we met more people from abroad who traveled to New Zealand and couldn’t bear to leave… I now see why that would be. Kiwi’s definitely live life on their own schedule – never in a rush and do things with a distinct New Zealand flair.

 

We arrived in Christchurch approximately 30 hours after taking off from Detroit, MI. Wasting no time, we immediately hopped in our rental car and braved the roads, careful to keep left. We chose to do the trip on the cheap and stayed mostly in Hostels during our roadtrip. Connectivity wasn’t terribly hard to come by – cafes, hostels, and even tour buses are now equipped with WiFi. Having said that – working definitely isn’t the first thing on people’s minds as they tramp around this remarkable land. Even with the popularity the Lord of the Rings movies brought – we found it to be refreshingly un-touristy. National Parks were nearly empty and development is next to none. It was certainly hard to focus with the non-stop access adrenaline filled activities like mountain biking, bungee jumping, helicopter rides, jet boat tours, and sky diving.

 

If you find yourself in New Zealand and need to stay plugged in I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised at how easy it will be to fit that into your itinerary. Dozens of companies will rent you a reliable camper van with access to electricity and even portable WiFi in some cases. Interestingly, traveling by campervan is definitely the most popular way to get around for New Zealanders and visitors alike. WiFi is free in just about every major town. Spark, a major telecommunications provider, offers up to 1 gig of free wifi a day per user. Your biggest issue will be taking your eyes off the landscape long enough to stare at a computer screen. Taking this experiment overseas has been rewarding and proved that working from the road can truly be done from wherever you find yourself. All it takes is a desire, a little technology, and a reasonably reliable connection to the internet.

NZ1

Where is the most unusual place you’ve worked remotely?

Blog Series: The Future of Work Experiment, Episode 5

We’ve spent the better part of this past month getting settled in our almost home of Michigan. It’s been great to catch up with family and old friends, while preparing to grow some roots in our old stomping grounds. Being home has been a great reminder of the reason we started this adventure in the first place. However, we haven’t let ourselves get too settled. We are embarking on an international tour testing the limits of the future of work, and to see some of the most beautiful corners of our planet.

Ep5

We’ve departed Detroit, and face nearly 30 hours of travel before our final destination of Christchurch, New Zealand, where we’ll be embarking on a three week whirlwind tour of the South Island. Our accommodations include a tiny rental car, several hostels, and some backpacking here and there (Gerty chose to stay home for this one). New Zealand, though far flung, isn’t exactly a disconnected land. We expect some form of connectivity in most places, but we have an emergency satellite messenger just in case anything goes awry in the backcountry. It will certainly be interesting to experience the pace of life in New Zealand, as their reputation is one of an extremely friendly, laid-back people who are crazy about adventure.

The future of work truly knows no international boundaries. I expect the most disruptive part to be the time change, though with high quality asynchronous collaboration applications like UbiMeet it really won’t matter. I plan to make my ReadyTalk cohorts as jealous as possible by picking an insane fiord, glacier, or epic mountain as the backdrop scenery for my FoxDen check-in. So here’s to smooth skies and abundant adventure on the other side of the world. Follow along for some Peter Jackson’esque scenery and hopefully a Kiwi or two.

 

Blog Series: The Future of Work Experiment, Episode 4

Against all odds we’ve made it to our final destination. After 3 months on the road, about 10,336 miles, 2 breakdowns, and 8 national parks we’re back in Michigan. We’ve fielded a lot of the same questions now that we’re home. Examples include: “Where was your favorite spot?” or “What was the hardest part?” and our personal favorite “Now what are you going to do?” While we’ve gotten good at answering all these questions and more, it’s easier to just boil down the top 10 things we learned from the trip:

1. Living out of a van, while awesome and adventurous, does get old.
2. We were a lot less smelly than we thought we’d be.
3. You never have as much time as you think – commit to specific locations instead of trying to see them all.
4. It’s nearly impossible to disconnect these days, no matter where you are.
5. Old vans are fun, but expect their reliability (or unreliability) to change your plans regularly.
6. Don’t have any expectations and you’ll never be disappointed.
7. You can travel without making any plans ahead of time and still do almost all of the things you want to do.
8. There is beauty and adventure on every corner of this world – just go out and see it.
9. With a little bit of modern technology you can do almost all of the work you’d normally do from an office.
10. Mobile apps have made traveling so much easier.

