I first spoke with Bjoern at the tail end of peak surf season for the Canary Islands. He had traveled there to pursue a lifelong dream of learning to surf, and wound up staying in Las Palmas Gran Canaria for nine months to make that happen. Despite a bit of bad luck with weather and the resulting waves initially, things had been picking up near the end of the season. Bjoern was confident he’d be able to catch at least a few more good mornings in the surf before heading back home to Germany.
“I’m here for two more weeks – actually initially this whole trip was going to be two weeks but that has turned into months now. When I started working remotely, I really wanted to have extended time like this traveling.”
With the ability to work anytime, from anywhere, we’ve repeatedly seen this flexibility unlock new realms of happiness and work/life balance for our team and community. As covid-19 continues to push companies toward 100% remote and flex arrangements, we expect a global trend favoring flexibility to continue.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, most of the developers who work through Turtle have opted to live somewhere that allows them to spend their freetime doing a favorite activity. A love of the outdoors and a dislike of large office buildings, complex management hierarchies, and other traditional 9-5 job restrictions is common among the Turtle software developer community, and many Turtle developers are avid backpackers, rock climbers, and surfers.
Bjoern has been freelancing through Turtle with a team on the opposite side of the Atlantic Ocean at McMaster University. Graham Campbell, who leads a small startup-like team focused on public health at McMaster, has been developing ways to share timely public health information with the Canadia population. With apps designed to support family caregivers, seniors living alone or in facilities, and several hospital systems, Bjoern’s development work quickly makes its way to millions of users across Canada.
“That this work is actually going to be used, in a very real, impactful use case – that’s what I really enjoy. It can improve people’s lives and their time in hospitals. It can make life easier for them,” shared Bjoern.
Beyond enjoying flexible hours and working on projects with real world impacts, many of the developers on Turtle also exclusively prefer to work with startups. From the small & nimble teams, to rapid prototyping and user-first methodologies, and the uncertain but rewarding paths forward, a fast-paced startup culture is important to adventurous developers like Bjoern. Before joining Turtle, he had been full-time at a Barcelona-based startup and wanted to continue work at the same pace, just not in an office and not on a restrictive 9 to 5 schedule.
Danyl also began freelancing through Turtle in the midst of deciding to leave a full time software engineering job. “It was a smooth change really, I slowly took more and more projects on Turtle, and realized I was more interested in spending my time coding than anything else,” he explained, “Usually at the bigger companies, even bigger startups sometimes, it’s the endless meetings, the retros, the sprint planning, the daily stand ups, the scrums, all of it is taking more time than actually coding.”
With more than 15 years development experience working with iconic brands including HP and Toyota, the shift to small, dedicated teams has been most welcome for Danyl. Most recently, he has been collaborating with two US-based early stage startups, Clineage and The Craft Coalition. “I love to work through Turtle because it is much more flexible, you can work on great projects-- without all the bs.”
As Danyl was telling me about his new routine, he took a moment to point his camera out the window toward a sunny beach behind him. He joked, “For me now, it is pleasant people and very little stress. The weather here is always sunny, no winter here. All developers just want to live near the beach.” I asked what beach he was showing to me.
Turns out, Danyl and Bjoern had both separately decided to relocate to the Canary Islands since working through Turtle – Danyl to Tenerife and Bjoern to the city of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. This happy coincidence inspired me to send a note out to the broader community of developers on Turtle asking where most of them had chosen to live- over 80% were living near the ocean now.
Danyl had previously visited Tenerife on a surf trip, and came back to enjoy a bit of endless summer, both surfing and kitesurfing at the island’s iconic beaches in his spare time. The perpetual sunshine and surf doesn’t dip into his work schedule however – “I’m a big fan of hard work,” he shared, “It’s better for me to take 6 full work days, and one day of full rest, not even opening my laptop or checking my phone.”
Working entirely remotely and setting their own monthly availability, the developers in the Turtle community have a high level of self-awareness of their own work style, preferences, and ideal availability. Danyl added, “The flexible format works much better for me - you can get paid for all the work you want– in case you want more work, you work more, if you want less, work less. Simple.”
Bjoern echoed the sentiment: “I really like this kind of way of doing things.”
So what’s next, as surf season comes to an end? I asked them both. “When I go back to Germany eventually, I am planning to buy a van to work on and travel around the countryside in it for a while and continue my work while on the road,” said Bjoern. Danyl will stay in Tenerife for a bit, swapping some of his surfing time to instead collaborate with his brother on an indie game design project. True to his flexible lifestyle, he added, “You know, I’ve also been considering moving to Spain though. We’ll see.”
You can learn more about working with a freelance developer through Turtle at: www.turtle.dev/hire