Teleworking in the sun? Many dream of it, some realize it. In Bali, many French expatriates combine freelance activities (community manager, web developer, graphic designer…) that can be carried out remotely as long as WiFi is running. Some are there as employees authorized for a period of time to telework abroad. But how is it possible to work in a postcard? Stories of French people relocated to the Indonesian island.
Bali, why did it become “the place to work”?
In recent years, Bali has risen very high in the rankings of the best destinations for digital nomads, those workers who travel with computers under their arms. The island offers many advantages: reasonable cost of living, beaches, friendly population, good Internet connection, many WiFi cafés, many coworking areas, proximity to the rest of Asia to continue its journey. Vietnam, Thailand and Mexico are also among the popular destinations.
Negotiate your departure well
Julie, 38, 10 of whom are documentalists in an advertising agency, has been living in Bali since June 2018. “I first went to Mauritius for a year in 2011 with my husband.” At the time, teleworking was not very widespread in his company. But her team leader supports her: "She negotiated with HR with three arguments: she didn’t want to lose me, the experience was limited in time and Mauritius’ time difference allowed me to deliver my morning review two hours ahead of France. After an initial refusal “to avoid setting a precedent”, Julie was given the green light and a one-year secondment contract. This is enough to prove the viability of the model to his employer. A few years later, here she is in Bali, in the small town of Canggu. A choice oriented by the low cost of living, the climate and, always, this discrepancy which makes working on deferred schedules more pleasant than a night shift in Paris!
But be careful, however, long-distance and long-distance teleworking requires organisation and rigour on the part of outsourced employees. First, find an office, rather than work from home. Every morning, Julie heads to the WiFi café near her home, where her usual latte arrives without her having to order it anymore, or to a shared office in the city centre, frequented by digital nomads, opposite the Dojo, Canggu’s largest coworking space. She meets Charles-Louis Allizard, a 34-year-old Norman who has been living in Bali for two years.
Arriving as an independent, he was recruited at the beginning of the year as product manager by Fizzer, a French postcard company. His teleworker profile seduced the company, whose employees are spread over Normandy, Quebec City, Krakow and Barcelona. In Bali, Charles-Louis lives an ultra-repetitive routine: “Get up 5:15, surf, coffee and work from 7:00.” It is then midnight in France. “I’m not disturbed by colleagues! I stay focused until 4pm (11am in France). And I’m taking the luxury of a nap!” At the end of the afternoon, it’s telephone appointments and videoconferencing meetings. “I produce in the morning and manage in the afternoon,” says Charles-Louis, who stops around 6pm. In the evening, sunset on the beach with a straw planted in a coconut.
Social media manager at Flexjob, Clément Ract, 23, offered to do his job… in Bali, for six months. “The company has a vision in which work is not associated with a particular place. It wasn’t difficult to convince them!” Cautious, however, Clément avoids taunting his twelve colleagues in Lyon by posting photos of fine sand and sunsets… He even sometimes has moments of solitude and the impression of missing out on things in office life! “Far away like that, we lose all the informal discussions. So we set up regular telephone points so that I would be aware of everything.”
Use collaborative tools
To stay connected to the team, a wide range of tools is available to teleworkers, from the most classic such as Google Drive or Dropbox for sharing files online, to the most advanced such as Trello for organizing tasks and monitoring projects. Slack, WhatsApp or Messenger are often added for online conversations. For Charles-Louis, the challenge is to maintain relationships in this profusion of tools. “I use the QuickTime function a lot, which allows me to film my screen while commenting on what I do. It’s much more efficient, fast and humane than an e-mail to deliver feedback on a quote or a graphic design.”
Stay professional on a daily basis
Far from the office, propelled on another spindle, the employee organizes himself independently. Sophie, a 34-year veteran accountant who has been teleworking on the Indonesian island since January, has always been seen as a free spirit in her practice. For her, working at home in France or Asia doesn’t change anything. “My colleagues don’t see the difference. Even my boss doesn’t know where I am, although he suspects it!” In return, she keeps herself available on French schedules, does not go out in the evenings during the week and schedules her e-mails so that they leave at times that do not arouse suspicion. For Clément Ract, who produces content and manages customers, no problem “as long as the work is done. Flexjob is in a logic of empowerment and autonomy.”
Balance the pro and the character
Clément shares a villa in Kerobokan with twelve other digital nomads in search of the same thing as him: working in good conditions, living an exceptional experience. “I left thinking it would be easy, but in fact you have to manage many parameters that don’t exist when you work in the office,” says the nomad. Sophie often has to repeat it to her friends in France: “We work for real, even if there is a swimming pool and the sea nearby. In the end, you can only visit Bali on weekends.” All the little pleasures of everyday life that Charles-Louis Allizard describes remain: "Surfing, meditating, going to the spa, living in shorts… Bali provides a great creative energy, which you have to learn to channel to stay well in your job. He found his rhythm: three months of teleworking in Bali, one month in France.