Remote Work Policy for Companies – 7 Steps to a Digital Nomad Policy

Explanation and implementation of digital nomad policies to increase employer attractiveness.

This article is about the remote work offered by companies. We look at the topic from different angles and show why more and more companies are opting for remote work, based on studies. Learn how remote work influences employer attractiveness and what framework conditions need to be created in order to successfully switch to remote work. I’ll also give you an insight into a variant that will be used by many companies in 2023.

Digital Nomad Policy: A boost for the Employer Brand

In today’s workplace, it is essential to be innovative and adaptable in order to attract and retain talented employees. One successful way to do this is to give employees more freedom to choose where they work. Companies that offer this option improve their attractiveness as an employer. Offering remote work leads to an increase in recruiting success and talent pool building. In addition, employees benefit from a better work-life balance and higher job satisfaction.

Studies related to remote work

According to Buffer’s annual State of Remote Work study, which surveys approximately 2,000 remote workers worldwide, more than half of the digital nomads in 2022 are from the United States. An incredible 16.9 million American workers currently describe themselves as digital nomads, a 131% increase from 2019, the year before the pandemic. According to Statista, 83% of digital nomads are self-employed, 66% are business owners, 34% are freelancers or gig workers, and 17% are employed by a company (Buffer 2023). In this context, a recent study from Austria by and a study by Slack & Statista for Germany are also interesting. The study is a survey on home office options, which can be interpreted as the first steps toward a “digital normad policy”. In the meantime, 47% of respondents would turn down a job if, for example, no home office options were offered ( 2022). For Germany, a study by Slack and Statista shows that two-thirds of all participants would like a hybrid model – that is, to work partly in the office and partly from home or at another location (Slack & Statista 2021).

Following and concluding from the aforementioned studies, these confirm that there is a strong correlation with employer attractiveness and a digital nomad policy. Although most digital nomads work as self-employed, employers can strengthen their employer brand by introducing a digital nomad policy and thus meet the needs of their employees to be able to determine the place of work themselves. It’s time for companies to seize the opportunity to adapt to the current gamechangers.

Advantages of remote work policies

In addition to the obvious benefits, such as increasing employer attractiveness and improving employee satisfaction and engagement, there are also financial benefits for companies that embrace remote work. For example, energy and office costs can be reduced by downsizing office space and using a shared desk model. A properly applied remote work approach increases business flexibility and agility, which in turn has a positive impact on productivity while reducing costs.

Potential challenges of remote work policies

Remote work leads to a reduction in face-to-face collaboration. It is therefore necessary to develop suitable management models to strengthen the bond with the company. Otherwise, this can lead to higher employee turnover. In addition, remote work increases IT security risks, as cyber attacks can be carried out more easily from the outside. Therefore, comprehensive preparation is crucial.

7 steps to properly implement a Digital Nomad Policy

The following are seven initial steps to implement remote work in a company.

1. Analysis of the company situation and the target group

In order to establish a Digital Nomad Policy, an analysis is the first step. For this purpose, Internet research as well as direct interviews with employees can be conducted in order to familiarize oneself with the topic of “Remote Work”. It is important to analyze the status quo as well as opportunities, challenges and goals. This is because not only legal circumstances, but also aspects such as communication, hardware and IT security must be taken into account in order to create the appropriate framework conditions.

Important questions that should be asked in this context are:

Which employees can use the digital normad policy?
Are there already analyses, existing strategies, protocols and procedures?
Is there required hardware such as laptops, tablets, etc.?
Is the software infrastructure in place for remote work, including Internet connectivity, VPNs, etc.?
From which countries should employees:be able to work?
How long should they be able to work from abroad?

2. Legal eagles: legal clarification & external support

For the implementation of a digital nomad policy abroad, there are also numerous legal aspects to consider, especially in labor, social security, residence and tax law. It is advisable to seek legal advice. The Bitkom guide (Bitkom 2022) provides a lot of useful information on this topic.

3. Set up a digital nomad policy in writing

To get the most out of remote work, you need a powerful digital company policy! Read more later about the important elements that need to be included in a digital nomad policy.

4. Communicate the policy internally

After the digital nomad policy has been written down, it is time to communicate it internally. To do this, all employees need to be informed about the new policy and understand what it means for them. An effective way to accomplish this is through a combination of written communication and face-to-face meetings with the management team and key contacts.

5. High-tech hardware, top software – technical equipment

To enable the best possible remote work experience, companies need to provide or optimize hardware and software. This includes, for example, providing laptops, tablets, etc., but also software such as video conferencing systems, VPNs and cloud solutions.

6. Training employees and management

A final important step is the introduction of training. It is important to train employee:s so that they are familiar with the new tools and technologies and follow the necessary best practices. In addition, management needs to be trained so that everyone is pulling in the same direction to make a smooth transition to remote work.

7. Regular evaluation and adaptation

To ensure that the company’s digital policy is always up to date and meets the needs of employees, regular evaluation and adaptation is essential. Companies should monitor compliance with the policy and gather feedback from employees. This will help them assess whether the policy is actually meeting employee needs and whether adjustments are needed to facilitate working from home or abroad.

12 Important elements for writing down the Digital Nomad Policy

A written Digital Nomad Policy sets out the framework of remote work. The completed policy should be made available to employees and updated to keep it current.

Here is a list of recommended contents for a Digital Nomad Policy:

  • Criteria for the location (e.g. country lists, danger zones)
  • Duration of stay
  • Position of the employee
  • Application and approval process
  • Tools and technologies for remote work
  • Expected working hours
  • IT security requirements
  • Reimbursement for travel expenses
  • Emergency contacts or procedures
  • Tax and legal obligations
  • Performance appraisal processes
  • Remote team collaboration policies

With these elements in mind, companies can create a customized Digital Nomad Policy to address the most important aspects of Remote Work.

Practical example – 30 days of remote work

Some companies offer Remote Work with a duration of 30 days. The reason for this lies in tax law, as the duration of 30 days largely eliminates the risk of establishing a permanent establishment in the respective country. By the way, a permanent establishment is an economic activity of a company abroad, which is so strong that the foreign state can tax the company. A permanent establishment can be assumed even after a shorter period of time, which can lead to legal and tax consequences. If the duration is up to 30 days, the activity abroad is still considered temporary, which means that a case-by-case examination of the tax situation in the respective country may not be necessary.

Wrap-up and Summary

Working from a home office or abroad as a digital nomad is more popular than ever. Companies that allow their employees to work flexibly positively impact their employer brand. A digital nomad policy can not only improve the working environment, but also strengthen the employer brand. My advice: set about implementing a digital nomad policy for 30 days. Your company will be at the forefront of the digital revolution and rock the world of work! So what are you waiting for?

Start implementing your digital nomad policy now and let your company become the hotspot!

I am Johanna Ehses, I am an expert in employer branding. My focus is on supporting SMEs in attracting and retaining talent and strengthening the corporate culture. With my clients, mainly from IT and consulting, I work both internally on the development of the corporate culture and EVP - and externally on aspects such as the career site and social media. My approach is strategic and data-driven in order to use resources effectively and optimally. As I am passionate about Employer Branding, I also want to share my knowledge and promote the topic in Europe and beyond.

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