Gauthier Toulemonde was fed up with his commute, so he decided to start teleworking this fall. The decision was unremarkable by itself—telework is gaining momentum as people around the world are starting to realize that that odious daily chore of traveling to and from the office isn’t always necessary. So why focus on Toulemonde? Because he chose to telework from a desert island.The 54 year old Frenchman armed himself with rice and pasta, solar panels and a windmill, two tents, a tablet, a pair of satellite phones, and a rented Chinese dog and moved on to a deserted Indonesian island less than 0.14 square miles large on October 8. He returned last week after his 40 day sojourn pleased with the experience, but reminded of the limits of working remotely. The Guardian reports:
“It was like being in quarantine for 40 days,” he said. “It was good to get away from modern life, to follow the rhythm of the sun and to live in the closest possible contact with nature. […]“Doing everything virtually has its limits,” he admitted on Friday. “Working from a distance is certainly doable, and with the internet and Skype you are never alone. But I’d say 40 days is about the limit.“But it’s not the same as physically meeting someone. Nothing can replace human contact.”
Toulemonde’s experience sounds more like a mid-life crisis than a teachable moment, but if there’s any takeaway here, it’s that there’s a sweet spot to hit on telework. Too much, and you alienate yourself from your coworkers and clients. Too little, and you waste money and time while risking your relationships and sanity.