The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that working remotely at scale is achievable, and for many employees, desirable on a full time and sustained basis. Across the globe, workers across various industries had to switch to remote working within a few days. Even companies and employees that were initially resistant to the concept of remote working have been forced to embrace the culture. A recent PwC Survey highlighted 84% of employees feel able to perform their role just as effectively when working remotely as they would in the office and 42% of companies are allowing assignments to start via remote working from the home country.
Now as lockdown and travel restrictions ease, how will this experience of remote working affect willingness to return to the office? Organisations may need to embrace remote working as here to stay, but what does this mean when the “work anywhere” concept involves a cross border dimension?
Initially the focus has been on those stranded by COVID-19, but we have seen three main groups for remote working:
As physical borders reopen, organisations will need to consider whether they want to support employees requesting to maintain their remote working arrangement and any new requests going forward.
We are seeing many companies reviewing how they will implement new ways of working to support their global workforce of the future. Bold public statements have already been made by some of the world’s leading technology companies that remote working is here to stay. Meanwhile many other organisations, particularly those with ‘knowledge workers’ who are more easily able to work remotely in the financial and professional services industries, are working through revising their policies.
But implementation will provide two levels of challenge for organisations. First, around how to attract and retain talent against a new expectation of flexible working while still ensuring business continuity. But it will also create ongoing challenges at a corporate level – in managing the many mobility risks associated with remote working arrangements across employment taxes, corporate taxes, immigration, posted workers, employment law as well as wider considerations on duty of care and performance management.
Some of the nuances employers will have to work through include:
Employment tax and social security considerations:
Our myAtlas tool can help employers understand some of the above implications and compliance obligations early on in the planning stage. Meaning employers and employees can enter into a new working arrangement feeling at ease.
Remote working has numerous benefits for both employers and employees, from increased productivity and a better work-life balance. However, while the benefits are proven to be extensive, there are a lot of considerations to be made before new working arrangements are put in place.
Employers need to embrace these changes and start reviewing these considerations and updating their policies to include cross-border remote working if they want to retain the talent in their workforce.