What could be more attractive than working from anywhere in the world – an isolated beach hut, a bustling metropolis, a mountain top or a desert camp? Here are a few things to bear in mind before taking the plunge and working remotely.
If you’re a freelancer, and many of us who choose to work remotely are, then you already know the freedom of working for yourself, choosing your working hours and creating your own schedule. It might seem natural to take things one step further and take work with you to a new part of the world, or even globe-trot from place to place, but this dream scenario can have a few hidden cons as well as the obvious pros.
Do you sometimes find it hard to concentrate on your work? Do you struggle to meet deadlines and often leave things to the last minute? As freelancers, we have to be extra disciplined without that boss breathing down our necks, telling us what to do (except via email or the occasional phone call). Now, imagine yourself right by a glorious beach or in a quaint, medieval village. How much harder wouldn’t it be to concentrate there, especially if you choose a spot where everyone else is on holiday or where the scenery is so stunning you just want to drink it in while sipping a glass of local wine (‘it’s research’, you tell yourself).
Are you the life and soul of the party? Do you make friends easily? A lot of us who choose to work for ourselves aren’t the most extroverted bunch and this is especially true in the writing professions. Choosing to work remotely, even if it’s only for a few weeks or months, means a complete change of scene, perhaps somewhere where you have few contacts (or none at all) and no close friends. It’s worth bearing in mind that you’ll need to adapt to all or any of the following: new climate, culture, cuisine, people, living arrangements, red tape, a different work station/desk (which can have more impact than envisaged), as well as erratic or expensive internet access.
I know few people, writers in particular, who don’t appreciate solitude from time to time, but I know even fewer who haven’t also experienced loneliness. Freelancing/working from home can get lonely sometimes without work colleagues. Now imagine that scenario without your partner, family or friends nearby. When you’re working remotely, chances are you’ll be doing it on your own, unless someone you know is in the same lucky position as you and able to join you for your stay. In your new home, the ball is often firmly in your court to meet new people.
You’ve made the decision, you’re off to work from that mountain hut, but don’t underestimate what you might miss when away for a few months. Regardless of how well-equipped your temporary home may be, pack carefully – three months without drinking from your favourite teacup might be the thing you miss most, or drinking your favourite tea. For a while I used to pack my best-loved fridge magnet and immediately put it on my temporary fridge when I arrived, making the place my temporary home. If you take it for granted at home, you’ll probably miss it when away.
A sense of adventure
Whatever you pack, pack your sense of adventure. Yes, this is about work, but it’s not only about work, it’s about discovery. Having little reminders of home is great, but there’s nothing like immersing yourself in a new place and no better way of doing so than living there. Unless you choose to stay in a hotel, you’ll be getting a very different experience from your average tourist. Pick up a bit of the language, find out about your new home’s culture and history, try the different foods, make contact with locals and don’t forget to meet that deadline.
The best job in the world
Working remotely, like anything, has its ups and downs and, just like freelancing, it’s not for everyone. If you’re good at time management, you’re flexible and open-minded, enjoy discovering new places and meeting new people, then this can be the best job in the world. If you find that it isn’t for you, you can always return home again – just don’t sell your house when you set off!
Anna Maria Espsäter (www.annamariaespsater.co.uk) is a freelance writer currently working remotely from Riksgränsen, Swedish Lapland, where the landscape is so wonderfully distracting she sometimes has to pull the curtains closed to get some work done.
Guest post by Anna Maria Espsäter, First UK Rights