Working From a Distance (in Another Time Zone on the Other Side of the World)

Written By: Cassian Soltykevych  Posted:3 months ago

Working From a Distance

A hotel room in Tokyo, a coffee shop in Sydney, or 40,000 feet above the Pacific Ocean are just some of the places you can be when working remotely (I’m currently typing at the last option). While I frequently hear that working remotely is the easiest and best thing for work, I would raise a hand and say that it really isn’t for everyone. There are a number of things to consider before travelling and working remotely, along with potential problems that could arise.

Before taking off on a plane, train, or automobile, you have to think about how you’re going to be able to work while travelling - you can’t just assume that you’ll work 8 hours straight on the train ride. You’ll probably want to eat some lunch, look at the views (after all, you’re likely somewhere you’ve never been before), and maybe take a bit of a break from work. Be reasonable with what you’ll be able to work, and don’t lie to yourself (or your boss). Do you normally work 40 hours a week from Monday to Friday? Maybe think about working Monday to Saturday or Sunday and work a few hours less each day as maybe one day you have to be on a plane and won’t want to work as much.

While in the last 10 years internet availability has grown substantially in most countries, it isn’t always as fast or reliable as back home. While Starbucks and McDonald’s are pretty reliable for some free data, having that vanilla latte or double cheeseburger every day or two can quickly add up. Also, keep in mind that your internet connection may not always be as secure as you might think - especially in public areas such as museums and airport lounges. Consider getting a data plan locally - almost every country in the world has more affordable LTE/4G service than Canada (think $5/5GB in many parts of Southeast Asia).

If you’re looking to travel to a number of places in a shorter amount of time, say a new country every few days, time zone changes can impact your sleep and health fairly quickly if not adjusted for. In the span of a few weeks, flying from Toronto to Tokyo to Sydney to Singapore to Istanbul to Kyiv to London and back to Toronto can lead to serious jet lag and potentially being sick on your trip. Always spend time planning your sleep schedule before taking off, keeping in mind how a flight will impact you if you can’t sleep on planes. Also, be mindful of how being in a different time zone can impact work meetings or client calls. If you’re lucky, your boss will be sympathetic if you're just sending an update via email instead of joining a call because it’s 2am in Australia and 10am back in Canada.

Inevitably you’ll start missing home - friends and family, or even pets (the latter aren’t very good at Skype). Don’t feel down that you couldn’t be abroad for as long as you thought and that living in London for a year or trekking across Nepal while working remotely for 5 months wasn’t quite as simple as you thought it’d be. I travel on dozens of flights a year and have found myself in at least half a dozen countries each year, but nothing feels better than being with your friends and family, and, most importantly, sleeping in your own bed.

Safe travels,

Cassian

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