Living and working solo across Europe

5 min
travail-solo-europe

Key Take away.

Who said remote work and performance were mutually exclusive? We’re not just talking about couch work, either: for these GSoft employees, the sky’s the limit. Here are their stories!

Author :

GSoft

At GSoft, we are a fully (and proudly) distributed company. What does that mean, exactly? Well, in addition to having the freedom to work from our offices or from home, our employees can choose to do so from just about anywhere in the world, 150 days a year. And it works. Here’s how.

Kimberly, technical content specialist at GSoft, found the perfect combo: work & play in Europe for 4 months, as a solo traveller. Quite the adventure!

Hi Kimberly, where are you as we speak?

Kimberly : Hi! I’m currently in Alicante, Spain. If I slightly turn my head to the left right now, I can literally see the ocean.

What made you want to travel, and why did you choose that part of the world?

Kimberly : I’ve always loved learning new languages, and Italy has consistently held a special place in my heart. So much so that I learned the language years ago and thus, speak Italian – although I must admit, I’m a bit rusty now. I’d always wanted to solo travel to Europe, so I jumped at the opportunity GSoft provides us with and came to work from Italy for a month, same in Spain and another month in Portugal. Then two last weeks split between London and Scotland. I chose my destinations really keeping in mind my needs and wants for a great summer, like proximity to the beach and mountains…and good grub of course!

What does that kind of flexibility mean to you as an employee and in general?

Kimberly : It means I can continue to build my career in Montreal, to progress and grow professionally, to enhance my personal growth as well.

I’ve had the chance to meet a lot of people who work remotely, smart working as some call it, and really connect with them and their cultures, countries, languages, and daily experiences. I’ve also come across people from the tech industry and have learned about new tools and new perspectives that I can apply to my job. It’s very enriching.

Tell us about your everyday life. Your tasks, team…the jet lag  ;)

Kimberly : I look at it this way: each place I visit is home for a month. So, in terms of my routine, nothing really changes. When I first got here, though, I did have to adapt my schedule to the 6-hour time difference. Oh, and my Microsoft Teams’ background gives us plenty to talk about during team meetings 😉 my coworkers are sharing my experience in a way.

Truth be told, the 6-hour time difference means I’m not able to interact with my team as much as I used to. The great thing about working with folks like the ones at the GSoft is the variety of conversations we have on Slack. Whether you’re participating, facilitating or just along for the ride, it really makes you feel like you’re part of the team.

As technical content specialist at GSoft, I don’t work directly with our clients. I have requests that come in daily through Trello, and I complete them so that my coworkers have everything they need to move forward with our clients. Which I must admit is very convenient for me as a remote worker.

The pandemic was so intense that our managers at GSoft AND GSoft encourage us to disconnect every now and then and go for walks (along with plenty of other wellness activities) …my walks are that much more motivating with a view like this one.

Any anecdotes you’d like to share about your European remote work experience?

Kimberly : Like all remote workers, I think the Internet is both our best friend and our worst enemy. When you work in several different locations like I have, you realize it’s not always 100% reliable. In Italy, for example, my wifi was down for 24h, and I had to use my hotspot to get my work done. Let’s just say I paid for that day big time! That’s just the reality, though, and it’s out of our control. We adapt, we learn, we make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Three tips to make the most of working abroad?

Kimberly : I would say start prepping well before you take off, and by that, I mean let your insurance and financial institutions know about your trip. In order to avoid unwelcome surprises when you get back.

And we all know how much we rely on Google Maps when we’re in a new country! So, if you never want to be without the Internet, my advice is to always have your electronic SIM card on hand. Sometimes we think that it’ll be easier to just buy a new one, but depending on where you are, that can be quite challenging to obtain. So, look into installing an eSIM directly on your mobile device, is what I would tell anyone going abroad for a long time.

Also, a company like GSoft trusts us 100%, so I think it’s essential to keep in mind that even though we do have the freedom to travel and to explore, our employer trusts us to do our best work always, whether we’re working remotely or not. There really is no difference between the two, and I think that’s something we truly need to value as employees.

Can one be productive when working from another country?

Kimberly : Yes, but productivity can vary. When you’re in “discovery” mode in another country and working at the same time, time flies. And when you try to squeeze everything in (discovery and work responsibilities), it’s easy to get distracted.

Also, for those who aren’t familiar… summer in Europe is VERY hot. Comparable to the heatwaves we get in Quebec but with a little added touch of discomfort that makes working from home challenging at times. So, my advice to you is: make sure your accommodations have AC if you’re planning on coming in the summer!

A key takeaway from your time there?

Kimberly : Working abroad, and alone to boot, really took me out of my comfort zone! I’m pleasantly surprised by how many people I’ve managed to meet (via expat groups on Facebook and the Meetup app) and connect with in different languages and across cultures (because yeah, the locals totally join us at expat events). It’s super enlightening and my goal is to continue challenging myself.

It’s true that travelling alone can be scary. Much more so as a woman (of colour in my case). I’ve learned that it’s super important to do your research when it comes to neighbourhoods and to not be afraid to ask for help when you feel you need it – regardless of the language barrier or any shyness you might feel, sometimes you just need to get creative.

What would you say to someone who’s on the fence about joining GSoft?

Kimberly : Do it! I think we got really used to our comfort during the pandemic, which of course makes it all the more complicated to take the leap and give something new a whirl.

GSoft is all about growth. Take me, for example: they trusted me and I was offered a role I wasn’t exactly qualified for. I started out on the Technical Support Team but my manager took note of my writing skills. So, I was able to transition into a technical content specialist role, initially in hybrid mode, until, little by little, I acquired the skills necessary to carry out my new tasks to the best of my ability. I then transferred teams! The training materials we have access to are invaluable to me, especially as someone who’s currently growing into a role that’s unrelated to my initial experience.

Finally, and most importantly if you ask me, is that GSoft introduced me to some lifelong friends!