Life In 2020 AD: The Challenges Of The Remote Worker

Are we headed towards a truly globalized workforce? What does this mean for policy makers grappling with the new nomadic norms?

a year ago   •   2 min read

By Noemy McGlynn

This is the second of a series of articles looking into how, what was previously regarded as “the Future of Work”, has transformed work post-pandemic in 2020 “After Disease”. Having previously looked at where we work, we turn our focus towards how we acquire talent in this new norm. Are we headed towards a truly globalized workforce? What does this mean for policy makers grappling with the new nomadic norms? How are entrepreneurs responding?

According to a recent study by BCG, companies are expecting 40% of their workforce to work remotely beyond the pandemic. At first glance, that may look like a promising and exciting prospect for the future of work but what about when an employee’s home office is in a different country than the actual office? Is it still exciting or is it a logistical headache?

An increasing number of employees are putting in requests to relocate abroad as their companies establish long-term remote plans. It’s a natural progression but employers should be aware of the legal ramifications facilitating such requests will pose.

Ivan Mazour CEO of Ometria, explained the dilemma he faced when a growing number of his 100 employee workforce started to request moving abroad for prolonged periods. He stated “allowing our team to work from whichever country they wanted for as long as they wanted would not be acceptable at a business level - there would be tax implications, we would need to update our employment practices in line with other laws, several of our insurances would be void, and I won't even get started on the data privacy complexity.”

Dealing with requests from existing employees presents a challenge for employers but what about when hiring remote talent from the outset?

Team mates working
Photo by Unsplash / Unsplash

This too has legal and compliance issues, especially for employers who might wish to provide the same benefits as full-time employees but instead have to settle for contractor status.

We have seen the struggles policy makers have had dealing with new business models presented by platforms such as Uber and Deliveroo and the debate on classifying gig workers as freelancers vs employees. This issue is further complicated by the UK Government’s impending legislation changes around IR35 to clamp down on the use of contractors who, in the eyes of HMRC, are in fact employees.

That said, a recent report from the think tank, dGen entitled “Remote Work in Europe, 2030” predicts change is afoot. By 2025 “remote workers will have the same rights and access to social benefits as traditional employees across the European Union” the report states. This sounds like an ambitious prediction however given the hypergrowth of remote work policy makers may be left with little option but to have to review their stance on what ‘work’ actually looks like in a post COVID-19 era.

Whilst politicians review their legislation with regards to employers it seems a number of countries are proactively changing their visa laws to become a talent hub for the nomadic worker.

Estonia introduced its Digital Nomad Visa from 1st August 2020 which enables “location-independent workers the chance to come to Estonia to live for up to a year with peace of mind that they can legally work.”

Even exotic locations like Barbados are jumping on the bandwagon with a 12-month Barbados welcome stamp, allowing visitors to take their work Zoom calls whilst lounging on the beach.

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