Jasmin Laakmann is a Consultant at WorkFlex. Originally from Germany, she relocated to Portugal a few years ago. For Jasmin, the flexibility to work from anywhere is not just a perk, but a crucial factor in her decision to work for a company, so that she can visit family and friends more often for longer times.
In this blog article, we will delve into
- Jasmin’s reasons for workflexing,
- Her best practices for time management,
- Her advice on Wi-Fi infrastructure & other essentials,
- Her experiences on her most recent 2 months workation in India.
Why do you value working from anywhere as a benefit?
For me, a German living in Portugal, this benefit is key. The freedom to work from anywhere is more than a workation where I can work from the beach.
In the 10 months I have worked for a company that allowed work from anywhere, I've taken advantage of this benefit mainly to visit family and friends back home. Especially, after holidays like Christmas or Easter, I love to extend my stay in Germany without taking extra time off. This would simply be a waste as my family members also need to go back to work. Further, workflexing allowed me to still contribute to my team and clients without postponing meetings or tasks.
Workflexing is also great for extending your stay at a far destination. I recently went on a two-month trip to India, where I combined working & traveling. Without the flexibility of working remotely, I wouldn't have been able to take such a long trip. Also, it was great to split my time off to avoid the "work overload" that often comes with returning from a long break.
How do you organize your time when working abroad?
Before workflexing it is always exciting as there are many unknowns: Will there be a good internet connection? How do I manage the time zones? Will I feel alone? How do I manage to spend enough time with my friends but also get my work done? But I have to say, all those worries can be overcome with good planning and finding a routine. The rhythm might depend on your type of person: whether you like to travel faster or rather stay in one place. I prefer to stay in one place and only do trips on the weekend.
1. Combine work with some days off, especially if it's a longer destination.
2. Ask yourself some questions beforehand: What is it I am seeking in that country? Is it to get some sun, do certain activities, meet friends, etc. and do factors like my working hours and time differences allow me to do these kinds of things? If not, a vacation might be the better option.
3. Stay and work longer from abroad: To fully enjoy your stay and get to know a country, consider staying longer than you would usually do on a vacation. Also, the employer should be happy about this. How will your work mood look like if you are staying for a few days, and how will it look like if you have 3 weeks or longer?
With these in mind, it is easy to not mix leisure and working times or have FOMO that you do not have enough time to explore and feel like you missed out on seeing the country. Instead, you can spend real quality time with friends and family there and work without distractions.
What are your workflexing essentials?
When working abroad, the most important thing is a stable, working internet connection.
I learned this the hard way on my first day working from India. Even though I extra booked a place that promised stable Wi-Fi (asked the host & read reviews) and even arrived a day earlier to try it out as I was super nervous about it, the power went out during my first meeting. Of course, there was a power cut due to construction work. I know that it can happen anywhere, but I learned that for workflexing it's best to not only check the Wi-Fi beforehand but to also:
- always have a SIM Card with enough data
- familiarize yourself with alternative places in the surrounding area (some cafés with good Wi-Fi, Airbnb, hotel lobby, etc.)
- look for quiet surroundings (especially when you have calls and meetings)
My ideal perfect place to work from is somewhere outside with a nice view. I know it's not for everyone, but I feel more motivated when I am more connected to nature than trapped in a dark room.
My advice for the perfect length of a workflexing trip depends on how far the destination is and why you are going. For a closer place without a major time difference,
I would not take time off, as there is still time in the evenings or weekends to wander around.
If it's a long-distance destination, I would stay longer in this country to make the long travel worthwhile. Either you stay
a minimum of 4 weeks abroad or, my recommendation, combine work with some time off.
Also, the reason why you would like to work temporarily from abroad is essential when deciding how long you want to stay. I always want to stay as long as I can to be with friends & family. Others use it more to travel around or to live like a local – my colleague Jascha has shared his advice for that.
What does it mean to work with a +5:30 hour time difference in India?
🏄 The day starts with time off. This can be challenging because you need to manage your energy level. But it also means you start your workday peacefully and with no rush to finish it off quickly because you fear missing out on something.
🍽 Your lunch break becomes your dinner break. Not much of a big deal. It works really well for me.
🌚 You work while it's dark. I have also always preferred to work or study late at night. So, no big deal for me. Plus, you already see a lot of sunlight for the first half of the day. And to be honest, for countries like India, it is perfect to use the morning to explore because it gets too hot after.
🧘 After work means straight to bed. This is harder. I had to find a nice routine to make the switch from work to bedtime, but I managed. I mean also sometimes, you could still go out when you finish work at 11 pm because you did not have to get up early in the morning.
So, even though I also was afraid of the time zone differences, I did not struggle much with finding a routine there as it also has advantages to start working only around lunchtime and seize the day before.
Workflexing has given Jasmin the freedom to travel and spend time with her family and friends while still contributing to her company. It has allowed her to find her work-life balance and enjoy the best of both worlds. After seeing the benefits of working from anywhere, she would never work for a company that does not allow its employees to see their families without taking extra days off.
In a workforce that gets more diverse every day, with families situated all over the world, workflexing helps to attract the best talent worldwide.
Want to learn more about offering workations as a benefit to your employees as well?
Get in touch with Jasmin or other WorkFlex consultants!