You landed that remote position you’d been dreaming about and finally found your groove while working from home or on-the-go. Then, BAM! The military swoops in and drops PCS orders onto your already overflowing plate of to-dos.
Now, how will you ever keep your career alive during the planning, packing, and, of course, traveling to the next duty station?
Is it even possible?
Yes, yes it is because that’s the beauty of this type of work. And we’re sharing the tips we’ve gathered from our own experiences to prove that you, too, can continue to thrive as a remote team member—no matter where your military journey takes you next.
Map out your moving timeline.
This may seem like an obvious one, though it’s the essential first step for success. It doesn’t need to be perfect or set in stone. But if you have a general idea of when you’ll be leaving your current duty station and making your way to the next, you’ll save yourself some stress. Not to mention, a moving timeline will encourage you to be mindful, yet realistic about the entire road ahead—from the days you’ll need to officially mark yourself as unavailable to your goal return date.
Want a few (free) tools to get you started? Look no further than Google Calendar and Trello.
“I am an avid user of Google calendars and really track out 3-4 months in advance…My lifesaver has been Trello – I work in it daily, so I’ve created a PCS management board I’ve used the last 3 moves. It gives me a place to be working and tracking ALL the moving tasks day to day.” – Erica
As soon as you’ve got it all laid out as best you can, share it with your remote team! They’ll appreciate being looped in and you can work with them to identify project plans that may come up in advance. That way, you can get a jumpstart on things and crank tasks out so you don’t have to worry about much while embarking on your PCS.
Set clear expectations and boundaries for your workload.
Remote work during big life moments such as moving can be tough for all parties involved. So next on the list is to set clear expectations for your workload with your remote team, your family, and, of course, yourself.
“In 8 years of working remotely, we’ve moved 5 times. I find that if I set expectations in the three major players of a move or transition (my team, my family, myself) and over-communicate timelines, it really helps.” – Erica
How responsive will you really be? And what will your schedule honestly look like? Maybe one to two working hours each day? Lay it all out and be candid with everyone.
Also, don’t forget about boundaries! Will you be working in a shared space and needing to designate quiet time (ex. No TV, games, etc.)? It can be difficult for your family to understand that you might need to plug into work while you’re on the move, but stick to your guns as best you can.
“We lived in a hotel for 60 days, so having boundaries was extremely important for surviving all the closeness while maintaining my workload!” – Liza
Research your Internet options.
Remember, one of the best things about having a remote career is that you can do your work from anywhere in the world! Well, that is if WiFi is available. That being said, keep your options open. If you’re about to begin a cross-country move and know you’ll have plenty of hours in the car to spare, look into a mobile hotspot. You can tether your laptop or working mobile device to it. Be mindful, however, that this method uses your phone’s plan data.
So if you’re looking for another option, maybe your car comes equipped with WiFi capabilities. If that’s the case, purchase a month-long plan, and knock it off as a business expense! That way, while your spouse or family member is taking their turn driving, you can cross things off your to-do list.
Lastly, be sure to research Internet options before arriving at your new home. Often, providers book up in advance for home installations. The last thing you want to be worried about is when you’ll get plugged in again!
Pack a moving “desk.”
Let’s be honest. Moving can mean living out of boxes (or waiting on your household goods to arrive) for days, weeks, or months at a time. Therefore, go ahead and pack up all your “extra” work belongings that you don’t use day to day, and set aside a moving desk in a bag, backpack, or box that has everything you need (in an organized manner, of course) for a minimalistic day’s worth of work.
Think your computer bag, laptop, chargers, headphones, notebook, pen, important documents; you name it. And make these items easy to access! That way, you won’t be scrambling and digging through suitcases and opening up cardboard boxes just to find that one thing you needed to stay on top of your tasks.
Get creative with your environment.
You’re not going to have the perfect or traditional working environment for some time.
We know. That’s difficult to accept. But once you get in that headspace, get creative with your environment! Maybe you take a video call while at a pit stop or walk down to the hotel pool for a change of scenery that will inevitably rejuvenate your mind and creative thinking. Being able to take your talent on the road is a perk, so embrace it as best you can!
“We moved from VA OCONUS to Hawaii with 4 kids in tow. I had to get creative and took a sales call standing outside of my hotel room at 6 a.m. (thanks to the timezone change) in a bathrobe so I didn’t wake up the rest of the family.” – Liza
Ask for help (in the form of childcare, etc.).
Distractions are inevitable when you’re working to keep your remote career alive. For that reason, as difficult as it may be, get comfortable with asking for help.
Have milkids? Consider bringing a family member along for the PCS trek to serve as an extra set of hands, research childcare options to take advantage of upon arriving at your new location (ex. Vacation Bible School, summer camps, etc.), and keep things on hand to entertain them for a few hours at a time (if you need ideas here, look to spouse Amy H.!). Or, get real with your spouse and let them know you need to pass the unpacking baton over to them so you can break free for a few hours to work at a local coffee shop. Whatever your needs, be straightforward about them. You’ll be glad you did!
Be kind to yourself.
Above all else, fully acknowledge that PCSing isn’t for the faint of heart. No matter if it’s your first or your eighth, it never gets easier. Be extra kind to yourself during this time, which is filled with goodbyes, change, and more. If you realize you need an additional day or two to get acclimated to your new surroundings or reschedule a meeting that’s been on the books for a few weeks, let your people know! They’ll understand, most likely because they’ve been in your shoes—someway, somehow.
Dreaming of a less stressful PCS?
One where you don’t have to worry about restarting your career at each new duty station? Make that dream a reality and create a profile with Instant Teams today!