For some, remote working is easier than for others. But quite a lot of us will agree: as long as you have a laptop, smartphone and good internet, you can do most or all of your work anywhere you like, right? We put this into practice and give you 5 tips for working remotely, based on our first experiences.
As was true for a large part of the world, our on-site jobs changed to working from home and frequent meetings were all made digital. We put together our very own home office and found local cafés to work from every now and then. This raised the question with us and many people around us: couldn’t we do this from any other place but home, at least for a while, so long as there’s good internet? Though we do not have jobs that are normally done remotely, our employers said we could give it a shot. And as I type this, we have just finished our last work day from our lovely apartment in Málaga!
Remote working, what was it like for us?
So, how was it? First of all: our free time got quite the upgrade compared to what we’re used to at home: our lunch breaks outside in the sun in an unfamiliar city were more exciting than the usual lunch walk that we go on, and leaving work behind was easy after any single day. In short: even work days felt like holidays, with everything we were able to do. But we had to focus on our work too, of course. We had both expected that distractions might be a problem, but we found that this was little or no different from home: meetings and deadlines give structure and motivation to work just like any other day. And yes, if things are a little slow on a specific day, it can be harder to focus, but in our opinion that’s not different from home or the office. What was a challenge for us, was getting used to different desk heights and chairs, since you’re not likely to drag your proper desk chair from home along in the airplane.
Tips for remote working
And of course, our experiences in Málaga gave us insights that we’d like to share with you in the form of 5 tips.
Remote working tip 1: get the basics right
Good internet, multiple rooms if you both have jobs with meetings, multiple proper places to work from. We brought a keyboard, laptop stand and wireless mouse to give ourselves an even more comfortable setup. Top tip: AirBnB has a new function enabling you to search specifically for apartments suitable to work from, with guaranteed fast wifi. And you can look into specific co-working spaces in the place you’re looking to visit, as an alternative.
Remote working tip 2: plan ahead
You might want set working times, or prefer absolute flexibility, but think about what you’d like to do besides work and plan accordingly. We went for early starts to leave more time at the end of the day to see the sights, go out to dinner and find the best sunset spots. If there was something we wanted to visit that was only open during working hours, we planned our meetings and work around a window to go and see it. Planning helped us focus too: mark out what you need to get done each day.
Remote working tip 3: costs for internet and calls abroad
Within Europe, this is not a big problem nowadays. But depending on your contract, being called can cost something when you’re abroad. If you have a job that requires long calls, be sure to check this in advance. And same goes for the internet. Most of us have a pretty large, if not unlimited supply of internet on our phones that we can use as a hotspot in case the wifi doesn’t work. But things can change when you’re abroad (unlimited might not always be unlimited abroad…). Buying a local sim card can be another option, especially when you’re planning to go to a different continent.
Remote working tip 4: make more of your work week
Though we started off with the fact that working from abroad was quite similar to working from home, being in a new place can certainly add to the working experience. We planned calls instead of video calls where possible to be able to go for a walk around the neighborhood. Seeking out a local coffee bar and reading some documents outside in the sun can be a great extra too.
Remote working tip 5: plan activities around the work week
Our original plan was to work remotely for a week and fly back home, but we decided to add an extra week of free time after the work week. This meant that after the last work day, we went straight into our holiday, no long travel day needed and already feeling comfortable in the lovely Spanish culture and weather.
So, reading all this, will you give it a go?
Kirsten & Thomas