Where are all the ladies? is the question that inspired Meesen Brown and cofounder Thomas Maher to create Behere, an all-inclusive expat experience for working women. Starting at $1,400 a month, the company arranges, furnished, short-term apartments, coworking spaces (with high-speed Wi-Fi, of course), fitness-club memberships, community activities, and networking events in 12 cities across Europe and Southeast Asia, from Bangkok to Barcelona.
After living in Canada and Australia, Brown worked on the road for 18 months, experiencing the struggles and setbacks of a digital nomad. “Women shouldn’t feel like they can’t live abroad because of safety concerns or a lack of community,” Brown says. “There’s a great need for women to have a support system and sustainable infrastructure for their remote careers.”
Behere taps into this growing trend of job flexibility. For many employees, the days of the 9-to-5 office are long gone, as online opportunities and satellite teams push the boundaries of how and where we log in. Roughly 43 percent of Americans spent time working remotely in the past year, and by 2020, 50 percent of the American workforce will be freelance. This cultural shift affords business travelers more time to see the world and less time chained to the desk.Unsettled, Remote Year, and Hacker Paradise all organize overseas work retreats, Behere is easier, more affordable, and female focused. Today, more women are traveling solo, and as a result, the number of women-only tour companies has increased by 230 percent. “Women are realizing the importance of female-only communities, trips, and coworking spaces,” Brown says. “These new environments encourage collaboration and innovation.”
When the program launched earlier this summer, the reaction was overwhelming—garnering more than 1,000 applications from consultants, entrepreneurs, and content creators worldwide. But to Brown’s surprise, many corporate employees inquired as well, wondering how they could approach their bosses about flexibility. Behere offers resources—statistics, research studies, and letters to management—that show the benefits of remote work. Besides the access to new markets, increased productivity and creativity, and happier employees, it’s also a major overhead cost cut, with businesses saving an average of $11,000 per remote employee per year. “Just because you’re not in the office doesn’t mean you’re not a great worker,” Brown says. “My goal is to bring awareness to the fact that flexibility shouldn’t be a perk, it should be a normal part of office culture.”
Behere also considers lifestyle needs by providing fitness memberships, optional volunteer opportunities, and networking events to connect with local entrepreneurs—all included in the price. It partners with local gyms such as LoveCycle in Barcelona and Muay Thai studios in Asia that provide English-speaking classes. “Fitness is often put on the back burner for travelers,” Brown says. “But when you’re living in a new city, it’s important to stay healthy and maintain that routine.”
Members can also choose a charity or humanitarian project, depending on their interests. “I think it’s really important to feel like you’re part of a community while also giving back to that community,” Brown says. After hosting a successful two-day, women-only coworking space in Chiang Mai, Brown plans to make these pop-ups one of Behere’s big initiatives for 2018.
“I want to empower and inspire women to see the world,” Brown says. “There’s been so much change for women lately, and it’s incredible to be a part of that and help shape the way we work, even if it’s on a small scale.”
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