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Maintaining a portable work when constantly relocating

lavoro portatile

Never before have I felt how difficult it is to balance one’s portable work with the one of the partner who leads across the world.

I practice Linguistic Empathy and I expect you to do the same. Please bear with me if my English is not perfect.

When I left Indonesia one year ago, I also said goodbye to my full professional happiness. When following a partner who moves across the world for fixed period of times, each destination brings new professional adventures.

Living in Jakarta for me coincided with a very happy professional period. I was one of the very few intercultural trainers on the spot, and was often called to train expat managers and their families arriving in Indonesia.

When leaving Jakarta, I was prepared to the fact that I was losing such a conspicuous amount of occasions to do what I most like in my professional life, i.e. train people on intercultural dynamics. What I had forgotten is how difficult it can be to balance my portable work with my husband’s career, which is all but smooth in terms of perspectives and steadiness.

My husband has been working in Geneva since last September but only with short-term contracts that are renewed for a couple of months, without knowing what will happen next.

I don’t want to mention here all the logistical acrobatics simply to continuously find a place to stay under these volatile condition. What I feel on my shoulders with all of its weight is the difficulty to maintain my portable work while following my husband in his professional venture.

Not knowing how long I will stay in a country makes it impossible to put roots and start that long but necessary process to develop one’s work locally.

I will never stop saying it: working online is ideal if you follow your partner abroad. However, it is difficult to be able to work exclusively online, and online work certainly does not produce the same income of in-presence jobs.

lavoro portatileI am obviously generalizing, but in my 30 years of life abroad I have realised that those who manage to professionally anchor to the place they live in, and work in presence on the spot, are more satisfied and fulfilled than who wanders left and right without a place where to put down the suitcases for a reasonable amount of time.

This is what is happening to me. Since last September I spend my time between Geneva, Milan, Tuscany and some European trips. Mind me, I am not complaining: there are far bitter destinies 🙂

However, not having a substantial time perspective in front of me in Geneva (nor in Italy, in any case. If we are reassigned abroad, I won’t be able to develop professionally even here), makes it impossible to create a network of contacts that are vital to work successfully.

It is not worth the while to contact companies, universities, expats circles, acquaintances, associations and so on, if I know that in a couple of months I might have to pack my stuff again and leave for other destinations.

Rebuild oneself professionally in a new country is tiring, but it mostly takes a lot of time. Those who have a portable work are used to it, and know that every country is yet another chance to fine tune the art or being able to work in different contexts. It is however necessary to have at least two years ahead to build the basis that, even for a short period of time, yields interesting and meaningful fruits for one’s own professional identity.


Claudia Landini
September 2019
Main pic ©ClaudiaLandini
Photo in the article ©TomRobin

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