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Remote Work vs. Work-from-Anywhere: Understanding the difference between work models & their impact on talent acquisition

The recent workplace disruption of 2020 is likely the most significant this generation will experience, and its effects have seen organizations across the globe settle into various alternative work arrangements – changing how and where work gets done on epic proportions.

In fact, one thing that now remains certain in the face of many workforce uncertainties is that returning to the office will never be a return to what was, and remote and hybrid work models are now an expectation rather than a luxury.  

Yet, what does remote work really mean and how does your organization define it?  

For example, according to Procom’s 2021 Voice of Talent Report, 34 per cent of knowledge workers believe remote work means Working-from Anywhere in the world – not just from the comfort of their own home a few blocks away from the office.  

The terms remote work, work from anywhere and work from home are often used interchangeably, though they aren’t the same work model.  

It’s easy to understand how such closely-related terms could be conflated with one another. Such a mistake in terminology means nothing for most people, but for hiring managers, knowing the distinction is imperative for two reasons: 

1. When sourcing talent, the remote work model must be clearly communicated so there is no misunderstanding surrounding how and where work is done once a candidate is onboarded. This step is critical to retention.  

2. Unexpected employment tax problems, residency issues and other hurdles can arise when a worker is completing their job in another geographical location other than where the brick-and-mortar business resides.  

Knowing and understanding the difference between Remote work and Work-from Anywhere is the responsibility of all hiring managers. 

Remote Work vs. Work-from-Anywhere 

Before deciding which work model is best for a particular company, it’s first important to distinguish between Remote work and Work-from-Anywhere.  

Remote work or Work from Home
Remote workers and workers who “work from home” typically remain in the same city, province or state but don’t have to come into the office Monday to Friday.  

While Work-from-Anywhere is similar to Remote work in that it takes place outside of an office, the significant distinction is that workers can do their job from anywhere in the world – regardless of where the brick-and-mortar office is located. For example, the worker could choose to stay in the same city as their Boston-based firm, or they could choose to move across the pond to London. 

 Top cities attracting talent with ‘work from anywhere’ models: 

Forbes reported the top cities where organizations are attracting talent with Work-from-Anywhere models, the most popular being:

Toronto, Canada 
Dublin, Ireland
Madrid, Spain 
Berlin, Germany 
Auckland, New Zealand 
Madeira, Portugal  

Expect a fight if you think Work-from-Anywhere workers will take a pay cut!  

According to Procom’s 2021 Voice of Talent Report, 61 per cent of workers expect the same renumeration regardless of where they work. 

If talent chooses to move from their current location to another location that has a lower cost of living in a Work-from-Anywhere model, the majority will still require the same pay rate or salary from their current employer regardless of the change in living expenses. The data suggests that talent views remuneration as a function of their performance and value, rather than a reflection of where they live. 

Remote Work vs. Work-from-Anywhere Considerations 

Remote work 
Freedom and autonomy are the top priorities for modern workers and talent wants to be better equipped. The Voice of Talent report finds seventy-six per cent of knowledge workers believe it’s ‘Important or very important’ for the organization they work with to provide better hardware and equipment and an additional 75 per cent believe it to be ‘important or very important’ that better security policies should be in place. Employers need to work to find a balance between protecting their interests and creating an environment where remote workers feel trusted and valued.  

Our report also finds that for those who work remote, the following factors are most important to workers for ensuring they are productive in their role: 

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If your organization is considering implementing a Work-from-Anywhere work model, it’s important to consider the following factors: 

Residency Issues 
One of the most significant differences between Remote work and Work-from-Anywhere involves residency issues. Simply put, these issues typically don’t exist with remote work. When you can employ someone anywhere in the world, though, you have to be sure they can legally work in the same country where they are located. More importantly, you need to know whether you can legally pay them there.  

For instance, if you have an employee in Dublin, Ireland, can you produce the proper legal requirements to pay them under Irish law? 

Tax Issues 
Organizations that offer Work-from-Anywhere as a benefit must also consider tax issues. If you’re the hiring manager for an American company, understand how to pay the required taxes in the U.S. and internationally for a worker based in Madrid, Spain, for instance. You’ll also need to know the differences and implications if the employee is an ex-pat or a Spanish national.

These questions and the answers could vary based on the location of both parties, federal laws, employment types and other factors.  Verifying and filing appropriate documents for Work-from-Anywhere workers are important to avoid pitfalls like tax evasion from within your home country’s tax enforcement agency. Tax concerns can be costly for both you and your workforce.  

If hiring managers or Human Resources personnel are confused with these distinctions, it’s vital to contact a corporate tax professional for help.  

Interview Process 
The world has made a move toward virtual interviews, particularly the case in the Work-from-Anywhere model. While this creates great efficiency, it also presents some problems. Most importantly, employers can invite the potential for fraud. Zoom is an excellent tool for interviewing, but you must be vigilant when vetting new hires. Know that the person you’re talking to has the credentials they expressed and that they’re a legitimate candidate. 

Connectivity, Accessibility and Security 
Not every country has the same internet infrastructure. Your workers may have no guarantee of connectivity, accessibility, or even security in certain countries. You must consider each of these factors when offering Work-from-Anywhere as a benefit. After all, the best workers on earth will likely offer your company zero benefits if they don’t have consistent and secure internet access.  

When Work-from-Anywhere is the Right Option 

In a world where it’s becoming more difficult to retain great employees, offering Work-from-Anywhere capabilities is a tremendous advantage. Benefits include:

Expanded talent pool
Retain relocated employees
Employees are more productive
Companies save money over in-office workers 

To gain these benefits, however, organizations must remain strategic and transparent. Workers must know what they’re getting into. With so many other options available, companies need to have a comprehensive onboarding process in place while taking steps to increase engagement and employee experience.

The Voice of Talent: Return to the Office Report 

Procom recently surveyed over 1,000 knowledge workers to discover how and where they prefer to work as offices re-open across North America.   

The Voice of Talent Report offers actionable insights into what workers expect in relation to mandatory vaccinations, remote work preferences, The Great Resignation, COVID-19 safety measures and more. 

Access your complimentary copy to discover how to attract talent in 2022: 

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Remote Work vs. Work-from-Anywhere: Understanding the difference between work models & their impact on talent acquisition

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