Can you gain new perspectives by visiting a place in your home country or just by walking down your street? Certainly. But research has shown that dragging your laptop to passport-mandatory venues will physically shake up your ‘mind grapes’ and change you for the better.
What do you stand to gain by leaving your motherland?
1) Mental Reset
Individual experiences stimulate the brain. According to Yuliya Kartoshkina, a neurological scholar at the University of North Dakota, when experiences are more significant or recur more often, multiple neurons are stimulated. Our brains follow patterns, generate memories, and create perceptions based on the routines we have followed.
If a person is born and raised in one culture, his or her brain will acclimate to a specific way of thinking. Working outside of your home country disrupts the established patterns of learning, and is especially transformative because all of the senses are utilized.
Culture shock is the brain trying to use set thought patterns to interpret new places and surroundings. The longer you stay in the new environment, the more you adapt and generate new patterns. Even if worse comes to worst and your hiatus is miserable, you will still reap mental benefits when breaking your old routine.
2) Global Networking
Giving your company a global-friendly appearance is a huge asset when growing your professional and personal networks. If you work remotely, you are the face of your company to whomever you meet. You are a representative of the degree of trust given by an employer or the freedom of being your own boss, even if you’re working from a park bench.
Simply jotting down product ideas while surrounded by an interesting locale could lead to your next fabulous hire. Your future employee might approach you in a Kenya game preserve and inquire, “I can’t help but notice that you’re working
remotely from this lovely resort terrace overlooking safari country. Tell me more about your wonderful, progressive company and how I can start working for them immediately.”
If you are not an especially social person, remember that sometimes it’s beneficial to talk to strangers. Networking with a person on a ski lift at Whistler or a cruise down the Amazon will automatically make your company look 500% more enticing. Guaranteed. You will also be more likely to get an unguarded, accurate picture of your new contact’s personality and motives.
Learn the local dialect, or at least a few words, and make an effort to appreciate new cultural environments. “Learning a new language, in particular, stimulates neural network, and the more languages people speak, the more networks they have,” says Kartoshkina.
3) Potential Salary Upgrades
Companies such as GE like to hire candidates who have lived abroad or traveled extensively. People who push themselves beyond their comfort zones offer a company different perspectives and ways of approaching problems. Seasoned adventurers often adapt quickly, respond efficiently to conflict, and work well with team members.
International work experience helps globetrotters land interviews and secure jobs. Employers tend to gravitate to unique resumes when they’re fortunate enough to receive them.
4) Leadership Skills
Even if you consider yourself more of a follower, working abroad will strengthen your leadership skills. Meeting new people and understanding more about another culture builds confidence. Finding the way back to your hotel without the use of your native language can make you feel like the smartest person alive!
Go to Cambodia, or maybe just Canada if you’re not quite ready to brave the flight to Asia. The effects of resetting your mind and energy will be worth the trip.
Matt Boyd is co-founder of Sqwiggle, an app designed to make remote working a more collaborative experience. Follow him and his journey as a productivity blogger, remote worker and distributed team builder at http://blog.sqwiggle.com or http://www.twitter.com/mattboyd
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