Should I Work Remotely in Another Country?

covid-19 Sep 22, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its 8th month in the U.S., millions of people are still working remotely—and they might be for a long time. Telework is cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and appealing to employees. Experts estimate that as much as 30% of the U.S. workforce may never return to an office, even after the pandemic is over. “With hundreds of companies announcing remote-friendly work policies for the duration of the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, there’s never been a better time to be a digital nomad,” reports The Points Guy.

Most people are still staying home for now, but if you’re wondering what options you might have as remote work continues to expand, here are a few to consider, including “digital nomad visas”, coronavirus-safe workspaces, and even “day passes” to hotels.

What Countries Are Offering Visas to Remote Workers?

Since COVID-19 has made traditional tourism more difficult, some countries have turned to another group of travelers: remote workers. New visa programs target “digital nomads”, people who can work anywhere that they have a Wi-Fi connection. Digital nomad visas are longer-term visas (6 months to a year) specifically for foreign remote workers with valid passports. Here are some countries offering digital nomad visas:

1) Estonia

This small European country on the Baltic sea is already known for a digital-first society: voting, prescriptions, and other services are already done entirely electronically in Estonia. Remote workers from any country can take advantage of all of Estonia’s digital services with its new visa program. The visa is open to all foreign workers earning above 3500 Euros per month. The visa allows for visitors to become "e-residents" of Estonia and use all the digital infrastructure during their stay.

2) Barbados

The Caribbean island of Barbados is one of a handful of countries in the world Americans can visit as tourists, and now they can also stay for an extended period with the Barbados “Welcome Stamp” visa. The 12-month visa is open to all foreign remote workers and their families. The island has invested in high-speed, public Wi-Fi to make remote work possible. The Welcome Stamp visa costs $2000 per person.

3) Bermuda

Also in the Caribbean, the island of Bermuda is offering a one-year “residential certificate” for long-term visits. The application costs only $263 and is open both to remote workers and to university students doing distance learning from anywhere in the world. Bermuda has coworking spaces and temporary office spaces available for visitors along its white sand beaches.

4) Georgia

The European nation of Georgia is known for its beautiful medieval castles, stunning mountains, and delicious wine. Now, remote workers can stay in Georgia for up to a year with the country’s “Remote from Georgia” program. The visa is open to workers making $2000 per month or more. Georgia does require that visitors quarantine upon their arrival in the country.

Digital nomad and remote work visas are designed for long-term travel and allow people to temporarily move to a new country. But if you’re not ready to leave home for a long period—or want to avoid the risks of flying and airports—you can still get a change of scenery close to home.

Estonia (pictured) and other countries are offering visas for remote workers. 

What Alternative Work Options Are There Without Travel?

As telework has become more popular, so have new options for workers. If you want to get out of the house without straying too far, here are some ideas:

1) Explore nearby workspaces

Working completely from home can be isolating, but bringing back staff members to packed office buildings isn’t an option at this stage of the pandemic. That’s where companies like Flexday come in. The Toronto-based startup has coordinated a network of “third workspaces”—neither home nor office—where workers can social distance while enjoying amenities like free coffee and high-speed internet.

“Giving people a variety of places to go can recharge them. It can re-energize them, cure loneliness, and allow them to be around other people. It can spark new cognitive behavior rather than continually forcing people to try to work in the same environment,” said Flexday founder Justin Raymond.

2) Sign up for a coworking membership

If you want to have a consistent workspace to return to while your office is closed rather than exploring different spots, consider signing up for a coworking space where you can reserve a desk or even a private office.

Because coworking facilities are smaller than most office buildings, many are open with restrictions like spacing out customers, reducing capacity, and limiting gatherings. One of the most common coworking companies in the US is WeWork, which has 400 locations in 99 cities. You can visit a WeWork location near you or find a different local coworking space.

3) Work from a hotel for the day

Even if you can’t go on vacation, you can work from a beautiful location for the day. Many hotels in the U.S. are offering “daycation” packages for remote workers, which allow you to enjoy a quiet hotel room and amenities like pools and restaurants. Hotels in Florida, Arizona, California, and Oregon have all announced day rate packages. Packages range in price from about $75 to $110 depending on the city.

Some hotels are offering "day passes" for remote workers to take advantage of amenities like pools. 

Conclusion: Remote Work is Here to Stay

Whether you do it from a European village, a Caribbean island, or a hotel in your own city, remote work will continue long after the pandemic ends. Giving employees the option to work remotely saves companies money, and it gives workers freedom. Working completely from home can be isolating, so workers are considering other options like coworking spaces and digital nomad visas. If you’re planning to take your work on the road, you can take care of travel needs like passport renewal and TSA Precheck with Skip Plus.

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