Digital Nomad as a Lifestyle is a series where we interview other companies with a “remote first” mindset. We want to find out how different companies are tackling the challenges of working remote, and what type of benefits they gain for sacrificing the traditional 9-5 office lifestyle.
This week we talked with Enelin Paas from Safety Wing: a Norwegian company that wants to bring Norwegian-class insurance benefits to digital nomads around the world!
1. Can you please describe Safety Wing?
One of the biggest problems that freelancers report is the lack of security and income stability that people typically get through employers and government agencies. Safety Wing’s goal is to build a global safety net for online-based freelancers to feel secure and protected; the same kind of protection that position-based, contracted employees get to enjoy.
Our first product is Digital Nomad Insurance. It’s an international medical insurance plan tailored specifically for the pioneers of the new world -- the digital nomads. As we progress and grow, we will continue weaving a global safety net for anyone working via the internet. This means adding income stabilization to solve the problem of a freelancer’s variable income. It means a complete health care product, pensions, disability care, and everything in between!
In short we want to offer all of this as a single membership - learning from the best safety net, the Norwegian safety net - and make it available on the internet.
2. How did the company get started?
The co-founders Sondre, Hans, and Sarah are from Norway, a country which provides one of the best and strongest safety nets in the world for their residents. But even in Norway, freelancers frequently fall through the cracks and cannot access the support systems which are typically only designed for full-time employees. These are benefits like unemployment protection, sick leave, and pensions.
The three of them got together and decided that it was time to change that, aiming to make a full safety net available for freelancers, entrepreneurs, and digital nomads.
3. Why is it important to offer insurance specifically tailored to Digital Nomads?
We are offering something that digital nomads specifically need -- an insurance plan that works like a subscription. It’s like a Spotify membership that you can start and stop at any time... but with insurance! And because we nomads are mobile and not limited to a geographical location, our insurance plans offer worldwide coverage. One pretty special thing about SafetyWing is that we extend our coverage to the nomad’s home country as well.
SafetyWing can be bought while already traveling, and there is no cap on the duration of travel. One super important thing about SafetyWing is the price. We are 1/3rd the price compared to the biggest competitor for similar coverage. Our plans start at only $37 for 4 weeks which gives travel and medical coverage worldwide.
4. Can you tell us more about the community you are building for your customers?
We are building an online and offline community for our users, with bases in cities around the world. We aim to develop these strong social bonds by hosting events and introducing our members to each other. Ultimately, we want to create the experience of always having your village nearby, wherever you are in the world.
5. You guys are really embracing the digital nomad culture in the company. How is it to work for SafetyWing?
Yes, we are fully remote digital nomads ourselves. We are a team of 7 (and growing) currently working hard from San Francisco, New York, Oslo, Prague, Helsinki, Bali, and on the road in various locations. While all of us are far away from each other, we make it work by being strongly connected online. It helps that all of the team members are aligned with the company goals and the overall mission. We are very much like a startup, so everyone is hard-working, passionate, self-driven, and very proactive. I love all the excitement around it!
6. Where are you currently living and why did you choose that location?
I’m currently in Bali, and have been here since September. I’ll spend the holidays back home in Estonia, and after that I’ll be heading to Brazil, and then Mexico until summertime.
For me, I need to have a great internet connection, good infrastructure, seaside, sun, fun people, good food, and nature. I am in love with the nature here in Bali! It also has a lot of digital nomads so it’s easy to meet and mingle with fellow remote workers. If you want to see more about Bali, check out our NomadCities video: http://bit.ly/NomadCitiesBali
My personal favorite place is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil where I go every year for Carnival and then stay for 3 months or so. It’s simply the most fun and vibrant place on earth. I absolutely love it! It has everything that Bali has plus more fun and lots of easy going people, as well as a great music and dance culture.
7. How has being a digital nomad impacted your life?
I think I’m really open-minded. I have big dreams and high goals, and I think that everything can be achieved, even if a little outside of the box. I feel free from others’ opinions, fears, and general dogmas. I’m happy overall, and most of the time, a bit crazy.
I love the work-life balance that working remote offers. I think this lifestyle is the healthiest lifestyle possible. If I feel tired, then I can sleep more. If I’m getting sick, then I can work from my bed or maybe even take a day off. Also, some days I may feel very inspired at night and “go crazy” until 2am, and other days I’ll be offline by 6pm. It’s a good feeling that everything can be done and planned out not because of the 9-5 work slot but by considering my current mood, inspiration, and motivation. It helps being treated like a human and not a working robot.
I think in the end, this kind of lifestyle is also more useful for the companies and clients that we work with because the work gets done more productively, and it’s done with positive feelings.
8. How do you organize your workday? Where do you work from?
I usually go to sleep around midnight and wake up every day at 8. Then, I’ll have a slow morning coffee without any big communication. I’m not really a morning person! After the caffeine kicks in, I’ll get some work done. Then, around midday I’ll go to a cafe. It’s nice having a break while driving around beautiful Bali to get some lunch. I’ll continue working in a coffee shop. Later, when things are done and I feel accomplished, I will meet up with friends for the sunset and dinner, or I’ll go to do some light sports like a dance class. On the weekends, I don’t work. That’s when I get to take time to really explore my area by going on roadtrips, diving around, and hiking.
9. What is your digital nomad hack?
I travel every 3 months. I rent a house or apartment for 3 months and keep all of my things there. This allows me time to have a “home” and settle down. This is also a good amount of time for me to get work done while giving me enough free time to actually get to know the new country and culture I’m in. I get to make lifelong friends and build some great memories. When I travel more often than this, I think it’s hard to focus on work, but I also can’t stay for too much longer because there are too many amazing places on earth still to discover. :)
I’m personally among those people who travel with a suitcase and not with a backpack. I value the comfort of having those little things that are important to me, like my huge coffee cup I use to start every day!
Another hack that I like is calling my family every week at the same time. This way nobody is worried and we keep in touch all the time. If I can’t call, then I’ll send a text message that says everything is OK and I’ll call again next week. For this, I have a Skype subscription where I can make unlimited calls to landlines for around 15 EUR monthly. My grandmother absolutely loves it.
10. What is your daily collaboration toolkit?
Right now I use a combination of appear.in, Google Drive, Gmail, Skype, Sococo, and Slack to collaborate with my team.
11. What are the biggest challenges of working fully remote?
The biggest challenge, which is not that big actually, is working around different time zones. Our weekly SafetyWing team meeting is once per week, and that happens for me from midnight until 1am. But I’m mostly OK with this, and it will be less of a problem when I move to a better timezone. :)
Learn more about our partner Safety Wing’s insurance product for digital nomads like Enelin at SafetyWing.com