Lennard is an Industrial Design Engineering Graduate who swapped his nine-to-five job for a life working remotely. Besides a variety of freelance projects, he mainly works for INSTRKTIV, creating user-friendly user instructions for a wide array of products, such as electrical bikes, sports equipment, and medical devices.
Until two years ago, Lennard worked as an in-house designer in Amsterdam. When his employer fell on hard times, Lennard was asked to go from full-time to part-time. With his newfound free time, he started a project that he had been dreaming about for a long time: a state-of-the-art camper conversion.
We asked him all about this turning point in his life, and about the journey he embarked on, both literally and figuratively.
What challenges did you face before you started working with INSTRKTIV?
I enjoyed my life, but at the same time I realised that a nine-to-five job couldn’t offer me the satisfaction that I was looking for. I had a good job, great colleagues, but I did a lot of overtime. I was able to rent a home, but not to buy one. I had access to everything that a big city has to offer, but also experienced the stress that comes along with it. The daily routine of that life just wasn’t working for me anymore.
I decided to take a break and spend some time abroad on my own. I travelled to Slovenia in the van I had bought and had a lot of time to think things over. I met some interesting people living the ‘van-life’, and on my way back home I realised that that was what I wanted to do as well. I figured I had enough skills to embark on a freelance adventure, so why not give it a try?
I spent the next 10 months converting my van into the perfect tiny home. I needed more than just a house on wheels. If I was going to work remotely, I would need a mobile office, a fully functional workspace with enough room for my design tools and other equipment. It didn’t all come easy to me, despite my background. I had a lot to learn. For instance, I had never set up a 12-volt electric supply system before.
What made you decide to work with INSTRKTIV?
I had done an internship at INSTRKTIV back when it was a design agency, so I was already familiar with the company. An opportunity arose to work for them on a project basis while I was finishing my van. I was able to put my new camper conversion skills into practice on a client project of the same type, and it couldn’t have worked out better.
Ferry, the owner of INSTRKTIV, is very open-minded and supportive of his team’s personal goals. He likes to travel as well and sees the benefits of working remotely. Before I started travelling, he made sure that I received a thorough onboarding, so I felt confident about starting my new personal and professional journey.
The online contact with the team goes smoothly and because of the in-depth training I received, I can communicate directly with INSTRKTIV’s clients and work very efficiently.
What does an average day in your life look like now?
Working remotely offers you a chance to live a completely different life. I started out working part-time and spent a lot of time on the road, with my girlfriend and our dog. We travelled through Italy and Portugal and enjoyed the most amazing views from our mobile office. For about a year, we had a typical van life, which meant that we never stayed in one place for very long. Once we started working full-time, we realised that it wasn’t very practical to change locations that frequently. Now we prefer to stay in the same place for at least a few weeks.
We enjoy spending time in nature and doing outdoor activities. We are in the south of Spain right now, in an area that is great for snowboarding. Since the locals like to come to the ski slopes during the weekends, we go snowboarding during the week when it’s less busy, and spend the weekends behind our laptops. It is very liberating to set your own schedule and to work with clients that allow you to do so. I can’t remember the last time I set an alarm as the morning daylight always wakes us on time.
Although I sometimes miss having colleagues around, it also has its benefits working on your own. The lack of distraction makes you more productive. For this reason, I can often take a long break in the middle of the day to go for a walk, for instance, without having to worry about not being able to finish my projects.
People sometimes ask if we get on each other’s nerves in such a small space. After all, we live with two people and a dog in a 6m² space. But I have to say that we are able to make it work without any problems. This is mainly because we spend as much time as possible outdoors. When one of us has a call with a client, the other normally just takes the dog for a walk. Many clients are not even aware that we live in a van, and the ones that do are very positive about it.
Are you living the dream?
I have to pinch myself sometimes, so yes, definitely. I love the work that I do, I enjoy exploring new places and living in the moment. We don’t plan too far ahead. We have noticed in the past two years that there are always factors that you can’t predict or control, COVID is a good example of that. I realise that it has become easier to let things go.
We will see what happens in the future. Maybe we will settle down some day and start a family. We have bought a home in the Netherlands so that we will have a place to fall back on, if needed. But right now, I will be happy if I get a chance to visit some more countries soon, such as Canada and Alaska, and if I can continue to develop my personal design interests in tiny living and smart living and combine them with my work.
Whether you’re happily settled, travelling, or simply exploring your options to work remotely, INSTRKTIV is always looking for professionals in the field of technical documentation. If you’re interested in working with a company that understands the importance of a good work-life balance, don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Founder of INSTRKTIV and keen to help users become experts in the use of a product, and thus to contribute to a positive user experience. Eager to help organisations to reduce their product liability. Just loves cooking, travel, and music--especially electronic. You can also find him on:
Profile Page, Linkedin, Instagram and Twitter!
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