Advice for workaholics abroad

Most of us plan holidays to get a break from work but recent studies have shown that we just cannot escape the urge to check work emails. In extreme circumstances some of us decide to use today’s technology to work overseas full time.

With a plethora of portable technology which tools can ensure your overseas office is as productive as your domestic one?

Working abroad

Voice communication

If you have a reliable internet connection then programs such as Skype, Viber and Google talk are great for making international calls. This voice over internet technology has come on a long way since its inception and now can provide call quality as good as many land lines. If you don’t want to have your PC/laptop/tablet/mobile turned on all the time though you can buy regular looking telephone handsets to plug into your internet router.

As well as being cost effective, one great advantage of voice of internet telephones is that you can plug into any internet connection and your phone number will always follow you.

If you don’t have internet access then you will have to rely on either normal fixed line telephony or mobile options. If you are going to use a mobile then the golden rule is to buy a local SIM as it will be much cheaper than using your domestic phone. An international SIM is a good second choice if you are likely to roam between countries.

It is also worth considering satellite phones as their hardware cost as now dropped dramatically. You can pick them up for under $1000 and call packages can be as little as $50 a month. The two great advantages of satellite phones are they work almost anywhere and unlike normal roaming you don’t pay for incoming calls. It’s also pretty cost effective for the person making the call which is perfect if you have people in an office back home who need to call you a lot.

Office tools

In the old days transporting your office overseas usually involved a lot of packing and a removal company. These days it can be no more than closing the lid on your laptop. So what are the office tools you can pack into your laptop to ensure a smooth transition?

Microsoft is still the market leader in office software with programs such as Word, Outlook, Powerpoint and Excel still serving the market well. These programs also have the advantage of working locally on your machine without the need for an internet connection. For cheaper (often free) options you can try Google’s “drive” platform and the associated programs that come with it. As well as being free your data can be synced easily across different devices. So whether you are on your PC, laptop, tablet or mobile your documents should be accessible and up to date.

However recommending google software always needs to come with a health warning. They have a nasty habit of suddenly discontinuing software they have developed. While it may continue to work for a while they can literally overnight delete the download location so that if you need to reinstall the program (for example when you get a new PC/laptop) you can be stuffed. They recently did it with Google sync which helpfully synced outlook calendars with your mobile google calendar. Unhelpfully they just decided to stop supporting it overnight and took down its download location!

The other word of warning with these cloud solutions (where your data is hosted on the internet rather than your PC) is that the transfer of data to/from your machine can be expensive if you are on an international data plan.

If you have to transfer a lot of data back to your home country then you might consider hosting all your documents on a computer back in your home country and remotely logging in through programs like logmein.

The final thing to note when working abroad is just to double check the local government’s policy towards internet censorship. In countries such as China there are sometimes restrictions placed on accessing certain websites and if it’s essential that you have access to these sites (like facebook, twitter, google etc..) then you might need to reconsider your relocation. Either that or you can look into proxy servers which may give you a way to place your internet requests from an outside territory.

Good luck with your move, we are very jealous!


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