“I found a new way of achieving productivity in Bali"

Frissítve: 2019. nov 28.

– Interview with a finance manager for the CEE region

Imagine an idyllic beach in Indonesia where people from all over the world gather to get their work done. Do you think that you could become one of them from one day to the next? This is exactly what happened to Linda Tárnoki from Budapest who is working as a finance manager in the pharmaceutical industry. The unique experience inspired her in many ways and boosted her productivity remarkably. Previously, she thought that such trips were only for backpackers or digital nomads, but now she recommends this to any business leader who needs an active rest. Fortunately, technical advances have enabled a variety of professionals to work remotely from any corner of the world. But why go to Bali?

“I realized that I was tired before. Not tired of my job, because I've always loved finance; I just needed to recharge my batteries. To my biggest surprise, spending a few weeks in Bali helped. I found my way back to my profession and I found my place again”

– says Linda Tárnoki about the two and a half weeks she spent in Bali working from a co-working space in March 2019. This experience made her realize that working in the digital age can be very different from what she and many other people are used to.

The “aha” experience

Linda is currently taking a year's unpaid leave (sabbatical) for personal reasons, but before that she was working for a US-based pharmaceutical company as a financial controller for the CEE region. Her duty was to manage a team of 11 people located in 6 different countries and 3 different time zones. It could also be stressful at times, not only because of all the responsibilities the position itself entailed, but also because of the daily stress. For example, the traffic in Budapest often made her irritated before she ever got to work. It was a challenging job, but she is planning to return when her sabbatical ends.

Last year, one of her friends moved to Bali temporarily and invited Linda to visit. She accepted the invitation and she traveled there twice. On her second visit, she also had to work, as there was a major project going on in her company. She spent two and a half weeks on the idyllic Indonesian island working from a coworking space called Dojo Bali, located just a minute’s walk from the prettiest beaches in the region. Working there, she realized her job could be done very differently:

“I literally had an “aha” experience. I always thought that this was for people who offer Internet-based services or for those who like to live an unconventional life, for example, hippies, backpackers, or digital nomads. I quickly realized that I was wrong, and that this work style actually fits me perfectly.”

New work-life balance

It was not only the exceptional natural beauty and the magical sunsets of Bali that helped Linda to return to Budapest a more relaxed person. The atmosphere of the island and the community at the coworking space also inspired her. She became more productive and found a new work-life balance there.

“There are no cars on the streets in Bali, as everybody uses motorcycles. First, it is strange, but you get used to it. I had time for more things, partly because I didn’t need to spend so much time traveling to work on a daily basis. This change of environment made me realize that I could do things in another way at home, too.“

As a leader, it always seems overly complicated to try something like this, but Linda thinks differently now. With all of today’s technical advances, almost anything is possible:

“When your job is to manage several people located in different countries, it doesn’t really matter where you are sitting. In my case one obstacle could have been the time difference, but I adapted to the Central European Time (CET), so I usually worked from 4 p.m. until midnight. I was able to fully execute all my tasks working 100% remotely from Bali.”

According to Linda, finance is a traditional field that predates the Internet. However, digitalization turns almost everything into an IT-based business sooner or later. It's not just that we have conference calls via Skype; more and more workflows are becoming paperless. Finance is changing drastically, and many other fields are going through the same. This opens the door to disruptive ways of working for a variety of professionals.

Learning without training

Another important gift Linda received from Bali was the people she met in this special international environment. The coworking space regularly hosts social events, which help the international professionals and experts – mostly freelancers – form a colorful and supportive community. For example, there were so-called fuckup nights where speakers talked about their failures. Despite the title of the event, it was not depressing at all, quite to the contrary: it was fun, and a lot of useful lessons were learned from the stories shared by the speakers.

Linda also made this group a little more diverse:

“First, I felt like an outlier in this community, because all the others had creative occupations like web design or content writing. Being there as a financial controller seemed a bit strange, but I enjoyed meeting those people from various fields, and we are still in touch through a Facebook group. Although, there was no training organized, I learned from these meetings and I built valuable relationships.”

Change is inevitable

There is a reason it's said that “Magic happens in Bali.” These experiences helped Linda broaden her horizon, and made her realize how workplaces should change in Europe to make employees happier. In Hungary, most employers are not flexible about home-office or remote working, although they realize that if they want to keep their most talented employees, they need to offer more than just competitive wages. They also need to keep in mind that everybody has different needs. If they can provide the right motivational mix for their employees, they will be truly loyal and committed.

“Employers and employees need to be brave and discuss the needs and possibilities openly, because today many things can be solved due to new technologies. The time spent in Bali has made me more aware of this, because I saw these opportunities with my own eyes,”

Linda explained. She plans to return to Bali in the future, although not permanently. She'll just spend a month or two working there every winter to recharge her energy.

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