5 top tips for contractors working overseas

contractors working overseas

30th June 2020

These last few months have certainly been an unusual, and for many, difficult time. Contractors around the globe found themselves in a situation that they could not have prepared for. As a result of travel restrictions imposed to tackle Covid-19, a number of contractors had assignments put on hold, and many were unable to return to their home countries. Being stuck abroad and having projects unexpectedly overrun or change presents a set of new challenges and places contractors in unfamiliar circumstances. However, while this certainly is a difficult environment to operate in, there are still several ways contractors can make the best of the situation and keep their professional and personal life in order.

In response to the crisis, contractors have been switching to remote working, and it seems that a number of businesses will continue this even as lockdown measures ease. Regardless of whether you’re working remotely from your home country, or in another destination, contactors can remain healthy, happy and productive. Here are our top five tips for contractors working overseas to manage their professional and personal life during these challenging times.

1) Keeping in touch with family and friends

While even the most seasoned contractors might be used to leaving family and friends behind as they move across borders for work, it can still be difficult to stay motivated without your support network nearby. We’re all prone to feeling lonely, however for expats, it can be particularly tough. Prior to lockdown, research by AXA – Global Healthcare found that nearly half (48%) of expats who have felt isolated at some point were missing friends and family.

When timeframes unexpectedly overrun, and contractors find themselves separated from friends and families longer than intended, it’s important that they keep in touch with everyone back home. It takes time for expats to build social circles and connections in the countries that they’re placed in – and this is even more difficult to achieve during lockdown. Ensuring that you’re regularly having conversations with the people you value most back home is still crucial for everyone’s well-being.

2) Get creative with how you communicate

While keeping in touch with family and friends is certainly key, how you do that is up to you, but make sure you’re creative. Luckily, we’re not restricted to phone calls and can now video call with multiple people at the same time with ease. This means you can give the people back home a virtual tour of where you’re staying and take them with you to local spots.

It’s also quite understandable that asking “What are you doing now?” might get a bit dull and repetitive after a while, so consider other creative and find other fun ways to communicate. In the last few months, we’ve seen more groups of friends and families getting together virtually for a pub quiz or dinner dates – and these don’t have to be limited to lockdown activities. There are also a number of games that you can play with others remotely through video apps, consoles or simply on your mobile.

3) Remember to connect with colleagues too

While it’s great to stay in touch with people from your home country, it’s also vital to give attention to your colleagues too. With more people working remotely, it’s important to continue building relationships with those on your team. As contractors know, developing strong connections while on assignments is not only beneficial for productivity and wellbeing in the current moment, but it can also be valuable for future opportunities.

To avoid any feelings of disconnect within the team, utilise online tools such as Slack, Skype, Microsoft Teams or social media to have regular catch ups and to collaborate. Remember, having friendly and personal conversations is just as important as discussing business matters.

4) Take regular, short breaks

As Covid-19 has led to a number of contractors around the globe stuck inside in another country, it’s important that professionals remember to keep a good work-life balance.  Taking regular breaks throughout the day and “logging off” at the end can help avoid burnout. While working overseas, it can be easy to drive all of your attention to your project, however this isn’t healthy physically nor mentally.

One of the great advantages of working remotely is that you can take regular and short breaks when needed. In fact, doing this throughout the work day can enhance your productivity in several ways. It combats feelings of fatigue that often come with long hours of work. It also gives you a boost of motivation so you can meet your goals, as well as increases creativity.

There are a number of meaningful and productive ways to spend breaks. For example, you can spend some time walking (where lockdown rules allow), meditating, snacking, stretching, or exercising.

Try to incorporate these breaks into your daily work schedule and stick to a routine to increase productivity. Another advantage of working from home is having the ability to adapt your schedule to what works for you. So, if that means exercising before work or on your lunch break, that’s absolutely fine. Setting strict start and end times to the work day, as if you were in the office, will also help ensure you’re not overworking and getting the downtime needed.

5) Personalise your work space

Managing your professional life during extended overseas projects or while working remotely in your home country isn’t easy, however you can help keep things in order by having a designated work space and personalising it to your liking. Creating a professional environment for the sole purpose of working in will help you stay productive and keep distractions at bay.

What contractors working from home overseas must remember

Regardless of where in the world you’re working, whether that’s from your home office or in temporary accommodation, compliance with local tax laws is crucial. In fact, given the current volatility and ongoing changes to tax laws, it’s more important than ever that contractors are aware of local rules and compliance regulation updates in counties where they have upcoming planned assignments. Here at 6CATS, our experts can support you with all of your compliance needs for destinations around the global. From understanding the restrictions to planning for your next overseas assignment, we’re here to help.

For further information, do not hesitate to give our team of specialists a call.


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