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A Day in the Life of a US Expat Working in Spain – Meet Asia from Shield GEO

At ShieldGEO, as a global employment organisation, we’re huge advocates for remote work and global mobility. We not only see the benefits of this lifestyle in our clients but also in our own company made up of a nearly entirely distributed workforce.

We believe hiring internationally gives companies, us included, access to a broader range of talent. We’ve also noticed international employment organically diversify our team, which is something we’re super passionate about for our company culture. We know that diversity makes us better.

To showcase the benefits of remote work, we’re profiling a range of our employees to shed light on the different ways they utilise the benefits of this flexible work lifestyle. From working parents, to those who prefer a quieter distraction-free workspace, to young travellers – remote work allows our employees to create an ideal work-life balance that suits them.

Meet Asia

Asia came onboard to ShieldGEO late last year as a Global Mobility Associate. In this role, she assisted one of our Account Managers, Kelly, with her clients. Since December, Asia has been managing some of her own clients and is transitioning into becoming an Account Manager herself.

Asia is originally from California, USA but during her time at Bucknell University, she spent a year studying abroad in the south of Spain. After graduating she moved to Madrid and has been there for the past four years.

“I was teaching English here when I first moved to Madrid, so that was very different to what I do now.

But I kind of got used to it, and I liked it here, so I didn’t really want to go back. I’ll be here I think for the foreseeable future.”

Before starting with Shield, Asia completed her MBA in International Business which led her to look for roles in global mobility.

Asia was attracted to remote positions for the opportunities they would afford her.

“I think companies that hire remote are a little bit more open minded in their thinking,” she says.

Asia loves having the flexibility to set her own hours for when she’s the most productive. It also allows her to fit work around her life.

“I feel like autonomy is important and feeling like you trust your employees is important. And you have to trust your employees when they’re working from home,” she says.

“It’s not just assumed that everyone works well in the same way at the same time.”

Asia often uses her breaks to get through other errands or tasks around home. She might run to the grocery store during the day or do her washing or cleaning which means her weekends aren’t full of chores.

In contrast, Asia’s previous roles in larger, more traditional workspaces felt restrictive.

“It was like, ‘you can’t use your phone, you have to be at the office, if you take a break where are you going? Why have you been gone for 20 minutes?’”

Asia says she’s not as stressed because she’s not trying to juggle her life around her work, and instead feels she has a healthier balance.

“You can go to doctor’s appointments and come back, whereas in a normal job you might have to take the whole day off just to do something.”

The flexible conditions have also helped with Asia’s travel plans. She’s able to return home to the US to visit family and friends or take trips around Europe while maintaining her workload and without having to take a lot of leave.

Asia’s home office. Featuring avocado toast and freshly squeezed orange juice!

“I can travel somewhere and work from there during the day, and then explore at night.”

Of all the benefits to remote work, Asia loves the fact that she’s completely cut out her commute.

“I work more or less the same hours – I work between 8:30 am and 5 pm most days, but I like the fact that I don’t have to waste my whole evening because I have an hour metro ride,” she says.

“I feel like you can get more out of your day. If I want to do something in the evening, I can.”

Asia’s Day in the Life

8:00 Wake up and take a look at my inbox to map out what I need to action and in what order. Respond to urgent emails.
8:30 Have a black tea with milk (I need this every morning to function!) and a waffle with my boyfriend while he eats his breakfast. This typically involves a snarky comment about how comfy I look in my robe and him being jealous I don’t have to leave the house for work 😊.
9:00 ish Boyfriend leaves for work and I get in serious working mode. Check in with Kelly (the Account Manager I support) each morning to see how she’s doing and if there is anything that is urgent to prioritize. Respond to emails from clients and employees and raise cases if I need assistance from the finance team or a subject matter expert. If invoicing cycle: requesting inputs, sending invoices or chasing for payments. Handover calls: Meeting with a member of the implementation team when they officially handover a client to me.
 11:00ish Break for a shower and my real breakfast: avocado on toast and orange juice I make fresh with the juicer.
 11:30 Continue with work since I’m transitioning into the Account Manager role, it’s normal for me to have introduction calls with my new clients/employees to explain how I’ll support them going forward or answer any questions they have.
12:30 Quick break for housework: Wash dishes, put a load of clothes in the washing machine, tidy up the living room, etc.
13:00 Continue with work.
14:00 US team comes online so our manager Nikki usually makes announcements for the day at this time in our team Skype chat.
15:00 ish Lunch 😊 I break for lunch later than my colleagues since I’ve gotten used to eating lunch around 14:30 or 15:00 which is normal here in Spain.
15:00  Start calling USA clients as they are getting to work. 
 17:45 Have a piece of fruit or a juice and head out for pilates.
19:30 Pilates finishes and I head to have dinner with a friend.

Tips for Making a Remote Expat Lifestyle Work for you

After six months in this role, Asia feels she’s developed a routine that works for her, but it wasn’t always smooth sailing.

“Before I was just working from home and I wasn’t doing anything in the evenings, so I was just going a little crazy.”

Asia attending her weekly pilates class

Now, Asia has weekly exercise classes like pilates and spin classes to get her out of the house. She’ll also head to a café to work to break up her day.

“I realised it was a good pick me up in the middle of the day to be outside in the sun and have people around you,” she says.

“I wouldn’t want to be in that environment all day because I need to concentrate, but it’s helpful for half a day in the morning or afternoon.”

She’s also looking into working in a co-working space during the Summer.

“In Madrid, it’s very hot, and I don’t think I’m going to be able to work from my house,” she says.

“I like that I feel as though whatever I propose they’re just going to be like yeah that’s fine, whatever you need to do.”

by Bree Caggiati – March 2019

Want to know more about Asia? Visit her profile on the Our Team page!

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