Only 4% of Employees Want to Return Full-Time to the Office.

Drumroll everyone!  The Work From Anywhere Team recently rolled out a survey to gauge the trends in remote working post-pandemic.  Below the survey results and key insights coming out of it.  If you would like to take the survey yourself, you can do so here.

Key Takeaways

What Employers Allow

What is your company’s post-pandemic plan for working arrangements?

Hybrid and Work From Anywhere clear favourites
  • Only 14% believe they will go back to a full-time office located job. Think about how that will impact our cities and suburban spaces from corporate real estate to your local town businesses. Expect your local village to become a hive of activity all week. 
  • Hybrid is clearly most popular. It’s a win-win for both employers and employees. Employees save themselves time and money. The thoughts of a regular hour plus commute twice a day now rightly seeming like an absurd waste of time. Employers meanwhile will reap the benefits of a lower infrastructure footprint saving significant resources by moving to a hot-seat office setup helping to reduce their rental costs by half.
  • Over a third of people suggesting a Work From Anywhere (WFA) International arrangement will be allowed, which is interesting. There have been some highly publicised statements by companies such as Spotify, Atlassian, Twitter, etc. outlining their unequivocal move to a WFA arrangement but when you dig a little deeper, much of this media fanfare is great talent marketing with the associated T’s & C’s of actually being able to work this way, listing out as long as my arm.

What Employees Want

What would be your ideal working arrangement, once the pandemic is over?

Work From Anywhere gets individuals votes
  • WFA & the hybrid model are quite clearly the standout favourites here. There’s clearly no going back to the status quo of pre-pandemic office-based work. We’re tired of that tired environment. It’s like we’ve all had a mirror held to our former working lives and we don’t like the reflections we see. We’ve been rudely awakened from our live-to-work slumber.
  • With only 4% wanting to return to the office full time and similarly only 7% wanting only to Work From Home (WFH), it’s clear that people want some flexibility and variety to where they work. 
    • We are social animals that thrive on multiple stimuli, but people have less appetite for being back in the pressure cooker of the office while being chained to your office desk.
    • Further, much of the evidence is showing that productivity has not had a negative impact. On the contrary, this latest Stanford University backed research argues that there has been a 5% productivity boost, largely due to the removal of commuting times.

Over the next 5 years, how long would you like to spend working from abroad each year?

77% want to work overseas more than a month each year
  • With over 50% saying they would like to spend more than 2 months working abroad each year, it’s clear there is an appetite for a prolonged cultural immersion living and working overseas.

Since the start of the pandemic, have you considered working on a temporary basis overseas?

30% have already ventured overseas
  • The fact that over 30% of people have already spent time working overseas is phenomenal, especially when you consider all the travel restrictions in place due to Covid.
  • 27% of workers are happy to keep trips overseas purely leisure based. Will this belief still remain when people see their colleagues spending 4-8 weeks overseas working from a villa during the school holidays? I for one, was green with envy when a colleague of mine dialed in to Zoom calls from his Greek villa with the idyllic views in the background.
  • With over 70% of people having either already spend time overseas or seriously considering it, employers need to up their game to not just accommodate these requests, but encourage them.
  • It’s never been more important for employees to recharge the batteries. Companies will have the favour returned with greater loyalty, brighter ideas and a more motivated workforce focused on getting results rather than simply punching in the time.
  • Bear no bones about it, there is an unwritten quid pro quo here. While bosses give employees the flexibility to work overseas, there is still an expectation that results are delivered and deadlines are met. 

What are your 3 biggest worries about temporarily working overseas?

Tax concerns top of the list
  • I have to say, rather surprisingly, individuals are predominantly concerned about the tax implications of working overseas on a temporary basis. I was not expecting that to come top of the list.  They clearly want to know what the impact is.
  • With interruption to kids education second on the list, this will likely see a huge condensing of travel during the school holidays. Therefore, destinations that offer affordable home schooling options or short term international school access will see a significant spike in working holiday tourism.
  • Wi-Fi, while high on the list is becoming less and less of an issue globally. Trekking through the Himalayas may however be off the cards for a working holiday!

What do you think concerns your employer most about allowing employees to work overseas?

Tax concerns again top of the list
  • Somewhat less surprisingly, tax compliance does come top of the worry list for employers. It is a minefield to be threaded carefully with many factors influencing whether there’s a tax exposure for a company including time spent overseas and the nature or seniority of the role e.g. if your CEO has absconded to his villa in the south of France to manage the business for a few months, then you entire company may have a French corporate tax exposure.
  • The duty of care element cannot be ignored either. Depending on the country you work from, your employer may have employee welfare obligations they legally need to uphold. What does the local work safety legislation dictate? Does your employer need to arrange an ergonomic assessment of your WFH space?
  • While Zoom got a lot of attention initially, new tools are springing up to assist with asynchronous work to enable greater team collaboration in a remote work world.

Has your company considered allowing employees to temporarily work from overseas?

Only 11% have an updated WFA policy
  • While 30% of employees have already worked overseas and another 42% are planning to work overseas, only 11% of employers actually have a WFA policy in place. This leaves employers stuck between a rock and a hard place, where tax and employment compliance is concerned.

If you’re concerned about any of the risks mentioned above, check out your tax risk profile here. We’d be delighted to help you ease these worries through our network of expert tax advisors.

Written by Donal Brady, Co-Founder of The Work From Anywhere Team

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