It feels like an eternity since the first COVID lockdown happened. For many people, what was meant to be 2 weeks of virtual work and school quickly turned into months… and although so many places have reopened, many employers are still allowing and even encouraging their employees to work remotely. Others have decided to shift their entire corporate culture and have their employees work remotely even after COVID is finally gone! If you’re one of the lucky ones who might remain working remotely, how about swapping that office chair for a beach?

working remotely library with wooden floors and bar
Photo courtesy of Betsy South Beach.

To most people, the idea of working remotely probably sounded like a dream come true, but it still presents its challenges along with the opportunities. It might mean you can work from the beach without taking vacation days, but then you have to minimize distractions at a VERY tempting place. Here is a quick guide to make the most out of working remotely, and being productive while taking the time to enjoy life outside of work. 

Want to learn more about how to make money through writing (about travel)? Americans can also check out which countries offer work holiday visas, and look into these warm-weather destinations for avoiding the long winter ahead… 

The Essentials

Having the proper tools to perform your work should be top priority. If you are well equipped with a reliable internet connection you can effectively complete your work faster, and depending on where you work, that could mean logging off earlier so you can enjoy the rest of the day. One thing to keep in mind is that with so many people working from home and with virtual school, it could be worth paying a few extra dollars for a higher speed connection. That could mean you only spend seconds to upload a file to Dropbox or Google Drive instead of minutes, or even longer. 

Courtesy of Betsy South Beach.

Dressing up for work could also be considered essential. I know it is super convenient to work in your pajamas, but if that makes you sleepy, it may be time to get fully dressed as if you were going to the office. 

In some cases, having an extra monitor, mouse, and keyboard could also boost productivity. You can get more done, faster, and more effectively. If you’re able to dedicate a separate workstation or equipment for work, even better. 

Stay Connected

Staying connected with your coworkers and maintaining strong working relationships are super important while working remotely. For one thing, human connection is important. You also get a better feel on people’s reactions and overall communication in virtual calls versus emails. It prevents misunderstandings and eliminates the dreaded back and forth email threads that can often be done with a five-minute call. The best part is that there are so many available tools for face to face interaction – from Zoom to Google Duo, Microsoft Teams and more, you can choose which works best for you and your team.  

Photo courtesy of Betsy South Beach.

Stay Distraction Free

If you are free to make your own hours, consider creating a schedule. When you work from home, you are no longer leaving work ‘at work’. Having a schedule will help you still have that ‘me’ time and it will help with productivity too. Stick to a routine to ground yourself by finding some normalcy with things like morning coffee, lunch breaks, team calls… Some experts even suggest the block schedule technique where you focus on specific tasks during certain timeframes, taking breaks in between. There is an app called Be Focused, where you can add your to do list for the day and set timers for the blocked schedule, keeping you focused and distraction free. 

miami beach

Changing Locations and Travel Tips

Here is the fun part. Working remotely doesn’t necessarily mean working from home. You can work from anywhere in the world! That said, if you do decide to work from another city or even country, make sure to communicate it to your boss so that they know where you are in case you need approval, say for data privacy concerns in certain countries.  

Also, keep in mind that there may be tax consequences depending on where you plan to work and how long you plan on being there for. Some states consider you a resident after so long, which means, you would need to pay state taxes for that location. A quick phone call to consult with your accountant will answer your questions and put your mind at ease.  You may also need a visa to work, even remotely, in certain countries. Do your research.

sun peeking out of clouds onto high mountain trail
Photo courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico.

Wherever you decide to go, keep in mind the Wi-Fi availability and speed. If you have to send or upload large files throughout the day, you definitely don’t want to have to rely on a service that keeps lagging or that leads to wasting hours on uploading a single file. 

Health care coverage and possible time difference are other aspects to keep in mind – especially if you have to work during hours determined by your employer or have team meetings throughout the week. 

