Virtual Work World

As I have shared over the past few months, my 12+ year job working remotely for a company in the US came to an end in mid-February. Since then, I have been searching for a new full-time position here in Bangkok without luck. Along the way, I have managed to pick up many freelance jobs, some of which are one-off projects and others of which are ongoing. While I don’t feel entirely comfortable with this uncertain income stream, I am enjoying the variety of work, workplaces, and clients.

For example, one client is the CEO of a start-up social media marketing company. I have the opportunity to provide feedback and coaching around his performance, his business model, and how he is structuring the organization as it rapidly grows. Along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to do some interesting things such as write the script he used to shoot a video infomercial and accompany him to the studio here in Bangkok where it was shot.

As you can see, it was shot in a green-screen environment and the “studio” was added digitally (visible in the monitor on the left). The interviewer and the CEO are sitting on two chairs in front of a green sheet of fabric but on the screen, it appears they are sitting at a desk in a fancy TV studio.

Considering I graduated as a Communication major with a TV Production emphasis, this was one of the few times that I have directly used the skills in the workplace that I studied in university!

So far, knock on wood, each project seems to lead to additional projects and new contacts. I would still like to secure a full-time position at a firm and I continue to apply at different companies. But for the time being, the freelance approach seems to be working out well enough. In the back of my mind, I feel I have to trust that this path will lead me to where I need to be. Sometimes, though, it is hard to have the patience to trust that things work out alright over time.

 

The Axe Unexpectedly Falls

My blog is honest. The things you read here are accurate representations of real things I have experienced. My blog is also incomplete. I am circumspect about many details of my life, especially about my work. As I have written before, my blog originated as a way to keep friends and family informed about my experiences when I moved to Thailand more than seven years ago. I would normally not share the following type of news in this forum, but it seems the best way to bring people who are close to me up to speed.

For almost thirteen years, I have been an employee of Company R and the company it purchased a few years ago, Company I. A few months before moving to Thailand in October 2005, my manager unexpectedly asked whether my responsibilities could be shifted in such a way so that I could continue working for a few months as my replacement was found. We agreed that writing and updating training materials (instructor’s guides, online presentations, and collatoral) was a part of my job that had received less attention than it needed and would be suitable for remote work.

This short-term arrangement began well and eventually the fact that I was working 8,000 miles away from the head office was a non-issue. In fact, the ability to alternate days and nights with my colleagues because a benefit and my performance appraisals have glowed ever since. I regularly receive very positive feedback from all levels of the organization and have often been told that I am invaluable.

Two and a half weeks ago, I was invited to a “strategy” conference call with my boss, her boss, and the HR director for our division. Based on the attendees, I wasn’t surprised at the news that was delivered, even though it was completely unexpected.

My job is being eliminated in favor of a new position at our training headquarters in suburban Atlanta. I was given 90 days’ notice of the move (the new position is mine if I want it) and 30 days to choose whether to accept the offer. If I do not, I will be out of a job in mid-February.

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My work experience with Company I has been very good, especially the people with whom I’ve worked closely over the years. Our acquisition by Company R has been positive and I actually feel better about the company’s future now than I did before the acquisition. There are a lot of elements of our division’s business that carry my fingerprints and I have a deep sense of ownership of the work I’ve done and the materials I’ve created that are used by more than 8,000 employees every day.

That said, after evaluating all the relevant information, I chose not to move to Atlanta. Doing so would mean leaving Tawn behind and ending our marriage* – something that isn’t an acceptable option.

I suppose it would be normal to feel angry or upset, but I appreciate that Company R gave me 90 days’ notice instead of the usual 30 and will also pay me 16 weeks of severance pay, which should cushion the blow.

One reason I’m not upset is that for the past couple of years I have realized that I’ve been enjoying the flexibility and ease of my work arrangement while not progressing in my professional development and my earning. In fact, thanks to the weakening dollar, my salary has dropped more than 25% in real terms since I moved here.

An initial inspection of my options and networking with friends here in Bangkok confirms that I should be able to find a position that will match my current salary or, with some extra effort, increases my compensation. Of course, that will come at the price of a regular office job and the hours that go with it! 

In any case, that’s the news. A big change but also a tremendous opportunity. I don’t know if I will provide very much detail of the job hunt but may provide an update or two as appropriate.

 

*Because of the Defense of Marriage Act, a US federal law that denies me the right to sponsor my husband for immigration because we are of the same sex.