Consistent Work: Working Abroad
The Privilege of Globe Trotting
As more and more people have the ability to work from home, the interest around taking your “remote working” really, really remote is ever-increasing. It’s becoming less rare and more expected by job hunters in the employee-catered market we are currently in. This perk is gaining traction, but is still limited to a minority of companies. If you are lucky to be at one of these companies who offers this, now is your opportunity to act.
With this, workers are trekking to new lands with laptop in hand to explore outside of their “normal” working hours. From my recent trip to Mexico, here are some tips that will help you if you are thinking about getting on that plane:
Establishing a Strong Work Ethic
Some people forget that before you can travel and work out of French cafes by day and go out to Michelin Star restaurants by night–you have to actually be good at your job. Before you start packing your bag, I highly recommend you take an honest look at your performance within your role, what your relationship is with your boss and your team, and look at upcoming schedules. If you are drowning in work and need to catch up, chances are pretty good that you aren’t going to improve that much more being in another country in different time zones. It’s important to be in a good place with your workload before taking off.
Next, your relationship with your boss and your peers is paramount to maintaining your success, no matter where you are. If you and your team do not have a mutual understanding about roles and responsibilities, it’s going to be even harder to do that while you are in different time zones. Equally, your relationship with your manager, likely who will be approving your time out, is the number one priority, as your communication with him/her will make or break your adventure. You should always be striving to do your best work–that’s a no brainer, but if that trust is not established with your superiors, it’s going to be a hard sell to request working abroad. Make sure they are aware of your efforts to build rapport with them. Their job is to make sure the business succeeds. If they believe your Instagram-driven “vacation” is going to jeopardize performance, the only pictures you’ll be taking of yourself are selfies from your couch.
If you can establish a good foundation with your team and your workload, you’ll likely get the green light you are looking for.
Time zones are amazing for travel, but can also be a double-edged sword. It can mean having the ability to wake up at 10am local time and still making it to work at 9am, or it can mean an 11am start will have you working till 7:30pm every day while your team is getting off at normal time. Where you travel directly impacts what your days will look like, so this is the most important factor when choosing, especially if you need to be online at the same time as your colleagues.
The upside if you are a night owl is being able to explore the night life, versus traveling west to let’s say, Hawaii, can put you three hours behind, requiring you to be up at 6am Hawaii time to start at 9am PST. If you want to travel somewhere specific and don’t think it’s going to work, maybe you should consider taking a real vacation to that destination.
A logical way to cheat this is to look at destinations with +/- 1-2 hours difference where time may not impact you as much. You can still enjoy your downtime without much trouble. One way to look at this is to travel North and South from where you live and (mostly) line up with similar times. You can slice this any way you’d like, but having a game plan will save you a lot of headache (and sleep) later.
Working out of foreign cafes sounds luxurious, but it’s not when you still have to hit deadlines and produce the same level of work irrespective of where you are. What’s more is that your ability to adapt to different environments and maintain the same level of productivity becomes critical. It doesn’t matter if you are in a room of crying babies–you need to be able to produce. You can practice this by going to cafes where you live and testing this out. There are many distractions in cafes: people talking, espresso machines going off, and plenty of background noise. Not to mention having a client call in a noisy room is certainly not a good look for your professionalism. You must be able to center yourself and your zen in any scenario to finish the task at hand. Having this skill to center yourself will help you execute what is needed in any environment.
You may have the luxury of working out of a hotel room with good wifi–jackpot! That’s the golden goose. The main point to understand here is while you are given the flexibility to work abroad, you may not be afforded the same flexibility with your workload, so it’s imperative that you take this factor into consideration when planning. If this is not feasible, consider a different destination where you can make this happen.
While working abroad is a magnificent way to explore the beautiful world around us while maintaining a job we love, it comes with its own hurdles and challenges that we may not expect. With some logical reasoning and good planning, you can keep your sanity (and your job) and make your trip as seamless as possible. You also set yourself up for future success in requesting remote work in the future, now that you have established some data in your management’s eyes. I hope you find these helpful, and please have a croissant as you embrace the beautiful culture around you, wherever that may be! Cheers!