How to work remotely whilst living in Germany

A new employment opportunity or study is often the reason for people moving to another country. However, this is not the case for this expat. It was my partner’s career which brought us to Bremen, I continue to work for a company I was employed with in the UK.

Working from home in Bremen PHOTO: Sarah E

I am lucky in that the organisation I work for have allowed me to work remotely in Bremen. This was the first time I was going to be working from home so I was totally stepping in to the unknown, both working remotely and in a different country where I knew no one. I recognised that it would be a challenge no matter where I was living. Lacking motivation and being easily distracted were the things I worried about. I was naive in not realising there are a few things to consider when moving to a new country and making your home your office.

Currently I’m happy in my new flexible working environment, but in hindsight there would be things I would have done differently and recommend that soon to be expats thinking of working from home read on. First bit of advice, consider what resources you need before moving. As long as I have internet I am able to work. If your work relies on this, make sure you start setting up your internet access in your new home as soon as possible. For us, it took some months before it was fully working. This meant many trips to the O2 shop to purchase data, which is surprisingly a painful experience and rather expensive. Or you can spend many hours in Starbucks or another cafe offering free WiFi. It’s amazing how long you can make a caramel macchiato last!

If the thought of staying at home all day fills you with dread, you could think about hiring a desk in a co-working space. It’s not something I have done yet, but I have looked into it. There are large organisations out there like Rebus that have many office where you can rent a desk by the hour. This can give you access to a business address and phone line. To find a local and perhaps cheaper office I would suggest using a local site like Schwarzes Brett. It lists many many things including office spaces and desks to rent. Also, network, network, network. Getting to know other local people may lead you to find out about office spaces you could rent that aren’t regularly advertised. The German Way expat blogger Chloe has shared her experience of getting started in a co-working environment.

Working from home isn’t conducive to building a new social circle, something you really need to do when relocating. Without your colleagues around you, you’re going to need to think about other ways you can meet people and get that ‘water cooler chat’. There are plenty of groups on Facebook such as the Enjoy Bremen group that plan events and meet regularly or you could try InterNations, which is helps connect expats. Meetup is also good for profession specific events like the WordPress Meetup group in Bremen.

Thankfully, I have met many people through my partner’s work. Many of these are also expats from various countries, which are also keen on widening their social circle, and expanding it beyond their workmates. Often these people have partners too, and like me have moved with their partner and are working from home. You could set up your own professionals group, you’ll find there are many people in a similar situation to you.

If you’re learning German, it helps to be in an environment where the language is being used. This isn’t available to me, unless I speak to the apartment block cleaner so I will often head to a cafe to work just so I can hear people speaking German around me. Not only is it good for picking up the language, you also get a nice treat, what better motivation to get that piece of work completed.

Sarah E