The World Is Flat – 5 Tips for Working Abroad

I’ve been fortunate over the past 18 months to travel to Europe on three different occasions. I remember being nervous about keeping my business moving before the first trip, but those worries quickly washed away. The world is indeed flat, and we have so many opportunities for connectivity at our fingertips now, it really doesn’t matter where we are in the world (unless there’s no wifi!).

Here are some tips I’ve found useful while working abroad:

  1. Notifying clients and project partners of travel – I alert clients and partners two weeks in advance of the dates I’ll be gone, what the time difference will be, that I’ll working while abroad and that I’ll be reachable via email and Skype. For everyone else in my network, I simply change my voicemail message directing people to send me an email (phone calls and regular text messaging rates are very expensive). I don’t put an out of office email message on unless I’ll be completely out of range and unreachable.
  2. Download Whatsapp, Skype and Viber on your smartphone – Whatsapp allows you to send texts, videos and your location free; Skype is perfect for video meetings or when needing to dial an international number directly and Viber is my favorite for making free phone calls.
  3. Identify a go-to wifi location – The first thing I do when landing in another country is turn my cellular data off. It’s way too expensive! As long as you have a go-to wifi spot to check messages and work on projects, you’ll be good to go.
  4. Schedule regular team Skype meetings – These are important while the team is all on the same continent, and even more so when they’re not. Often times I’ll schedule a team touch base call just before a client meeting in order to streamline calls.
  5. Meetings with clients – The beauty of being in a different time zone is that workflow is on a 24-hour cycle. You’re working while they’re sleeping and vice versa. Schedule any meetings while abroad as soon as you can because the window is small (I typically schedule between 8-10am PT). If it’s a conference call with multiple people, I’ll provide my conference line and call in via Skype. If it’s a meeting with one or more people from one company, I prefer video Skype.

Next time an opportunity presents itself to travel abroad, I say “Carpe Diem” or “Aprovechar el Día.” Life is too short to wait for the “right time;” the time is now! Enjoy your travels and please share your additional travel tips with us here.