Nomadic business | Luke Smoothy interview

We interviewed Luke Smoothy, Director and CEO of Get It Made on how he manages to stay connected and be productive while travelling the world.



It might just be everybody’s dream to travel the world and run your own business, and in this day and age, it’s becoming more and more realistic. We heard from Luke Smoothy, Director and CEO of Get It Made, a manufacturer focused on CNC machining, 3D printing and moulding. Founded in 2011, it’s been built to make manufacturing simple. Luke has been remote since the company started. Hear his story below…



How did you start your digital nomad journey, and what made you want to?



“I started my digital nomad journey out of necessity. Get It Made was a small business. Like most start-ups, it couldn't handle the additional rent costs. Previous employment required me to be in the office daily, with no exceptions. So, I was excited at the novelty of working at home, on holiday and in a coffee shop.”



What are the advantages of working nomadically?



“Personally, over the years, the advantages of nomadic working have altered. Four years ago, it meant being able to commute into London (out of choice) and work close to my wife's office so we could meet for lunch. It meant I could do something I loved which I called "walk and work", walking 15km over the course of the day, in between 45-minute bursts of work, sitting on a park bench or at a cafe. When I think back to this, it was a very happy time. Freedom to work when and how I wanted—something I hadn't experienced.

Nowadays, it means I can take my 2-year-old daughter to football lessons, swimming, and gymnastics, all during "normal" working hours. It means I can spend more time with my family. I can work wherever.”



What challenges have you faced working remotely, and how have you overcome them?



“Currently, Get It Made are a team of four. And finding enough face-to-face time as a complete team is essential.

I feel that on our remote days, normally 2-3 days a week, everyone's a little robotic, only processing day-to-day tasks. However, when we meet up in person, in the office, it is where we find insight in discussions, it is where the lightbulb ideas happen. I also think you can only fully train and collaborate with team members in person. I require new employees to be in the office together, every day, for the first two weeks. There is so much knowledge to transfer it cannot be done on a call. In addition, it is hard to build great relationships remotely.”



What steps do you take to stay productive and focused while working remotely?



“To be honest, staying fully focused and productive is hard. There is no doubt that myself and my team are more productive and hard-working on days that we are in the office. Over the last year, I have had to find refuge in quiet parts of my home, away from my excited, and occasional tantrum-throwing, 2-year-old.

One tip I have for working parents is to work whenever you can, bank the quiet periods so you can stop working when things get a bit hectic, don't try and work through it.”



What tools and technologies do you use to facilitate communication and collaboration with your team of digital nomads?



“At Get It Made, our "tech stack" focuses on communication and documentation. We use Slack to keep in constant contact throughout the day, to query things with each other. However, Slack is very "short-term knowledge", and you don't want to ask the same questions constantly, so we also use Notion to document long-term knowledge. Notion is great for documenting processes and internal wikis. Slack = short communication, Notion = long communication. Another great tool we use is Airtable for project management. Hiver is a really amazing Gmail collaboration tool, a must-have for teams that we love.”



What role does flexibility play in your leadership style, especially as a nomadic CEO?



“Flexibility is baked into my leadership approach at Get It Made. Being a nomadic CEO means I've come to understand the nuances of working in varied environments and at unconventional hours. I bring this understanding to my team, ensuring they feel empowered to mould their working hours and methods in a way that suits their peak productivity and personal lives. My role is to provide guidance, set clear expectations, and trust my team to deliver, no matter where they are. Flexibility isn’t just about convenience; it's about respecting individuality and recognising that the traditional office model isn't one-size-fits-all.”



How do you balance work and personal life while travelling and working remotely?



“Achieving a work-life balance while travelling and working remotely is an art I've attempted to refine over time. I've established certain rituals, like ensuring I have a dedicated workspace even if I'm in a new location. It helps create a mental separation between work and leisure. I also prioritise essential personal moments, like my daughter's activities or family events, marking them into my calendar like any business appointment. Lastly, I use time zone differences to my advantage – if I'm in a place that's ahead or behind the UK time, I adjust my work hours to ensure I get quality personal time, without compromising on my professional commitments.”



How do you ensure that your remote team members feel connected to the company culture, despite not being physically present in the office?



“Maintaining a strong company culture remotely is something that honestly keeps me up at night. At Get It Made, we incorporate regular video calls, not just for work but also for casual catchups, making a point to know and care about each other's lives outside of work. We have dedicated channels on Slack where we share personal updates and wins, fostering a sense of community and ensuring everyone feels aligned with our shared purpose, regardless of location.”



How can an SME-owner or CEO be a digital nomad? What steps could they take to get started?



“Transitioning to a digital nomad lifestyle as an SME-owner or CEO begins with embracing technology. Invest in tools that facilitate seamless communication and documentation, much like how we use Slack, Notion, and Airtable at Get It Made. Importantly, invest time in documenting processes and making the tools useful. Next, instill a sense of trust within your team; remote work thrives on trust and clear expectations. Establish regular check-ins and ensure open lines of communication. Finally, test the waters before diving in, perhaps start with one remote-work day a week and gauge its impact on productivity and team dynamics. Embracing this lifestyle is about adaptability, ensuring that while you might be changing your physical location, your commitment to your business and team never changes.”

For more information on working remotely, get 1-2-1 advice from one of our V-Hub Digital Advisers.

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