The flexible working bill: Expert tips to help manage employees working abroad

With the UK’s flexible working bill passing through Parliament, Nick Higginson, CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety explains what employers need to know when managing the welfare of remote employees.

Working as a digital nomad is increasingly common amongst travel lovers who can work on the move, with an estimated 35 million worldwide, a 37% year on year increase from 20221. To help workers stay safe when working abroad, Nick has shared his advice for managers about how to look after the welfare of remote employees.

Three tips to help you look out for your remote employee’s welfare

1. Schedule regular weekly check-ins to track employee wellbeing
It’s important to never assume that someone working aboard is in fit physical and mental health, and managers should lead safely by keeping track of their direct reports wellbeing.

Nick advises: “If one or more of your employees is working remotely, it’s important that you keep in contact with them and maintain regular check-ins where you can discuss their wellbeing.

“These check-ins will allow you to address any problems with the current work arrangements and make any adjustments, as well as making sure you are safeguarding the employee’s welfare. For those in management and leadership positions, it’s advised to take on official training, such as an  ‘IOSH managing safely’ course to equip you for the difficult situations that may arise with a struggling employee,  and help advise appropriately.”

2. Are working arrangements impacting wellbeing and safety?
It may on occasion arise that the current working arrangements for an employee are not working, and the employee’s performance may have declined since they started working remotely. In these circumstances, it’s important to discuss the reasons for this with the employee. You may find that there is a wellbeing issue that you were unaware of which is causing them to underperform.

Nick says: “It’s helpful to keep records of things like the number of absences and sick leave, missed meetings within their agreed working hours and deadlines that aren’t hit  to keep track of whether their performance is slipping.

“If they are underperforming, talking to them could reveal that they’ve been struggling from a wellbeing perspective, and allow you to put steps in place to help them. This will allow you to address whether they’re current working environment is suitable for them to work safely and effectively, or whether it is negatively affecting their mental or physical health.”

3. What to do in an emergency
In a worst case scenario, your employee may find themselves in an emergency due to financial or health related issues. In these circumstances, it’s vital that you have a plan in place to deal with the issue and assist them in any way you can.

Nick explains: “It can be difficult for managers overseeing remote working employees to pick up on the usual warning signs that things are not ok. Regular check-ins can help you learn if they’re struggling long term, but what should you do in an emergency?

“There are limited actions that you can take that will help them in their situation, but you can make sure you’re understanding and supportive in any way that can help them. To ensure that you’re notified of any emergencies, you should encourage them to keep in regular contact through work channels. You should also ensure you have a next of kin on file you can call in case of an emergency, or that family members can contact you if they need to.”

Top 20 best places as a digital nomad
New research conducted by Phoenix Health & Safety has looked at 195 countries and revealed which destinations are the best options for digital nomads by looking at six ranking factors affecting wellbeing and safety, including:

  1. GDP per capita
  2. Average working week
  3. Crime rate
  4. Percentage of population with internet access
  5. Quality of healthcare
  6. Cost of living index by country

Image:  Phoenix Health & Safety

It may be little surprise that many Nordic countries topped the list when looking at working hours, healthcare, crime rates and GDP combined. These countries are often left off lists for working abroad as people flock to sunny spots such as Spain or Portugal, but perhaps it’s time to cast the net a little further afield.

The Nordic nation Denmark has come out on top for the best countries to work from as a digital nomad. The country offers a shorter working week than the UK, at 34 hours, as well as low crime, good healthcare, and widely available internet, with 99% of the population having internet access. Denmark also has a high GDP per capita, which helps to compensate for its high cost of living.

European countries dominate the top options for working abroad, with Japan (9) and South Korea (10) being the only countries in the top 10 outside of the continent. Australia, Israel, Qatar and Canada represent the other top options for travellers looking to explore beyond Europe.

For those looking for the shortest work week amongst the native population, The Netherlands offers the best option (30 hours), with a Dutch working week being five hours shorter than the average UK equivalent.

Travellers concerned about health and safety meanwhile, might be better off looking at destinations outside of Europe. Qatar and the UAE boast the lowest crime rates, whilst Taiwan and South Korea offer the best quality of healthcare.

Commenting on the research, Nick Higginson, CEO of Phoenix Health & Safety, says: “When choosing a destination to work abroad, many of primary concerns will understandably centre around how safe you’ll be and how easy it is to access quality healthcare. With this in mind, as part of our research, we’ve revealed the safest countries with the lowest crime rates.”

Top 10 safest countries (with the lowest crime rates)

  1. Qatar: 14.8
  2. United Arab Emirates: 15.1
  3. Taiwan: 16.2
  4. Oman: 19.7
  5. Hong Kong: 21.5
  6. Armenia: 22
  7. Japan: 23.1
  8. Switzerland: 23.6
  9. Bahrain: 24
  10. Slovenia: 24.1

https://www.phoenixhsc.co.uk/

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