The introduction of working remotely during the pandemic has enabled organisations to re-define their work setup and changed the way many of us view our work/home-life balance. Remote working has moved from being a temporary measure to becoming an important part of attracting and retaining talent.


In the wake of talent and skill shortages, organisations are more likely to increase flexibility at work to attract and retain employees. Whilst the hybrid working model has been a successful and obvious step in a more flexible direction, some companies are finding new ways to differentiate themselves in the war for talent.


Working from anywhere


Organisations could benefit from the possibility of international remote working if they can leverage it for talent attraction purposes, understand and measure its value, and articulate a clear strategy for mobile talent and business leaders.

There has been a rise in the number of remote workers seeking opportunities without waiting for a company to relocate them as well as corporate workers who stay with their employers but proactively request projects in other areas of the organisation. The rigid company-driven assignment model is giving way to a more fluid contract with employees, with work-life balance at its’ core.

These expectations from employees may not have been sufficient to prompt companies to approach remote working issues if they did not come at a time of talent shortage and reskilling needs. This trend is motivating companies to dedicate more time and resources to employee attraction and retention.


The challenges


However, companies can only assess the relevance of working from anywhere for their own business strategy if they have an understanding of the value it can generate.


How can you measure value generated by an international remote worker?

Managing international remote working remains a task for HR teams and often involves assessing situations on an individual basis. Measuring the value of the new work setup can be a complex exercise.

Some indicators can help assess more objectively the effect of remote working policies on talent attraction. However, the true measure of success can only be assessed over time by monitoring the career progression, productivity and retention rates of international remote workers compared to their onsite peers.

Can remote workers build good team relationships?

Not all managers have experience with remote workers and find the prospect to be challenging. Although many employees believe that their organisation would be more successful with remote working, many executives may be concerned about the ability of remote employees to build solid interpersonal relationships with colleagues and leadership.

Bridging this perception gap will require training and coaching for remote workers and their managers, creating a safe environment to share concerns and well as further investing in collaboration technology.

The logistics

Many companies may view compliance as a challenge when implementing international remote working policies. The risk of breaking labour laws or triggering new tax liabilities is significant if processes and safeguards are not in place. However, looking at this issue purely from the point of compliance issues blurs the real purpose and benefits of working from anywhere.


Potential positive outcomes in the New World of Working From Anywhere


A clear majority of workers support flexible remote working, and the talent shortage means that skilled employees can negotiate work setups that suit their lifestyle. The most successful organisations will offer an appealing yet manageable remote working program for skilled talent. If remote working is presented as just one more benefit or imposed with rigid restrictions, it may be perceived as an afterthought by employees and be resisted by line managers. Successful companies will be the ones moving from a company-led approach to a more collaborative partnership with employees to determine what would make a difference for them.

The countries that can adapt their rules to facilitate international remote working could become hubs for mobile employees and freelancers. The most successful ones are currently those combining flexible rules for mobile talent, high quality-of-living and reasonable cost-of-living. But working from anywhere also offers new opportunities to revitalise smaller, less developed regions.


Moving forward


Once the possible value of international remote working has been clarified, the next step is to have a clear and consistent value proposition.


Because there is no universally accepted definition of what “working from anywhere” means, the risk of misunderstanding is significant. Some situations involve frequent moves between countries, which can be difficult to manage from a compliance perspective. Others allow employees to work remotely from abroad for a few weeks or months to minimize risks. Some companies are offering employees a one-time permanent transfer to a new location, rather than the flexibility to move frequently between locations.


Working from anywhere is still a new and vague concept, but pressure is mounting on organisations to develop a clear point of view, particularly when there are needs to attract and retain talent at a time where skill shortages are vast.