It’s a great feeling to be able to travel with the security of full-time employment. Quite often it can be a subject of envy amongst friends, traveling abroad whilst being able to manage my career and a steady income. As a developer, it is not always necessary for me to be in the office to be able to do my job but it’s not all roses and sunshine and I’ll be going through some pros and cons, as well as some helpful tips based on my own experience.
Currently, I’m in Australia visiting friends and family, and seeing as it is such a massive journey and expense, I was given the opportunity to spend some quality time abroad to indulge in my much needed time amongst friends and family, as well as catching up on some much needed Vitamin D!
Working in different time zones
Working 11hrs ahead of your colleagues can sometimes prove to be a challenging task, especially when you have questions on a project that you’re working on or get stuck on a blocker but everyone is in the land of nod! In my experience, although answers may not be readily available, until you can clarify things, I find it is helpful not to dwell on anything for too long before moving onto other tasks. Make sure you have more than a days' work of tasks just in case such situations arise.
When traveling abroad, it’s probably best to get a hold of a great phone service that has a decent amount of data, in case you are away from a proper wi-fi connection - or if you plan to spend the day by the beach (as I found myself doing whilst writing this blog)!
Although keeping connected to the internet is a must for the general working day, I feel that it is just as important to stay connected to colleagues. Sometimes it’s not always easy to be on the daily stand-up call but being available for general coms and accommodating to the time difference can be invaluable.
There are many applications such as Slack and Google hangouts for keeping good coms with your project manager. One I find extremely valuable is Screenhero, which allows my colleague can to view my screen and even control actions from the other side of the globe. This has proven to be a massive time-saver.
Being out of the office can be easily distracting, especially when there are so many interesting things going on around you. Finding a comfortable, quiet place can be a good start. I found libraries a very helpful place, or a room with no windows/posters/people to distract you and of course, plenty of caffeine!!!
Getting into a routine is a must. Waking up early and starting a day as though it was a normal day in the office, and trying to not let yourself get distracted, is the key to staying focused and sharp. However, this takes a lot more patience than it looks because you are often not in a fixed place or environment on a daily basis. One day you might be on a beach (that may take several hours to get to), the next may be at the local coffee shop. Self-discipline is required and the ability to manage your time effectively and efficiently, so that you can also fit in the occasional afternoon kiteboarding session!
Managing your hours
As previously mentioned, it is not always practical to work in the realm of the standard “9-5” office hours. In order to make it sustainable to work remotely, for both you and your company, you need to be prepared to work the occasional random hours. This may involve getting up early or staying up late, and spending the odd evening catching up on projects.
Life isn’t always about living to work. Working remotely is about the ability to travel whilst also maintaining a healthy work/life balance. Irrespective of your desire and determination, it takes the support of your team for working remotely to be successful. Although there are plenty of hurdles, the positive experiences far outweigh the negatives.
Lastly, a quick thank you to Paul and Evan for allowing me to work and travel.