By Maurice O’Brien, Co-Founder at Flexa Careers
At Flexa, we’ve recently seen a remarkable increase in the popularity of “Work From Anywhere” (“WFA”) schemes across our client base. Companies such as Threads Styling, EduMe and 11:FS have taken the plunge and are supporting team members in their dreams of taking some time to live and work abroad.
But what exactly is a WFA scheme, and how does it work in practice?
Let’s start with a distinction: “Work From Anywhere” does not equal “Hire From Anywhere”. The latter approach refers to companies who will hire a new team member from anywhere in the world. The new joiner is legally employed by either a local office/subsidiary within the company’s group entity or, as is becoming increasingly common, by an “Employer of Record” in that country.
For companies looking to hire from anywhere (like many Flexa clients), we recommend checking out Oyster or Deel, who are well-versed in the legalities of remote hiring. However, this blog will focus solely on WFA, whereby an employee spends an extended period of time working outside of their own usual jurisdiction—wherever that may be.
Why are WFA policies suddenly so popular?
The increasing number of employers launching their own WFA schemes is not surprising, given that WFA has become one of the most sought-after benefits amongst candidates.
At Flexa, we conduct employee surveys for every company that joins our platform. These surveys cover a variety of topics, such as which flexible benefits are most desired by candidates.
We see from our surveys that c.35% of candidates would like their employer to offer a WFA scheme—remarkably, this is this top-ranked flexible benefit across all our surveys. (Note: we do not categorise flexible location and flexible hours as “benefits”, as these are core ways of working).
From an employee perspective, the benefits of WFA are obvious. These schemes offer a unique opportunity to combine work and travel, giving the employee the freedom to satisfy their wanderlust whilst still performing in their current role.
From the employer’s point of view, the benefits are slightly more nuanced but powerful nonetheless. These include:
- Improved talent attraction
- Boosting productivity of current team members by allowing them to work in their ideal environment
- Reducing some costs associated with office space, and
- Lowering employee churn as job satisfaction and employee happiness increase.
Trends, approaches and challenges
When we look at the data coming from our own Flexified companies, some interesting patterns emerge:
15-months ago, very few companies were opting for a WFA scheme—but now, there’s more than 10% of the companies on Flexa that have gone down the WFA route. Furthermore, another c.15% are actively considering introducing a WFA scheme in the short or medium-term.
Without a doubt, one of the key drivers behind this trend has been the impact of the pandemic. The nature of pandemic-related travel restrictions has, of course, ensured that most employers had undertaken a mass remote working experiment over the last 18-months.
Many employers have noted that their staff are just as productive (if not more so) when not in a physical office environment. Given that this non-office environment may as well be anywhere in the world, why not add WFA to the Employee Value Proposition?
The structure of specific policies vary somewhat from employer to employer, but they tend to be dictated by the relatively complex legal/tax implications of WFA schemes—which is a topic that’s worth an entire blog in its own right!
Given this inherent complexity, Flexa clients have generally abided by a “safety first” approach and placed a cap on the total number of days, per annum that team members may spend outside their “usual” jurisdictions. This is a non-negotiable that typically means each employee’s maximum cap is 45-days, or occasionally 60- days, in one year.
Work From Anywhere schemes are a genuinely great way to improve an employer’s EVP and we highly encourage Flexa clients to look at the option of introducing WFA. We’re seeing an increasing number of our clients adopt a WFA approach, and we expect this trend to accelerate in future.
However, integrating a WFA scheme comes with inherent challenges and complexities. With this in mind, we always encourage clients to obtain professional legal and/or taxation advice as required.
A note from Hubble
It’s true: “Work from Anywhere” schemes are proving popular. The pandemic has significantly shaped attitudes towards flexible working—and employees worldwide will be actively seeking more choice and autonomy over where they work.
At Hubble, we’ve made this easy with the Hubble Pass—your all-access ticket to a global network of on-demand workspaces. It’s simple and easy-to-use; in a matter of clicks, your employees can search for and book convenient workspaces—such as private offices, meeting rooms, desks and event space—wherever and whenever they need it.