5 Things You Need to Successfully Work Abroad

island resort - secretEveryone who is able to work from home may have dreamt it – working from the beach in some tropical island; on a 16 hour airplane flight; by a 5-start hotel resort pool after adventuring through oceans and jungles by the pacific; and so on. Sure, it’s possible, but the risk of missing out on an important business call, oversleeping due to heavy time differences, or having no internet connection because you decided to camp in the Himalayas may be too high for you to pursue such dramatic work environments. Well it’s not as hard as it sounds if you plan ahead. This blog post, for example, has been written and published from an island with a 67 kilometer circumference in the middle of the Asian Pacific. Here some easy things to do to avoid getting caught in business stress in the middle of your travels.

1: Plan Ahead & Bring Your Material

Obviously, you will need to have everything you use on a regular business day with you, which are most likely: Your laptop and reliable case (with all documents and software ready to go), a cell phone with global functionality, paperwork (which should be transferred on the laptop if possible) and other material you usually use. Just leave the printer behind and desk stuff behind. Make sure you know what you will be working on and even consider bringing your business cards – you never know who you meet on such occasions.

2: Check your Location Compatibility

Check your locations features. Most commonly, you will need reliable internet, a good cell phone reception (which comes with good internet) and it should be quiet enough for you to focus and have phone conversations. This eliminates that party resorts, cheap hotels that are close to the street and cottages on mountain locations. Cities will have good internet, but if you are traveling then you are most likely trying to avoid that type of environment.

3: Prepare for a Different Time Zone

One of the most difficult things to adjust to is a different time zone. I’m not talking about the 3 hour difference there is between Americas west and east coast (this section wouldn’t apply to you if that’s the case), I’m talking about HUGE time differences. If farther east you go, the more hours in advanced you will be – the harder it is to communicate with the western countries. For example, if you are staying in Taiwan, you will be 15 hours ahead of Los Angeles and exactly 12 hours ahead of New York – always… obviously. This makes an 11 am web conference with New York sound very painful, knowing you will have to be online and focused at 11 pm and probably pull it off until past midnight. The best thing to do here is have a watch for every time zone you are going to be involved in while traveling, strapped around your wrist.

4: Brainhack to Be More Focused and Work Late

Problems start when you are in a time zone that is 9 hours ahead of your typical business hours. This suggests that when you normally finished work (typically 5pm – 6pm) is now when you should be most focused. How do you teach your brain to adjust and stay efficiently ready at these hours (if you need it to)? There is enough information on that for a complete new blog post, but here we will focus on the most important:

Nap Efficiently – Take a nap in the afternoon to increase your focus in the evening. Taking a 20-30 min nap at this time will also allow you to sleep less at night – as much as 2 hours less by taking one nap. Taking two naps at least 3.5 hours apart will also help decrease your main sleep duration more. This technique is called the Everyman and if possible you should even try the Uberman sleeping technique. More info on that is here: http://www.dustincurtis.com/sleep.html

Become an Owl – Staying up longer at night and sleeping hours later can also help you stay more alert in the evenings and participate in the daily activities from the other side of the world. It does take some days to adjust your mind to its new schedule, so try this over a weekend unless you want to risk stammering or drifting during an important phone call due to sleepiness.

Don’t get Carried Away – It’s very tempting to not work sometimes, knowing that your business partners or clients are currently unavailable or sleeping anyway. Procrastinating becomes easier and often times, that’s the time when you are most focused. Try to self schedule efficiently.

5: Communication

For this whole thing to work you MUST communicate as often as possible. Here some easy ways to not miss out on communication:

  • Set up automatic e-mail responses during your sleep time and notify clients when you will be available.
  • Have a calendar with your availability in their time zone.
  • Send out updates before going to sleep.
  • Note a delay before it happens.

The best way to put it is, make your clients feel like you are in their time zone.

Practicing these 5 things will make your travelling work experience a good one for you and your clients. If approached correctly, your image will give out a good and successfully work impression, which on the other hand can easily become a lousy impression when failing to communicate correctly, etc. Stick to the rules and your working abroad lifestyle will be enjoyable and maintainable.

I'm a developer at Maximus Business.

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