When you’re a military spouse, the possibility of relocating abroad is always there. But, what do you do when you actually get PCS orders overseas?
While your individual situation may be different, one incredibly effective way to maintain your career while living abroad is to work remotely. Thankfully, working from home is becoming more commonplace with employers and, with today’s technology, it’s easier than ever.
Here are some considerations you need to keep in mind if you’re a military spouse looking to work remotely while living overseas:
The first step in determining if you will be able to work remotely while living overseas is to find out the applicable SOFA regulations for the country to which you may PCS. Status of Forces Agreements (SOFAs) are diplomatic agreements that are unique to specific locations and employment arrangements. In short, SOFAs “dictate the conditions under which military spouses can work, how they pay taxes, and what must be done to comply with the local laws and procedures under a foreign jurisdiction.”
For country-specific SOFA guidance or to speak to the employment readiness specialist at your future station for more information, check out the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) whitepaper, A Portability Roadmap for Military Spouses and Their Employers.
If you need help finding a point of contact at your future station, MilitaryINSTALLATIONS is a great resource for military spouses looking for location-specific information. Simply choose “Spouse Education, Training, and Careers” from the list of programs and services, enter your new installation or postal code, and select “Search”. You may also reach out to your local Military Spouse Professional Network (MSPN) Chapter lead through Hiring Our Heroes. They have OCONUS networks in Bahrain, Germany, Guam, Italy, Japan, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and Spain.
Discuss the Option of Working Remotely with Your Current Employer
If you’re currently employed and you aren’t already working remotely full-time, you may consider asking about the option of working remotely with your current employer. To get the conversation rolling in the right direction
Set up a meeting — Before you make a move, talk with your manager to present your request in person. Stay professional and open-minded, answering any questions your employer has. Understand what concerns your employer may have and how you’ll work through them together.
Highlight the benefits — Be prepared to share the benefits that remote work can offer. These could be: increased work-life balance, fewer interruptions, decreased overhead costs for your company, and increased productivity. Make sure the employer understands you have their best interests in mind as well as your own.
Try before you buy — If your current employer is reluctant to making the switch, ask if you can experiment with working from home 2-3 days per week prior to your move. If all goes well, you’ll have that insight to lean on once you make the move. If you experience any issues, you’ll have taken some time to learn how to correct them in the future. Stay adaptable.
Remote-Friendly Companies for Military Spouses
A flexible employer can be the key to a consistent work history; however, due to the financial and legal consequences associated with retaining employees when they relocate overseas, not every employer will be open to it.
If you find yourself searching for a remote-friendly company, FlexJobs has identified 19 remote-friendly companies that hire military spouses. Also, remember that the MSEP Job Search on MySECO is always available to help connect you with employers worldwide.
Tips for Working Remote While Living Overseas
Working while living outside the Continental U.S. OCONUS) can be a tough adjustment for those used to the structure (and hours) of their office job, but there are ways to excel in your position from across the globe.
Here are 6 tips for working remotely (and overseas):
- Design your home office for productivity. From the lighting to the furnishings, you’ll want a space that will allow you to stay focused and inspired.
- Make yourself visible. Add your photo to your email signature or professional chat profile and turn on your video during conference calls whenever possible. Your coworkers will be happy to see your face and it shows that you are actively listening and participating in team meetings. Just make sure your background and home work environment look and sound as professional as you do.
- Protect your time and workload. When you’re working from home, you may find it difficult to disconnect since there’s no longer a natural boundary of unplugging from the office once you leave. Clarify expectations with your manager and HR department to make sure that you’re still able to have a good work-life balance when working remote.
- Adjust your hours. Working from home doesn’t have to mean sitting at your desk from 9am-5pm. It’s all about flexibility, and an unusual schedule may even make you more productive. Observe the hours during which you do your best work and speak to your manager about adjusting your schedule to align with them.
- Be available. International collaboration may be one of the most difficult hurdles you will encounter working OCONUS, but there are ways to compromise and respect coworkers boundaries and preferences while protecting your own. Here are HubSpot’s 9 tips for working with teams in different timezones.
- Request travel to your HQ for in-person trainings and events .There’s nothing more valuable than face-to-face time with your team. If you have an annual company meeting or training sessions, your employer may be willing to fly you in for them.
Frequent moves make career continuity a challenge for military spouses, but moving overseas could open up new and exciting opportunities. Just remember to do your research, investigate all your options, and choose (or stay with) an employer that will help as you navigate all the changes.
More Tips for Taking Your Career on the Move
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