It’s like traveling without moving: How to work remotely abroad and maintain your sanity

man on phone in cafe with laptop and coffee

A short while ago I had an opportunity to work abroad for a brief period. After securing approval from my supervisor and making the necessary arrangements, I discovered that working remotely not only allowed me to keep up on various projects, but to make headway while enjoying time out of the country. 

The experience of working while traveling in many respects felt as if I’d never moved from my on-campus workstation. Given the ease with which one can travel the globe and still access U-M resources, it stands to reason that more staff will want to know how to do it effectively. I am sharing this general guide that I hope will be useful should the opportunity to work abroad present itself to you or someone in your unit.  

The guide includes pre-departure tips on:

  • Passports and visas
  • Travel insurance
  • An overview of TSA Pre✓, CLEAR, and Global Entry 
  • And, of course, lots of information on computer hardware, cybersecurity, getting (and staying) online, and data/calling plan options

Once you’ve landed, it also provides help on:

  • Dealing with time zone vertigo
  • The best way to stay connected and charged up while you’re on the move
  • Special geo-political situations that might need extra care and planning

The suggestions provided in the guide are based on the idea that a staff member might be working remotely for a shorter period of time rather than a longer one, in which case more thought, engagement, and planning will be needed.