In an age of pandemics and digital employment, the shift to working virtually is becoming more and more common, sometimes even permanent. But does working virtually simply mean working from home or could someone work from anywhere as long as they have their computer? How would working abroad affect productivity, job satisfaction, and communication? And what are the necessary factors that make working abroad feasible?
Recently, I attempted to answer these questions by packing up my laptop and heading to India. Before taking this trip, I had solely worked virtually from home, but I decided to take the leap to work abroad so I could visit my family.
Preparation in Key
I knew this would take some pre-emptive organization to ensure that I would still be able to communicate with my colleagues, but other than that it was quite a simple change. While the temporary switch from working in Canada to India was an easy transition for me, it was the support of colleagues and having a strong infrastructure in place that allowed me to stay connected and engaged.
My colleagues worked with me to ensure that I would have all the tools necessary to work in a drastically different time zone. I learned that great communication is the most essential tool for working abroad, especially when you can’t constantly communicate with your colleagues. I was able to manage this through emails and weekly meetings (when our workdays intersected).
Managing the Challenges
There were challenges but it was all worth it. Working abroad allowed me to disrupt my work routine with a change of scenery, experience, and point of view. It was a shake-up that improved my work life balance.
Having the option to work abroad meant that I wasn’t stuck in one place and had the ability to invest time into one of my passions, travel. While some may believe that working takes away from your time away, I feel that it helped me create a more balanced lifestyle. Why should we separate our time into two slots, work and vacation?
Working abroad has allowed me to balance work and vacation, doing my job while simultaneously being on holiday. It was still a vacation, so I didn’t work in the same capacity as I usually do, working about half of my regular hours per week. Being able to work reduced hours allowed me to take a larger vacation. I wasn’t dreading the end of my vacation or my return to work, I felt rested and satisfied when I returned home.
To my surprise, working while abroad had little to no impact on my productivity. I was able to get into a mindset where I differentiated my workday from my vacation time. By doing this I was able to complete all my work tasks without distraction.
Mindset is key when working abroad because there are so many distractions. It is so easy to want to ignore your work and focus on your vacation. But by recognizing that there was time for work and time for relaxation, I was able to enjoy the benefits of both.
We know remote work is beneficial to companies – research shows that remote employees are 35-40% more productive than their in-office counterparts. Since remote work has improved productivity, the logical next step is for companies to embrace their employees working anywhere in the world.
Working from India was a great experience for me, and I would recommend taking the leap and working from abroad. Take advantage of the fact that you are no longer tied to a physical office and see the world!