Eva Schubert is currently living her dream: she lives and works on Tenerife. She converted her 9-to-5 job as a social media coordinator into a job share and swapped her office in Cologne for a coworking opportunity in Tenerife. Eva told us in an interview how this came about, how life and work in Tenerife are, and whether she wants to remain flexible and independent of location in the future.
Eva, you work from Tenerife for a company in Cologne. What are you doing exactly and how did this particular situation come about?
Yes, it still sounds unbelievable, but it’s true: I’ve been working for nine months from Tenerife. I share my position as a social media coordinator at a traditional company in Cologne with a job-sharing partner. I do my tasks completely digitally. For example, I oversee the company blog and website, and take care of crisis communication on Twitter, Facebook, etc. I just need my laptop, company phone, and fast internet. I regularly exchange with colleagues via telephone, chat, and web conference. Every two or three months, I fly to Cologne at my own expense to work in the office for a few days on site.
But the path to this flexible working model was not easy. Discussions with my boss, the HR manager and the CEO were spread over three months. All decision makers had to be convinced because such a working model had not existed in the company before. When I finally found a job-sharing partner to work with in tandem, I was allowed to work part-time from Tenerife for one year.
What was the reason/trigger for this step and your decision?
There was no concrete trigger. Rather, the idea matured in me for months. The digital nomad movement definitely inspired me. For months, I absorbed countless blogs, books and podcasts on the topic of location-independent work. I realized that as a social media coordinator, I had exactly the right job. Why do I have to go to the same office every day, even though I can work from anywhere? I did not want to quit my job, but I wanted to find a way to work in a location-independent way despite my permanent position. So, I decided to fight for both: to realize my dream of living abroad while getting the approval of my company for such a working model.
How are you now and how is working remotely going?
Working from remotely is going very well. I am very focused when working at the home office or coworking office. And I’m even more productive; meetings and the daily distractions in the open-plan office no longer exist. Another positive side effect: since I work part-time from the home office, I focus even more on the results. After all, I want to do a good job in return for the company having such confidence in me.
When colleagues are on vacation or sick, the tandem model shows its strengths. I like to jump in and help out where I can. I feel great with this working model. Freedom, self-determination and (spatial) variety keep me incredibly motivated. And my quality of life could hardly be better. Whether hiking, kitesurfing, climbing, mountain biking, diving or surfing – Tenerife is a year-round outdoor sports paradise. Even in winter, the days are warm and much longer than in Germany. I can spend a lot of time outside, which makes me very happy. Of course, there are also shortcomings: you no longer share everyday life with friends and family; building a social network in your new chosen home takes a lot of time; you need a lot of patience to learn Spanish. Unfortunately, I’m still not at the level that I would like. But I keep working hard.
How do your working day and everyday life look?
My working day does not differ so much from a home office day in Germany. I work about 6.5 hours three days a week. On some days, I do my work from home; on other days, in the coworking office in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife. Since I have reduced my working hours in order to get involved socially, I work a lot as a volunteer in projects and events. In addition, I write in my blog about living and working in Tenerife. The blog is intended to help aspiring emigrants and digital nomads to build a life on Tenerife.
After work, I’m drawn to the outdoors: kitesurfing, climbing and hiking are my passions. Yoga classes, couch surfing meetings or Spanish tandems are also part of the program. The weekends, where my boyfriend and I explore the island with our VW bus, feel like short holidays.
How do you organize your job sharing?
My job-sharing partner and I divided the tasks clearly. She handles the to-dos that require on-site presence, including meetings, workshops and presentations. I tend to work in the back-office building, where I blog articles and post on social media, prepare presentations and concepts, and take care of content management and crisis communications. The alpha and omega is communication: I chat with my job-sharing partner at least once a week on the phone. Without clear division of tasks and collusion, job sharing would not work. Experience has shown that we are even more creative in tandem. Two heads are simply smarter and shed light on things differently. So, we have achieved even better results using our different strengths. Another great advantage: if a tandem partner leaves the company, the knowledge is still preserved. And in case of illness or vacation, the tandem partner can help.
Do you want to work flexibly in the future?
The time in Tenerife is a very enriching adventure for me. I am learning so much and evolving further. I am very glad that I dared to take this step. One of the greatest insights I’ve had is that it works! I can work from Tenerife and live my dream. Since the model works very well for me, I hope to be able to continue working flexibly in the future as well, in whatever way I can. It remains exciting!
Thanks for the great interview and enjoy your time in Tenerife!