Remote work is on the rise and shows no signs of slowing down. Over 15% of all high-paying jobs are now remote. Employees are taking advantage of this increased flexibility and freedom by becoming digital nomads. Implementing a global mobility policy for your workers who want to be digital nomads will allow you to attract and retain talented, ambitious employees who are interested in this lifestyle.
The Rise in Digital Nomads
There are currently over 35 million digital nomads internationally, and that number is only growing. In the US alone, the number of people who consider themselves digital nomads increased by 131 percent between 2019 and 2022.
In response to the demand for short-term work visas, many countries have created a special class of visas for digital nomads. These visas allow remote workers to live and work in a country for an extended time, although usually not as long as traditional work visas.
Currently, there are over 50 countries that offer digital nomad visas. Some of the most popular countries that issue digital nomad visas include:
- Antigua and Barbuda
- The Bahamas
- Cayman Islands
Benefits of Hiring Digital Nomads
Whether you’re considering hiring digital nomads or allowing your current staff to work remotely, there are many benefits to your business and your employees.
With a digital nomad policy in place, you can hire for talent and fit without regard for location. This flexibility gives you access to a much wider talent pool in the midst of a competitive labor market.
Most digital nomads (74%) are early adopters of technology, which indicates that professional development is a high priority for them. Employing a team of inspired, ambitious, and technically proficient workers will benefit any business.
Cost Savings and Flexibility
Having remote employees also saves you expenses such as physical office space and utilities. The 3-30-300 rule states that for every $3 you spend in utilities, you’ll spend $30 in rent and $300 in payroll per square foot. While you’ll still be meeting payroll, you can eliminate the utilities and rent for digital nomads.
You can even lengthen the amount of time you offer customer service hours by coordinating customer service with employees in different time zones. This also means that the work doesn’t stop when workers in one time zone clock out. Projects get done faster because they can receive 24/7 attention.
More Engaged Workforce
Digital nomads are significantly happier than their office-bound counterparts, which makes them. more productive and engaged. They’re also less likely to be absent and more likely to remain with your company longer. A Gallup poll found that business departments with engaged employees were 23% more profitable, so happier employees are better for your bottom line as well.
Legal Implications of Hiring Digital Nomads
Despite the benefits of having digital nomads on your team, there are potential risks you should also be aware of. Some of the legal considerations you should take into account include the following:
You need to be sure you’re following the employment laws of the country where you’re based and the applicable laws in countries where your digital nomads are working. Employment law varies dramatically by country, so you must look into issues such as minimum wage, employment contracts, and working hours.
Some countries issue digital nomad visas that don’t require employers to have a legal entity based in the country. Others require you to partner with an EOR (employer of record) or establish a subsidiary in the country. An EOR has an established legal entity in a country and acts as the official employer of your digital nomad. The EOR handles all of the employer obligations in the country, such as creating a work contract, withholding and paying employee taxes, and international payroll and benefits.
Using an EOR allows you to easily stay in compliance and avoid risks. They’re well-versed in the employment and tax regulations of the countries where they hire, and they assume the legal liability associated with international hiring.
You may have to withhold taxes and pay taxes in some countries for your digital nomads. In addition, some countries require digital nomads to pay income taxes while others don’t.
Intellectual Property Rights
Since intellectual property (IP) rights vary by country, you’ll want to ensure you protect your IP rights no matter where your employees are located. A lawyer well-versed in IP and international law can help you set up a contract that clearly outlines who owns the rights to the work your employees produce.
Depending on your industry and the type of work your digital nomads perform, you may need to be aware of any potential liability issues that could arise. For example, if your employee damages property while performing their job duties, you may be held liable.
Digital nomads may believe they can work while traveling on a tourist visa — especially if they don’t anticipate being in one country for an extended period. However, this can be a costly mistake for employers and employees. Many countries have strict laws regarding work visas and require anyone working within their borders to obtain specific authorization.
Employees without a valid work visa (or a digital nomad visa, where available) may face penalties and fines. Their employers may also face legal action in some situations.
Establishing a Digital Nomad Policy
Length of Stay
To ensure you're complying with visa regulations, create specific guidelines based on what countries your employees are in and how long they can legally stay.
Access and security are primary concerns for digital nomads who may be working from insecure endpoints. Provide the network infrastructure your employees will need for quick and easy access to systems and files while protecting your data with strict security policies and procedures.
Create a set of rules on what hours employees can work to fulfill all responsibilities. It's often beneficial to require all employees, regardless of time zone, to be present for a portion of the core team's working hours.
Whether you’re interested in offering your existing workforce the opportunity to travel remotely or you want to tap into a global talent pool for new hires, Localyze can streamline the process for you. We handle immigration, visa changes, office transfers, and more for your international talent. We take care of the bureaucratic work so you can focus on growing your business. Reach out today to find out how we can help you attract and retain the best workforce in the world.