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Beyond the beach – Working abroad is more than sun, sea and sand

Hanna Asmussen, co-founder and CEO at Localyze discusses how the reality of working abroad is extremely nuanced and can be a different experience for each individual.
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Relocation experts believe that ‘work from the beach’ narratives undermine both the opportunities and complexities of employee mobility.

From Airbnb to Zopa, more and more businesses are leading the way in allowing employees to work from abroad throughout the year. This is a positive step forward for a more inclusive, borderless approach to work. However, many of the conversations around these benefits focus on swapping your home office for the beach. But relocating for work holds much more opportunity — and complexity — that goes far beyond this stereotype.

On social media and in the press, working abroad often looks like a young professional lounging beach-side with their laptop. The concept of ‘working from the beach’ is aspirational, and often feels unachievable for many workers, especially those employed outside the tech sector. While this may be the reality for a growing number of digital nomads, this portrayal distorts employee mobility to a benefit only a few can enjoy. 

Hanna Asmussen, co-founder and CEO at Localyze said: “The reality of working abroad is extremely nuanced and can be a different experience for each individual. It isn’t just hopping on a plane to somewhere sunny and finding a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Many critical industries, such as construction and healthcare, rely on global mobility to employ sorely needed talent from abroad to tackle labour shortages.

“And as companies become more and more global, people will seek out working across borders to further their personal development, expand their knowledge of different markets, and become more skilled managers and colleagues. Outside the professional sphere, many pursue opportunities to spend time with family or care for a loved one. No example is more important than the other—if we want to make work and global mobility inclusive, it is key to reflect these nuances so as not to exclude people from important opportunities.”

It isn’t just long-term relocations and digital nomadism that are growing in popularity. Temporary cross-border movement such as workcations, or “working vacations”, international business trips and company off-sites are other ways that employees are experiencing borderless working styles. 

And yet, where there are opportunities, there is also complexity. For many, moving between borders comes with considerations around payroll, tax, insurance, and visas — all factors employers have to take into account.

Hanna continued: “There still needs to be a great deal of consideration in order for both short- and long-term relocations to be compliant and legal. Bureaucracy can be the unexpected border that holds employers back from offering a comprehensive mobility benefit. That should not be the case; more and more highly skilled talent will demand this benefit, and employers risk falling behind competitors if they do not respond.”

Businesses should establish foundational policies that set clear expectations on what employees can do and how to work with HR teams to make their trips compliant. Conversely, employers have a duty of care to their people, and their policies should clearly list how they plan to support immigration, health and safety, and integration concerns for both long-term relocations and short-term trips. 

Hanna concluded: “Global mobility is still a nuanced and complicated topic — something our discourse needs to reflect. Doing so brings us a step closer to businesses having the right tools and resources to make flexibility an equitable benefit for all, and an enabler of success for everyone involved.”

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