When you are not travelling or on holiday, you naturally have to work. Because the fridge and your bank account do not fill themselves. Traditionally, you move to a place of work for this: to a shop, an office or a factory, for example. A major trend in the digital working world, however, is the so-called remote work. This means that you are only “virtually at work”: you can be reached by e-mail, telephone or video conference and work remotely.
Slack is, for example, a very popular tool for communication and has become an indispensable part of many people’s everyday working lives. Especially in tech companies and agencies, ticket systems are also widely used. This means that teams already coordinate their tasks largely without verbal communication. So why not work completely remote? Because the prerequisites for this have never been as good as they are today. In fact in a survey 79 % of those surveyed said that the employer already offers home office.
Of course, this type of work is not suitable for everyone and not possible in every job. But for programmers, designers, copy writers, authors or marketers it is certainly a good way to bring work and private life into a good balance. You can work remotely in your home country from home or even from abroad. For this to work best, you should have sorted out some basic thoughts and facts for yourself and those you work with – I have collected my thoughts on this in this overview:
Planning is the Alpha & Omega
In order to be able to work successfully remotely, some planning is necessary beforehand:
1. An agreement with your employer or your customers, if you are a freelancer
In my case, I started the arrangements with my employer several months before my stay abroad in Mexico. This gives both sides some time to get used to the unusual work situation and prepare mentally. If you are already a freelancer, you should definitely talk to your (most important) customers and clarify with them how your cooperation will work in the future. This is also urgently necessary because of possible asynchronous cooperation due to a possible time difference outside Europe.
2. Clarify insurance status & have international health insurance
Clarifying your insurance status is also an important matter. Because if you are healthy, you do not worry about insurance. However, if you fall ill or have an accident abroad, it is too late to think about it. It is therefore important that you clarify your insurance status in cooperation with your employer or insurer. Ideally, you will continue to be covered by the your national health and accident insurance. In any case, you should have an international health insurance to be on the safe side and in the worst case you might even be brought back to your home country for treatment.
Try to plan the time for remote work as reasonably as possible. Think about your own needs and wishes as well as those of your employer and customers. Because working remotely is usually a completely new situation for everyone involved. In addition, you can fly cheaper, especially on international long-haul flights if you plan and book well in advance.
For example, if there is less activity in your company in spring than in winter, it is more appropriate to work remotely from abroad for a few weeks or months in spring rather than suggesting this for winter. In my case, winter and Christmas tended to be quiet, so this period was a good choice. If you want to work remotely for an unlimited period of time, the process of planning your remote work time accurately is of course unnecessary 😉
Choose work location & design
Whether you prefer to work from home in your home office or remotely from abroad is the first important decision for the adventure. You should really think about this carefully. I would also not recommend you to travel to a place you don’t know well just to work from there. You should know your new home country well enough to imagine working there day by day.
You should also design your workplace in such a way that you can really work productively. Because with the remote working, job and private life can merge very quickly. So if you plan to work from bed or the beach, close this tab now and think about this again. Really.
- What devices and equipment do you need? Do you need a second screen for your laptop? If so, how do you get it?
- Do you take your personal equipment such as laptop, camera etc. with you or can they even provided by your employer?
- Is there a fast and reliable internet connection at your place of work? If not: How can you ensure that you are still available to act on tasks?
- Where do you want to live? Will you work from where you live or from a co-working space?
A remote work working day
Now that you have planned and discussed everything, I recommend that you plan a rough, ideal daily routine. For example, if there is a time difference, your daily routine may look dramatically different than before. The time difference in my case between Germany and Mexico City is for example -7 hours.
In order to be able to communicate with your colleagues in real time, you must therefore start work latest at 8 a.m. local time, so that your colleagues are still available in the office at 3 p.m. German time. In this small time window, you can discuss priorities and coordinate your work without having to wait several hours for an answer.
If you have the most important information, you could basically take an extended break for lunch or sports and continue working later in the day. The most important thing, however, is that you keep to your schedules and deadlines within the team and that your colleagues can still rely on you!
Everyone has different preferences, but these small personal examples illustrate the challenges that can arise when working remotely. Especially in the beginning it requires a certain amount of self-discipline to plan, optimize and try out how to best work remotely. But to be aware of how to approach this very important process is in my opinion the first step towards successful self-management, which is essential for a successful remote work relationship.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
It is extremely important to communicate constantly and always. So your colleagues or customers always know what’s going on. This can and should be done in public. Because for working remotely the rule is: communicate, communicate, communicate. Be it via slack status (lunch break, meal, absence, etc.) or via e-mail, Skype, video conference, etc.
In regular video conferences, for example, you can exchange information with your colleagues, partners or customers once a week in order to compare priorities and to-dos as well as to clear possible hurdles. Virtual team meetings or joint coffee breaks also make collaboration extremely easy and are very popular with remote workers. I will certainly share some of my own experiences in this area as soon as my remote working day routine has settled in for a while.
Do not forget to switch off
Last but not least it is also important to simply switch off. No matter where you are and how you work, it is quite likely that projects, to-dos or thoughts of the job will sneak into your everyday life. It helps if your work place is separate from where you live.
So when you work remotely, just like at work, just turn off your laptop, close it, put away your smartphone and enjoy life.
In this sense: I hope you work successfully whether remote or at a fixed location.
Have you ever worked remotely? Could you imagine it? What do you think of my basic ideas about remote working? Let me know in the comments!