Live well, travel often: why companies should encourage employees to work abroad

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Over the past year and a half, like many people, I’ve contracted a case of the travel bug. And it’s not something I wish to inoculate myself against anytime soon. I knew I would travel more once pandemic restrictions lifted, if only to look at a different set of walls.  Like many people, I’ve worked from home since March 2020. While I love my in-home office, the four walls got a bit boring. I enjoyed going into the office and interacting with colleagues.  Talking with people energizes me.

Talking to a brick wall

Growing up, I struggled to identify what I wanted to be and what activities, hobbies, and values made me me. It wasn’t until I arrived at North Carolina State University in 2016 that I realized my “gift of gab,” as my dad called it, and deep interest in the world around me would help me realize my passions — people and culture. People fascinate me. Each person has a different background, upbringing, and beliefs that set them apart from the nearly 8 billion other humans on Earth.

But while we’re all so different, we’re also more alike than we think.

My interest in people (and my ability to talk to a brick wall) has allowed me to form lifelong connections with people academically, professionally, and personally. Fast forward to 2023 and I’m working for a PR agency whose mission is to shape conversations that matter. I’d say I found my calling.

Dr. Seuss was right: oh, the places you’ll go

In the past few months, I’ve had the pleasure of traveling to places such as Sonoma, California, and Las Vegas to support client events and tradeshows. The best part, however, is meeting people from other areas of the world and getting to know them. Not just their occupation, but who they are as an individual and why they do what they do.

Travel keeps work interesting. There is no better feeling than being at an event and seeing that your long nights at the laptop and double-checking of logistics has paid off. It’s rewarding, to say the least, and shows that you don’t need to work in a physical office to accomplish large-scale projects.

This made me wonder: if I could successfully collaborate with my teams and clients remotely from my home office in North Carolina, couldn’t I do it from anywhere in the world?

Postcard from the land down under

When my best friend invited me to visit her in Australia and then travel to Bali, Indonesia, I didn’t want to say no. This felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity, and when I told my colleagues, they encouraged me to work remotely from Bronte, New South Wales, Australia for one week before I left to tour Bali.

Two weeks after my trip was approved, I headed off on a three-week long adventure. At first, I felt nervous. I believed I needed to prove something because — as the Fortune 100 starts to enforce a return to office — not as many people are able to work as digital nomads from wherever they find themselves. What if I couldn’t adjust to the time change? What if the Wi-Fi was inconsistent? Did my company truly trust me to get my work done? Could I balance work and play? (I know myself and the answer to that last question was a resounding yes!)

The three weeks I spent in Australia and Indonesia allowed me to immerse myself in new cultures and meet truly amazing people. In Bali, our driver Ketut, native, spent hours laughing at the life stories of two 24 and 25 year-old women and teaching us why the Balinese make offerings, as he drove us from city to city. He encouraged our exploration and put up with our crazy antics. In fact, when we were short 350,000 rupiah to catch a boat to another Indonesian island, Nusa Lembongan (with only minutes to spare before departure), he loaned us the money. Naturally, we paid him back when we returned to Bali.

Three benefits of a work from anywhere culture

  1. It shows employees you trust and value them. Humans aren’t machines. Each of us requires different motivators to operate at our fullest capacity. For some, a spa day serves as a reset. For others, it’s doing absolutely nothing. For others still, it’s traveling to new places. The ability to work from anywhere instills confidence in employees to explore how to increase productivity while preventing burnout at the same time.
  2. If a company is not encouraging employees to experience new people and places, it’s actually diminishing the amount of creativity they can bring to the table. This hurts employees and the company at large. Whether it’s working from the coffee shop down the street or travelling halfway across the world, new environments can spur ideas that lead to positive change. For me, I’m coming back with a new perspective on how to build a brand. A young woman I met from Wales owns her own beauty company and uses social media to market herself. While tech is extremely different from the beauty industry, she helped me understand the power of social media and how to target different groups of people in ways the resonate with their goals, wants and needs.
  3. Giving employees more autonomy teaches them responsibility. I had quite a few 4 am wake up calls in Australia because I was committed to working Eastern Standard Time hours in order to support my teams. I needed to make sure working abroad didn’t impact my tasks and the daily requirements of my teams and clients. At times it wasn’t easy. But it allowed me to end my workdays at noon Australian Eastern Standard Time, giving me more time to explore the beaches and spend time with new and old friends.

After countless flights, beach days, acai bowls, sunset picnics, scooter rides, jewelry making classes, and hikes, I’m so grateful for the memories I’ve made. If the pandemic taught us anything, it is that our job — and our life — does not need to happen in the confines of an office. We’re only here for a short amount of time and it’s up to us to make the most of it. This trip — and meeting so many new people — taught me a lot about myself.   This encouraged me to embrace my whole self and show up authentically in all aspects of life.

Racepoint Global makes up one part of me. I’m grateful they support the other parts of me, too. Now that I’m back in the office — which is really a bedroom I’ve transformed into a workspace — I am looking forward to showing up as the best version of myself, today and every day. Not only for me, but for my friends, family, colleagues, and clients.


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