Telecommuting from paradise

With the right boss and the right broadband, these tech workers relocated to paradise destinations

"We are big believers here at PGi that work is not a place you go, but a job that you do," says O'Brien, who is the company's executive vice president of strategy and communications. "It was a bit out of left field because I didn't see it coming, but I thought it was a great social experiment and an opportunity to put our software to the test, and an opportunity for her to be an ambassador for us globally. It was a no-brainer in my view and the experiment worked out great."

The commitment to meeting her goals particularly impressed him, O'Brien says.

The two met in April of 2011. On Aug. 1, Rodenbusch and her husband were in Ireland. Over the course of the following year, the couple also visited Frankfort, Munich, Zurich, Paris, Copenhagen, Stockholm, Bangalore, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore, Osaka, Kyoto, Tokyo, Melbourne, Brisbon, and Sidney.

"They [PGi] did not approach me, so I was adamant that we cover the costs," Rodenbusch says. "We were going to do it anyway, and the fact that PGi was letting me keep my job was just icing on the cake."

The total trip cost around $50,000, including airfare, hotels, and van rental in Europe. The couple rented out their Austin, Texas home for more than their mortgage payments, put their things in storage, and loaned their cars to friends. Staying at home would also have cost at least $50,000.

"I think it was an even trade," she says.

When working in cities where PGi had an office, Rodenbusch would put on a suit, and just go in for work. Elsewhere, it was a bit harder.

"We worked in coffee shops, or libraries wherever you can get an Internet connection," she says. "You have to be pretty passionate to get your work done. The fact that iMeet had a mobile app made it easy for me, because even with the smallest Wi-Fi signal I could have my meeting. We operate on low bandwidth connections."

They also got data plans for their cell phones, though changing countries usually required getting a new SIM card. Rodenbusch's husband, who did some contract work as well as working on his own projects, used the data plans the most.

"The running joke is that I became a big fan of McDonalds," she says. "Wherever we went, we could easily crank out eight hours of work."

The hardest place to work, she says, was India. "If I was in the office in Bangalore, it wasn't a problem," she says. "But as soon as you got out of the office you were at the mercy of the power companies. They have rolling power outages, and you didn't know when it was coming back on."

Korolov is a freelance writer. She can be reached at

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This story, "Telecommuting from paradise" was originally published by Network World.

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