The Art of Balancing Work & Wanderlust: A Tale of Van Life and Virtual Teamwork


Transitioning to Life on the Open Road

In the backdrop of stunning landscapes and the comfort of my converted Sprinter van, I have found my own corner of the world. But carving out this niche was more challenging than the view might suggest (Instagram’s deceit knows no bounds). Transitioning from a static work-from-home setup to the uncharted territory of digital nomadism was nothing short of an adventure for me, my fianceé, and our energetic dog. And like any worthwhile journey, this was filled with its fair share of hiccups, mistakes, and learning curves.

When I started my nomadic lifestyle, the notion of work-life balance took on a new dimension. Juggling work responsibilities while roaming from one breathtaking location to another was exhilarating, but truly overwhelming at first. Being part of a design team at Artisan Studios, working with billion-dollar clients, and upholding confidential client relationships meant I had to stay engaged while navigating time zones and internet connectivity issues. It took time to be intuitive. Mistakes were made, and I had to be receptive, learning quickly on the go. Sometimes it hurt.

The Transformation Journey – A Hard-Fought Growth

However, this seemingly chaotic start laid the foundation for my growth. The support and trust of my leadership team at Artisan encouraged me to make bolder decisions and accept the challenges of this lifestyle. I started recognizing the value of being proactive in communication, ensuring that my team felt supported and empowered even when I was miles away. This required me to focus heavily on anticipating needs, facilitating the right conversations between the right people, and delegating more frequently. The latter was a hard pill to swallow.

I realized that while remote work offered flexibility, it also demanded a great deal of discipline. One couldn't simply survive in this setting – you have to thrive. This meant synchronizing my internal clock with different time zones (ouch), finding the sweet spot between connectivity and disconnection, and mastering the art of making every place feel like a personal workspace. I must be present, available, and ready to help connect the dots for both myself and my team when   necessary.

Over time, the daunting became doable, the unconventional became an exciting new norm, and I began to truly appreciate this hard-fought progress. It’s true that growth rarely happens in the absence of discomfort. No matter how often I acknowledge it, my lifestyle finds some clever way of challenging my ego, an irritating and gratifying dynamic I’ve learned to accept.

Living the Values – A Personal and Professional Manifesto

Our work ethos at Artisan is driven by our commitment to communicate, innovate, and deliver excellence. These principles resonate deeply with my personal values, too. As I embraced my nomadic lifestyle, I saw these values reflected even more in my daily routine. I’ve learned to use every challenge as a stepping stone, every new city as an opportunity for fresh perspectives, and every successful project as a testament to the feasibility of this lifestyle.

Yes, it's been a “journey,” as the kids say – one that's taught me to balance responsibility with curiosity, discipline with flexibility, and most importantly, it's taught me to honor the commitment to my work while staying true to my adventurous penchant. A millennial cliché, yes… but it’s my cliché.

The Open Road and Artisan Studios: A Symbiotic Relationship

The freedom of my lifestyle has also seeped into my creative workflows at Artisan as a design director. The ever-changing views outside my van are a constant source of inspiration, fostering a deeper connection with my team and helping me deliver innovative solutions to our clients. Continual perspective shifts are critical to solving problems and creating unexpected solutions.

It’s easy to think that routine alone can achieve great things. For some things, that may be true. But for me, the acceptance of change and growth is absolutely necessary when designing complex, high-stakes ideas.

Concluding Thoughts

At Artisan, we're passionate about making technology strategies and solutions accessible and innovative, regardless of where we are. I have a lot of gratitude for this organization of thinkers and problem-solvers, and I'm thankful for the ability to lead a team on-the-go.

The open road continues to be my teacher, muse, and office. I hope my story inspires you to consider the untapped potential of remote work, the limitless adventures that await on the open road, or, ideally, the perfect blend of both. Stay tuned for more tales from this digital nomad in the wild!

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Alex Lefler

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