Working abroad has been a wish of mine for some time now. Xebia offers me the opportunity to live and work in India. Through this blog series I will keep you informed of the progress and challenges of this project.

Currently we are in the opening stages. I’ve had some meetings with the Management Team to discuss the possibilities and problems of such an undertaking. But first I had to tell the home-front…

Last summer I worked for three weeks at the Indian branch of our Company. I found it to be a great experience: Although much of our professional culture is the same and "Xebia Standard", I really liked the atmosphere at the office and the friendliness and respectfulness that seem to be so natural in our Indian colleagues and possibly all Indians(?). A Dutch colleague and I stayed in a hotel (comfortable and huge rooms) and we spend the (always too little) time we had in weekends exploring the richness of the Indian culture in the New Delhi region (of course we visited the unforgettable Taj Mahal in Agra!). I fell victim to the charms of the Indian (mostly Punjabi) cuisine. All in all it was a wonderful time!

While I was there, I started thinking about the possibilities of living and working at the Indian office for a longer time. We (my partner and I) have always been interested in other cultures and far-off places. Her focus was mostly on South American countries, because she loves the dances of that region and the passion of the culture. We spent a couple of months doing voluntary work and traveling around those parts, but I found that working in my profession (IT) in a region that is so underdeveloped is not easy. In India I got the feeling that we would both be able to work in our own field of expertise (hers is Theater Therapy, a form of Psychotherapy that uses Theater as a medium between therapist and client) without having to travel to far from our home.

After returning home, I told Maaike (my partner) about these ideas and she was instantly enthusiastic. When I told my boss of our intentions, he was also very interested and so the idea started to evolve. During the last few months I have spoken about this with a lot of people. My family is mostly excited about the possibility to come visit us and explore the region, while most of my colleagues both in India and in the Netherlands think it will be a great benefit to the overall operation. I’ve been trying to make the idea more and more explicit and explore the possibilities.

We are still in the opening stages. Last week I had a meeting with part of the Xebia Management team to discuss commercial opportunities and financial consequences.

Commercially we think that having a native Dutch speaker at the Indian Office will be an advantage to our customers. Most of our customers are Dutch and lots of documentation is in Dutch. Having a native speaker at the off-shore site will improve communication between the client and the Indian developers and also between the on-shore and off-shore team. Inter-cultural communication between team members is often not a problem, but time differences, distance and technical problems like low bandwidth make it sometimes hard to get all subtleties across. Bridging this gap by having a representative of the on-shore culture at the off-shore site seems like a good improvement. Our Commercial Manager expects our customers to value this service.

Financially there are a few things to arrange. Theoretically speaking, I could work at the Indian office under my contract with the Dutch organisation. I would still have to pay taxes according to the Indian regulations. This would mean that my Dutch employer would have to communicate with the Indian tax office. That doesn’t sound like a workable process to our Financial Manager. The other option would be to transfer my contract to our Indian company. This by itself doesn’t make me feel very comfortable: Dutch and Indian labour laws are quite far apart and the Dutch laws have a lot of financial and social benefits and are very protective of employees with respect to ending their contract. If I would sign a contract with the Indian company I would loose a lot of those advantages. To cover these differences, I would sign a separate contract with the Dutch (or International) company to make arrangements for special cases like termination of the work relationship. Although these arrangements are not concrete yet, it gives me enough confidence to start further on this road.

Next step will be to visit India together as a couple. Maaike has never been there, so we’ll take a few weeks to decide whether we could live there and what it would be like. I’m quite confident that this will not be a problem, since she’s always up for another adventure. I’ll keep you posted.