Emily Fraser has been an Army wife for 12 years. She and her husband are currently living in their seventh quarter – an overseas posting to a US Army base in Germany – along with their two children, dog and cat. Army&You caught up with her to find out how she’s managed to keep working flexibly from overseas…
EMILY admits she was “really worried” about being able to find a job upon arrival in Germany as she didn’t speak the language – a must for local employment – and nearly all the positions on base were for US citizens only.
She thought it was unlikely that she could carry on her career in human resources, but was really enjoying her job, which she had held since 2016.
“So, I bit the bullet and spoke to my manager,” explained Emily. “I was already home-based and much of what I do can be done via email, Skype and phone.
“I suggested that I could work from home for three weeks per month and travel back to the UK for one week per month to attend meetings and catch up with the team.
“Flights back to the UK are cheap if planned. We also had a new team member joining, who was prepared to pick up some elements of my work whilst I took on more strategic-level issues.”
Emily’s manager responded positively and even suggested that she work part-time to start with, so that she could settle in.
She added: “We agreed to trial it and if either party felt it wasn’t working, we’d reassess. I got a new computer, EU calling on my phone and made sure that Skype worked. That was all it took to get set up.”
Emily feels that so far, it’s working well. “I speak to or instant message my colleagues every day which helps reduce the isolation – and still have a laugh,” she said. “My world is running on two time zones and three currencies, so I spend my life feeling confused, but I love being able to continue my job. I’d had long enough before moving overseas to establish good relationships with my colleagues and managers, so they were content with the arrangements we put in place.
“At home, I have a day off a week to explore, meet neighbours, learn the language and have time with the children. Life overseas has its challenges, but the continuity of work has definitely helped me.”
Emily’s advice to other spouses and partners looking for flexible working is to just ask.
“The worst that can happen is that you are turned down, but at least you tried. It’s a good idea to have thought through your suggestions and have some answers prepared,” she concluded. “Some persuasion may be in order, as some employers can be very set in their ways!”