How to Work Successfully from Just About Anywhere
During 2012, my husband and I made the decision that we wanted to travel—and I mean really travel. I had just started with PGi, but because my wanderlust was so strong, I considered quitting my job to take on a new adventure. Because one of PGi’s missions is to help remote workers and their teams work successfully and seamlessly through a variety of products, I thought I was in a unique position to keep my job while I traveled the world.
I put together a presentation and sat down with my (brand new!) boss, and we went over a set of goals for the upcoming year on how I could make the most of my time meeting my fellow PGi stakeholders in different countries while using our online meeting tools to make it happen.
All systems were go, and I traveled to PGi’s 30+ global offices, hosting meetings virtually and in-person, in 12 different time zones, and working from a variety of office and not-so-office-like locations—including McDonald’s, airports, buses, under mosquito nets, and more.
How to Work Successfully from Anywhere
I’d be lying if I told you that being a full-time remote worker that’s constantly hopping from trains, planes, and automobiles (and sometimes rickshaws!) was an easy feat. But once I started learning the ropes, I began to absolutely thrive in my “new” position.
If you’re thinking about taking on the challenge to work successfully just about anywhere, check out these six tips to help avoid some of the headaches I first endured:
1. Mobile-friendly technology: First and foremost, finding a solution that isn’t just mobile-friendly, but is also truly compatible with your surroundings, can mean the difference between success and failure while working remotely. An online meeting tool designed to work with multiple devices and that can work around fleeting internet or weak cell signals is key to ensuring you can keep up-to-date with your team, regardless of where you are.
2. Video killed the email star: Email is critical to sustaining communication between colleagues, but when you’re traveling or working remotely and you’re unable to make in-person meetings, you may experience a disconnect from your team.
I learned very quickly that using video conferencing was the key to making sure I didn’t end up feeling like a vendor taking requests for projects. Anytime I could, I would incorporate video into my meetings with my team. It felt good to see a friendly and familiar face once in awhile—even if I was 4,000 miles away!
3. Improvise through adaptation: Even with the most foolproof plan, sometimes there will be connectivity issues—especially while traveling internationally. Your signal may be weak with your carrier in another country, so finding Wi-Fi can be crucial. But what if you can’t find any?
This happened to me so often that I just began to expect it! While we were in Tokyo, we rented a mobile hotspot “MiFi” router which gave us 3G internet almost everywhere we went in Japan, making internet connectivity less of a worry. A mobile hotspot can save you the trouble of having to rely on the nearest McDonald’s for a Wi-Fi signal for your next meeting!
4. Use the cloud: The cloud is a literal lifesaver while working remotely. It began to be obvious that I wasn’t always going to be able to take a meeting from my laptop and because of this, I frequently ran the risk of not being able to access important documents or projects.
So instead of whipping out my laptop on every street corner, I used cloud-based storage systems to save and access documents and notes. Try Box for images, PDFs, Word documents, and PowerPoint presentations and Evernote to access your notes or bookmarked URLs.
5. Be cognizant of the time zone: While traveling abroad, jet lag was already hard enough to deal with, but remembering which time zone I was in (let alone which zone my coworkers were in!) seemed impossible. Thanks to a quick Google search, I found an online tool called TimeAndDate.com that assists in quick and easy international scheduling.
Through this tool you can search various locations and determine the best meeting time for all participants. Not only did this save me a lot of trouble, but it also made sure I was respecting my participants’ schedules as well—because no one likes getting up for a 3 a.m. phone call.
6. Remove evidence of remote working: Comfort is my number one guilty pleasure when I’m working remotely. A good, comfortable outfit can go a long way while traveling, but it may not always be the most business-appropriate. To remove any evidence of your casual attire, toss on a jacket or nice top if you’re meeting with your colleagues through a webcam.
Also, remember your surroundings. As I mentioned before, it wasn’t unusual for me to be taking meetings inside a McDonald’s or even a hotel lobby. If it had free Wi-Fi, I was there. Sometimes (especially while traveling in a foreign country), it can be impossible to find a quiet, distraction-free workspace. Do the best you can, and remember to lower your microphone volume or stay muted if needed.
I made an effort to ensure my meeting participants rarely knew I was halfway around the world. Our meetings remained on-track and on-topic as opposed to derailing into a conversation about my location.
So whether you’re blazing new trails in another country, waiting on your next flight, or simply working from a coffee shop in your hometown, these tips can help you plan for a successful experience working on-the-go.
Originally from Houston, Cora Rodenbusch graduated from the University of Texas with a BS and MA in advertising. Her corporate career began in account management working at GSD&M in Austin, TX. She joined PGi as a community manager in 2009, and transitioned to the Strategic Communications Team in 2011. While at PGi, Cora was awarded a gold Stevie Award for 2012’s Communications Professional of the Year and secured Ragan’s 2011 Employee Communications Award for Best Employee Magazine. She loves her job and currently serves as PGi’s Senior Communications Manager. When not traveling the globe, Cora and her husband reside in Austin, TX, with their children, Eleanor and Whitfield.
By Cora Rodenbusch | October 12, 2015 | Categories: Work Remotely