Preparing for Take-off

The goal was simple: An extended trip with the whole family, and while the window was wide open, it would close by year’s end. We had one trial run under our belts – a three week work-cation to Central America in 2013. But this time we were talking BIG. Many months, several countries, maybe around the world! Now is the time and so many pieces of the complex puzzle that is a “once-in-a-lifetime” dream, had fallen – or were falling – into place.

“Can we really pull this together…?”

One of the “Biggies”. What to do about work?

Toward the end of 2015, I broached the subject with my manager of 18 months.

“Hey, my son is returning from Samoa in June (2016)…we’d like to return with him to visit, see where he’s been and meet the people there…and since we’re that far around the world, I’d like to extend the trip, maybe work remotely…?”

I didn’t have to wait long for a response. I knew the idea would appeal. “OK, I like it…I’m jealous…keep me posted of your plans as we get closer.”

“We could really do this…”

I know for many the idea of working remotely is limited, perhaps every-other Friday, or the occasional day waiting for the plumber. However, I’d spent years of my career delivering projects despite me and my work being in different geographies. As a matter of fact, my current project responsibilities were nearly 100% outside the local office, and not just across town or in a neighboring state, but time zones and languages away. In the course of month, I might talk to colleagues in Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, South- and North America.

Photo Credit: Becky Erickson

Who wants to stare at a cubicle wall all day?

There are certain efficiencies to face-to-face collaboration, granted, but from my experience, the “need” to be in a particular cubicle is too often the result of a manager’s inability to manage a remote workforce, not inherent to the work itself. Luckily, my immediate manager was not slave to such “presenteeism”.

“This might actually work out…”

As 2016 began, I put some big wins on the board, delivering a number of projects despite no face-to-face contact. I spent time in Europe tending to larger projects there, but also focused on proving to colleagues that I could be away from the office and still be a full participant. I thought hard about the challenges facing coworkers in different time zones, and made sure I made accommodations – staying up late, or rising early – to make it easy on others and prove my viability as a nomadic worker. In my estimation, a small price to pay for the privilege.

Ours was a global company, 190+ offices around the world, and our team supported the networks in every one of them. We were well-versed in the challenges of working remotely, it was everyone’s day-to-day, I had no doubt it could work. I could make it work.

“Let’s do this…”

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