Like any regular Thursday, I’m working away on the day’s tasks at Mikogo. But this week I’m abroad in Barcelona, Spain, using online meetings and the Web to work remotely. Instead of going to Barcelona for just a few days of holiday, I arrived in Barcelona a week before my actual holiday begins. By preparing myself to work abroad I have increased my time in Spain but can still easily collaborate with my colleagues and get the job done. During the workday, I’m here at my laptop. Later I’m exploring the streets of Barcelona.
These days just about anyone can do the same with a small bit of preparation. Here are my tips on how you can set yourself up to work remotely abroad.
What to Prepare Before Leaving for Barcelona
Preparing to work abroad is not that different from going on holiday: you book a flight, accommodation and pack. Here are the 5 things I had to consider before leaving for Barcelona:
- Getting there
For flights to Barcelona, I used skyscanner.net which is a search engine for flights across Europe, to quickly find the best price for the dates and time I wanted to fly. Plus I could select my preferred airlines and airports.
- Find a place to stay
This was the only step that required a bit of thinking. Hotels first spring to mind. However I opted for Airbnb because instead of just getting a hotel room, with Airbnb I got a flat including living room, kitchen, bathroom, and balcony. I can stay here and work comfortably. Like hotels, prices on Airbnb range greatly, depending on what you want and where you want to stay.
Tip: whether you stay in a hotel, Airbnb, or elsewhere, enquire about the Internet before making any bookings. I contacted the owner of my Airbnb place and she wrote back: “I understand your worry about wifi. Yes there is a good connection, never since 2008 that I rent this apartment had a problem.” Also similar to staying in a hotel, when selecting an Airbnb place I have read the reviews from others.
If you need the office environment to work in, consider a “co-working space”. Such office spaces are busy with small businesses, start-ups, entrepreneurs, freelancers, etc. – it’s a very innovative and proactive environment. I looked up Barcelona co-working spaces and will visit one during my stay. It turns out that Spain is the co-working capital of Europe with over 100 such spaces in Barcelona alone. I used ShareDesk, which is a directory of co-working spaces in Barcelona, and instantly found several places within just a few minutes’ walk from my Airbnb flat. Very easy.
Finally about picking a place to stay, check transport links, if there are local shops, restaurants or cafes around. All such info was written on the Airbnb descriptions.
- What to pack
In my case, just about everything I need for my work is already on my laptop which makes working from another location very easy. So all I need is my laptop and an Internet connection. Before leaving London, I took note of everything other than my laptop which I used during a work day: USB headset, wireless mouse, USB drive, and pen/paper. For me that’s it making it very easy.
- Get in touch with customers
If you are going to a city where you have several customers, this is a great opportunity to get in touch with them, tell them you will be in town, and meet up with them for lunch or a coffee. You can speak to them face-to-face, perhaps for the first time, and chat about their business and how your service complements their work. Great feedback to take back to your colleagues.
- Ensure access to all online portals
For me, most of the websites I use for work are online services and can be accessed from anywhere e.g. Dropbox, JIRA, Streamsend, etc. So nothing to do there. But there are others where we use the highest security measures to ensure only people in our company network can login. For those I’m using proxies unique to my laptop to access them remotely.
- Set up an nconnect account with nfon
Of course I use Mikogo first and foremost for VoIP calls and online meetings with colleagues and others. But at times I just need to make a regular phone call without screen sharing. Nfon provides communications as a service and with their Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) I can use my laptop to make calls. All information about the call is displayed, along with a list of missed and past calls. The CTI can be used regardless of whether I’m at the office, at home or here in Barcelona.
And that’s it. I’ve got everything I need on my laptop and I have Mikogo to jump into online meetings with colleagues and others at any time I want. Of course, on a side note, it is also a good idea to do a bit of research on where you’re going e.g. buy a travel book, read up on the main attractions, etc. But that is very much the same for any time you travel.
Extend Your Holiday and Work Abroad
There’s no doubt many Mikogo users who use the software to occasionally work from home for a couple of days here. So why not work remotely abroad from your holiday destination? What is different from working in your own house compared to a hotel/Airbnb? You have your laptop, Internet connection, Mikogo to meet with colleagues/clients, etc. But you can do it from Spain, Italy, France, etc.
So next time you’re planning a holiday and want a bit more time to explore the surroundings, consider working remotely and get more time abroad.
Discussion: Feel free to leave a comment if you have in fact used Mikogo, and other tools, to assist you in working remotely from another city or country.