Working from home when living in a foreign country

When I tell people that I work from home the usual response is “Wow, you’re so lucky. I wish I had that gig.” Or something of that nature.

True, working from home definitely has its high points. I don’t HAVE to wake up early, I don’t deal with rush hour traffic (and in Santiago it’s awful), I get to hang out with my dog all day long, even while I work and I never have to deal with sharing bathrooms with coworkers (and the discomfort and too-much-information THAT entails.) Among other things, of course.

I admit that when I told my company that I was moving to Chile, their response was better than what I had expected. “Work for us down in Chile.” Sweet! After all, my position with them requires me to manage the Latin American region so the fact that I was moving to Chile (where we also have partners) made more sense than if I were moving to, say, The Netherlands. It definitely allowed me to cross one thing off the “to-do” list upon arrival, which was “find a job and a way to earn a living so you don’t end up living in a van down by the river.”*

However, as awesome as working from home can be, when you move to a new country, working from home actually TAKES AWAY the much needed social connections you are forced to have with coworkers when you work outside your home. Since I didn’t have that on arrival, it took me much longer to make friends and, a year later and still working from home, I have friends of course but I’m sure I’d have a few more if I worked outside. Further, they’d probably be Chilean, something that’s definitely lacking in the friend department for me right now.

In any case, I could go on and on detailing the pros and the cons of working from home, especially when throwing the fact that I’m new to the country into the mix. But, don’t pictures speak louder than words? I was on Facebook last night and saw that a former colleague of mine in the U.S. posted a comic strip that accurately describes (visually, since it’s what we all like) the good and the bad of working from home. I have to share it because, at least in my case, it’s oh-so-true. Sweetly adorable, chocolate covered truth … Check it out here. (Thanks to the creator of The Oatmeal comic strip for this and to my former coworker for sharing it on FB.)

[* This reference to Chris Farley’s SNL character “Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker” will only make sense to those who 1) either appreciate all things SNL and therefore watch episodes regardless of date and time or 2) you watched SNL religiously during the late 90s, as I did. Here’s a YouTube link for your viewing enjoyment. ]
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5 thoughts on “Working from home when living in a foreign country

  1. dude i just almost peed my pants at that comic strip. that's f-iung hilarious. yea, i honestly don't know how you do it. i need some sort of routine in my life as well as social non-internet-based interaction. and honestly working at 2 am and sleeping until 11 am sounds horrible to me. but hey, to each his own. and re: chris farley…the living in a van down by the river is quite possibly the funniest skit i've ever seen. now you know what people in missouri (see: misery) are like and why as a small child i always dreamed of living in the big manzana. can you write funny stuff more often? i needed that little chuckle at my desk. now back to work ; )

  2. That is so funny! I wrote most of my dissertation from home and spent a lot of time procrastinating while engaging in domestic trivialities: "I'll get to work as soon as I wash these dishes;" "I am just going to throw in a load of laundry and then I'll write." I notice the guy in the comic did not have that issue… gender difference maybe? haha

  3. Yeah, I've never worked from home but since I've been here I can relate a little. I'm used to being at school all day everyday and having a ton of social contact. Now I'm working a few hours here and there (mostly at night) and spending a large chunk of time during the day alone. It's a really big adjustment. If you're ever free for a "working lunch" let me know. 🙂

  4. hello 🙂 google reader suggested i subscribe to your blog today 😉 and when i read the first post i had to smile because i can so relate to it.

    i work from home since 2005 and before that could never imagine it. I always said i am not the type to work from home.

    I LOVE working from home but I also
    HATE working from home.

    like your points
    + avoiding traffic
    + being with dog
    + spending less money
    + free free freedom

    -no social interactions
    -nobody to speak to

    absolutely loved the comic – thanks for digging that up.

    the problem is i don't know if after this time i could work in an office again but on the other hand i would love to..

    It sounds like you are also in sales? Then it must be even harder because people who like sales usually need more social interaction – which is exactly the reason I always said I cannot work from home…

  5. Thank you for linking to The Oatmeal. I've spent the last two days (woop woop licencia medica) reading his comics and they're freaking hilarious (well, except for the one on eating horses, but whatevs). I can't work from home. In college I could never even do homework in my dorm, I had to go to the library. Now if I have translation work I take it to Starbucks. I even prefer to plan classes at the Institute. I'm just too lazy and undisciplined when I'm at home!

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