When I took my business entirely online in 2014 (aka ‘before times’), location independence was a major motivator. Moving interstate after 22 plus years of working with clients in Melbourne, I didn’t want a build a brand new in-person business. Working online was the perfect solution and suited spending more time with an elderly parent overseas.
Since then, I’ve worked from New Zealand multiple times (including a 5 month stint) and briefly from Bali as well as different parts of Australia.
10 tips to make location independence work for you
Being a digital nomad in clinical practice is made possible with an external dispensary. Take a look at this recent comparison of liquid herbal dispensing services in Australia.
Once providing your clients with the remedies they need is sorted, here are some tips to make location independence a breeze.
- A working holiday isn’t a holiday: set your expectations about how much time you intend to work from the new location. But if you need a reset, have a real holiday to truly rest and recharge.
- Time zones will make or break the experience: unless you thrive on working in the middle of the night or pre-dawn hours. The easiest time zone to manage is 2 to 4 hours difference from where most of your clients live. Unfortunately places like Europe and North America can be especially tricky for businesses based in Australasia. Be particularly mindful of the change of seasons where one zone is going into daylight saving and the other out, as this can occur over several weeks and catch you out. Meeting Planner is your best friend.
- A fast internet connection and stable power supply is imperative: hotels and resorts can be particularly unreliable depending on time of day or room location. Don’t even think about consulting by video from sea! Load shedding (rolling power blackouts) is common in some countries making it problematic working from these locations.
- Store files in the cloud: while an external hard drive is useful, when travelling and working away from home, the cloud is the best way to access client files and all the important documents needed to run your business.
- Ergonomics matter if you’re working online all day: pack a laptop stand, Bluetooth keyboard and mouse. It makes a huge difference.
- Pack a ring light: bad lighting is the bane of an online practitioner’s life! A ring light will stop you looking ghostly in low light spaces or when consulting at night.
- Privacy: co-working spaces are popular and can avoid dodgy internet issues but they’re not always private. Make sure your screen can’t be seen by others and you aren’t overheard while consulting. This also applies if sharing any space with family or friends.
- Invest in a VPN: a ‘voice private network’ means your data and sensitive client information won’t get hacked if using an unsecure internet network. While free VPNs exist, they won’t work at the speed needed for video consults. I use Nord VPN.
- Invest in a comfortable pair of noise cancelling headphones: for when you discover your new workplace is next to a construction site or under the flight path.
- Tech issues are a part of life: always have a Plan B. In business, how we handle problems, like missing a consultation because the power has gone out, is crucial. Always be gracious and generous with clients, especially when the fault lies at our end.
Is location independence achievable for health practitioners?
Far from the popular image of location independence, I’ve never swung in a hammock while working on my laptop. Instead it’s been from my childhood bedroom, hotel room desks and kitchen tables.
The same hindrances that can hamper working online from home often pop up in glamourous (or not so) situations.
My last location independent stint was house-sitting interstate. It came with two curious cats, excellent internet speed and a sunny kitchen table. Thankfully the ‘blur background ‘function on Zoom can cover a multitude of visual sins!
Unsure of practicing online? Read more about the pros and cons of a virtual clinic.
Update August 2023: some great tips from Nora Dunn on making the digital nomad life work for you.
Gill Stannard is a mentor and naturopath with over 30 years experience. If you’re a health practitioner please sign up for the free mentoring newsletter and explore the resources in learn. I love mentoring. holistically, working individually with naturopaths, herbalists and nutritionists who have been in practice for at least a year, through to mid and late career clinicians.