A digital nomad in the Covid 19 crisis
Bertrand Dour is an Estonian e-resident, entrepreneur and passionate surfer. In business for nearly 20 years, he has turned his assets into a service by creating his company 7 Flows. He believes in technology and creativity to generate value. He started from the observation that there were not many comprehensive approaches to support entrepreneurs or intrapreneurs in their endeavours. As he works in several European countries and travels a lot his way of life is mainly based on dematerialization. He therefore needed a simple solution to manage his business remotely, which led him to become an Estonian e-resident to manage his company easily wherever he is.
I asked him how he was impacted by travel restrictions due to the coronavirus health crisis in Europe and what others could learn from his experience.
1.Do you define yourself as a “digital nomad”?
This is a particularly interesting question. At first reading, the question seemed simple to me. The fact that I didn’t answer it immediately made me think. What defines a “digital nomad” in 2020, especially in a period where our freedom of movement is strongly constrained.
The first word that came to mind was “freedom”. Freedom to work wherever you want with partners all over the world. Having a fixed point of contact, I first thought that I would not be a true digital nomad.
On reflection, I think that the notion of digital nomad refers rather to autonomy, the ability to work from anywhere in the world and the possibility of working with partners in different countries. In this context, I could define myself as a “digital nomad.”
2. Why did you make this choice?
Surfing, the desire to work with different people and companies, to discover different cultures. I made my first experience of teleworking in 2000, and since then I have rarely worked in an office.
Mastering the work rhythm is also an important point for me. Tides and surfing conditions punctuate my day more than meetings and public transport. It’s simply a lifestyle that fits what I’m really looking for, while allowing me to be productive, efficient and flexible for my clients.
3. What impact has the pandemic had on your lifestyle?
At the risk of surprising and perhaps displeasing, I find this period extremely exciting. Of course the health aspect of the pandemic is extremely unfortunate for most of us. However, it is a time that opens up a huge opportunity to rethink the impact we want to have, how we deliver value, priorities and essential things. My lifestyle has changed very little, except that surfing is still forbidden on the French coast. My creativity and my desire to discover and experience new things have been growing since the beginning of the confinement period.
4. Can you present your professional activity?
I always have difficulties to describe my job. But this period has helped me to find a simple description of my activity: helping entrepreneurs and organisations to shape their future, now! I develop work frameworks, organizational modes, methods to enable companies to rediscover the culture of innovation that made them successful when they were created, to develop their ability to adapt, and to create the products that will make our lives simpler and more enjoyable.
5. What are the consequences of the pandemic on your business?
Both my business and my experience with teleworking have had an extremely beneficial impact on my business. What seemed exotic yesterday has become normal today. Many companies have offered to collaborate with me to improve their ability to work remotely and preserve their business. My own business is growing dramatically during this period and the biggest challenge has been managing this demand and finding solutions to bring value to the maximum number of people.
6. Do you plan to maintain any changes in your work method after the end of containment?
Absolutely. The period of confinement has pushed me to find better, more original models for accompanying my clients, to create new experiences. My goal is not only to keep these new approaches but also to continue to develop them. Although telework and so-called “office optionals” have been around for several years in companies such as Buffer, Zapier, Trello, or Gitlab, we are only at the beginning and there are still many exciting things to create and develop.
7. What advice would you give to other digital nomads whose business has been very impacted?
Observe, create, reinvent themselves. I’ve been snowboarding competitively for many years, and one day a coach told me: “if you feel it’s going too fast, speed up”. Now we’re living in a period of very high speed change. Trying to protect yourself, trying to avoid disaster by staying static is of little use. Observing the evolution of the context, the uses, the needs, to reinvent the way we can deliver value and create a unique experience for our customers and partners is in my opinion the best, if not the only thing to do today. It’s by seeking to wait for the objectives that we can best avoid obstacles.
Violaine Champetier de Ribes – Founder of Digeetrips