The coronavirus pandemic is now ebbing away in the rearview mirror, but there’s one aspect in which it has changed the world forever – remote work. When employees across the globe were confined to their homes during the lockdowns necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic, they had no choice but to work while being away from their offices. But most discovered they were surprisingly efficient while working from home – some companies even went to the extent of going remote-first permanently. In contrast, others have moved to hybrid work even when the lockdowns are no longer in force.
All this has meant that there’s an explosion of location-independent knowledge workers, who’re free to work from anywhere with an internet connection. Many of these remote workers have moved abroad, becoming digital nomads. But remote work is new for most people, and working from a whole new country can be a daunting experience for many. Here are some tips on being efficient while working remotely from a new country.
1. Choose your location wisely: You might be tempted to pick the most exotic destinations while working abroad, but there are several factors to remember when choosing where to work from. Does your country have reliable internet access? Does it lie in a time zone where you’ll be able to collaborate with your colleagues? Does it have favorable taxation policies? Will you be able to find repair parts for your laptops and other tech necessities? Do your research before you decide on where to work remotely – this will be the most significant determinant of your experience while working abroad.
2. Keep an eye on expenses: It’s easy to splurge while on vacation – people choose the best stays, eat at the best restaurants, and participate in the most fun activities. But while it might feel like one, working abroad is not a vacation. A digital nomad’s stint abroad can last months or even years, so it’s imperative that you mentally get out of vacation mode. Treat yourself once in a while, by all means, but keep a watchful eye on your wallet – this is a marathon, not a sprint.
3. Automate as much as possible: You don’t want to be working 10-hour-days if you’re working remotely abroad. There will be places to explore, new people to meet, and experiences to savor, and all this will be hard to do if you’re glued to your laptop for 12 hours a day. This is where productivity tools come in – use the right software to automate your tasks, like email responders, and use software that’ll help you finish your job quicker, like grammar checkers. The more things you automate, the more you’ll get to enjoy your time abroad.
4. Set expectations: Set the right expectations with your bosses, colleagues, and partners. Working remotely doesn’t mean you let your performance dip – if anything, you should be even more productive and available at work. But you could work specific hours or have a leave calendar different from your home offices. It’s best to set these expectations immediately – your colleagues should know when you’ll be available and working. Remote work is still a new idea, and it’s essential to maintain trust with your coworkers and colleagues.
5. Draw boundaries between work and play: Working in an exotic location might bring a lot of temptations – you could be sipping mimosas by the beach at two in the afternoon, or you could take an entire afternoon off to join a jungle safari. But set clear boundaries between work and play – make sure you set aside time where you can focus and be productive. In those durations, forget where you are and get your job done. Having a clear distinction between “work time” and “play time” will help you reach your professional goals and also help you enjoy your stint abroad.
Working remotely is a privilege. In thousands of years of human history, it has been possible to work from where you want. The current crop of knowledge workers is blessed to have been around at a confluence of events – including the invention of the internet and the coronavirus pandemic – which has made remote work possible. If done right, working remotely while abroad can boost your career prospects and earnings and be an opportunity of a lifetime to travel and broaden your horizons simultaneously.