Here, there and everywhere: working away from home
Hi there, I’m Gabriela, but you can call me Gabe. I work in the SEO Content team, writing on the other Wise blog and am based in the Budapest office.
I’m originally from Brazil, but am also an Italian citizen. Being this “international mutt” has driven me to look for opportunities that allow me to be here, there and everywhere. This is how I ended up on this blog, talking about my favorite Wise benefit: Mobile Wiser.
If you haven’t heard about it, prepare to be awed. Here at Wise we have 90 days a year in which we’re allowed to work remotely from other countries. Cool, huh?
For many, this means being able to go back home and not having to worry about taking holidays or having to leave after just a couple of days with friends and family.
But for others, like me, it also opens the possibility of exploring different places for a longer stretch of time. And on this guide I’m gonna tell you all about it. From how to get approval, to keeping in touch with the team and picking a place to work from.
So let’s go!
The fun part: deciding where to go
The world is your oyster – but it’s important to note that Wise, as a company, has some responsibilities for their employees.
This means that there are a few restrictions of where you can work from – these are usually related to international tax agreements, which I won’t bore you with.
So be mindful that there are some places where you won’t be allowed to go based on where you’re hired. For example, Budapest employees cannot work from countries such as Canada, Argentina and the Philippines. But don’t worry – there’s still a lot of the world that we get to explore.
Personally, I tend to choose where to go based on affordability (you can’t always go somewhere that is super expensive to stay in, while still paying rent back home). Lately I’ve been visiting friends and family across the world, but sometimes I also spice it up with places I’ve always dreamed of seeing.
In the past 4 years (which are actually 2 *cof cof* Covid), I hung out with friends in the Netherlands, UAE, Italy, Ireland, Azerbaijan, UK, Croatia and Spain, visited family in Portugal and Brazil and traveled just for the hell of it to Belgium, Scotland, Georgia and the Maldives.
Next year? I’m visiting my brother in his new place in the Netherlands and celebrating my dad’s 60th by his side, wherever he decides to go. Everything else, I’ll figure out on the way.
But this isn’t only about me, you get to choose where to go and do what’s best for you, that’s the beauty of this benefit. 3 whole months that you can just “drop everything” in your personal life and head to new places. Time to start spinning that globe.
Becoming a Mobile Wiser: step by step
You’ll need to talk to your lead in advance to check whether working away will be viable for your role and your team. You need to be at Wise for 6+ months in order to be eligible for Mobile Wiser. You’ll need to speak to them about how your work schedule and expectations will look like while you’re away. Some teams are more flexible and you can work local hours, others aren’t and you might need to work shifts in your office’s time zone.
Since regulations are shifting all the time, we also need to ask HR approval before we get too carried away. Find the place you want to be and submit a request that will be checked by your lead and HR to make sure that it is a viable option. If not, you may have to change your plans, so some flexibility is imperative.
- After getting the necessary confirmation, this will take a few days to be approved, you can get your ticket and get ready to work from a cool new place.
Before you travel, make sure to have your laptop checked by IT – so you won’t have to worry about it not working when you’re away.
Enjoy that work life balance!
Conquering the distance barrier
Tickets? Purchased. Accommodation? Booked. HR approval? Done. But now, how do you keep in touch with your team?
One of the biggest challenges in working remotely is feeling like you’re still part of the team.
Office life keeps happening. Team meetings, company events, and team buildings don’t stop just because you decided to go away (even if, like me, you’re usually the one planning this stuff).
So how to work around the workplace FOMO? Here are some tips:
Be present when you’re home. We work hybrid when we’re in our home offices. This means that you’ll always get a chance to work from home. My personal suggestion though, is to try and make it to the office as often as you can. This ensures you have a close relationship with your team and colleagues when you’re around, but also makes it easy to not feel like an outsider when you leave for a longer stretch of time.
Share. It doesn’t have to be Instagram if you don’t feel like breaking that barrier with your colleagues, but tell them a bit about the place where you are and the things you’re experiencing. More often than not that brings people closer.
Keep on track of your work. This is not a holiday (though you can take some time off here and there). You’re responsible for your workload, attending the relevant meetings and ensuring you’re present with your work even if you’re away.
Make sure to have some overlap time. Wherever you are in the world, make sure you work during times that are the same as your team is working, this makes you feel more connected.
Keep in touch. Whether through a quick Slack check in or a Zoom catch up, make sure to be there and talk to people.
Bring snacks when you’re back. Ok, this is not a must, but in my team whenever someone goes back home or to a cool different place, we bring back some local snacks. This makes sure that people feel like they’re part of your experience and, honestly, who doesn’t like snacks?
Try to not miss the biggest events if you can. Twice a year we have the Wise Mission Days, which is a company-wide event where most employees are encouraged to join. If you can work around these dates, you won’t miss the major cross team bonding opportunities.
What I’ve learned along the way
I was going to write a paragraph about overcoming obstacles when they happen, but I think we’re all better off if I share some things I’ve learned and that are good if you’re dipping your toes in remote work. So here we go:
This is not an unplugged holiday. Sorry to break it to you but you do have to work. So, make sure you have a safe and reliable internet connection. If you’re not sure, lately I’ve become very biased on eSIMs, you can buy data in advance and install as soon as you land. It also makes up for spotty wifi depending on where you are.
Security matters. Besides the internet, you’ll want to make sure you have privacy for calls or from screen peepers. Hotel rooms and co-working spaces are good solutions for that.
Unforeseen events happen, and it’s ok. But make sure you have a way to contact your lead/team when you’re away. Be it by having Slack on your phone or your lead’s contact, it’s important to be able to let them know if there are any emergencies.
Check visa requirements and travel plugs. To some of you this comes as a natural step, but let me tell you that living in the Schengen area has made me forget about borders. So make sure you have the necessary visas, vaccines and travel plugs so you can charge that phone for all the photos you’re gonna take.
Get travel insurance. You’ll need it. It’s that thing that you only regret not having the minute you need it (and believe me, when this happens all you ever think about is your past self wanting to save a few bucks and now having to pay for a private doctor).
Update your calendar time zone. Not sure about you, but I suck at time zones. So whenever I get that calendar notification I make sure to accept, otherwise I might miss some meetings.
Have fun! Grab that coffee, visit that museum, climb that hill, dive on that reef. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up on the work aspect of this. But your day has 24 hours – and you only work 8 of those. So go enjoy the place you chose and don’t feel guilty about it. You’ll come back with lots of stories to tell.
I always joke that traveling should be a part of the job. Wise offers a very international product, which caters to remote workers, freelancers, expats and travellers alike.
Besides getting to explore all these amazing places, being in another country allows me to do something that doesn’t happen so often: meeting customers in the wild.
The amount of people I met on the way that are excited about being Wise users, or have constructive feedback really help grasping the impact that we have as a company.
Honestly, there’s nothing to lose from taking a break from your daily life while still getting your work done. Hope this guide made you excited to join us, and don’t worry, we’re hiring!