“Temporary work from abroad” is a hot topic. Employees love the idea of working whilst temporarily being abroad for private purposes. As a result, many employers are working on defining a policy for it. That’s good news. The bad news is that most of the policies are quite conservative. They are very much about what is not possible. For example, “You cannot work from abroad for longer than two weeks.” Or, “you cannot work outside the EU”. Company-wide limitations like this are usually driven by a fear of tax and legal non-compliance.
However, we can and should do better. After all, these compliance risks largely depend on specific situations —where is the employee from? What is the destination country? What is the employee’s role, and what activities will be performed during the international stay? Quite frankly, installing company-wide limitations is like shooting with hale. Instead, let’s shoot for the moon!
Temporary work from abroad is a great opportunity for employers to stand out. Comprehensive data is still limited, however small surveys indicate that many employees would be very interested in temporarily working from abroad.
Simon-Kucher & Partners, a German-headquartered consultancy, surveyed more than 7,000 people across China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and the United States. The vast majority of these respondents suggested they would add a couple of weeks of ‘workation’ to their holiday if given the opportunity — these figures were led by the Chinese respondents where 70% would enjoy temporary work from abroad as a benefit. In Germany and the Netherlands, this number was around 40%, and roughly 30% in the UK.
A survey performed by HubbleHQ, a UK-based workspace management platform, shows similar results. Overall, 42% of the employees surveyed would want to use their company’s remote working policy to work from abroad. However, for employees aged 41 to 51 years or above, the percentage of positive responses is below 38%. This is interesting because the key decision-makers of most companies are often older than 41 years of age. In many businesses, these decision-makers are in the outlier age group between 51 and 60 years, where the positive response rate was barely 20%. While businesses would hope that their decision-makers remain impartial to such biases, it wouldn’t be hard to assume that this may be a reason for conservative temporary work from abroad policies.
In comparison, 39% to 47% of the age group between 26 and 40 years gave a positive response for a temporary work from abroad option.This is the same group that is twice as likely to quit their job than baby boomers if their expectations around flexible working conditions are not met. With this in mind, it’s likely that employers who are quick to adopt flexible work policies are more likely to win the war for talent.
This is why employers should be looking to make temporary work from abroad a permanent feature of their employee benefits schemes. The pandemic has made sure flexible working is here to stay, so use it to your advantage. It’s cost-effective and will help you stand out as a progressive and attractive employer. Let’s make temporary work from abroad a benefit beyond boundaries!