Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Working Remotely

I was recently contacted by someone who wrote the following:

> I've been reading your blog for awhile now and I've got
> the moving bug as well. I own an independent website
> content writing service that I could do just about
> anywhere as long as I had an internet connection and a
> phone.

> I wanted to inquire as to how difficult it is to find
> a place of residence and if you think the time difference
> would affect my business. Also, thought it would make
> for an interesting blog post.

Montemarte: Nighttime Stroll
Having to work in a different timezone
might mean skipping this nightime
stroll in Montmartre, Paris
Photo by edlimphoto
I responded with the following:

I've been trying to put together a short article about this and yes, it would be a fantastic post because I know you're not the only one thinking about this.

The timezone issues are difficult. I know many large companies who wind up having staffing halfway across the globe to deal with timezone issues. If you're moving from New York to Venezuela, you probably won't have too much of a problem. If you're moving from New York to Singapore, things could change.

  • How often are you on the phone?
  • Do your customers really want to pay for an international call?
  • Do you want to pay for that call? (Less of an issue with Skype)
  • Do customers expect email to be answered in a timely fashion?
  • What are they going to think when email is answered at 2AM, their time?
  • If they find out you're living in Slovakia, will this cause issues?
  • Could you legally find local customers?
  • How reliable is the local phone/internet?

One way you could potentially test some of the time issues is to start "living" in a new timezone now. Pick one or two small clients (or whatever you think is appropriate), figure out a likely timezone for yourself, and start dealing with those clients like you're in the new timezone. Is there a reaction? You can back out quickly if there is, but if you've damaged your reputation, you may have lost a client or two.

Being able to work remotely is clearly one of the best options for living abroad. Even if you can't legally accept a job in Germany, you could go there for a couple of months, still earn money, and then move on to another country. If my wife and I ever had to move to a country where I couldn't find work locally, I can always get remote work.

Even if you don't yet have a remote job, they are available. The problem is that most of the "I made €2,000 a month working from home" jobs are scams. Dig for reputable positions and you can make something happen. Three sites for helping you find working from home jobs are Rat Race Rebellion (they authored the book at left), Work at Home Moms and Work Place Like Home. You probably can't afford to live in Monte Carlo or London with these jobs, but you could probably afford to live in Nottingham, the first UK city I lived in. Many flats in Nottingham are only £250 to £450 a month!