Some entrepreneurs aspire to launch a successful online company and take off to work remotely from anywhere in the world. Others find that the workforce itself is changing, with many companies looking beyond their local talent pools to hire remote workers (psst… our parent company Tucows hires remote!). Working abroad or a work from home option can sound wonderful—especially when those plans include palm trees, gentle ocean breezes and poolside hangs on the weekends. The dream of globe-trotting while balancing work is possible in our technology-fueled age, but it requires a bit of planning and research to do it right.
Here are a few things to consider, set up and prepare before diving headfirst into remote work.
Remote jobs require patience and great communication skills.
When you work remotely, and especially if you’re in a different timezone than your clients or colleagues, you will likely struggle to maintain communication flow. Remote meetings can make you feel out of touch or like a bystander to conversations. Tone and meaning can get lost in email and other digital communication. You’re going to miss being able to turn around and talk to someone or give them a quick, unscheduled call. This can take some getting used to. You’ll want to be involved with your team or clients day-to-day but it may not be as easy to do.
The best option to maintain a connection is to synchronize your workday with the timezone and typical work hours of the people or businesses you work for, or at least work the same hours for a portion of your workday. This could mean waking up at the crack of dawn or starting later to work a bit into the night. Before you jet off somewhere, be sure you can handle the shift in lifestyle that comes with changing your working hours (and the inevitable jet lag). Video calls help maintain face-to-face interaction so be sure to set yourself up on Google Hangouts, Zoom or a similar service.
Working remote will have you glued to your devices more often than usual.
You won’t be able to step away from your device as easily as you imagine. Even when you leave your laptop over the weekend, your phone will be your go-to. It’s important to not let work take over your life when you’re living or traveling abroad. Remember, you don’t need to feel guilty for taking the time to explore a new place, so long as your performance at work is optimal and you are meeting deadlines as expected.
Decide to forgive yourself for not checking in on the weekends and disconnect from everything as much as possible. Disconnecting helps prevent burnout, especially if you are running the business or in a management role. Also, you won’t want to neglect posting to the company’s social media over the weekend but this is easily remedied by using an app or organizational tool that can schedule your content and make posts for you. To make sure you don’t overwork yourself, it’s a good idea to follow a strict work schedule or routine to keep you on track during the week.
Working from home means you’ll need a good Wi-Fi signal at your house or close by.
Many people might imagine that working abroad will have them sitting on a lounge chair and working right from the beach. That’s only doable if your beach has a lightning speed Internet connection (if you know of a beach like this, please share!) and most… unfortunately don’t. This means you’ll likely be holed up in your home, a co-working space, a lobby or coffee shop during your workday. If the Wi-Fi connection at any of those locations is slow or lagging, it will ruin your experience and possibly damage your reputation and the trust your colleagues have placed in your ability to work remotely. You will rely heavily on Wi-Fi signals to maintain your customer relationships, stay connected to your team and do all your work. Reliable Wi-Fi must be an integral piece of your work abroad plan.
You’ll need to find good Wi-Fi connections in advance of your travel. Does your ideal area have fiber Internet? Does your new apartment have a co-working space within walking distance? Do your research before you move. Check with other remote workers in the areas you’re visiting via social media and get their feedback. Make sure to inquire with any hosts or management about Wi-Fi, check maps for good spots in the area that you can use for work and reach out to local contacts or online expat networks. In worst-case scenarios, you can try a Wi-Fi extender to boost the signal but ultimately, you’ll need to find out what others are doing to get work done while living and working in the location you have chosen.
You may get a bit lonely so you’ll have to find ways to meet other remote workers.
It can be a bit daunting to move out to a new city or country on your own. It’s possible you’re moving to an entirely new place where you don’t know anyone, which will make it tough at first. You might not be the most social, outgoing person and worry about meeting new people. These fears are legitimate and can impact your ability to fully experience your new location and take away from the time you have there. Remember that moving to a new place—and even visiting a new place—can be challenging so it’s wise to expect it and prepare yourself mentally. The more prepared you are, the more rewarding it will be.
Luckily, nearly everywhere you go, there are co-living and co-working spaces you can join. If you’re working for a company that supports remote workers, see if they will go in on or cover a co-working space for you. There are many spaces that charge reasonable rates to use a hot desk a handful of times a month. Co-living provides you the opportunity to live and work in a place with other entrepreneurs and remote workers. It’s usually a bit less expensive than renting a place on your own and comes with the benefits of being surrounded by others in a similar situation. A great living situation is a game-changer so approach your new life with an open and curious mind.
Make It Home
Since you’re working remotely, find somewhere you can live, rather than vacation.
While you may love the beach, it may not be practical to be far from the city center and all the amenities it has to offer. It may make the most sense to be surrounded by the amenities so you can drive or take transit out to the beach on your weekends. You’ll have an easier transition to a new location and work remotely if you’re comfortable and happy. Striking the balance will be important as you’ll want to make sure neither your work nor your lifestyle are hampered by your big move.
Know the type of environment you’re comfortable living in and do your research. Writing down some key points will be helpful when scouting locations. Are you looking for a house with some land? Will an apartment close to shops serve you better? Is public transportation readily available? With some local knowledge, you might find that off-season in your area is too quiet for your liking. It might even be abandoned and a lot of amenities could be closed. Alternatively, you might be used to sleeping soundly and find that a bustling city is too bright and noisy for you. You won’t get much done if you aren’t able to focus or get a good night’s sleep. Knowing what you need from a home will make it easier to transition.
Make Working Remotely Work For You
It’s been found that 40% of people prefer or want remote work, so it’s important for both companies and their employees to consider how working remotely can positively impact employee happiness and retention. Work with your team to figure out how you will deal with deadlines, time differences and communication before you leave and make sure you all have an understanding of what success looks like. Create back-up plans, do your research and go forward with confidence. The world is yours.