Updated: Jun 13, 2019
So, for the last 4 weeks I have been in Mexico, testing out what remote working is like from another country and timezone (and, of course, a lot of exploring & relaxing as I went along). It was an experiment to see whether it is feasible to live abroad and maintain client relationships in the UK, as well as acquire new clients remotely.
First up, to anyone that has not been to Mexico, I'd highly recommend. It's a lively, vibrant and colourful place. The people are amazing, the food is on another level and the place itself is beautiful.
To anyone interested in pursuing remote working from another country, here are some of my lessons learnt:
City life made working easy, beach life...not so much. Being in CDMX (local abbreviation for Mexico City) there were many coffee shops with fast wifi to go to. Some of my favourites included Blend Station & Baveno.
Down on some islands in the Yucatan Peninsula things were not so easy. Unstable wifi and working next to dreamlike beaches does not lead to the most productive work.
Being in another country you naturally want to go out and about, even when you are working. Whenever I go somewhere new I consult Culture Trip for the best coffee shops/restaurants/bars to go to. Their recommendations are always on point.
When you are out in these places you (obviously) can't control the noise levels when working. Before heading to Mecxico I bought a pair of Bose Quietcomfort 35 wireless headphones. Yes, they are a bit pricy. But unequivocally worth the price tag, perhaps for the plane journey alone, as it cuts out pretty much all background noise. And of course for working in noisy places they allow for a Zen-level concentration.
Using Krisp (thanks Mark Colgan for putting me onto that one) when out and about is a lifesaver. It uses AI to recognise and remove background noise when you are on calls in real time. So no more muting the call when you aren't speaking, and no more annoying background chatter or not hearing each other!
Being in a timezone 6 hours behind your clients can be tricky. Usually when working with clients I pride myself on being there for them when needed, in Mexico this was more difficult. I'm glad I was clear to my clients before I went away what days I was working, and what UK times I was going to be online and working.
Lagging behind means waking up to a barrage of emails and requests, so be prepared for that if you go west. As long as you manage your communications and expectations all will be good! Using tools like Mixmax (Gmail) or Mailbutler (Apple Mail) allows you to delay the send time of emails, and trigger followups/tasks to help you align your communications with the timing needs of the client.
All-in-all remote working abroad certainly has its challenges. But I hope some of the tools and tips I have provided help make your life easier if you try it out.
I managed to send out 4 proposals for new work across the 4 weeks I was there, and maintain a high level of service on my current contracts. So overall the experiment was a resounding success and the start of a new, flexible worklife.