Many uncomfortable situations lead to significant personal growth, as the self-help gurus advise. It’s true that training for a marathon, taking on a high-visibility assignment, or public speaking can simultaneously be both difficult and revelatory in terms of one’s capacity and capabilities.
Whether it’s a personal or professional goal, you might be one of those people who is regularly pushing for more.
This could include expanding your geographical horizons. Perhaps you’re the kind of person who relished studying and living abroad for a few months in college (or later regretted missing out on the experience). Maybe you’re a seasoned traveler with a number of stamps on your passport, but are looking to take a larger leap than tourist visas allow. You might be considering a longer-term adventure in the form of an overseas job.
If an international experience is on your bucket list, consider the advantages of taking on a remote role for a global company before you disembark. There are many advantages to landing a remote role with a distributed company before ever considering an expat move.
Here are three big benefits to getting international experience by taking on a remote role with an overseas or global company:
1. You’ll learn how to work effectively on cross-cultural teams.
Despite its remote arrangement, a global company without a central office will still present some interesting cross-cultural challenges. How will you navigate collaboration with someone whose perspective or approach may be totally different from yours? What industry trends or professional experiences have they been exposed to that you could learn from? What can you teach your colleagues about the market(s) in which you’re most familiar?
Diving into a cross-cultural team and learning as you go with openness, honesty, and transparency can be the quickest route to learning how you’d fare in another country’s work world.
2. You’ll gain valuable experience with intercultural communication.
Communication goes beyond sending a concise, coherent email or translating information on a team call. In some cultures, where you sit in a conference room speaks volumes about your position without saying a word. Other “flat” organizations with little to no hierarchy may have subordinates openly challenging those with more seniority. In intercultural communication, you’re dealing with a lot more than linguistic differences and interpretations—a lot of nuance comes into play. Understanding whether you’re working with individuals from a high or low context culture may mean the difference between building or souring relationships—and ultimately, meeting your goals.
3. You’ll adjust to new customs and workplace norms.
The idea of “business as usual” simply doesn’t fly overseas, where work attitudes and approaches vary widely. For example, some countries are famous for businesses closing midday, so that employees enjoy a long lunch or even a nap. Some are open to flexible work arrangements, while others find in-office time to be critical.
Workweeks may run from Sunday to Friday to accommodate religious observances, or there could be entire months where most operations shut down while families head out on vacation or celebrate holidays. Embracing differences as part of a remote company can help you more quickly and easily adjust to an international professional scenario.