The last 18 months have seen a huge shift towards remote and hybrid working, and more of us than ever are living by the mantra that ‘work is not where you are but what you do’. And we know the trend is here to stay with as many as 89% of European companies planning to embrace the hybrid working model post-pandemic.
But remote working doesn’t necessarily mean ‘working from home’. That’s why we’ve put together practical tips for small business owners who are considering a ‘work from anywhere’ model - a no-nonsense guide for those curious about the logistics of enabling employees to work from places that aren’t necessarily the home.
If you’ve always run your business in a brick-and-mortar building with your whole team in the office, a ‘work from anywhere’ model can be a huge adjustment. To avoid confusion, put in place a transparent and robust policy and take time to explain this in full to your workforce.
First of all, be comprehensive in your policy to account for every question that may arise from working anywhere. At the end of the day, a policy that doesn’t reflect the realities of working from anywhere won’t be helpful to your employees. Issues such as who can work from anywhere, how people communicate and what working hours apply are all important aspects to consider. But most importantly, your policy must relate to every employee. This will ensure it’s universally applicable throughout the company and will help to avoid discord between those who can work from anywhere and those who can’t.
One in 16 people in the UK intend to work abroad for at least part of 2021 according to international payments provider, PagoFX. Countries like Croatia have added to this appeal by offering longer stay remote work visas to attract the ‘digital nomad’ crowd. So, as part of your work from anywhere policy, it may be worth considering how you can cater to those who want to work in a different country.
While this can seem like a big shift to integrate into your business, you don’t need to go from zero to one hundred straight away. Consider using trial periods to see if working abroad is feasible for your employees and the business. You can then review the positives and/or drawbacks of applying this policy.
However, it’s important to note some additional considerations around employees working from abroad. Payroll taxes, social security and benefits are just a few of the compliance aspects you need to think about. For example, when an employee works overseas, there’s the chance that their presence could create a permanent establishment for their employer in that country. Where that occurs, the company could be exposed to corporation tax in that country, as well as payroll withholding obligations and other regulatory requirements.
To avoid any compliance hitches, seeking specialist help from a solicitor or a chartered tax advisor when drawing up your policy could be valuable.
As workplaces become more de-centralised, organisations need technology that enables teamwork, encourages collaboration and helps to connect people, wherever they are. Modern project management tools empower remote-working employees in many ways. Not only do they drive employees to embrace collective ideas and take charge, but they also keep their finger on the pulse of what is happening both in their team and around the company. Learning Management Systems (LMS) are also key for reaching and engaging workers wherever they’re based.
Equip your employees with the right tech to enable them to feel included and engaged, no matter their location, and to overcome challenges that working from public spaces can throw up. Noise cancellation wireless headphones, web cams and USB speakers are ideal partners for reliable video conferencing and calls.
The pandemic has heralded a new age of the working world, with employees now less bothered by office-based perks and more keen on physical and mental wellbeing benefits. Put this at the heart of your ‘work from anywhere’ culture by investing in one of the many online wellbeing platforms that look after employees’ physical, mental and financial wellbeing. With poor mental health costing businesses up to £45 billion a year, they can prevent burnout with free content such as talking therapies, and look after financial wellbeing via discounts, and physical health thanks to free online workout videos.
As more and more businesses embrace the ‘work from anywhere’ model post pandemic, it’s worth the time and care to put together a well-researched, robust and equitable policy. Equally as important is how you communicate this company-wide and continue to manage and review it over time. Ultimately, any policy wants to promote the wellbeing and happiness of your employees, and keeping this at the heart of your strategy is a sure-fire way to success.
Available Monday to Friday, 8am-6pm, our friendly team are here to provide guidance and support on the topics that matter to your business.