ep4 (1)

Digging into that last point a little bit – our lives would have been way harder without apps like Airbnb, Uber, Hipcamp, Lyft, Priceline, Hipmunk, and Google Maps. When you breakdown in the middle of nowhere and you know it’s going to be a while before you are on the road again, it’s so comforting to know you have the technology at your fingertips to plan your next moves in a matter of minutes. Case in point – our van broke down in the middle of the mountains of northern California. Within minutes, we had a tow truck on the way, a shop identified with great reviews, a rental car booked, and a last minute airbnb rental reserved near our location. I can only imagine what this would have been like even a few short years ago before all of these on-demand travel technologies were in your pocket.

EP4 (2)

Our original goal with this trip was to see as much of North America as we could while maintaining a connection to the working world. I would say that mission has been met and then some. It hasn’t always been easy working from the road but with a little extra effort, and apps like FoxDen and Ubimeet, you can contribute in a meaningful manner to any office job. If you’re considering an extended road trip and travel trip anywhere, learn from the many, many people out there who do this full-time but more than anything – just try it, you have very little to lose.

EP4 (3)

Our North American travels and van dwelling may be over, but there is more travel to come. Stay tuned for more tales from the future of work. In the meantime – what are some of your favorite apps and technologies that make your mobile life easier every day?

Blog Series: The Future of Work Experiment, Episode 3

Another month complete, and thousands of miles and countless sights seen. We’ve been meandering our way through Canada, and down the west coast for the past month and still can’t believe all the beauty this region has to offer. We’ve been in the shadow of some of the biggest mountains in the country, weathered some Pacific Northwest storms, and are continually in awe of the sheer size of the Pacific. We’re currently stuck in Redding, CA as the van undergoes some repairs, but hope to be back on the move soon. Sitting in one place for too long is starting to feel weird.

Staying connected this past month has proved much easier. Hugging the coast puts you closer to some highly populated cities, so service has rarely gone out (minus the Redwoods, but who wants service there anyway). This constant connection has enabled me to follow some like minded folks who are living and working from the road. As it turns out there is quite a movement of people who are trying to make it work from the road. Through a combination of freelance and flexible work schedules, it’s becoming a very real option for professionals. Some of my new favorite road working professionals are a journalist named Brent, and Emily and Corey who have lived and worked out of their Vanagon the past 3 years. Finding people that are making it work, not just as an experiment but as a way of life, is truly inspiring.

Thankfully, this past month ReadyTalk gave me early access to their killer new mobile first collaboration platform, Foxden. I’ve been using it for the past few weeks, and it has been amazingly easy to use from the road. The design is very sleek, a super simple sign-up process, and instant access for face to face interaction. Expect a lot more to come on this innovative new approach to remote and mobile working.

This is now the first app I open when I’m trying to have a quick conversation.

FoxDen – Simple sign-up process, easy to use collaboration platform for video conferencing and quick conversations. A must for working on the road.

The Other Top 5 Apps I Could Not Live Without:

0922 FOW Blog, Ep.3-1. Mint – Rolls all of our financials into one location, and helps us stay on budget from the road.

2. The Google Drive suite – Fast and easy document collaboration. Could not live without this.

3. Google Maps – Works for everything from turn-by-turn directions, making sure you’re hiking in the right direction, to coaching the tow truck on where to pick you up. Absolutely essential.

4. Podcasts – Even driving the west coast can get boring at times. I am a certified podcast addict and have at least 15-20 I follow. This app is critical to my wakefulness when behind the wheel for a long haul.

5. Dropbox – Just simple storage and sharing. Every mobile worker needs a service they can count on to get their work to the right people fast and securely.

Cross your fingers that we’re back on the road breakdown free from here on out. The best part of a breakdown and getting stuck in one place is having time to reflect on all the amazing experiences and people we’ve met along the way.