6 tips for working remotely from paradise so you can extend your summer
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If you’re not a fan of trudging into the office five days a week, 12 months of the year and commuting during rush hour, you may be enjoying remote work.
Even as offices across the country completely reopen, many companies have looked at how and where their employees work from and have realized that many people don’t want or need to come into the office every day.
If all you need to work is a laptop and a steady internet connection, a whole world of remote working opportunities open up to you. If you don’t need to be back in the office at 9 a.m. on Monday, do you really need to race back home on Sunday night from your summer vacation at the beach?
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Many office employers will now allow employees to work from abroad, provided the conditions are agreed upon beforehand. It’s not a free pass to move to the Bahamas and never be seen again, of course, but if you’re heading to Europe for a week of leave and want to extend your trip by a week to work remotely, your employer may be more agreeable to this proposal than they would have been prior to the pandemic. After all, you’ve had quite a lot of time stuck at home to show you can work remotely just as well as you can in an office environment.
Hoping to extend your summer vacation? Since I’ve worked from all over the world, here are my tips for successful remote work.
Be honest with your employer
You might think a virtual background is all you need to work from the beach, but these plans can quickly unravel. If your job requires you to be available with short notice in person, sneaking off to Dubai without telling anyone could backfire on you spectacularly.
Remember, you’ll still need a negative COVID-19 test result to return to the U.S. — regardless of vaccination status.
There are also taxation, data security and potential insurance implications of working in a different country to the one you are employed in for an extended period of time. You should discuss these with your employer before jetting off to make sure there are no nasty surprises. A week working from Spain may be fine for everyone; three months may not.
If you are honest with your employer you can head off with the peace of mind you are not likely to get an unexpected call from your human resources department and be expected in person at 9 a.m. the next day.
Stable Wi-Fi is nonnegotiable
No matter how beautiful that Instagram photo of a deserted beach might be, if you don’t have stable Wi-Fi your remote working journey is likely to be cut short. Unless you can work offline, you’ll need an internet connection strong and stable enough to do your daily tasks.
You can research this in advance, too. If you’re hiring an Airbnb, check the reviews to see if guests mention the internet speeds and you can always ask the host as well. You may be able to tether from your phone in certain destinations, though be aware of fair usage charges for roaming abroad. If you have lots of video calls throughout your workday you can easily use 30 gigabytes of data in a week just from tethering from your phone. (Believe me, I’ve done it!)
Pick a destination and accommodation where you know you will have stable, reliable internet. I can guarantee your stress levels will go through the roof if you can’t connect on the first day of your remote working adventure no matter how beautiful the destination.
You’ll love — or hate — the time differences
Time zone is one of the most important decisions when it comes to deciding a remote work destination.
I’m off to work remotely from Portugal soon because, in addition to the amazing weather, beautiful beaches, delicious seafood and friendly people, it’s in exactly the same time zone as the United Kingdom (where I live). That means I can start and finish at the same time as I would back home.
Greece, on the other hand, is two hours ahead of the U.K. While that might not sound like much, if you’re working 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the U.K., that’s 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Greece. You might be fine starting and finishing later, but if you’d rather be dipping your toes in the ocean to watch the sunset each evening the time zone might be very frustrating. The farther east you head, the more difficult the time difference. Dubai is even trickier.
It can be difficult for destinations behind the U.K., too. The Caribbean island of Jamaica is five hours behind the U.K. The benefit of this is you would finish work at midday each day and have the afternoon to do as you please. The downside would be you might have to start work at 4 a.m. each morning which would be horrendous if you’re not a morning person.
For those based in the United States, an extended workcation in Europe could mean staying online late into the evening. Alternatively, even booking a trip where you plan to work remotely from the west coast when your office works on east coast hours could mean waking up hours earlier than you’d planned.
If you can negotiate with your employer to work whatever hours are convenient to you that’s great, but if the deal is you have to be online during specific U.S. office hours, pick your time zone very carefully.
Take the right equipment
You probably won’t be packing a full-size external monitor and office chair into your luggage to work remote, but think about the bits and pieces you’ll need to be as efficient as possible.
I can work fine on a laptop without a monitor but I’m much quicker with an external mouse rather than just using the trackpad, so I always pack a proper mouse and mousepad when I travel.
Don’t forget items like a converter for your laptop charger, laptop stand and proper headphones, too. The easier it is to work from paradise the more you will enjoy it. Make a list before you leave home if you’re worried you’ll forget something.
Don’t expect a perfect office set-up
If you’re staying at a chain hotel where business travelers would normally stay, you’ll often find a good desk and chair in your room, which is excellent for remote working. The hotel might also have a business center for a change of scenery — I’ve happily worked from these spaces many days during the pandemic and they’re great.
But that little Airbnb on the beach in Spain? You might have a dining table to work from if you’re lucky, or you could be perched on an uncomfortable, rickety café table out on a balcony somewhere.
If it’s just for a day or two that might be fine but if it’s for weeks on end it might be rather uncomfortable.
Remember this furniture is designed for people on vacation, not someone working full-time. Fortunately, platforms such as Airbnb have now introduced the ability to filter by those properties that provide ‘laptop surfaces’ to work from.
Don’t be afraid of (carefully) moving some furniture around to make the situation more comfortable. If the small outdoor table is good to work from but too hot out in the sun, consider moving it indoors. Just be sure to move things back to where you found them at the end of your stay.
You might wish to pack your favorite cushion to either sit on or support your back. Your body will thank you for it.
Be strict with your workday
Try and keep a good routine each day you are working from paradise. Set your alarm each morning; you are there to work, remember!
If you get an hour for lunch then take the hour to relax, go for a quick dip in the pool or ocean, or read a book in the sun.
If the whole point of working remotely is so you have your evenings free to enjoy a beautiful destination then do try and finish on time each day so you can make the most of it. If you’re working until midnight each night you may as well have just stayed at home! If the time zone you are in means you have to work well into the evenings but have your mornings free, get out and enjoy it then. I love a morning beach walk before the tourists arrive for the day.
The other side of this is to remember that if you are working, you are working. As tempting as it might be to take your laptop down to a sunlounger and order a mai tai, your productivity is likely to plunge despite your best intentions. Personally, I would be asleep within an hour. If you want to work remotely from somewhere lovely on a semi-regular basis, you’ll need to prove you can be trusted with this flexibility.
Keep your eye on the time but be as strict with your time as you would if you were in the office.
The worst part of my summer vacations has been returning home at the end of it. It’s been wonderful to be able to extend some of these trips by working remotely at the end of it. There are so many benefits, including that when you log off at the end of the day you’re already in paradise and will feel like you are still on vacation.
Be honest with your employer, plan your destinations and working setup as best as possible, be strict yet sensible with your time and you might be surprised how easy it is to work from just about anywhere in the world.
Featured image by Abel Halasz / EyeEm / Gettys
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