We have all been there.
Stressed out, at breaking point, in the middle of a pandemic. We’re working from home, trying to juggle the impossibilities of work, home and everything in between, and life seems impossible.
Just for a moment, we allow ourselves to drift away to a place of calm. Maybe it’s that beautiful beach in Bali. Or a tapas bar in Spain where you sampled more than your fair share of Spanish culture. Or maybe it was that round the world trip you took with a good friend when you were younger.
And then you ask yourself, if I can manage working from home in a pandemic, then why couldn’t I do just as good a job remote working abroad?
You get giddy. You’re already looking for flights on Skyscanner. They’re really good value, of course they are! Airlines are hungry for customers after the pandemic drought. You look at accommodation, and it’s the same story. Some amazing beach villa which you can book at a discounted price. You’re already vaccinated so you’ve got no major worries on the health front.
You’re ready to go. You’re pumped. You know this can work. You feel liberated with the excitement of what working from anywhere can do for you and your quality of life.
Companies everywhere are embracing work from anywhere, just look at Spotify and Twitter, the momentum is unstoppable.
You message your boss. You put the proposition to them. Say it’s only going to be 2-3 months max that you’ll be working abroad. Your boss says they’ll look into it.
Then…crickets. No answer. No immediate reply. You’re waiting in furious anticipation. Any minute now, you’ll get the green light, and then it’s straight on to Skyscanner.
Then suddenly you get the news all remote workers dread.
“I’m sorry but the finance and legal teams have indicated that working from Bali for 2-3 months is not possible. We have a company-wide policy that prevents remote work abroad. This may be reviewed in the future but for now my hands are tied.”
How many remote workers have received this news during the pandemic? Did you get a message like this from your boss? How did you feel?
Welcome to the Work From Anywhere Myth.
Where There’s A Will, There’s A Way
Call me a dreamer, but I think we’ve collectively developed a deeper understanding of what is truly important in life…love, life, health and family with work much lower down the ranking scale than it was pre-pandemic.
Many of us have shifted from a ‘live to work’ attitude into a ‘work to live’ mindset. This has helped fuel our collective Wanderlust to get back travelling again.
Linked to this, there are a wave of people looking to take advantage of their newfound WFH (Work From Home) freedoms and take a ‘working holiday’ abroad. People have been confined to their homes for the best part of 15 months now and they are finally ready to get back exploring the world.
We have heard countless scenarios of employees requesting permission to travel and work for a prolonged period overseas with employers taking the easy way out with an emphatic “Sorry, No Can Do”. It’s been firmly placed in the “too difficult to solve” basket.
But how long will employees accept this?
And are there other ways to tackle these problems?
Employers need to differentiate themselves as facilitators of geo-flexibility by joining the WFA (Work From Anywhere) wave if they want to retain their best talent. Just look at this recent Gitlab Report which noted that 52% of remote workers noted that they would consider leaving their co-located company for a remote role. This high figure is mirrored in a recent Microsoft report which says 41% of employees are considering leaving their current employer.
It is true to say that exceptions have been made in the last year. I’ve seen this myself when I had to travel when my mother was diagnosed as terminally ill with Stage 4 cancer. I will be eternally grateful for the leniency and flexibility afforded by my employer and indeed for the pandemic which had suddenly changed the global working environment to make it perfectly acceptable to work from the other side of the world for a few months.
Governments and tax authorities have been very accommodating in this regard, due to the exceptional circumstances we all found ourselves in. But this will not last forever.
What happens next will dictate how much of a myth “Work From Anywhere” really is. In the meantime, for anyone looking to differentiate between myth and reality, visit our home page to find out which countries are the lowest tax residency risk for your next remote working trip abroad.
Written by Donal Brady, Co-Founder of The Work From Anywhere Team (with Editor and Co-Founder John Lee)