Last year I packed my job as a web designer to over 20 countries and worked the same job I did when I was at home. Let’s flash back- I had just graduated college in America and had started a job as a web designer for a car company. After a few months, it dawned on me that there was no reason for me to come into the office every day and I approached my boss about alternatives to the normal plan.
I still wanted to work for them, and I had built up a lot of employer confidence, so I simply asked: “Do I need to be here every day?” The transition to location independence started with me coming in three days a week, spending my free time taking road trips down to Baja California or fishing in the Oregon Mountains. As long as I stayed in a hotel with wireless internet or stopped by at a café long enough to do some work, everything was fine.
The arrangement quickly progressed to one and two day work weeks and then eventually my current situation: weekly output goals with free structure in terms of hours and days per week.
Interested in starting your mobile office? Here are 10 tips to succeed in going remote.
1. Start slow.
Don’t approach your current boss with plans of a permanent relocation to the Philippines without testing the waters first. I still try to come back to town once every four to six months just to let my office know I’m still a real person.
2. Calculate cost savings: It’s good for everyone.
Having one less body in the office cuts insurance and utility costs. People tend to work a lot smarter when they don’t have to do something that looks like work for eight hours a day.
You will need to sell your proposal well if you want to enjoy life out of the office. Less cost, less drain on resources, and an increase in output: you working remotely is good for your employer!
3. Plan ahead.
The downside to working while traveling is that you’re always working. If you have a deadline to make or a project that needs to be finished, it won’t get pushed back so you can visit the Louvre or have one more night out in Prague. Plan work schedules ahead of time to avoid complications and ensure consistent productivity.
4. Stay disciplined.
Many people lose their jobs while abroad because they can’t handle all the freedom. Take away the cubicle walls and replace them with the beaches of Biarritz or seaside walks in Cinque Terre and it’s a little harder to get work done. Treat it like a carrot in front of your nose. It’s all there for you to play with- but not ‘til you get your work done.
5. Deal with the stress.
I can’t count the number of times I’ve almost had nervous breakdowns based on spotty, unreliable internet while abroad. Know the situation beforehand and plan ahead. Things are going to get stressful at first, but try to slow down. Breathe and relax. At least you’re not in the office, right?
6. Increase output.
With the only real exception being commission based sales, almost everyone could work harder than they do. As soon as you get your boss to give you a chance at outer office freedom, show him that without the daily distractions of your usual work environment you’re able to get a lot more done.
Try not to cite how much you hate the place as a reason for the increase in productivity. Better scapegoats are escaping the commute, a quieter work environment, and increased happiness due to more time with the family.
No job in the world is going to let you work remotely unless you take the time to let your employer know what it is you’re working on, when you’re going to be available, and what your future plans are. Working remotely forces you to communicate clearly and effectively in a solely technological environment. If you can’t do that, you’ll be back in the office in no time.
8. Develop alternative sources of income.
Leaving the office and going mobile is great until your boss decides you’re having too much fun and decides to end your extended vacation. Work isn’t always going to be there.
Develop a savings account you can lean on when you need to but also work on generating recurring passive income. Start a blog, sell your photography, write for travel online magazines.
9. Sell your skills.
If you have a skilled trade like web design, graphic design, copy writing, or patent law, you can spend time abroad searching for work as well. Find interesting side projects for companies in your new country of residence and use these as an opportunity to learn about local culture and business practices.
Meet local people you probably wouldn’t meet in a bar. If things work out, you may find yourself another mobile job you can bring with you- or at least a good reference!
10. Enjoy your free time.
All too often I remember spending so much time working and stressing about deadlines that I forgot about why I was doing this whole thing in the first place. Do your work quickly and efficiently early in the morning and then GET OUT.
Go explore wherever it is you happen to be. Go to a museum, read a book in the park, go to the beach, do whatever it is you want to do- nothing is there to hold you back anymore.
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