A Guide to Working Remotely for Americans Abroad
Millions of Americans living abroad have been forced to work remotely this year. Some were already living abroad, others have found themselves stranded abroad, while others still moved abroad to sit out the pandemic.
With countries including Barbados, Bermuda, Estonia and Georgia offering new and attractive remote working visas, and the global transition to remote working set to be retained by many firms after the pandemic, arguably there hasn’t been a better time to relocate abroad.
Bright!Tax is a 100% remote working firm that helps American expats around the world meet their US tax filing requirements (filing US taxes is a requirement for all Americans, including those abroad).
Here are our top 5 pieces of advice for Americans working remotely abroad.
1 – Establish a dedicated workspace
It’s important when working remotely to assign a place that is free from distractions and only for work. This could be a dedicated room, if one is available, but otherwise any place or corner that is comfortable and you only use for work, and ideally not where you normally relax.
Establishing a place that you only use for work enables you to focus better when you’re working, and, equally importantly, switch off from work when you step away from that place.
2 – Create goals, targets, and projects
“For most workers, being a digital nomad is no longer a luxury, but rather, a requirement of the job.” – Forbes
When working remotely, it’s important to define goals, projects and targets. This is particularly important when workers first start working remotely. Targets and projects would normally be agreed with a line manager with the aim of providing a focus for the remote worker, and also a way for the manager to monitor their performance. Shared goals within teams can also be appropriate, depending on the situation.
3 – Time management
It’s essential for remote workers to plan and manage their own time. Depending on both the nature of the work and personal inclination, this might involve working at specific times of day, and assigning certain tasks to ‘time blocks’. Working remotely, and particularly from home, can lead to a blurring of work and relaxation times if time isn’t managed well, and alongside a dedicated work space, defining what times you are and aren’t working is equally important to maintain focus and high productivity.
4 – Communication
While a good internet connection is an imperative for most remote work, it’s also important to employ the right online tools and platforms to enable you to effectively manage projects and to communicate with other team members and clients. These may include:
– Dropbox, for secure file transfer
– Google Drive or MS OneDrive for secure, cloud-based document and agenda sharing
– Facetime, Zoom, or Skype, for video meetings
– Slack, for creating message rooms for teams
– Trello, for remote, team based project management
The other aspect of communication is ensuring that you’re connected personally with your line manager, wider team, and any clients or other necessary exterior professional contacts. This means scheduling regular online meetings to create, discuss, and monitor projects and targets for both individuals and teams.
It’s also important to maintain informal communication between team members, as exists in an office environment, such as by establishing informal catch ups and celebrating company successes together.
Lastly, remember to be professional when participating in remote meetings, in terms of appearance, background, and manner, and minimizing peripheral interference and distractions.
5 – Staying healthy
While remote work has many benefits, such as reduced commuting times, the twin enemies of productive remote working are distractions and lethargy.
Distractions can be minimized by creating good habits, in terms of having a dedicated work place and dedicated working times, while lethargy should be combated by ensuring that you stay healthy.
This means stepping away from the computer regularly, and ensuring that you rest well, eat healthily, and get some fresh air and exercise every day.