I am incredibly lucky that I am in the position to travel the world and get to remain employed, even more so employed by a great company.
How am I doing it?
First things first: I’ve been at my company for over five years, and have been a consistent contributor. This helps a lot when requesting a special circumstance like… I don’t know, working remotely for a year. I also have the fortune of working in digital advertising, where remote work is possible, and of having others at my organization who have paved the way for working remotely.
That being said, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- The most important question to ask yourself is: how can I keep contributing at the same level? Of course, all employers are different, but this is a common question any employer will undoubtedly have. I talked to key folks at my company, determined their needs, and proactively put a project list together. This makes it easy for my manager to approve, prioritize, check in, etc.
- Flexibility and positivity are key. What can you do differently to take on necessary work? What do you bring that no one else can? In my case, it is institutional knowledge and a desire to work cross-functionally beyond my current day-to-day. This might mean training across departments, project management, or owning work beyond my “scope.” (You may have to redefine your idea of scope…)
- You have to be ok with letting go. I managed a fantastic team (the best, actually) at my company, and had to step back from managing them from afar. Instead of being disappointed, I am looking at this as an opportunity to take a broader approach to their development, help develop others, and give the newer managers on my team a chance to shine.
I won’t lie, I had a stressful couple of hours putting together a presentation to pitch Remote Year to my employer, several anxiety-ridden meetings with executives, and a couple weeks of uncertainty. What I got out of all of it was a chance to dig deeper into why I wanted to do Remote Year in the first place, areas of opportunity for the company where I could pitch in, and what this year might lead to from a professional development standpoint. Pretty cool.
Undoubtedly, I will face many challenges over the next twelve months, some of which will be professional. Having a great support system in my company, my manager, my team, and my colleagues assures me that, whatever it is, we’ll figure it out. And that’s the attitude to have when embarking on a journey, right?