You are currently viewing Mary Elizabeth Elkordy’s advice for digital nomads

Mary Elizabeth Elkordy’s advice for digital nomads

Like so many Americans, at the start of the pandemic, I was laid off. I was working at a PR firm and when I lost my job, my world was turned upside down.

Fortunately, I had already been doing freelance PR work for a few years. So I quickly changed direction and worked to turn my side business into my full-time job.

So far, I’ve lived in Washington, DC, and traveled a lot for work. I always wanted to be a digital nomad, but I just didn’t have enough time or money to make it happen.

While I initially viewed the loss of my job as a setback, I realized that this layoff was an opportunity for me to finally take the step of digital nomad. I decided to keep my lease and worked in places as varied as New York, Paris and Dubai.

At the start of 2020, the company was just me. I managed projects for several clients, sometimes spending sleepless nights and working until morning.

After a few months of activity, I was able to hire my first employees. Today, we have a team of 24 people, with 40-50 clients, and staff specializing in public relations, social media marketing and digital marketing. Our company is primarily based in DC and New York, but we have employees based across the country, as well as internationally.

Here are the biggest lessons I learned from turning my side business into a fully remote global business.

“Creating a Welcoming Online Environment” for Remote Employees

One of the biggest challenges of starting any new business is developing a company culture, especially if you’re all in different places. A big priority for me is finding a way to continue to inspire and connect with my colleagues even if I can’t physically get to their desk.

That’s why it’s been so important to structure the business and create a welcoming online environment while letting my employees know that my door is always open.

Since we’re fully remote, we’re trying not to get stuck and rely too heavily on just text messaging. I think it’s important to diversify our ways of communicating with each other through phone or video calls as well, so you don’t forget that you’re talking to a real person behind a screen.

Video by Tasia Jensen

When I’m in cities where there is an Elkordy Global Strategies employee, I plan meetings, or even something as simple as going to lunch or going to see a movie.

I experimented with various activities, but something that really stuck with our company was the weekly professional development classes. We run sessions on topics like social media marketing, leadership and management. We also invite guest speakers from other parts of the media industry to join our weekly business calls.

I want to offer my employees every opportunity to improve their skills, build their portfolios and establish engaging and rewarding connections.

Find the productivity strategies that work best for you

I’ve been thrilled with the freedom remote work can provide. But being able to work from anywhere means that sometimes I’m always on time. It can be demanding and it took time to get used to.

I have found strategies that help me stay engaged and productive.

For me, I work best at different times of the day. Sometimes I’m more productive at night, so if I need to take a little break and come back to work later, I will. To avoid burnout, I try things like going for a walk, picking up the phone to call someone, or changing locations – working outside, going to a coffee shop, sitting in a park.

Video by Helen Zhao

I have found that being around other people helps to feel less isolated in a work from home environment. That’s why I love the digital nomad life. If my reality is that I never have a real day off, I might as well enjoy going somewhere new and meeting new people who have totally different experiences than mine.

I enjoy taking advantage of global conference opportunities as I can then travel and establish new business relationships anywhere in the world.

Prepare for both the joy and the stress of the unexpected

Over the past few years I have been able to work from New York, Egypt, Florida, Paris, California and Dubai. I maintain my lease in the United States for my return, and this year my travels will take me back to Spain, Sweden and Egypt.

One of the biggest travel challenges during the pandemic was the ever-changing security requirements. Especially if you’re traveling to a country where you don’t speak the main language, it was a bit difficult to figure out where to get tested and then the added stress of waiting for the results in time to get home.

Understanding each country’s rules on testing, costs, masking, etc. added some anxiety to my travels, but I did my best to research and prepare in advance. But having the Pyramids or the Eiffel Tower as the backdrop to my workday, even with the lingering levels of uncertainty, was hard to beat.

Video by Helen Zhao

When I’m abroad, I’ve found that I’ve had to learn to structure my day around different time zones. My lunch break could become my dinner break. If I want to explore a museum or other landmark, I do it before the start of the work day, then I plan where I will work with Wifi and Internet connection.

If I have to go somewhere for the day, I’ll figure out the traffic flow of the city, so I can get there in enough time and move to a quiet place so I don’t take a customer call from the back of my car. a taxi or a bus, for example. Sure, things happen, but advanced preparation means I have more time to enjoy the benefits of working and traveling abroad.

Remember that structure can be flexible

Many traditional offices require their employees to live a certain distance from their office, but this limits your talent pool of potential employees. I have talented, hardworking and highly skilled employees who work across the country and the world, with team members based in Spain, Amsterdam, Dubai, Florida, Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York, to name a few.

As rewarding as that is, it means that depending on where I am and the time zones my colleagues and clients work in, for example, my working day can start at 3 or 4 p.m. and end at midnight.

Despite these inherent challenges, we were able to create a consistent structure for everyone.

Video by Mariam Abdallah

Our teams meet every Friday at an agreed time. I’ve found this gives everyone a nice chance to hook up and then send off on the weekends.

And of course, there is always flexibility. While the majority of the team is based in the United States, their colleagues in Europe are able to establish the settings on the clock that work best for them.

I sincerely believe that with companies changing direction and remote working becoming more and more the norm, with drive, excitement and preparation, anyone can live a lifestyle digital nomad. Becoming a digital nomad has allowed me to live the adventurous life I’ve always dreamed of.

Mary Elizabeth Elkordy is President and Founder of Elkordy Global Strategies, a full-service public relations firm launched during the pandemic that works with a range of clients from non-profit organizations to Fortune 500 companies. Mary began her career at Capitol Hill while working for Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign in 2008, before becoming production manager at WABC-AM in New York. Since 2016, Mary has produced and co-hosted DL Hughley’s podcast, The Hughley Truth. Mary is a TEDx speaker and, at 24, became the youngest recipient of City and State Magazine’s “40 Under 40” honor in New York State.

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