An American woman is opening up about her double life working remotely overseas without permission from her job. In an as-told essay from Business Insider, the woman who remained anonymous had a lot to say about the year she spent working internationally and the hoops she had to jump through to make it happen. 

The nameless mom says she was allowed to work at her dream job, a sleep-study lab in Virginia. However, things changed after she became pregnant with her son. She worked up until the day she went into labor. Thankfully, her boss approved for her to work remotely from home to spend more time with her newborn. 

“At that time, I was the only remote employee who worked for this company,” she told Business Insider. “Working at home wasn’t a luxury a lot of other people had the option to do, and I felt grateful. It was the only way I could take care of my son and not lose this dream job.”

The new mother felt she was in the perfect position. She had her dream job and the flexibility to work from the comfort of her home. Everything was working in her favor until her husband received a job offer for a position based in Tunisia, Africa. Worried she’d lose her dream job, the woman packed up and moved overseas without notifying her employer.

“I think they would have given the role to someone else if I told them I was going to be living in Africa and never coming into the office,” she said. “It would’ve sounded like a logistical nightmare from a human-resources standpoint.”

Her risk was worth it and the woman began to assimilate to her new, double life. She split her time between being with family in Africa and pretending to be in the States during work hours. 

working remotely
Photo credit: Barbara Olsen

Juggling Working Remotely While Living Abroad

The anonymous woman was six hours ahead of Virginia so her days started at 10 a.m. to align with when patients woke up in the US. When new hires joined the company and requested in-person training from her, she stood firmly on her remote work entitlement. She never received any pushback from leadership. 

The most difficult part of her unapproved international work status was taking patient phone calls. Fortunately, she was never required to video call patients. As a result, no one ever knew she was taking calls in the middle of the night. 

“Part of my role involves calling patients to share the results of the sleep study,” she said. “Sometimes, patients would call me back at 2 a.m. my time, and I would have to answer because they would want to talk through problems and results.”

To keep her remote work status secret, the woman took multiple precautions to ensure her misconduct wasn’t discovered. She used a Google Voice number, allowing her to make calls via Wifi with an American number. She also used a virtual private network (VPN) to access apps and websites only available in the US. Additionally, she made sure everything she did was done electronically so there was never any traces of international mail or documentation that could be reported to her job. 

“I was new to being a remote worker when we moved to Africa, so there was a learning curve in terms of figuring out how to be completely paperless and do everything electronically,” she said. “I had to learn different ways to scan documents, electronically sign studies, and troubleshoot computer issues from thousands of miles away.”

The Effects Of Secretly Working Remotely

Eventually, the facade began to wear thin on her. The woman grew tired of having to hide and disclose her every move. She could never share with her co-workers what she’d done on the weekend or photos of how beautiful Tunisia was out of fear she’d lose the job she’d dreamed of for so long. The position also wasn’t as fulfilling long-term as she’d hoped it would be. 

“After a year of working remotely from Africa, I started to get bored with the job,” she said. “I wasn’t interacting with coworkers, and I was completely alone reading these sleep studies. I did miss interacting with people in person, and I grew frustrated with having to sit in front of my computer all day and stare at the screen.”

After starting a food blog and growing a steady readership, the young woman began to redesign her dream. She monetized her new platform and, once she realized how to scale and expand, decided to quit her job at the sleep lab. She never mentioned anything about the year she’d spent working in Africa. 

“I didn’t do any kind of reveal about the secret life I was living, but after I left, I did start posting on social media about living in Tunisia,” she said. “Some of my coworkers figured it out, and they were surprised. My boss never reached out and said anything.”

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