If you need ideas on places where you could work remotely, here are a couple of suggestions to get you started. Both picks are within the United States since it’s an easier transition – with a known healthcare network, no visa requirements, and limited time differences.  Working remotely should be fun and stress free!

Miami, Florida 

Miami’s got it all. Beyond the tropical beaches and year-round summer weather, there’s a thriving arts scene and an electric energy there that puts Miami in a league of its own. You can take walking architecture tours, visit world-class art museums, stroll on the beach, and eat at amazing restaurants after a day of working remotely.  

Accommodations

Hotels in Miami are also making it easy for you to work remotely and are welcoming longer-term stays. “Our rooms and suites are fully outfitted for productive workdays, with built-in desks, natural light, in-room dining options, and the peace and serenity of a corner office (with a sea breeze and summer weather)”, says Jonathan Plutzik, owner of The Betsy South Beach, a luxury hotel right on Ocean Drive. “The Betsy is uniquely equipped to welcome guests in a world that now values personal space and open air, with rooms spread across two buildings and spacious common areas both indoors and outdoors.” Like many hotels, The Betsy is also launching a Long Stay offer for guests making The Betsy their home for 14 days or more. Beyond the more traditional long stay perks, like complimentary daily breakfast, guests will have access to a dedicated personal concierge, complimentary beach amenities (chairs, towels, and beach umbrellas), rooftop yoga classes, and the opportunity to discuss personalized dining options during their stay.  

chic lounge in hotel betsy south beach
Courtesy of Betsy South Beach.

Miami’s greatest attraction? Ten miles of white sand and turquoise water, and possibly the best beach in the world — what could be better after a long day of working remotely?

Puerto Rico

There are quite a few perks in working remotely from Puerto Rico. The best part is that unlike other destinations in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory. The Island provides a remote work option that immerses travelers in unique culture, while in the tropics, all without the use of a passport, need for a work visa, currency exchange or roaming fees. Hassle free!

Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico.

“Puerto Rico is the best of both worlds”, says Brad Dean CEO of Discover Puerto Rico, “it provides the comforts of the mainland US, while having international flair of being a destination that is heavily influenced by its Spanish, Taino Indian and African roots.”  Further, Puerto Rico is taking health and safety seriously and is the first US destination to receive the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travel Stamp, a program signed to recognize the tireless work from Island officials to implement strong COVID protocols.  

Accommodations

Many hotels are offering various discounts for extended stays. The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel, located between downtown San Juan and Isla Verde Beach, offers up to 25% off stays longer than 5 nights, for example. The Fairmont El San Juan Hotel also adheres to Accor’s ALLSAFE program, which represents some of the most stringent cleaning standards & operational procedures in the hospitality industry. Other hotels with similar long stay offerings include Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton ReserveCaribe Hilton and Intercontinental San Juan Hotel.

traditional puerto rico dancers
Courtesy of Discover Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is home to one of the world’s largest dry forests, the only tropical rainforest in the U.S. National Forest System, stunning pink salt flats, underground caves, waterfall hikes, three of the world’s five bio bays and the longest zipline in the Americas – just to name a few things you can explore after work! 

2020 has been a tough year, but a lot of flexibility comes with the new standard of working remotely. Let’s face it, you are saving on transportation, you have more freedom, and you get to create your own work environment. So why not make the best out of it? Whether you decide to work remotely from home or from a vacation destination, take the time to enjoy the freedom that comes with this new norm.

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Barry Hoy
Barry Hoy also known as @asianmapleleaf, is an Asian-Canadian, born and raised in Toronto and transplanted to New York City. Barry is an ambassador of all things travel – he is also a travel, food and lifestyle writer who showcases great destinations, their local experiences, and all of the must see places around the world. Through his Instagram and travel blog, Barry shares these moments and his favorite destinations with his readers and followers. Follow his adventures on www.asianmapleleaf.com or on Instagram @asianmapleleaf.