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David’s flexible working story

In this Q&A, we speak to David Djebara, Flexa's Lead Full Stack Developer and an avid traveler, to find out how remote working has changed his life.

22nd May 2024

Join us for an insightful Q&A session with Flexa's Lead Full Stack Developer, David. Discover how this avid traveller uses our Work From Anywhere (WFA) scheme to balance his passion for exploring the world with his professional responsibilities. Learn firsthand how flexible working can transform your career and lifestyle.

Name: David Djebara

Job role: Lead Full Stack Developer

What’s your flexible working set up? Remote-first

1. What motivated you to pursue a Work From Anywhere lifestyle?

In 2021 I was nearing the end of my university degree, and decided to go on a long walk through London to think about what I wanted to do with my 20s (and my life in general). From that I realised 2 things - I wanted to reconnect with my family abroad, and I wanted to eventually settle down somewhere that wasn’t the UK. So I made it my goal to find a way to spend more time in France, Algeria, and Prague to be with my family, whilst also spending time living in other countries to see which ones I’d want to potentially settle down in.

 2. How many countries have you travelled to as part of your WFA lifestyle?

I started working from anywhere in October 2023. So far I’ve worked from France, Malta, Germany, Belgium, Spain, Poland, Czech Republic, and Algeria.

3. Can you describe a typical day in your life while working remotely from a new location?

Most of the places I work abroad from are an hour ahead of the UK, which means I can take my time in starting my day and it is perfect for me since I’m definitely not a morning person!

I usually wake up and go straight for a walk around the area, ideally finding a park or any greenery where I can sit, meditate, and think of a few things I want to get done in the day. It also gives me a chance to explore the area in a new direction. Then I make breakfast, sometimes do yoga, and join my daily standup to catch-up with the team.

Depending on my mood and the work I’m doing I can be productive in my room, but most of the time I go to a coffee shop and work there until around 6/7PM.

I then spend my evening doing one of a variety of things: 

  • Exploring more of wherever I am on foot or on rollerskates (which I always carry with me).
  • Playing some kind of sport like badminton, padel, or anything else that allows me to be active. In the past, I’ve used the internet or stumbled on places.
  • Meeting up with people I know, people I am living with, or trying to meet new people.
  • Doing my groceries & cooking a batch of food for the next few days. I always batch cook so I have more time to do the things above when I’m visiting somewhere new.
I finish my day by working some more since I find I can focus better at night. I also always have my laptop with me - which means that if someone needs something or I suddenly realise how to solve the problem I’m working on, I can just get it out, connect to my phone’s hotspot, and sort out whatever needs sorting.

4. Can you explain how your company's Work From Anywhere scheme works?

Sure! We get 45 days a year that we can use to work outside the UK, which you can actually stretch out pretty well since weekends and bank holidays don’t count. I like to track how long I’ve spent in each country on Google Sheets, and always inform my manager and the founders whenever I plan on being abroad for longer than a week.

5. Are there any specific guidelines or restrictions you have to follow while working from different locations?

There’s a great blog we’ve written that talks about the laws around tax residency which you need to be aware of if you’re planning on working in another country. But to give a brief answer, yes there are.

There’s a limit to how many days I can spend in one country (which varies from country to country), and there is a minimum number of days I NEED to be inside the UK (183 days/6 months). If I break any of these limits, tax residency laws can start causing both me and my employer issues. As I mentioned above the best thing to do is to track it, which is what I do on Google Sheets and always check your policy with your employer

6. How do you stay productive and maintain focus while working from various locations?

There’s a few tips I have, so I’ll bullet point them:

  1. Learn how to settle into your new place (and into your day) - It’s really easy to get overwhelmed by a new environment when you arrive, so it’s important to have a plan of how you’ll settle into wherever you are as soon as possible. For me this means doing my groceries and cooking a big batch of pasta as soon as I arrive so I don’t have to worry about food. This also applies to settling into every day, like planning the night before what your morning is going to look like so you don’t get distracted or feel lost when you wake up.
  2. Find the environment that you can focus in - This can be in a busy coffee shop, your own room, or outside in a park, to each their own! It’s one you have to figure out by trial and error. 
  3. Work whilst in transit - There is no better way to get some deep work done than when you’re forced to sit in one place for a few hours. Working on trains, coaches, and even planes (writing this on a plane to London right now!) has been a game-changer for me.

7. What strategies do you use to balance work responsibilities with exploring new places?

If I’m somewhere for longer than a few days then I make sure to finish what I set out to get done on the day before I go out and explore, and if I know that I still have quite a bit to do when it’s coming to the end of the day, I will park things to a place I can pick up before bed. 

