WFH? WFH no longer means Working From Home! It could mean Working from Devon, Working from Hawaii, or, as you’ll read more about below, Working from India!
The shift in working patterns and expectations has meant that working from anywhere around the world is now possible. Typing away from your keyboard while sat on a sun lounger by the pool is something we would definitely opt for!
In this blog we will explore the benefits and risks of working remotely from abroad.
By allowing employees to work from abroad, employers can offer greater flexibility and a better work life balance. Allowing your staff the opportunity to travel without using up all their annual leave can really go a long way in boosting morale. Recognising the way your employees work best and the optimal working conditions is crucial, so allowing employes the flexibility to work when and where they feel most productive can be really beneficial to the employee as well and the company. Recently, I had the opportunity to work while travelling and being abroad and it proved to be an intriguing experience. I utilised the 9-hour plane journey to really get into the tasks that I needed to complete. While everyone is in their own zone on the plane either sleeping or enjoying the entertainment, I was able to get focused, put my head down and continue working without any emails distracting me. Working on the plane is great if you need to focus on a drafting piece, or just focus on longer jobs that you have been putting off!
- Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
If you can enable employees to work whilst travelling, a greater number of employees can experience a sense of inclusion. I recently travelled to India, and I was able to attend a celebration which many around the world had travelled for – I felt really grateful that I was able to log on and work when it suited me, fitting this around celebrating the occasion which was a once in a lifetime opportunity for many in the Gujarati community.
- Networking and Personal Development
This links into the equality, diversity and inclusion element, as employee will be able to connect with professionals and explore new perspectives, creating opportunities and possible future collaborations. In terms of personal development, working from abroad can help the skills of adaptability, overcoming challenges and navigating through unfamiliar situations. Enhancing these skills has a positive impact on both the personal and professional life of the employee.
- Unpredictable work environments
When employees work remotely from different parts of the world, it can cause anxiety as the working environments can be unpredictable. While I was away, I assumed that I would not experience any problems working remotely, however, one day I found myself in the midst of a thunderstorm and a power cut. I continued to work until the dreaded message appeared on my screen telling me that my laptop battery was dying. Most employees would panic out of concern that their employer would wonder why they weren’t online, however, at Thrive we know communication is key to a dream team! I communicated the problem to my colleagues and listed the tasks that were outstanding so they were aware and could pick up anything whilst I made arrangements to get back online. Again, these situations are unpredictable, you can never know what situation you maybe put in, but it is essential that team members communicate well.
- Time Zones
When travelling abroad, time zones can play a crucial role.
Despite having a 4.5-hour time difference with my colleagues back in the UK, whilst I was in India I was able to work at my preferred hours to complete my assigned tasks. On some days, I had already finished my work and logged off before my colleagues in the UK even began their working day. How did we make it work? Clear and honest communication. Communicating with your team what your availability will be, what the quality of your internet connection will be like and the tasks you intend to complete while working from abroad is essential. It is good practice to put a plan in place before you leave to work from abroad, so that employers and employees know what will be happening.
- Will employees ever switch off?
Annual leave has always been an opportunity for employees to unwind, recharge and distance themselves from their everyday job so that they return refreshed. However, working abroad or checking emails during a holiday may mean that an employee never gets the chance to fully switch off. Would this affect productivity? On the contrary, it could mean that employees feel they are on top of their workload. How many times do employees come back from annual leave with hundreds of emails to respond to and file away? Allowing employees flexibility to choose to work from abroad if and when they want to can mean that they are able to better manage their work and less likely to feel stressed on their first day back from annual leave.
- What else do you need to consider…
It is important for both employers and employees to be aware of any tax implications this may have, together with any visa requirements or any work permit requirements.
We fully appreciate that working from abroad is not going to work in every organisation. If you have staff working in hospitality, customer facing roles or production lines, this flexibility is clearly not going to fit with your business. But the reality is that, for those with staff who can get their job done provided they have a laptop and internet access, its generally not going to matter what location they do it from. Employers should consider if this is something that would work for their organisation and, if so, ensure they put in place a clear policy to ensure that employees are aware of their obligations while working from abroad.
The concept of working from abroad is relatively new and therefore employers should consider the risk and benefits of allowing this within their organisation. The key to maximising the rewards of working from abroad and minimising the potential risks is to plan and ensure employees understand their obligations.
Did you know we provide outsourced HR services to businesses?
Using Thrives HR services makes your life easier; we provide you with quick and most importantly, correct HR decisions so your staff management is stress-free and sufficient. We take care of everything. From drafting contracts and handbooks tailored to your business to advising and supporting you through redundancies. There is no limit to our knowledge, if you have an HR question, our qualified solicitors have the answer for you. We are always one phone call away.
Why should you outsource your HR services to solicitors? Getting your HR services from a solicitor means, should a case ever proceed to tribunal everything we have ever discussed is protected by Legal privilege meaning all conversations are protected. Whereas if you were to use an HR consultant, all conversations and documentation regarding that employee would be disclosable in the tribunal.
If you want to discuss a Working From Abroad Policy to implement in your business, please get in touch with us! Email Jodie.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note this blog is for reference purposes only and is only accurate at the date it was published. It does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Specific legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be sought separately before taking or deciding not to take any action. Please contact us if you have any questions at email@example.com