Today, we present Matthias E. Zeitler, founder of Coworking Bansko. Read the interview to learn more about the free spirit of digital nomadism and his predictions on the future of work. Discover the story of Matthias E Zeitler and mind-opening suggestions for digital nomads.
1- Please introduce yourself and tell us a little bit about Coworking Bansko.
A few years ago I realized that I can work from anywhere, so after running a few coworking popup retreats around the Mediterranean I met my co-founder Uwe and we decided to open a permanent coworking space for digital nomads in a rural mountain resort in Bulgaria. Initially, we thought this is mostly a way to get some of our friends to visit us, but over the last 4 years Coworking Bansko has grown to one of the biggest nomad hubs in Europe with around 100 nomadic members on average. Most of our members stay about 3 months before they start traveling again, but we have also converted around 40 members into digital residents that made Bansko their base: bought apartments, incorporated companies, moved their residence, found their soulmate, and stay at least half of their time here.
2- Why did you choose to be an advocate for remote work? Did a memorable incident steer your decision, and would you like to tell Ruulers about it?
I have always been very mobile. Even though I am original from Germany, but I studied in Austria and then built my career at tech companies in Switzerland, Russia, the US, and the UK. Plus I always worked in distributed, multinational teams with outsourced suppliers in various offshore locations. But after I started my own business it took me a while to realize that I do not need to work in an office or have my team in the same location. My personal eureka moment was when during my first coworking popup retreat perpetual travelers showed up that just had a backpack and a computer. This made me realize that I can really work and live anywhere.Many people always ask me: How can I become a digital nomad and travel the world? I think it is all about just taking the first step in buying a ticket and then just doing it. This is especially easy for people that already work from home already.
3- As remote working is becoming more common among companies, how do you think it will impact the future of work? What are your expectations or predictions on remote work?
People realize now that for a lot of business functions it is not required to share an office. Companies are maturing their management processes to make it easier to work in distributed and remote teams. And for many roles not having to be in an office significantly improves productivity.But companies also realize that for other roles, being in the same location makes a lot of sense. And remote employees also find out that working from home every day has its own challenges and disadvantages. So I think we will see a lot of experiments and learnings before we really know what the future workplace will look like.
4- What do digital nomads should look for when choosing a coworking place?
Most coworking places do not specifically cater to digital nomads. Generally it seems that coworking spaces outside of big cities are building stronger digital nomad communities. While coworking spaces in cities often make it easier to find local customers. It really depends on what people are looking for - and often people look for different things at different times. What I noticed is that the members of our community often travel to and from the same coworking spaces around the world, e.g. Hubud/Dojo in Bali, Hub Hoi An in Vietnam, Sun&Co in Javea, Sundesk in Taghazout. What’s common is that there are mostly nomads at those locations which makes it easier to make connections and that there are also a lot of tourist/sports activities available that people can enjoy together. Word of mouth is very strong in the nomad community and many people just ask their friends where to go, so often they end up at the same places. And some members also came from curated nomad experiences like Remote Year, Hacker Paradise, and Wifi Tribe.
5- Are there any tools you find indispensable as you work remotely? Could you name some?
Oh well, there are so many tools. I really like Newsfeed Eradicator and uBlock Origin to keep the distraction at a minimum. Also highly recommended LastPass and Carbonite which makes it easy to manage my passwords and backup my computer automatically. Also Curve, Transferwise, and Safetywing is very useful when travelling.