Hi guys! I’m Deanna and I am a third-year International Development with Economics student currently on placement. During my placement year, I will be writing about some of my top tips for finding and starting a placement as well as how to make the most of remote working and working internationally.
My placement is based in London, but I am currently living in Singapore. Even though my placement is based in London, the office is only open 2 days a week so I thought it would be easier and less costly to work from my home in Singapore. I wasn’t too sure whether working remotely in another time zone was going to be a good idea as I was worried I would miss out on spending time with the team and the office life. However, between all the lockdowns and the shift towards remote working, I think I’ve made the right decision and am glad to be able to see my family and friends after many months!
Overall, the organisation I work for has made it very easy for me to still work from home away from the UK. My working hours when I was still working in the UK were 9:00 - 17:00, but this would be a pretty tough 16:00 – 00:00 Singapore time. After speaking to my supervisor, I now work in Singapore time 15:00 – 23:00. Working in another time zone was initially difficult as I wasn’t used to having to work or have meetings so late in the evening. But I was able to slowly adjust and have become more of a night owl! Whilst the hours may sound a little painful, I’ve loved having morning and afternoons free to get things done before starting work. Previously, I’d wake up and start work immediately, but now I am able to squeeze in a quick gym class or lunch with friends before work. Luckily, UK lunch time coincides perfectly with Singapore dinner time, so I still get to enjoy my hour break.
As I work quite late into the evening, I’ve naturally shifted to become more of a night worker, which means my mornings tend to be a little slower. Today, I went on a morning walk through the neighbourhood before settling down to start work. Luckily, this scenic walk is right at my doorstep - so there’s no real excuse to not get out of the house for a quick walk! Getting out of the house to literally anywhere, really helps me break up my day and give my day a little structure. Nowadays with remote working, I find it's easy to fall into the trap of not leaving the house and sitting at your desk all day, that’s why I try at least once a day to get some steps in. I would really recommend anyone working from home to move about every few hours! I think it’s so important we get a moment to ourselves at some point in the day.
Even though I haven’t officially begun work, I try and get started with some administrative-type tasks done in the morning. Working as a marketing intern for a charity is quite a reactive role, as it requires me to be posting on their social channels and responding to followers. However, I also have some tasks which can be done in the morning like proofreading and digital editing. Getting a chunk of work done in the morning also helps me free up my evening a bit, as I only have to work on reactive content and attend any meetings I have for the day. I really appreciate this time as I get a few hours of uninterrupted productivity. As well as starting work, for a little treat, my friends and I also decided to make ourselves a brunch today! The restrictions in Singapore mean that you can only meet two people at someone’s house, so we’ve tried to make the most of this and organise lots of different activities at home. When I meet my friends, it’s nice to chat about non-work-related things and hear about what’s happening in their lives. After not being able to come back to Singapore for a few months because of lockdown restrictions, I’ve really enjoyed being able to see my friends from home.
I’ll officially start working by now and replying to any emails I might have gotten after I logged off the previous day. I’ve been working at the National Literacy Trust, a charity dedicated to giving disadvantaged children literacy skill, for just over 4 months now and have really enjoyed my time here. Working for NLT has given me a great insight into what working in the charity sector would be like the importance of digital marketing in outreach to different individuals. My Thursdays usually aren’t too busy but today I had a meeting to discuss how we could promote one of the latest sports literacy campaigns. As well as this zoom call, one of my colleagues had organised a team social. As I can’t go into the office, I really appreciate having these online socials to catch up and get to know my team members in a more informal setting and what better way to do that than playing 2 truths, 1 lie!
Finally, time for dinner! I’ve found that when working from home, it can sometimes be hard to create a boundary between work and relaxation time - they can sometimes blur together. That’s why I always make sure to take my full one-hour lunch break. I use this time to disconnect from work and refresh my head before starting again. I usually close my laptop or mute my laptop so that I don’t get any email notifications in this hour. Another thing I’ve found helpful is to switch up where I’m working. If I started working in my room, then I’ll try and move to a new room or even outside for a change! All these small things help me to have a productive and enjoyable day.
As I finish my workday pretty late, after work all I do is get ready to sleep and have a little downtime. By this point, I am quite tired from the day’s work, so I have no trouble falling asleep!
Overall, it’s definitely possible to adjust to working remotely from a different time zone. If you are worried about working remotely, there are plenty of small changes you can make to your daily routine from taking frequent breaks to socialising (online and in-person), to changing working environments that can help you have a fulfilling placement!