What does freedom mean to you? For me, freedom was the main reason to start my business. What about you? Why did you start your business?
Freedom by wanting to be my own boss instead of working for someone else. No longer having projects and assignments assigned without them being in my field of expertise, but rather doing what I love.
I lived in London and knew that wasn’t our final destination. Plus, my love has a thriving career that takes him to different countries. That’s why I choose to become an online coach. So, we could move across countries without me having to start my practice from scratch again.
And quite frankly, I wanted to work with clients from all over the world, no matter where they were located, which online coaching facilitated. Also, allowing me to work from where I want.
This last week became apparent that I totally managed that. In a few months, we’re moving to Spain. Yes, my love got headhunted and accepted a job in Barcelona. Because of this move, Nua and I traveled to Spain, looking for the right school.
I managed very well to work while in Spain. It felt good to speak to my clients in the US, the Netherlands, the UK, and South Africa while being close to Barcelona’s (sunny) beach.
There are many international schools in Barcelona. Many people choose to live in Spain while working elsewhere. The global economy at scale is reinforced by the pandemic that has shown us we can work from anywhere.
So, if you’ve always wanted to have more freedom in your company, allowing you to travel – let me share with you how it’s done. Also, read on even if you have no wanderlust, as these tips save you time!
HOW TO ENSURE YOU CAN WORK FROM ANYWHERE / AND SAVE TIME & MONEY
· Make sure your logistics are set up well
You need to consider a couple of things before you’re able to work entirely online:
. Bring the right device
As sophisticated as mobile phones are these days, zoom meetings with multiple people don’t work well on your phone. The same applies to many other things. If you want to work well online, have at least an iPad or, better yet, a laptop. Also, is it appropriate for you and professional when you show up on your phone, even if it works?
. Make sure all your programs work on your device.
When traveling, I prefer to bring my iPad, which is small and light. However, my email program doesn’t sync with an iPad. I get that solved by asking a team member to do it for me, but if I know that I need a laptop for certain moments.
. Get access to the appropriate files.
Since I travel a lot and when at home, I am not always behind my desk. I’m using software that allows me to access my files from anywhere. It also ensures that I always work on the latest version no matter what device I use (phone, desktop, or iPad).
. Ensure you have top-notch online security.
The last thing you want, or need is a security breach, giving the wrong people access to your files and perhaps even your banking details. Use a password protection program, secure internet (through ISDN), and take precautions when in public places.
. Make sure your internet works.
Reading this and thinking, “Yeah, duh”?! I believe this is the number one fail for many who start working far away from home. Public WiFi can be spiffy, is often very insecure, and doesn’t allow a request for larger data usage. One of the biggest turn-offs is a constant freezing image online. Instead, do this:
. Use your 4G on your phone.
Most phones allow you to set up a hot spot to use the internet from your phone to go online on your computer. BUT be aware of the costs. Roaming can be quite expensive, and the last thing you want is to rake up your expenses as you weren’t expecting this.
For example, I have a Dutch phone contract right now. This allows me to use my data bundle all over Europe as if I were in the Netherlands. Yes, that was for sure easy in Spain. But I can’t freely use my phone in the UK or the US. My phone company sends me a text message as soon as I cross borders, telling me how much it is per day or for a certain number of hours to use data. As soon as I cross the border and my data is on, I start to pay. So, I always switch roaming off until I have decided what I want to do.
· Use a local SIM card with a data bundle.
You can use this SIM card in an (extra) phone that you then use as a hotspot. This can also be very helpful when you need to make many phone calls abroad, and this is not included in your contract either.
Or you use it in a “dongle”, an external WiFi connection point, that you connect to your laptop, making it work like a charm. Sometimes, the local data bundle also works better than your foreign one. It’s a bit of a hassle perhaps, but I quite like it, especially for extended overseas trips.
· Have a screen protector.
This is a sheet you put over your screen, making it impossible to see what you’re typing unless you’re the one typing. I started using this while still living in the UK with a rather long commute. I worked on the train, and I wasn’t allowed to share any information from my clients, large multinationals which cannot be named due to the NDA (non-disclosure agreements) I signed. This sheet made it impossible to see anything.
· Get out of the sun.
And lastly, don’t be fooled by the “work from a sunny beachside” kind of advertisements you often see. Everyone who’s ever tried to work outside knows that sitting in the sun and working on a device is like a lost cause. You won’t be able to see anything on your screen. AT ALL. Rather pick a spot in the shade. Or work after the sunsets.
· Remember the time conversion.
Being in a different time zone means you need to consider the time difference. Personally, even though I am all too aware, I still struggle with this. Some things that I do that help me:
1. Use the world clock on your phone.
I have included all the places where my team and my clients are located on my iPhone. That means I can see in one instance their current time.
2. Set up the meetings in the time zone of the organizer.
In that way, when the clocks change due to Summer or Winter time, the calendar invites automatically changes too, even when your time zone doesn’t go into Winter or Summer time.
There are two weeks every clock change when I have a 5 hour time difference with Eastern Standard time instead of the usual 6 hour time difference. I wasn’t aware before. It’s why I am now in an NYC online networking group on Tuesdays at 22:00 my time. When I joined, it was 21:00 my time, which seemed doable. Only to go to 10 pm a short while after, quite late, but then I was already hooked.
3. Have your calendar reflect the time zones of your clients.
For example, my google calendar always shows me my hours and then the times of my clients in the US and their respective time zones next to it. Very easy when planning meetings.
4. Use a time converter.
A great tool that allows you to compare two or three time zones simultaneously, to set up a meeting in multiple time zones.
· Tell your clients that you’re traveling.
When I’m going somewhere new, and I am not entirely sure how it all works out internet-wise, but also in general with the traveling, I tell my clients upfront. Having lived in South Africa, where spotty internet and power cuts were normal, I now always inform my clients when I know this may happen. And especially when I don’t know what to expect. That’s due to my move to London. Coming from South Africa, I expected everything to run smoothly instantly. Instead, it took three months before my internet worked properly, so I am never taking anything for granted -again-.
If I’m traveling somewhere new, I tell them, so they are aware things may go a bit different. And that also warrants my next tip:
· Be flexible and laugh about it.
Work is supposed to be fun. And once you have taken all these above steps, I’m pretty sure it all will work out peachy. However, there are no guarantees in life. So, be prepared, do what you can, and stay flexible if you can’t make it work as you envisioned. Seek an alternative or laugh about it. Remember, everything gets better when you smile.
· Investigate the tax, social security, and immigration consequences
As much as I favor working online and anywhere, I need to point out that you may NOT be allowed to work anywhere. There’s a difference between a business trip and an actual longer working period and a difference between attending an (online) meeting and signing a contract for your company in a different country. These may all have tax, immigration, and social security consequences. So before you settle somewhere and set yourself out to work there, make sure to get some advice as to the legal implications.
PS If you’re looking for more ways to have your business support your freedom, reach out. My VIP Coaching programs are set up to establish that. They allow you to work less and get more. Grow your business to the next level of success in 20% less time. Reach out!