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Announcing Byte: a design subscription assisted by AI

Remote working through holidays

What's it really like taking a holiday in a remote-first company?

What's it really like taking a holiday in a remote-first company?

Giustino Borzacchiello
Giustino BorzacchielloJul 18, 2023

Welcome back to another remote working interview!

As the holiday season arrives, we wanted to ask the team about holidays in a remote-first company. Are there challenges that are unique to a remote working environment or is it pretty similar to taking holidays in an office job?

Today we’re joined by four members of our design team: Yasmine and Alessio, who joined the company this year, and seasoned “Donuts” Marco and Vincenzo. Thanks for joining us!


Giustino: Let’s start with a common misconception! Many people imagine remote working from a beach or an exotic corner of the world. Is remote working really like that? Does life start to feel like a constant holiday?

Marco: I think there are many different ways in which you can benefit from remote working. I try to work from anywhere but I can assure you it does not feel like a constant holiday. It’s more like living like a local than being on vacation.

Vincenzo: And Marco would know - he’s currently living in Fuerteventura! However, I do agree. Being able to work from a beach, or any part of the world, doesn’t mean you are on holiday. I think that this possibility to move around the world is just a benefit like any other, like free lunches or health insurance.

Yasmine: Yeah, it definitely doesn’t feel like an eternal holiday. Especially because when you have to focus, the beach is definitely not the place to do it (not to mention the difficulty you would have trying to see the screen 😅).

Remote working can give you the possibility to move around the world but you have to find the right place in which to work and concentrate on your tasks.

Alessio: Absolutely. For this reason, remote working is actually harder than it seems. Even if you are working on the beach or from a beautiful terrace in Paris, you still need to get the work done. The challenge is being productive when nobody is stimulating you, which naturally happens at the office where you can feel part of the team.

You have to create your own environment to focus, as well as create your own routine to achieve all the goals. Of course having the possibility to choose your workspace and organise your time is priceless.

Giustino: Speaking about organising our time, many people have trouble switching off at the end of the day. It can be hard because there are always things to do. Do you have this difficulty and do you find it is exacerbated in a remote-first environment?

Alessio: If you work from home every day, it can be hard to psychologically separate yourself from your work, because you basically live in your office. I personally try to create a dedicated space in the house that you can leave behind at the end of the day. For me it’s also important to change workspace once in a while. So when I have a few meetings, I take the chance and spend the day working in a nice bar. With a super cool coffee machine. (That’s a must!)

Yasmine: I don’t have this difficulty now, but in the past I did. I overcame it by trying to plan activities outside, like playing sports or meeting friends. Having fixed commitments helps me disconnect at the right time.

Vinz: Luckily I’ve never suffered from this. I think it’s for two main reasons:

  1. Donux doesn't push this behaviour and helps avoid it by having an asynchronous workflow,

  2. I usually have hobbies to practice, and most of them require me to get out of the house.

Marco: It’s never been a big difficulty for me either because Donux is an objective-driven organisation, so I have goals that need to be achieved within the week. I try not to look at the time I work, but give myself a balance between the days during the week.

In the past I’ve been 7 hours ahead of Italy, so managing my time during the day was crucial. In general, I don’t know exactly how many hours I work every day but I do my best while completing my objectives and then focus on keeping a healthy work-life balance.

Giustino: Moving away from daily routines, what is it like to take a holiday in a remote company? Does it feel different taking a holiday while working remotely or is there anything you need to consider that you didn’t need to in an office job?

Marco: No, I don't think it's different. However, I've never worked in an office so I don't really know how to answer that... However, I find it very relaxing not to open a computer for some days.

Yasmine: I don’t think it’s different taking a holiday while remote working. I mean you are still on vacation to relax (🍸) and I think you even have an advantage in some ways. There’s the opportunity to work between various intermediate trips which let you save a few more days to enjoy on vacation!

Vinz: Ditto, it’s the same for me too.

Alessio: At first glance, it seems that there is no big difference. However, I noticed that, at least to me, there is a little psychological difference. When your office is actually everywhere, there is not the same level of "disconnection" when you go on holiday.

Giustino: Organisation is an important issue for every company. Being remote-first, I imagine that you are all more connected to your devices to stay up-to-date. Does this also mean that the job follows you into the holiday because it’s accessible from your phone? If so, what do you do when this happens?

Marco: Yes, it happens from time to time. Luckily, as easy as it is to be distracted by work, it is just as easy to ignore it and continue the vacation.

Alessio: We’re also lucky enough to have super sweet colleagues who never ask us anything during holidays, so I didn’t feel this pressure.

Vinz: You’re right. Donux does not promote this kind of situation which also helps.

Yasmine: I find it doesn’t bother me. It doesn’t follow me into my holiday because I don’t have apps (email, notion, etc.) installed on my phone. I try to keep these things separate as much as possible, but obviously if there are emergencies I'm available on other channels.

Giustino: That’s true: the company and team dynamics will always have a large influence on the way we work.

One final question for you all: is there anything that remote working makes more or less difficult during the holiday season?

Alessio: Working remotely has actually helped me to plan holidays in the best period for me. With the Italian habit of closing the office for a couple of weeks in August, I have been able to work through that period and plan my vacation for September. Or even to keep those days off for a longer Christmas break.

Also, I can decide to spend more days in a place I like, because I only need an internet connection and my laptop to work.

Vinz: Remote working hasn't changed anything for me regarding holidays.

Yasmine: I mentioned before that remote working can let you use travel days wisely and spend more time on holiday and working while travelling. However, the reverse can be true too. There can be the tendency to work a few more days and take fewer days off; for example, I tend to go home to my family without taking days off and in the end it happens that I am not able to do many things with them. It’s something that we all need to watch!

Marco: For me, working remotely allows you to be unaware of when the holiday season starts and ends.

(Sound of a cocktail clinking on a beach somewhere in Fuerteventura)

Giustino: Thanks so much for your time!


That’s it for this article. Let us know if you have any questions you’d like to ask them team or if there are anything you’d like to learn more about in our remote-first environment.

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