So you want to work remotely: A guide

As more employers offer flexibility, countries, travel brands and entrepreneurs are stepping in to make working from anywhere easier, with everything from special visas to work pods



By Nora Walsh

Published: Wed 12 Oct 2022, 10:32 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Oct 2022, 10:36 PM

Months into the pandemic, Jess Romano moved from California to Croatia, becoming the third person to receive that country’s “digital nomad” visa when it launched in 2021. “When I worked in the office, my time off — and more important — the flexibility around where, when and how I could work was limited,” she said. “Now I can spend months or years at a time living and exploring new places while working full-time.”

Now, as coronavirus cases have fallen and working patterns are being reestablished, many companies are acknowledging the seismic shifts in the workplace and giving their employees increased flexibility about where they work in both the long and short term.

Kayak, the travel search engine, embraced remote work early in the pandemic, letting its staff set up anywhere the company has a legal entity, which includes 25 countries around the world, and counting. “If we have a legal entity somewhere, we can make payroll, pay taxes, and offer health care. They would just need the appropriate visa to work there,” said Steve Hafner, a co-founder and CEO.

“We used to always compete for talent on the basis of how awesome our offices were to work,” he said. “Now we compete on a totally different dimension, which is flexibility.”

Companies such as Spotify, Twitter and Airbnb have also adopted work-from-anywhere policies. In a report released in June, Gartner, Inc., a technological research and consulting firm based in Stamford, Connecticut, found that by the end of 2021, 51 per cent of what it calls knowledge workers worldwide are expected to be working remotely, more than double the number from 2019.

As remote workers flood the market, governments, travel companies, hospitality brands and entrepreneurs are responding with innovative ways for location-independent professionals to make the world their home. Here, a guide to new developments in the work-from-anywhere world.

Remote work visas

More than 20 countries across the globe offer specialised visas that let foreigners live and work remotely within their borders, including the European nations of Portugal, Norway, Georgia and Malta. Spain is working on a Start-ups Law that’s expected to pass by the end of the year, making it easier for professionals and their families to relocate there. The bill proposes 12-month visas for remote workers with the option to apply for a three-year residence permit that’s conditionally renewable for another two years.

In Latin America, Brazil was the first South American country to offer a remote work visa in September 2021. When requesting the one-year digital nomad visa (which can be renewed for additional periods), applicants must provide proof of an income source outside Brazil, have health care coverage, and earn at least $1,500 per month or have $18,000 in the bank. Brazilian Consulates abroad have granted 197 digital nomad visas to citizens from more than 15 different countries, including the United States, Germany and Colombia.

A popular vacation spot for US travellers, Costa Rica signed its new digital nomad visa into law this August and has received 27 applications. “We estimate that each remote worker who stays in Costa Rica to work will generate $46,400 per annum for the country, which will contribute to tourism industry revenues, and mean more jobs for Costa Ricans,” said Carolina Trejos, director of marketing for the Costa Rica tourism board.

Companies get In on the act

As part of its new Live and Work Anywhere programme, Airbnb is partnering with 20 destinations around the world to create custom digital hubs featuring information such as visa requirements, tax policies and a comprehensive list of the best long-term-stay accommodations. Buenos Aires; the Austrian Alpine region of Salzkammergut; Tampa Bay, Florida, Tulsa, Oklahoma; and the Caribbean have launched, with more to follow later this year, including Thailand, Cape Town and the Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy.

“Remote work is where the world is going,” said Brian Chesky, co-founder and CEO of Airbnb, in an email to employees. “The right solution should combine the best of the digital world and the best of the physical world.” Airbnb employees can now live and work in more than 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location.

As of the second quarter of 2022, Airbnb said it has seen long-term stays (28 days or more) increase nearly 25 per cent from 2021 and by nearly 90 per cent from 2019.

