Remote Year: from dream to reality
When adventure calls...you must go. Learn how I made the decision to embrace life in Asia and how it all worked out.
Status Update: I’ve moved to Asia. The urge to explore just wouldn’t go away. So I finally embraced it and moved across the world. It’s not forever, but it's definitely right for right now. I’m participating in a program called Remote Year - where I travel with 20+ diverse people and live in a different country each month over four months. I’ll be working for my company, on night shift, remotely from co-working spaces.
It took three attempts across three different companies to get approval, but it was worth the wait.
The idea of Remote Year sounds great - check their instagram for a fantasy feed of poolside working, wanderlust travel porn, and smiling groups in exotic locations. Spoiler, these are all perks of the program, but it's so much more too - intense prep, pitching unique work situations, and exhausting travel. It's been a long journey to get going...and I want to share the process I went through to make it here.
The Work Case
I pitched Remote Year to three different companies over four years. After getting into the very first program they offered, I made a case to go - which after a lot of back and forth, ended in a NO. When Remote Year rolled out four month programs, I made another case to go - which ended in a quick NO. Finally, at my current company I made a case to go and got a YES.
I had to interrogate how I could deliver against my role with the demands and factors of being remote from the other side of the world. Outside of missing in person office conversations and shared moments, there was very little prohibiting the work itself. I work in marketing for a global network of media agencies and most of my day is spent behind the computer. To show the value of the opportunity and share how it could work for my role, I pulled together a case to present to stakeholders within the network.*
After pitching it around, I received approval, with some caveats. I agreed to work the famed night shift - putting me on East Coast hours and to come back to the states early into the program to execute against a major industry event. As the program got closer, I was also requested to post-pone the start of the program as we approached a large launch. These are all a small price to pay for the experience.
Once approved to go, the real work began. Turns out, stepping outside your reality takes a ridiculous amount of preparation.
Taxes and Visas
I worked with our People & Culture Team to verify that there were no external requirements for extended work and travel in each of the countries we would be in. Remote Year works with lawyers to provide verification for US-based workers.
I packed up my apartment. Every earthly possession I have is currently sitting in Manhattan Mini Storage in a 5x7x8 cube. I spent the last month subleasing in NYC and living out of two suitcases. Outside of time spent and $144 per month, that's as easy as it was, and I was able to try a new neighborhood in the process.
The countries I was traveling to did require unique immunizations, so I had to go grab a few shots and medicine from our clinic at work.
Remote Year covers travel between countries once on the program, but we're in charge of flights to and from the first and last destinations. Travel took a full day, but I'm a champion plane sleeper.
And here we are.
*Email firstname.lastname@example.org for the work case in full.