Meet the We Roam Participants Challenging the Definition of Work
While the thought of living and working abroad definitely attracts a particular personality, it also requires a person with a certain level of discipline to truly keep up their quality of work. We Roam has gathered 35 people for their professional work abroad program, people from all over the globe. But just who are these "Roamers"? Why did they choose to embark on this journey? How did they convince their companies to trust them to work 5,000 miles away? What one thing do they all agree is most important when working abroad? Here are their stories.
Meet the Roamers
Andrew Bird - Melbourne, Australia
Actuary, Vesparum Capital
Andrew is the only member on the trip from Australia, and looked at the opportunity as almost an experiment. He wanted greater separation between himself and his clients. An opportunity that he believed would help him focus more deeply on the important aspects of his job, and be less caught up in the noise that often comes from being too close to work.
Krystal Patel - New York, NY
Director of Accounting, Kriya Hotels
Krystal always wanted to travel more, but could never get enough time off work to take a trip abroad. The We Roam program appealed to her because of its ability to fix this very problem. She loves the idea of experiencing each destination more like a local would, instead of just seeing each country from the eyes of a tourist.
Laura Osmun - San Diego, CA
Travel Nurse Recruiter, Aya Healthcare
While recruiting nurses to pursue travel while also pursuing their careers, Laura felt a bit inauthentic encouraging others to combine travel with work while she worked from one place. When she found We Roam, she knew it was something to consider. This experience is giving her insight into the lives of her clients, while also fulfilling a desire to see the world.
The Life of a Roamer
I interviewed my fellow globe trotters to find out a little bit more about what inspired them to take this leap and join We Roam, and possibly more importantly, how they convinced their companies to trust them to work remotely while traveling across the globe.
How long are you staying with the program?
A: 3 months (then traveling independently)
K: 12 months
L: 7 months
How did you convince your company or boss to allow you to work remotely?
A: I mentioned it several times over a period of time to let them get comfortable with the idea. I also set a definite end date regarding when I would be back in Melbourne. I also continued to build strong relationships with decision makers in the organization that allowed them to trust me to maintain my level of work.
K: I’ve been working remotely for many years - as my company is based in the greater DFW area, and I'm based in New York. Even so, I was nervous to ask to work from abroad. We Roam gave me the confidence that I would still have stability and structure in my work week, which I insured my team knew. I was able to prove that I would be able to maintain my average workload from abroad in the first month.
L: My company has always said that if you work hard and continually produce above average sales you can have the flexibility and freedom to do what you want. For about a year and half before starting this program I’ve been offered the privilege to work remotely but have never taken advantage of it because I enjoy coming into an office. My boss was incredibly supportive and immediately said yes, there really was no “convincing” involved. I’m so lucky to have such a phenomenal support system, it honestly blows me away.
What has been the best part of working abroad?
A: Professionally, its been a great reminder that I can get the important things done in about half the time I was previously spending in the office. Personally, I’m enjoying traveling at a slower pace and feeling a little less like a tourist in the places I visit.
K: Aside from the typical glories of discovering new places, getting to work out of many artsy and innovative co-working spaces that support social entrepreneurship. I’ve met many inspiring people with aspirations to change the world along the way.
L: Getting the opportunity to truly experience new and different places, food, people, and visiting the sights every single day!
What has been the biggest challenge working abroad?
A: Maintaining relationships with colleagues, clients and feeling connected to the aspirations of the business that is still happening many miles away.
K: Having to reset each month – unpacking my clothes, determining the best path to work, finding healthy food options, and picking up basic language skills to get around. It’s been crucial for me to get settled in within the first 24 hours of arriving in each destination to avoid having timelines slip at work. It’s very easy to get behind if you aren't proactive.
L: Being away from my friends and family and my awesome coworkers who are basically friends and family! I miss their support and enthusiasm, that's a hard thing to replace. It's also challenging to deal with IT issues, making sales calls from another country and the time change.
What is the most noticeable change you've experienced from working in the states to working abroad?
A: What has struck me is how alike the cultures have been. Professionals here seem to have similar attitudes to their work, similar hours, even similar distributions of political opinion to what I'm used to back home.
K: I never really took proper lunch breaks in the states – typically just a salad at my desk while skimming breaking news for 15 minutes. However, it’s frowned upon to eat from your workspace in most countries. So my work days have been more spread out. I take proper lunch breaks in the co-working dining room and have ‘dinner-table conversations’.
L: Since I work in sales, I am usually working from a private office and haven't had the opportunity to observe the office as much.
After interviewing my fellow Roamers, I found that we're all participating in this program for relatively the same reasons, to grow personally and professionally. And one of the main reasons this experience is working for this group is having access to a structured and innovative workspace. I guess things really aren't so different, even when you're working 5,000 miles from your nearest coworker.
Photos courtesy of We Roam and Alex Martin.