How To Execute The Work From Home Movement (Abroad) - Stab Mag

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How To Execute The Work From Home Movement (Abroad)

Tim O’Connor provides hope for those stuck on repeat.

cinema // Jan 2, 2022
Words by Jack Mutschler
Reading Time: 6 minutes

Tim O’Connor is not a professional surfer.

Thank surf god, as it’s quite nauseating to read about professional surfers and their trips to Indonesia. It holds about as much significance as Jeff Bezos winning the lottery. Pissing and moaning about our own lives won’t produce much either though. For us uggos, doo doo stancers, and desk jockeys, motivation is received better from a more subtle point of view.

Timmy surfs damn well and sits high up on the sport’s learning curve, but he isn’t contractually obligated to wear an energy drink hat upon contact with the shore. What covers his rent and other expenses is his day job, which he has found to be more enjoyable from the comfort of beachfront property in Indonesia.

With a Kiwi passport and work that can be completed virtually anywhere with internet connection, Timmy found quite an escape route from locked-down Australia. A prime example of a common man reaping the benefits of surfing’s upper-caste system, without being a multi-millionaire or topping the Stab SOTY list. It is in this context, that trips to Indo spark promise within our souls, and not envy.

Tim made a plan two stay for two months, maximizing time in the water while punching his time card. That idea went into action a year ago, and he still hasn’t left.

Let’s check in on the man who just might never go home:

Stab: How long have you lived in Bali? 
Tim O’Connor I got here in early October 2021, so a little over a year now.

What brought you there?
We were in the thick of covid, and people started showing up in Indo. With Australia being super strict on travel, I didn’t think it was possible. I looked into it, and it turns out there’s an exemption: if you hold a Kiwi passport, you’re free to travel in and out of Australia during the pandemic. I always had intentions of setting up an offshore office for the business here in Bali and decided to pull the trigger.

How long did you originally plan on staying? What changed over that time period?
I planned to stay for two months, and I had a return ticket booked just before Christmas. A few things changed while I was away and the need to go back to Australia was no longer there, so it made sense to stay. Many people kept saying Indo will never be this quiet again in our lifetimes, so stay up and make the most of it. It allowed me to spend more time working on the business and chasing waves.

How much longer do you plan on staying?
Only 11 more days. I’ve got a ticket booked back to Australia in early January, but now another covid outbreak has popped up, so I might not be going anywhere. I will keep checking the news and make a call in a few days. I’m happy either way.

What’s your favorite part? (People, culture, food, waves etc.)
The people and the culture are a massive one for me. The locals have been hit hard by covid with no tourism and are still super positive. The community here is unreal. We have a small Warung on the beach called Surfers Bar, which is basically our second home. It’s a tight-knit group of people who share the same passion for the ocean & a good time. Also, I’m really into food & this place is next level. It has everything you can imagine & it’s proper world-class. It’s probably the one thing I’m going to miss the most.

Least favorite part?
Living in Canggu, there’s a handful of strange characters floating around. There’s a ton of different people all in this one small zone. You have it all from Instagram models, life coaches, energy healers, crypto warriors, buff gym heads the list goes on. I just try to avoid them at all costs, but other than that, there’s not much to complain about.

What do you do for work? What are some obstacles and benefits of working remotely?
I started an estimating business a few years ago, which provides material reports to contractors throughout New Zealand and Australia. In a dumbed-down version, if a contractor is quoting a project, they send us plans and we work out all the material they need for that specific trade. Some people would rather watch paint dry, but I have a passion for numbers and really enjoy the people I get to work with daily.

There aren’t many obstacles, to be honest. If I had to name one, it would just be the time difference. Clients in NZ are 5 hours ahead & Australia is three hours ahead with daylight savings, but with the work we do, we can usually meet their request the same day, which is all they ever need. They are also aware of it, so together, we just make it work.

Working remotely allows you more freedom to do what you love more often. People tend to look at work as their life which I have never been able to grasp. We all need to work, but does it need to include a two-hour daily commute & living in a place that you don’t necessarily like because the wage is slightly higher? I do realize some jobs can’t be done remotely, but if it’s sitting behind a computer or not having to be somewhere each day, then it’s a no-brainer.

How often do you surf?
Some weeks it’s 3-4 times a week, then other weeks it’s nearly every day, maybe a few times a day. The mornings are fun but lately, it’s been better to cope with the 32-degree heat and surf in the middle of the day with no one out. 

Is it difficult to work with perfect waves constantly filling in? How do you balance your time?
It was tricky for sure when I first arrived, but I got a handle on it pretty quickly. If you miss a swell, there’s another one just around the corner, and reminding yourself of that helps lower the anxiety. When I was looking for an office, my good mate recommended the hotel that overlooks Canggu. They had been quiet because of covid and rooms were half the price of what an office space goes for. I got them to remove the bed and I put in a few desks. The crew told me it was the best and worst business decision ever, but it’s been great. It doesn’t feel like I am missing out weirdly, and if I get overworked, I can always shoot out for 30 minutes to get my fix. In terms of balancing my time, it just comes down to working when it’s not so great and surfing when it’s good.

What tips do you have for anyone looking to take a similar route to yours?
Be passionate and work hard at whatever you choose to do. Identify what you are good at, what you enjoy, and work towards a plan that allows you to excel in a role and ultimately work remotely. You don’t need to “love” what you do, but if you like it, then I think you are on the right track.

Look up to people who are where you want to be and figure out a way to work towards that. Look at Tai (Buddha), for instance. He’s set the bar for balancing work & lifestyle. He’s getting some of the best waves every year while running multiple successful businesses, and it comes down to just putting in the work. The guy works hard and, in return, reaps the rewards.

Lastly, relationships are very important. Going the extra mile for that client regularly can really pay off in the long run. When they know they can rely on you, it gives them no reason to look elsewhere.

Seem to have a preference for surfing on the face (love it btw), what surfer’s style would you say you try to imitate the most?
Thanks bro. I think I have done two airs this whole year. One in the edit and the other one my back fin barely left the water. I prefer rail surfing, I think that comes from the generation I grew up in, but there’s something about it that I’m drawn to. Mick and Taj were massive for me growing up. Sebastian Zeitz and Ricardo Christie as well. They are both raw and powerful. Recently it’s been Ethan Ewing; I don’t think there’s a better style in surfing right now (or ever) than him.

Do you feel your surfing has significantly improved since the move?
I think when you hit 30, it’s only ever a downhill curve from here. I don’t know if I’ve improved so much, but my stoke on surfing is at an all-time high, and that’s more important to me. To be just as passionate about something after doing it for 20 years is a pretty cool feeling.


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