2 min Read
October 26, 2011

Working with a time difference

Back in 2010, like many therapists, my wife took off the month of August. She used the time to visit her family in Scotland. I held down the fort here in New York and didn’t go with her. It wasn’t great. Turns out, we prefer being on the same continent. So this past August, I arranged to go with her and work from abroad.

Working offsite for a month doesn’t necessarily work for all jobs, of course, but with the advances in technology, it might be more possible than you think. Here are a few things required for it to be possible:

A supportive team.
First of all, the boss has to approve of the idea. Then, you’ll need to work with your colleagues to put some systems in place for collaborating with new hurdles.

In my case, we were talking about a five-hour time difference. Calls, meetings, instant messaging, and emails for immediate reply needed to happen in the morning for my colleagues. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be able to respond until the following day.

High-speed internet.
Skyping and file sharing aren’t possible without it.

My father-in-law actually lives in a small town in the Highlands of Scotland, and I had some lingering doubts about whether he had the technology I’d need. He assured me that he had a high-speed cable connection. We were surprised, as was he, to discover that he also had wireless. And it was faster that what we have in New York.

Emergency backup.
“911, what’s your emergency?”

“I need some copy! Stat!”

You can never predict when you’ll have a sudden copy emergency. So we had a terrific freelancer standing by in case something immediate came up. Big Duck is also fortunate to have a couple of excellent writers on the non-writing teams. Would you believe me if I told you I sometimes ask one of our designers grammar questions?

A few days off, too.
If you’re going to be off-site, especially if you’re some place beautiful, be sure to take a few days to yourself as well. Regenerate a bit.

Frankly, I could’ve done this part better. I didn’t even take a proper walk in the Highlands. I’m a Mets fan, though, so I’m quite used to saying, “Just wait until next year!”

This was the first time we’d tried this arrangement, and we had a couple of minor hiccups along the way (including a lousy phone line for a client call). But we didn’t have any deal-breakers (at least not anything anyone’s mentioned to me yet). And I anticipate that it’ll go even more smoothly next year.

So maybe it’s time to look into a change of scenery for a little while. It can certainly keep you and your work fresh, of course. But you may discover some unexpected benefits of working off-site, too.

The big one for me was that, thanks to the time difference, I had a good chunk of time every day to work on my various projects without other distractions from the office. When do we ever get five hours of uninterrupted time? I had it nearly every day for the entire month. What a luxury!

Dan Gunderman

Dan Gunderman is the Former Creative Director at Big Duck

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