Working while not in a workplace environment (whether that means from home or while out and about) is becoming increasingly common – as is people opting to work remotely from overseas.
If you’re tempted to take the plunge yourself, read on to discover how to navigate the inevitable obstacles that come from working hundreds or thousands of miles away from the rest of your company.
Whether you’re going to be working from your foreign residence or a local coffee shop with free Wi-Fi, there needs to be a distinction between spaces for work and spaces for leisure.
While it sounds nice on paper, making yourself work in an area you regularly relax in is a recipe for disaster. If you’re curled up on a sofa with a duvet or lying on a beach, you may find it too difficult to stick to a schedule thanks to distractions or a lack of motivation.
Get yourself a proper desk space, with easy access to your work documents, files and backups. If you’re living with family or friends, make sure you have a private space where you can shut the door and keep noise at bay.
You also need to make sure your computer or tablet is properly geared up for the job you need to do, and keep distractions to a minimum.
It’s amazing how a clean, professional looking space can focus your mind and help you to work more productively.
Even the act of getting up and ready for work in the morning can help with focus. As tempting as lounging around working in your pyjamas may be, getting up, showered and dressed (as you would when going to a normal job) will get you mentally prepared for the day ahead.
Organisation isn’t just in the set-up either – it’s in every facet of the job, and keeping on top of it can help improve your productivity and reduce stress.
When it comes to organising projects and contacts, make sure the information you need is always easy to find and that you have it backed up in either digital or physical form.
Continue to organise new files and work projects as they come up, don’t leave them to build up and become overwhelming.
You’ll also want to organise your work hours. When do you start? When do you stop? What time should you have breaks or lunch? While you might be working to set deadlines, it can also be helpful to put self-imposed deadlines in place.
Working remotely from abroad means you’ll also need to consider the time zone of your colleagues and customers.
Anyone who’s tried to work their schedules around loved ones abroad knows how frustrating time zones can be, and they can be a bit of an obstacle when it comes to working remotely.
If you’re working in customer service or in another customer-facing role, you may need to adjust your schedule and body clock to account for the difference, and if you’re working in a team you may need to adjust project deadlines and timelines.
There’s a communal aspect to most jobs, and it’s normal to have colleagues to chat with in your downtime, but if you’re working remotely this camaraderie might be something you miss out on.
If you want to feel part of things it’s imperative to remain communicative during your time working remotely. Whether you’d prefer to catch up over Skype, use online collaboration tools like Slack or have a chat by email or over the phone, make sure your colleagues know how to reach you.
Your teammates will appreciate this too and it will make staying on top of deadlines and seeing eye-to-eye on projects that bit easier.
Small talk might not feel that natural if you’re half a world away, but it’s an important part of work culture. Don’t underestimate how much impact communication can have on your job satisfaction.
While we stressed the importance of having a dedicated work space, if things begin to feel a bit stale, consider working from another location from time to time.
A café perhaps, or your porch or garden (if it’s a nice day!)
This kind of diversity can help keep you engaged and get those creative juices flowing.
Additionally, if you’ve finished some work you’re proud of, or that your colleagues or boss are proud of, why not spoil yourself a bit?
Don’t feel guilty for taking leisure time or rewarding yourself for a job well done, it will keep you motivated in the long-term!
Even if you’re still part of a team, working remotely means you’ll be managing yourself in a lot more ways than you would be otherwise.
If you’re not typically an organised person, this might be a bit of a struggle, but it’s something anyone can get to grips with over time.
You may even learn what kind of environment you work best in. Do you focus best when listening to music? Do you prefer a clear work space or do you find comfort in being surrounded by documents?
There are plenty of upsides to working remotely from overseas, but it isn’t for everyone. Before you make any life-changing decisions examine yourself, your job and your work processes and determine whether working remotely is something you could make a success of. If it is, get packing!
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