I recently spent a month travelling around Australia. I didn’t take a career break, I only took a week and a half annual leave, all my work got done, and it was awesome…
Nine months ago, I decided I wanted to travel down under. I’d never been to Australia before, but my brother lives out there and I hadn’t seen him in four years. And with COVID restrictions starting to be lifted, it felt like the right time.
I was also aware of Hive Roam—a company benefit that allows employees to travel while they work, as long as they can continue to fulfil their responsibilities.
So I started planning.
Then I spoke to my manager.
And before I knew it, I was off.
I touched down in Melbourne in late February to stay with my bro for four weeks. Over the course of the four weeks, I also spent three days driving the Great Ocean Road, a weekend at a beach house in Sorrento, three days in Sydney for St. Paddy’s weekend, and a couple of nights in Hobart before road-tripping to Port Arthur.
How I worked
For most of the trip, I was working 8am to 11am, and 7pm to 10.30pm so that I could get out for a few hours during the day and explore. And sometimes I’d work extra on one day so that I only had to do a couple of hours the next.
I also took seven days’ leave during my time in Oz, two of which were “Life is Short” days—another Hive employee benefit that gives us all three extra days of annual leave every six months to help us maintain a good work-life balance.
How we made it work
The key to the trip’s success was knowing exactly what my manager expected of me. Due to the time difference, my working hours rarely overlapped with my colleagues’ back in the UK. So I had to know what I had to achieve each day, each week and over the course of the month—without being able to just ask.
So, by clearly outlining those expectations prior to setting off, I could confidently plan ahead and structure my trip around that.
The benefits of working while travelling
I loved my time in Australia. I was able to explore a new country, reconnect with family and friends, and enjoy some unforgettable experiences.
To do it for as long as I did would have been almost impossible without Hive Roam; I’d either have had to save up a lot of holiday, or take a career break and sacrifice a lot more money.
But there were other benefits, too, that I hadn’t anticipated. For one, I knew that the sooner I could get my work done, the sooner I could get out and explore. So I didn’t waste any time procrastinating.
I got **it done.
On my full working days out there, I got the same amount of work done that I would at home—but in six and a half hours rather than seven and a half. And I think that’s a habit now, so I’m going to try my best to maintain it.
What I learnt from working while travelling
The thing that really came through was the importance of efficient communication—and the drag that inefficient communication can have on productivity.
Since the back-and-forth Slack conversations were no longer possible, people started sending me long and detailed solitary messages outlining what they needed from me and pre-empting any questions I might have.
Those messages were game-changing.
I realised those Slack-tennis matches I was so used to were also time-sinkholes. And although, yes, they do help to build relationships and the banter can put a smile on your face—they’re killers when it comes to getting things done.
In fact, Slack in general can be a huge distraction—as can emails. Because my laptop wasn’t pinging me every five minutes, my focus was rarely broken. And I didn’t really miss anything either—very few messages are so time-sensitive that they require a response within six hours. So I just checked them first thing when I logged on and last thing before I logged off, and that was it.
I was liberated.
Now, at home in sunny (non-Australian) Newcastle, I can look back on an incredible month that I feel very lucky to have experienced. And thanks to Hive Roam, my work didn’t suffer. So I strongly encourage my colleagues to make use of this amazing benefit, and other orgs to implement similar policies. It’s a huge win-win, so why wouldn’t you?
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