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‘Web Robinson’ returns to civilization after the ultimate remote working trip

French businessman Gauthier Toulemonde has returned home after spending 40 days working from a remote Indonesian island with nothing but a dog for company. Toulemonde spent a year planning the trip, which was designed to help him escape the drudgery of office life as well as test the limits of the modern-day remote working culture.

Aiming to become the first ever ‘Web Robinson’, Toulemonde wanted to challenge himself and the powers of the Internet with his self-imposed exile, as the Guardian reports. “I wanted to show how with solar energy and new technology, we can live differently and work from far away cutting out all the time lost in commuting,” he said. “The Anglo-Saxon world is far more open to this idea of distance working, but there is a resistance to it in France.”

After watching a continuous stream of people passing by on his daily commute — “they had this sad look on their faces, even though they were carrying Christmas presents” — the Frenchman decided to put his plan into action. It took six months to identify a suitable 700-by-500 meter island near Indonesia, some 10,000 miles away from Paris.

On October 8 he left home with four small solar panels, a windmill, a laptop, a tablet, two satellite phones and two tents for protection. He borrowed a dog named Gecko to provide company and to scare off any marauding snakes or rats. The budget for the trip was set at €10,000 (around $13,600), which included €20 ($27) a day for Internet access.

While away, Toulemonde continued to work for his company Timbopresse, producing two editions of Stamps Magazine within the normal timeframe and including the usual content. He says he awoke every day at 5am and went to bed around midnight.

“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,” he said. “I was extremely happy. Every day was magical.”

He did note some downsides, however, including torrential rain, the difficulty of protecting his equipment and the lack of human interaction. “Doing everything virtually has its limits,” he said on his return. “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.”

You can read more about Toulemonde’s adventures and test your French on his blog.

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