Canada: Karen Johnston: Digital Nomad – Working Remotely While Travelling The World

Sipping mint tea at a market in Morocco; strolling along the cobbled streets of Old Town in Prague; exploring the majestic castles in Spain; venturing through ancient temple ruins in Peru – all activities on Karen Johnston's bucket list. But with a rewarding full-time career as an Audit and Assurance Manager at Fuller Landau, time was an obvious restriction on Karen's wanderlust.

Until she heard about the Remote Year Program.

Remote Year is the brain child of an avid traveller from Chicago who wanted to travel the world, but didn't want to give up his career. It's an organization that brings together a community of 75 people from across the globe to spend a year working remotely, while travelling and exploring cities around the world. Participants must be employed, and able to work remotely for one full year. All travel between destinations, accommodations, workspaces with high-speed internet connectivity, and a variety of activities and community events are organized by Remote Year.

With over 25,000 applications for the first 75 spots in Remote Year's inaugural launch on June 1, 2015, it's a once-in-a-lifetime experience for anyone who is accepted, and Fuller Landau is excited to support Karen as she realizes her dream of travelling the world.

Karen first joined Fuller Landau as a co-op student in 2008. After graduating on the President's List with an Honours Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting from the University of Ontario Technology Institute in 2009, she joined Fuller Landau full-time, in the audit and assurance practice. She progressed quickly as an invaluable member of the team, and was promoted to Manager in 2013.

"I've always had the travel bug, and when I saw an ad for Remote Year on Facebook, it really piqued my interest," explains Karen. "I love my job and I've found the right fit with Fuller Landau. But I didn't want to get my hopes up, as my career in accounting wouldn't necessarily be considered a fit for a remote role."

Karen researched the program and discussed it informally with a few partners and the Director of HR at Fuller Landau to gage their reaction. "They were far more receptive than I expected," she recalls. "I realized that this might actually be a possibility."

After submitting an application, responding to inquiries from Remote Year for additional information, and participating in a Skype interview with the Director of Admissions, who was based in Buenos Aires, Karen received a "soft acceptance" into the program. Now all she had to do was get buy-in from the partners.

Karen wrote a detailed business plan outlining the logistics of how she would transition into a fully-remote role for the year. She met individually with each partner at Fuller Landau to explain the program and address any concerns regarding client service, team management, and work deliverables.

"It's true what they say about happy employees being more productive," explains Laura Couvrette, Karen's mentor and a Partner at Fuller Landau. "Karen is an incredible asset to our team and we were keen to support her with this initiative. But we needed to put a plan in place to make sure that the clients Karen manages wouldn't be negatively impacted by her working remotely."

Ultimately, Karen's request to join the Remote Year program was approved, wholeheartedly, by the partners at Fuller Landau, and she has since met with her clients and direct reports to map out the logistics for the year ahead. The response has been overwhelmingly positive. "Fuller Landau is already a paperless office, so all client files are accessible in a secure portal, online," explains Karen. "Most of my year will be spent in Europe and South America, so the time difference is not as big as it would be in South East Asia. I'll be accessible by phone and email, and a number of my clients have also expressed an interest in meeting virtually, via Skype."

With a launch date of August 1st, Karen's Remote Year cohort has been given the name "Ikigai," a Japanese concept meaning "a reason for being." "It's the perfect description of this adventure," says Karen. "I'm so grateful to the team at Fuller Landau for supporting me, and making this possible. It's going to be a great year!"

Join us on LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter as we follow Karen around the world for her 12-month Remote Year adventure. Learn more about Remote Year, and check out the itinerary for Karen's Ikigai cohort, below. And on behalf of the entire team at Fuller Landau, we wish Karen a safe and productive year filled with adventure and new experiences!

  • August – Lisbon, Portugal
  • September – Rabat, Morocco
  • October – Sophia, Bulgaria
  • November – Split, Croatia
  • December – Prague, Czech Republic
  • January – Valencia, Spain
  • February – Mexico City, Mexico
  • March – Bogota, Columbia
  • April – Medellin, Columbia
  • May – Lima, Peru
  • June – Cordoba, Argentina
  • July – Buenos Aires, Argentina

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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