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The pros and cons of working from abroad

In this blog, our Partnership Executive Jack Hughes provides his thoughts after experiencing working from abroad in Fuerteventura.

It was approaching the end of the summer in 2022 and after a summer of indulgence, I decided that I wanted to test myself with a new challenge and get fitter in 2023. I had experienced a triathlon and half marathons in my early 20s and upon reaching my 30s, I decided I wanted to run a marathon.

The London Marathon is considered to be one of the greatest marathons in the world for several reasons: its history and tradition, the scenic route, the charitable focus, and the incredible crowds and atmosphere on the day. I knew that this was the race I wanted to be a part of in April 2023.

I had a long think about which charity I would like to support, and I chose Mind, the National Association for Mental Health. Thanks to Mind, millions of people have access to professional advice and support when they need it most. I completed my application and on Friday 28th October 2022 I received confirmation that I had been successful in my application for the London Marathon. I already felt a sense of purpose and achievement and that was just the start of it!

I started doing my homework, mostly by watching videos on YouTube of people that had previously run marathons. The same thing came up in most videos: training for a marathon requires discipline, consistency, and motivation. I felt I had those attributes, however, a Christmas trip to Mexico for almost 3 weeks had set me back a bit. Upon returning to the UK, I knew that I had to be disciplined and start taking marathon training seriously.

One of the perks of working at Parliament Hill is the company's policy on working from abroad. Provided you're not out of the country for more than 30 days and you're online during UK working hours, you are free to work from anywhere. You hear of professional athletes going to warm weather training camps and it got me thinking; why don't I go somewhere warm where I can focus on my training? I knew from previous holidays that the Canary Islands were pleasant in February and after getting the green light from my line manager, I booked my flight and Airbnb and flew out to Fuerteventura on the 29th of January.

What I learnt working abroad

During my month in Fuerteventura, I found that I had increased productivity. Although I was working four days a week (I took Thursdays off for my longer runs), I was amazed at how much I achieved with one day less. I did find myself working past 6 pm on most nights, this was probably a mixture of needing the extra 30+ minutes to get things done and the fact that I had no social plans after work. I even completed some of our mandatory compliance training (early), which was scintillating! I can see why the results of the recent four-day working week trial in the UK was such a success, with more than 90% of participating businesses opting to continue with the four-day week 1 .

I had far fewer distractions than being at home and the Airbnb I was staying at had great Wi-Fi – I messaged the Airbnb host before booking for confirmation the Wi-Fi was strong and I'd have no problems working on Zoom or Teams. I also packed a monitor, so I had two screens with my laptop. The monitor did take up quite a bit of space in my suitcase though, and took it close to the 20kg limit!

As well as being a productive period for work, I hit all of my running goals. In the month I was there, I ran a total of 116 miles which equated to 18 hours of running. It's stating the obvious, but boy was it easier to go out and run when the sun was shining. It was about 18/19 degrees most days, so shorts and t-shirt weather for us Brits! It was quite hilly where I was, so it was great for training and building endurance – I'm told the London Marathon is quite flat.

Working abroad Weather in Fuerteventura

By the end of the month, I also had a pleasant surprise looking at my online banking – I had saved money as I wasn't commuting to work two days a week, my weekly shop at Lidl was cost-effective and I wasn't out spending money socialising with friends or family.

During my month abroad, I did notice that on the weekends I found myself a bit bored post-run and even lonely at times. Other than running, watching football and strolling down the local beach, I did find myself socially isolated. There were tourists and expats in the local town, but I wasn't drinking alcohol, so didn't bond with expats over a pint (could I sound more British?!). My Spanish is also a work in progress – I was and still use the app Babbel to try and improve my conversational Spanish.

It did highlight to me the importance of social connection and how significant my friends and family are. I also missed the camaraderie of our co-working space and having a cuppa with my colleagues. It made me realise how crucial social connection is for overall life satisfaction. If you've not checked in on a friend or family member in a while, why not drop them a text or a call and organise a meal or a coffee, it could make a world of difference knowing that you're thinking of them and that you're keen to catch up.

Overall, working from abroad for a month was a great learning experience. It laid a great foundation for my marathon training and I was able to get plenty of vitamin D doing it (although I still didn't get a tan, #factor50). I was very focused on my work and my output in a 4-day week was brilliant. If I was to do it again, I'd look to go with a friend who also had flexible work or if I was to go alone, maybe go for 2 weeks rather than a month.

Thank you for reading this far – if you would like to support me on my marathon journey, my fundraising page can be found here . Cheers, Jack


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