How to Work from Home When You’re Far From “Home” 

Working in a new country is exciting. You’re ready to get to know your neighborhood and your co-workers and eat all of the local cuisines you can.  But all over the globe, people have moved from working in offices to working from home, making “working abroad” look, well, a bit different.

This transition can be difficult to deal with. Not only are you trying to balance your role, but you’re also trying to navigate a new environment, which can be daunting at times. Below are a few tips on how to make the most of your experience remotely working abroad.  

1) Create a productive environment 

Your experience always starts with your environment. You may have just moved into a new apartment or a new space since moving for your program. While you are trying to adjust to your new surroundings, make sure to create an environment where you can work remotely. While this space won’t compare to your office, try these few tips on how to make this adjustment easier. 

Designate a work from home space. 

Make sure to pick an area as an office. This can be a room, desk, or table that is specifically for working. When setting up your area, make sure it’s comfortable and that you have all the supplies you need just like you were in the office. 

Drew Borneman, a student at Case Western University is interning with Odyzeo, a UX/UI software company based in Slovakia through the IAESTE program. Like many peers, Drew is familiar with remote work technologies and is at a business well-suited to run most aspects of its work remotely.

Build transitions in and out of work. 

Many of us take for granted the commute to work, whether that was reading on a subway, or driving and listening to the radio. Try to do an activity that signifies the end or beginning of a workday and lets you decompress. For me, listening to “Songs to Sing in the Shower while washing my dishes is a great way for me to unwind from a stressful workday. If that’s not for you, try meditating for 15 minutes before you start your day. There are a lot of resources and applications that can help with this. Try looking into apps like Headspace to help you get started.
  

Doing these small activities can make your transition into remote work just a little simpler.

2) Stay connected

Namhee Lee is a Korea WEST scholar taking part in a human resources internship at Easterseals, an NGO that provides disability services in the Washington, DC area.

One of the best parts about being in an office is getting to interact with your coworkers. Sometimes this can be difficult when working remotely and even more so if you have just started your program. When working remotely you can’t just strike up a conversation about Netflix in the kitchen, but don’t be afraid to make those connections. Building relationships with co-workers is an integral part of professional development and cultural immersion.  It is something we urge you to try to keep up even when working from home.

Reach out and try to get to know your co-workers.

Try instant messaging a coworker about their pet they’ve been posting in your company chat or ask them about their day. Talking to them will not only make their day better but will help you build friends and a network in your new country. 

Ask about virtual events.

Many companies have transitioned to have fun activities virtually. See if your company has any fun virtual game nights or happy hours planned. This can be a great way to get to know the people you work with on a more personal level.
  

3) Ask lots of questions

This may seem like an obvious one but communicating is even more important when your program is done virtually. Learning new things every day can be hard to do that without connecting in person in an office.

Talk to your supervisor regularly. 

Your supervisor is there to guide you throughout your program. Let them know if you don’t understand a task or assignment that they give you. If you are having any technical issues, reach out to them to ask for any suggestions on how to get things running smoothly again. 

Ask a coworker for advice.

Don’t be shy. Fellow interns and co-workers often know best how to navigate the workplace and can be a real asset in helping to make your work even more efficient. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for advice. Relationship-building is one of the most important components of a career. Just because we’re not physically together, doesn’t mean you can’t strengthen relationships in the office. Long after your internship, these relationships you cultivate can prove invaluable to your career.

4) Keep an open mind about working from home

We’re all going through a time of transition. Even though this may not be the work abroad experience you imagined, make sure to take full advantage of the opportunities that are still available.

Issues will arise, and that’s okay! 

With all of this change comes problems that we have to overcome. With the use of new technology and a new remote work set-up, computers will stop working and Zoom calls will be dropped. Be patient and use the resources you do have. Remember, that we are all going through a time of transition. Don’t be too hard on yourself. 

Remember this is a learning opportunity.

Ask your supervisor anything you are curious about, from questions about your host company to their own professional experience. Look for events online that you can attend to help you get to know your city and maybe even meet some new people. If it is permitted where you’re currently staying, go for a walk around the neighborhood and get to know your community. Many towns and cities have transitioned to safe take-out options. Try a new cuisine you’ve never had. There are many ways to explore your new country from the safety of your home.  

 

These are only a few ideas to help you work remotely while you are far away from home. Have you come up with any tips on how to work from home successfully? Share your knowledge with us.

 

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Hannah Vona

After studying abroad in Paris, Hannah knew she wanted to help facilitate other's exchange programs. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and rooting for the Boston Red Sox.

View all posts by Hannah Vona

One thought on “How to Work from Home When You’re Far From “Home” ”

  1. Hannah – remembering and reframing this as a learning opportunity has helped me so much. That is the kind of attitude shift that I’m enjoying that we are in and in it together – we are all learning right now from the intern to the supervisor to the CEO and that is so interesting! These are great tips and I’m excited to hear what others find helpful right now.

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