By Amanda Marksmeier
PCS season is in full swing—another year, another move, and another new town are on the horizon. While service members are busy packing their TA 50, some spouses
find themselves doing the same as they pack their career and prepare to move it along with the household goods.
At the end of a long day of lists and packing, it may feel tempting to throw everything in a box and hope that it makes it to your next duty station.
Unfortunately, the toss and hope method of packing your career could yield even more stress in the long run. During my family’s latest PCS, I was working a remote job as a part of a marketing team. Despite the miles we traveled and the chaos of our PCS, I found myself searching for Wi-Fi, using hotel business centers, and even overnighting paperwork!
Working while PCSing can be a challenge, since you still need to ensure your job gets done while balancing your other responsibilities. Whether you’re moving your career across county lines, state lines, or even over an ocean, there are steps you can take to make your transition smoother.
As military families, we’ve all camped out in an empty house with boxes stacked high and air mattresses in the corner. In an effort to make the unpacking process less painful, we've learned the importance of self-carrying the right items. When you separate out the items that will travel with you, make sure to include your office necessities. Do you have all your notes? Are there any items you need to do your job no matter where you are located? Will you need a printer? Do you have the power cord for your computer?
Most hotels offer free Wi-Fi for guests, but if your family already has housing you should contact the local internet provider prior to your arrival so that you can set up your service ASAP.
While you’re waiting for your Wi-Fi to arrive, consider your options. Are you able to use your phone as a Hotspot? While most coffee houses and fast food restaurants offer free Wi-Fi, you should also check out the local library. Finding free Wi-Fi spots can even give you some quiet time to work away from the moving chaos.
Most remote and virtual jobs come with a lot of conference calls. These calls are usually the only way to share ideas, communicate, and get updates from your coworkers, so they are vital to a successful remote job (even when you’re moving).
When making travel plans, try to plan your stops around your work calls. I took one call in the parking lot of a fast food restaurant while the family was inside eating. This allowed me to conduct my job in a quiet environment while also ensuring my family’s needs were met. If you've made it to a hotel, maybe send your family to the pool while you catch up on work calls and your email.
The reason most people want remote jobs is for the flexibility, so don’t be afraid to be flexible with your schedule and your abilities during your move. However, the key to having this kind of flexibility while on the move is to be honest with your employer and co-workers before you hit the road. Make sure that you fully explain what your moving timeline will be like, and that it may be some time before you’re completely settled. Remember not everyone is familiar with the military moving process. Work out a schedule that will work for all of you.
As you put this schedule together, keep your lack of a future routine in mind. You may find it easier to work late in the evening or early in the morning, even though your regular hours used to be different.
Above all, be realistic. If you are planning on driving for ten hours, odds are you’re not going to work
another ten hours once you arrive. Setting a schedule and managing everyone’s
expectations is an important step in moving your remote job.
Moving not only your family but your career can be stressful and downright exhausting. When it comes to preparing your home, it can feel like business as usual—but don’t forget the work you need to do to prepare yourself to handle your professional business on the road!