By Paula Ebben

NORTH GRAFTON (CBS) — With unemployment at a 17-year-low, it’s a challenging time for hiring managers, but a good time for job hunters. That’s why some companies are going to great lengths to keep their highly skilled workers, even allowing them to work remotely. Very remotely.

Bharathi Balasubramanyam of North Grafton is a software engineer who just spent 12 months traveling the world, but instead of leaving her job, she took it with her. “It was an amazing experience,” she said.

From Morocco to Portugal, Croatia and Colombia, traveled to 12 cities in one year, thanks to Remote Year. It’s a company that organizes extended travel for those who don’t want to give up their jobs.

remoteworkwoman Highly Skilled Workers Travel The World While Keeping Their Jobs

Bharathi Balasubramanyam of North Grafton (WBZ-TV)

The company books flights and finds apartments and workspaces for a group of about 70 people. Nights and weekends are theirs to explore with the group, but according to Bharathi, there was no skimping on job duties. “When you are working remotely you tend to want to do better, [to] show that you are doing work,” she said. “I was actually doing a lot more work than when I was going to the office,” she added.

Winchester native Tim Costa just started his Remote Year in South Africa at the beginning of March. He says the time difference does create some challenges keeping up with colleagues in New York. “I end up working until midnight some days,” he said. But that leaves his mornings free for petting cheetahs, hiking and hitting the beach.

Tim, who is also a computer engineer, wanted to spend time traveling and his employer agreed to let him take his job on the road for a year. “The next step Morocco, Valencia, Belgrade, Split, Lisbon, Buenos Aires, Bogota, Lima, Medellin, Cordoba and Mexico City.”

remoteyear Highly Skilled Workers Travel The World While Keeping Their Jobs

Remote Year Website (WBZ-TV)

Leaving for the office for a full year could be a tough sell for a lot of workers, but according to Jim Rooney of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce, because highly skilled workers are in such demand, companies are forced to be creative. “It says a lot that a company would allow someone to travel the world and work remotely,” he said.

You don’t have to be a computer engineer. Remote Year works with people with all kinds of skills, like business consultants, marketing managers, even pharmacists, and performers.

Both Tim and Bharathi say they’ve made great friends and gained new perspective both professionally and personally. “It’s life-changing,” Bharathi said. “Travel really makes you a better person.”

Other companies that specialize in remote work and travel include Terminal 3, The Remote Experience, and Venture with Impact.

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