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THE INTERNATIONAL WORKING DIARIES – PART 2

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As we enter the third month of our agreement of a 12-month remote working arrangement with our Marketing Manager Natasha that sees her travelling the world, this is her second diary installment into how she is finding working from the other side of the world.

It happened. My first WiFi fail! It happens in Hoi An, where we arrive at our hotel just in time for me to connect to the internet and join a catch-up call with Leilani and then a prearranged online meeting with two of our suppliers (the 7 hour time difference means I am in early evening whereas the UK is just getting started). My diary is packed for two hours and I’m meant to be kick-starting it all in exactly 17 minutes. A terrible time then to discover that the hotel WiFi offers a grand total of 1 bar, and even then, the commitment this one bar offers is non-existent.

I naturally start to panic. I’ve been so conscious of being present and available during my time away (this article about people working from home actually working harder when they are working remotely – totally believe it!) and the lack of WiFi sends me into a tailspin. I booked this hotel specifically for my Wednesday and Thursday work commitments, there’s a nice desk and they even provide a pad and pen, what’s up with the terrible internet connection?!

I go down to the foyer to ask more questions (IE let them know they’re making me look bad), and where the WiFi IS strong enough, I shoot a quick message to Leilani to say I’m running ten minutes behind. As always, she is gracious and understanding and is happy to push back the meeting to quarter past. From there I leg it out onto the street and hope I can find my way back without my trusty Google Maps. Luckily, our hotel is located quite centrally, and I’m able to find a mobile shop just around the corner. I part with a hefty £8 for 12 GB of mobile data and a new sim card and I head back. As I set up my phone hotspot (back at the lovely desk with no WiFi) and connect my laptop, it occurs to me: I really should plan for these things, and make a promise to myself that moving forward I will buy a local SIM as soon as I cross new borders.

Those 12GB of data did successfully see me through my working week, and for the reassurance it provided me that I could do my work for the rest of our time in Vietnam, it was the best £8 I spent (and I had a lot of good coffee in Hoi An). It meant that whilst Leilani knew there had been a hiccup, but my calls with external contacts continued as seamlessly as normal, and as an agency, we could honestly still say “Yes, this is working brilliantly!”.  

With time differences, uncertain WiFi connections and plans that are continually changing, it’s important that I am flexible but also accessible. Apart from meetings that I set in advance, I try to keep my working hours as fluid as possible, to allow for changes in travel plans, or to go on last-minute day trips, or indeed to be on the way to a coffee shop to do some work and save a puppy instead. But that’s a story for another day!

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