Long, frustrating commutes. Cramped cubicles within windowless rooms. Mind-numbing tasks requiring little if any face-to-face interaction with others. These statements describe the day-to-day office experience for many professionals. Unless, that is, they have the option to telecommute.
According to one Gallup poll, 37 percent of U.S. workers have telecommuted for their job. An analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data by Global Workplace Analytics found that 50 percent of the nation’s workforce holds a job that is compatible with at least part-time telework, and 20 to 25 percent of the workforce currently telecommutes with some frequency.
Some of them are no longer choosing to do so from their homes, local coffee shops, or even their countries of permanent residence. Instead, they’re joining a host of exciting new remote-work groups like WiFi Tribe and plying their trade from exotic foreign locations for months at a time.
RewardExpert recently spoke with WiFi Tribe’s co-founder Diego Bejarano Gerke by Skype from Argentina to get the scoop on his community’s inspiration, how it works, and what they look for in potential members.
Founded in Pursuit of Personal Freedom
Created with co-founder Julia Kallweit in April 2016, WiFi Tribe began with a desire to regain a lifestyle that had been lost.
“We’d been in a situation where we had been working a lot,” Gerke explained. “In that process, we had given up a lot of our social lives and opportunities to travel. We realized that whatever we did next would need to be something that allowed us to regain the freedom we had lost.”
A spontaneous email to friends about joining him in a rental house in Bolivia quickly led to the first WiFi Tribe co-living and co-working meet-up.
“We set up a website three weeks before going to Bolivia and published it on a few Facebook groups,” Gerke said. “That really started everything when we realized there was enough interest around the world to turn this into a sustainable community.”
Live and Work in 12 Destinations Each Year
Since its launch, WiFi Tribe has gone on to organize 12 gatherings or ‘chapters’ each year, setting up residence in a new location each month. Each chapter includes 12 to 20 members, and Gerke said more than 100 professionals have attended WiFi Tribe gatherings to date. While most members are in their 20s and 30s, the group considers some factors more important than age.
“What is most important is really their energy,” Gerke said. “They should be aligned with what the rest of us are looking for from the experience. We have had members outside that age range who had the right energy. We also look for people who really have remote work they can bring with them, who are excited about what they are doing, and who are looking for a tribe of like-minded people. We aren’t looking for people who just want to go on a holiday.”
WiFi Tribe members include entrepreneurs, designers, musicians, developers, photographers, bloggers, filmmakers, marketers, writers, project managers and more. They work an average of 40 hours each week while on location and spend time adventuring together on the weekends.
Upcoming destinations include Bolivia in May, Ecuador in June, Panama in July and Costa Rica in August. Gerke said they’re planning to start a second, simultaneous tribe in Europe and Asia this summer. He estimates WiFi Tribe members will have the opportunity to live and work in about 20 different locations in 2017 as a result.
Lodging for as Low as $800/Month
Professionals interested in joining the WiFi Tribe community must be accepted into the group.
“We focus a lot on bringing the right kind of people in,” Gerke said. “The idea is to find people who are likely to mesh well as far as personality and values. Most people who go through our interview process say that they didn’t realize how intense it would be.”
Once accepted, members can choose how frequently they want to travel and whether they want a private or shared room. The fee for each chapter diminishes as frequency increases. For example, a professional joining WiFi Tribe at its destination for one month will pay $1,000 for a shared room or $1,800 for a private room. For those who choose to participate in three or more chapters each year, the price decreases to $800 per month for a shared room or $1,400 per month for a private room.
“We added the shared room option to bring the price down and give more people access to an opportunity like this,” Gerke said. “I don’t think I’ve seen any other groups doing that.”