Ninety-eight percent of workers want to work remotely at least some of the time. In its definition, remote work can be done every working day of the year from another location, or special permission to work remote for 30 days out of the year or a hybrid of the two. Now, Remote Work is not necessarily a new concept. In my opinion, I could think of three separate phases, triggered by three crucial events:
Remote work started gaining attention with the advancement of telecommunication technologies and authorities started to develop new legal frameworks (Employment Legislation, Taxation and Social Security as well as Immigration) to better manage these – initially – uncommon and non-standard employment situations.
With the Financial Crisis of 2008, certain countries had also adopted new Immigration Policies – initially meant to address both labor shortage as well as a new stream of income to the tax authorities and started to look at Investor/Golden Visa opportunities: i.e. non-sponsored visas and residence permits granted the right to reside in a country with a certain freedom of movement. The recipients of the Golden Sesame would have the right to live/work elsewhere – with certain caveats – while being granted a long-term residence permit in the new location.
This was later accelerated with the Covid-19 Pandemic. Corporations and authorities alike had to quickly pivot and produce immediate solutions to the fact that remote work was no longer a choice but a legal obligation. The definition of Remote Work had suddenly shifted from a local “Work from Home” to a global “Work from Anywhere.”
Today, whether you are allowing members of your team to move down to Florida for the winter or take a two-week working vacation to Europe, there are many questions that arise for both the employee and the company in the process. It’s essential to understand these nuances in order to offer remote work in the best way possible.
Pressing Questions of Remote Work
There are several pressing issues of remote work, which must be answered by companies prior to allowing employees to travel and work from anywhere. Some of the most important questions include how companies can manage their staff’s duty of care in a remote working environment, what technologies are being used to monitor productivity, whether local laws impact taxes, compensation and time off, insurance obligations, visa and immigration requirements etc. Tracking and managing all these nuances is a heavy lift. Recourse to Emails and Excel Sheet is not a sustainable solution.
Set Clear Policies
There are many aspects to how companies can effectively manage their staff in a remote setting. One of the biggest factors is communicating expectations early and clearly. Employees have no way of knowing company protocols if management can’t communicate what’s expected of them. Does everyone work the traditional 9-5, or should they be available outside of work hours? Are working hours considered the same at the “remote” location? Do they need to be camera-ready for each meeting or just listen in? How often are employees and managers checking in with each other? Get ahead of the curve and share guidelines from the beginning – this reduces any chance of confusion.
Remote work means employees living in – potentially – all locations. With this comes different city, state, and even country laws and regulations. Between taxes, compensation, medical and social insurance and time off, every package and cost-of-living must be tracked and managed differently. Likewise, one may be led to consider that Immigration compliance shall only apply once a remote worker crosses the border. Often a common misconception, I must say. Unfortunately, those organizations who omit to take relevant actions may be found in violation of immigration and employment law and may end up paying hefty penalties and fines. Companies can address this by investing in global mobility management solutions, like Equus Software, that will automate and streamline tasks and processes. This software will make it infinitely easier to manage each employee’s local (home and host) requirements.
Enabling remote work also means exposure to outside networks and threats. It is crucial for employers to secure the technologies that their remote workforce is using. Companies should make sure they have a privacy and information protection policy and training for all employees to ensure the protection of critical information and data. Without securing their network, companies face the risk of data breaches and exposing employee and customer information. Employees should be able to have access to resources, asking questions and getting clear answers and support – which will protect both Employee and Corporation. Enforcing data classification policies and procedures is also paramount to preserve the company’s data integrity. In addition to certain data localization requirements, information may be accessed, processed, and saved in restricted locations which could jeopardize how the company does business.
While remote work has endless benefits, it also comes with risks that must be acknowledged and dealt with. Employers and companies must consider these questions and solidify their remote work policies to stay efficient and productive.
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