By Fabien Dec 5, 2022

Working Remotely From Abroad: How To Make It Work

Over the past few months, many companies have been asking employees to come back to the office, at least a few days a week. With the state of emergency now behind us — hopefully for good — employers feel there’s no longer any reason to work from home exclusively.

While Uzinakod encourages office attendance in various ways, several of our employees have something else in mind. They can still choose between working from home or coming to the office, but they now also have another option: global telecommuting.

Given the success stories of some of our colleagues who worked from abroad (including Aurore, who more or less became our guinea pig), we decided to launch a pilot project in the fall of 2022, effectively creating a policy framework for those who wish to work from outside Quebec.

This new approach obviously takes into account the effects on stakeholders, namely clients and team members. But first, let’s hear from a few of our employees who’ve benefited from this policy.

The call to adventure

We’ve mentioned this before, but we have a lot of expats here at Uzinakod. It’s therefore normal that some of them want to visit their homeland without using up all their vacation time.

That’s what motivated Lucie (Talent Acquisition Advisor), Kevin (IT Tech), and Sophie (Artificial Intelligence Designer) to take advantage of this policy and visit loved ones in France.

“After a year apart, this happy reunion wasn’t exactly a vacation! You want to see as many people as possible, but it’s hard to choose. It’s great to be able to do that without using up all your vacation days.”
– Lucie

For others, it was the perfect occasion to cross things off their bucket list and visit new destinations. That’s what happened with Khouloud (Business Analyst | Project Manager):

“I wanted to travel, and my employer was encouraging me to do so. I knew I would be missing out if I didn’t take advantage of this opportunity.”
– Khouloud

The most important advantage of all

Khouloud, who stayed abroad for several months, says this allowed her to truly immerse herself in the culture, giving her a chance to learn the people’s customs and language all while connecting with other digital nomads going through a similar experience.

“It’s also a great way to escape winter for a while and enjoy some nice weather!”
– Khouloud

Naturally, having the opportunity to revisit their former lives, even for a short period of time, is what our expats enjoy the most. Lucie not only got to see many of her loved ones but also had the opportunity to meet her best friend’s baby for the very first time. 🥰

Your biggest challenge: organizing your schedule

Some employees have to adapt their work schedule according to their location. Yet, despite all efforts, time zones don’t always fit.

The ability to adapt is therefore crucial! You have to manage your schedule carefully and optimize it as much as possible. Here’s how Kevin and Sophie planned their workdays: individual work in the morning, an extended lunch break, and Teams meetings in the afternoons!

“In my case, my manager and I planned my schedule before I left. I made sure I saved my mornings for administrative tasks and behind-the-scenes work. In the afternoon, I remained available to provide support.”
– Kevin

How can anyone be efficient with overlapping schedules? According to Sophie, it’s easier than you think!

“Looking at it from a time management perspective, I was even more productive than usual. Since I’m more productive in the morning, I could get my work done without interruptions during those hours!”
– Sophie

For a world traveller like Khouloud, who’s about to embark on her third telecommuting adventure outside Quebec, it was easier to choose a destination based on her schedule. This not only made her job easier but also ensured that she would provide the same quality service as when she works from Montreal.

“For my following trip next winter, I chose Mexico and Brazil because I wanted to be able to fulfill my professional obligations more easily. When I worked in Europe (Portugal), I realized that I was stuck between two time zones: Quebec (where my friends, colleagues and clients are) and Tunisia (where my family members are). So, Europe and Tunisia are off my list!”
– Khouloud

While we love to make our employees happy, we also need to meet the needs of our clients! It’s therefore important for them to understand all the minor impacts that this policy can have on their project.

For instance, the contact person at Uzinakod may be unavailable at certain times, so you might have to wait until the next day to contact them. Once the advantages and organizational adjustments of the policy have been properly explained, everyone is clear on what to expect.

Knowing yourself is the key to success!

Ah, travelling! Whether it goes well or not, there’s always an opportunity to broaden your horizons. Once the intensity of the moment has faded, and you reflect on your journey, you sometimes realize there’s a lot of things you could have done differently.

For those who’ve worked from Europe, the six-hour time difference kind of took its toll.

“I telecommuted for a month, and I found it hard toward the end. Now, I’d only work remotely for 2 weeks max if my destination has such a time difference.”
– Kevin

Those visiting their home country might also be tempted to work from their family’s home, but they may have to handle some unavoidable distractions!

Sophie explains how hard it can be for certain family members to understand that remote work is still work.

“No grandma, I can’t stop what I’m doing to play bridge. I’m actually working!”
– Sophie

Yet, family and friends aren’t the only distraction. For Khouloud, it was a bit of a challenge to stay focus with so many new things to explore.

“I didn’t want to forget or neglect my clients and other responsibilities, so I went through a period of adaptation at first. Easier said than done when the weather’s nice and the atmosphere is pleasant.”
– Khouloud

After all, until you’ve experienced it for yourself, it can be hard to predict your ability to adapt and all the contingencies that can influence your work method, such as access to an optimal workspace.

Conclusion

All four of our interviewed colleagues agree: they’d love to do it again if they get the chance. Khouloud is determined to take advantage of this policy as long as she has no personal or professional obligations.

Thanks to our new policy on telecommuting outside Quebec, all employees can enjoy 17 weeks a year to explore the world, as long as they meet certain criteria!

Of course, implementing such a measure comes with its share of challenges and concerns. Our HR team has been working hard on this issue to propose a framework that satisfies everyone: travel-ready employees, their clients, and their Montreal-based colleagues.

To ensure that the experience is positive for everyone, all requests for international remote work must be approved in advance by the immediate manager and the HR team. So far, the solutions we’ve found have worked out great.

“We fully trust our employees, and they’re inclined to return the favour by providing the same quality of work as when they’re here in Quebec. Employees are grateful for the opportunity, and that does wonders for their motivation. It’s a win-win for everyone!”
– Katia Bertagnin, Project Management Lead

In light of this feedback, it’s safe to say that it’s indeed possible to work from abroad so long as you’re ready to adapt at all levels.

“Frankly, it was great! A huge thanks to Uzinakod for making this possible. It definitely made my expat journey even more worthwhile!”
– Sophie

Want to work long (or short) distance or just benefit from all our other amazing advantages? Then go to our Careers page to check out our available positions or to send us a spontaneous application!

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