Sojrn, a travel brand that started last year, offers monthlong experiential learning programs for remote workers around the world (from $3,199 for four weeks). “It’s like work from home meets study abroad for adults,” said founder Tara Cappel. “We scout great places to stay, Wi-Fi-enabled work spaces and immersive experiences centered around an educational theme, which adds an element of purpose to the trip.” Top sellers include Spanish in Medellin and Wine in Tuscany.

Yaroslav Prygara, a Ukrainian entrepreneur, founded Remo last August as a creative solution to hotels’ growing need for flexible work spaces that guests can use during short- or long-term stays. “I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s more people working remotely than from the office in the next decade,” he said.

Remo builds prefabricated mirrored-glass cubes that house work spaces kitted out with reliable high-speed internet, ergonomic office furniture, temperature controls and terraces. The modular cubes are designed to make use of a hotel’s underutilized outdoor locations.

Hotel brands double down

Hotels that had their hand in the coworking game are seeing investments pay off as a global workforce pushes back against traditional 9-5 office jobs.

In 2019, Accor started Wojo, a brand of coworking and flexible workspaces, across its economy, mid-scale and luxury hotels. “Accor was ahead of the curve and saw this movement coming,” said Markus Keller, the company’s chief sales and distribution officer. Today, it has 400 Wojo installations at hotels in Europe and Latin America, with sub-Saharan Africa in the pipeline.

Wojo workspaces range from shared desks to meeting rooms and closed offices, all of which can be booked by the hour, half-day or day through the website or the app (starting at $30 per day for a shared desk). Longer-term contracts are also available: Shared desks are on offer from $300 per month and private offices start at $500 per person per month.

Crowne Plaza, a premium brand from IHG Hotels & Resorts, recently released a white paper on “blended travel” that notes 80 per cent of travellers plan to tack on leisure days to upcoming business trips as well as capitalize on the opportunity to work from anywhere.

Crowne Plaza properties have undergone significant renovations to create flexible WorkLife rooms (rates from about $180) and public spaces where guests can work comfortably. Its new brand, Atwell Suites (rates from about $215), caters to long-term stays with work areas equipped with counter-height tables, office chairs and virtual-conferencing-ready backdrops. There are also coworking zones and huddle rooms in common areas.

“This new generation of remote workers has the flexibility to travel any day of the week, every month of the year, not just on weekends and major holidays. As a result, we’re seeing a rise in longer stays and midweek travel,” said Lisa Checchio, chief marketing officer of Wyndham Hotels & Resorts. To accommodate demand, Wyndham is launching an extended-stay economy brand in the US this year with a starting portfolio of 72 hotels. The company is also expanding its Wyndham Residences collection for longer stays in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (suite rates from $63 per night plus tax).

Tech Ttools

Remote workers interested in living and working from abroad can turn to a spate of new digital resources for help. Rowena Hennigan, a globally recognized expert in remote work based in Spain, introduced a LinkedIn Learning course in June called Becoming a Digital Nomad ( $24.99 or free for LinkedIn Learning subscribers). The 27-minute beginner’s guide covers the pros and cons of a remote work and travel lifestyle, as well as important details such as how to navigate visas, how to tap into the community and ways to decrease your carbon footprint while travelling.

Hennigan is an adviser for the startup Boundless Life, which specializes in remote work family travel, providing furnished homes, educational programmes for children, and coworking spaces in Portugal, Greece and, come January, Italy.

Italian startup Nomads Embassy is planning to launch a digital nomad visa platform at the end of the year that connects visa applicants with immigration lawyers (legal services will range from $600 to $3,500, depending on the firm). Remote workers will be able to upload required documents, communicate with lawyers and track their visa status in real time through the platform.

“The application process usually takes from 10 to 28 days, but as we test the platform, we’re seeing that time decrease to less than a week,” said Brittany Loeffler, who founded the company with her partner Jacopo Gomarasca. The website, which gets about 20,000 unique visitors a month and has been seeing that traffic increase about 20% a month, is updated daily with each country’s digital nomad visa requirements, fees and processes.

– This article originally appeared in The New York Times


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