Berlin, Philadelphia, New York.
While most Singaporeans aren’t strangers to jetting off to these cities for vacations, Priscilla Lee has had the opportunity to have a different sort of experience, living at each one for weeks to months at a time — all while working full time.
Back in 2021, Priscilla was a social media strategist at a local company, and was feeling “really stifled and unhappy” in Singapore, she tells AsiaOne. It was the height of the pandemic and working from home was the norm.
When overseas travel was allowed again, she plucked up the courage to ask her boss if she could work fully remotely.
The 24-year-old says that her special request was granted after she showed her boss that working remotely wouldn’t affect her performance and deliverables.
She was “really lucky” to have such an understanding boss, she adds.
Once out of the country, she was ready to spread her wings.
In a TikTok video posted on Sept 9, Priscilla explains why she prefers working remotely to on-site work, saying, “It’s the work-life balance.”
It is something she values and she mentions how this can be “really hard to find” in Singapore.
“As someone who advocates for work-life balance, I feel like a lot of the ‘regular office jobs’ still hold onto outdated ideas of what being productive at work entails — for instance, staying back late, replying to work messages after work hours, working on weekends without compensation and prioritising work above all else,” she tells us.
While working remotely, Priscilla achieves said balance by having the freedom to travel wherever and whenever she wishes.
“As long as [I] get the job done, of course!” she quips.
While there are benefits aplenty, Priscilla has had to deal with the not-so-pretty parts of working remotely overseas.
From navigating timezones to hopping different cities, the travelling and planning can be a tiring and stressful process, Priscilla shares.
Living abroad alone can also be rather daunting.
“I think it’s a universal experience to feel scared when you’re alone in a brand new country for the first time,” Priscilla says.
A 4pm Berlin sunset was such an unfamiliar experience that Priscilla admits she was afraid to leave the house.
“But day after day, I’d start to go out more, and eventually, I felt brave and secure enough to explore Berlin on my own, and it was such an exhilarating feeling.”
Back to Square One
She soon realised that having more time to travel was a priority for her, and found another social media position at a company with more flexible hours, Priscilla says.
She was living this dream life for over a year until this September, when she was retrenched and had to return home.
The job search for another remote job, or one in her favourite city, Berlin, has been challenging, to say the least.
When asked if the option to work remotely is a deal breaker, Priscilla responds: “I would say that it’s not just about the job being remote, but rather what it signifies.”
To her, an employer offering remote work as an option is a plus point as it usually indicates more flexibility, better work-life balance, better employee welfare and less micromanaging.
Getting Started On Your Remote Work Journey
If you’re inspired to follow in Priscilla’s footsteps and dip your toes into the world of remote work, she says websites such as LinkedIn, weworkremotely.com, flexjobs.com and upwork.com are good starting points.
However, she’s careful to temper expectations, reminding job seekers that “it isn’t going to be easy” in her TikTok video.
Even if you don’t manage to find a remote job, Priscilla has a couple of tips that might be useful.
Should your job scope allow for it, why not try a freelance gig?
Another alternative is to work out a temporary remote arrangement with your current boss.
“Let them know you’d like to explore working remotely for a month or two and show them how you’d make it work, and set up all the proper procedures in place so that everything is still going to get done effectively,” she suggests.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.