If I am somewhere only for a day or two, I will break my day up by working for a couple of hours in one place, walking around and exploring for up to an hour, and then finding somewhere to work again for a few hours. 

8. How do you handle distractions or changes in routine when travelling?

The key things are:

  • Have a morning routine and night time routine that you can do anywhere. For me, it’s not using my phone 30 minutes after waking up and before going to bed, and in the mornings going for a walk and planning my day.
  • Write 3 things you want to get done every day. Even if it’s just little things like getting lunch at a certain place or taking 10 minutes to read, it helps make you feel like you’ve accomplished something every day and keeps you motivated.

9. What kind of tech setup do you use to ensure you can work effectively from anywhere?

These are my essentials to make sure I can work smoothly when I’m away: 

  • Charged laptop (charge it every night, when in a coffee shop, anywhere you can charge make sure you do).
  • Charged portable charger (same as above).
  • Charged phone
  • Soundproof headphones for loud places and journeys.
  • A notebook, pen, and post-it notes.
  • A range of snacks from nuts to chocolates for when hunger strikes.
  • Sleeping mask
  • A small pocket notebook where I write down a checklist of what I want to do when I am in a new place and any random notes.

10. How do you manage internet connectivity and other technical challenges on the road?

My phone plan is a savior when it comes to this. Being able to hotspot from my phone from almost anywhere in Europe means I am always able to have some kind of internet. If I am somewhere outside Europe, I buy a local SIM card and use that instead.

There are times when the internet is choppy, like when on trains or buses, and during those times there’s not much you can control. What you can control though is planning so if you have any important meeting, make sure you’re going to be somewhere with good internet. 

11. What has been your favourite destination to work from so far, and why?

My favourite so far is probably Malta. I was only there for a week in February, but I was able to wake up, go for a run and a morning swim, and then work in a coffee shop by the sea whilst my dad was sending me videos of it raining daily in the UK really made me appreciate where I was.


12. Can you share any memorable experiences or challenges you've faced while working remotely?

A memorable experience for me was a personal one, which was working from Algeria whilst my younger siblings came and sat around me playing or drawing. They live there and I only get to see them a few times a year, so being able to work whilst just being around them felt nice.

13. How do you stay connected with your team and maintain strong working relationships while travelling?

Our Slack is very active, so being able to talk to my team there helps. We also have a daily standup where I can update my team on the goings on of wherever I am which is always nice.

14. What advice would you give to someone looking to start a Work From Anywhere lifestyle?

I would say understand what you want to get out of it, and why you’re doing it. A lot of people see others working and travelling and want to do the same just because it looks cool and trendy, but if you don’t have a real motivation for it (i.e. seeing family abroad, learning another language, etc.) then it’s going to be hard to overcome the downsides of it.

15. What are some common misconceptions or downsides about working and travelling that you'd like to clear up?

  • Organising travel, accommodation, and things to do takes time and effort. I’ve spent hours in a coffee shop trying to work out how to get from A to B to C, where to stay whilst I’m there, the best time to go so it doesn’t interrupt my work… there’s a load of little things that you never consider until you sit down to do it. 
  • It can get lonely, and you have to put yourself out there to meet people to overcome that. If you’re somewhere where you don’t know anyone or speak the language, you need to overcome the fear of talking to strangers or trying to get the most out of small interactions and just do it. Speaking to people sitting next to you, going up to a group playing a sport or having a drink, and asking to join despite potentially getting rejected is an important skill to learn.
  • At the end of the day, you have a job to prioritise. There are times when I have a lot of work to do, and it means I don’t get to go visit a place I wanted to that day or meetup with some people I met. If you work for an employer who allows you to work from anywhere, then you need to be able to step up and show you can give back with your output.

16. Are there any must-have tools or resources you recommend for remote workers?

The main tool I learned to use is Facebook groups (or any other online group) for events happening wherever you are. There were times when I was going to bed and I heard fireworks and people celebrating, only to find out the next day that there was a big event on the night before that was advertised in these groups. Definitely use that to fill up your time somewhere.

Share your flexible working story with us! 

We want to hear how flexible working has transformed your life. Tell us about the challenges you've overcome, the benefits you've enjoyed, and the impact it has had on your daily routine. Your insights can inspire others on their journey towards a more flexible and fulfilling work life. If you're interested, you can answer our quick survey here, and we'll get back to you to learn more about your experience.