Workation Policy Builder
Your quick-start guide to designing and implementing your work from anywhere policy
By submitting your details, your consent is implied that we can contact you via email.
Building a ‘Plug-and-Play Work From Anywhere Policy
As a follow up to our recent blog post “5 Things to Consider When Building a Workation Policy”, a frequent complaint we have heard from HR and Global Mobility teams was how long it takes to get cross-functional buy-in to agree on the specifics of a work from anywhere policy.
Even if there is buy-in from the C-Suite, maybe it’s the corporate tax team who could be holding back discussions, worried about Permanent Establishment risks.
Maybe the C-Suite themselves might have reservations, possibly about a lack of buy-in to remote work more generally, or maybe they might be unsure about the ROI of a work from anywhere policy.
Sometimes it might be within the global mobility function, who simply don’t know where to start when putting together a work from anywhere policy.
All of these influences above mean it can take as long as 18-24 months to get agreement on implementing a work from anywhere policy.
With that in mind, we thought it would be helpful to put together a ‘plug and play’ work from anywhere article to help you quickly draft and then launch your own work-from-anywhere policy.
So let’s dive into a blueprint for a ‘plug-and-play’ work-from-anywhere policy that won’t leave your workation discussions stuck in the ice age.
To Policy Or Not To Policy: The Policy Versus Framework Decision
When it comes to a work from anywhere (WFA) policy, the first step is to decide whether you need a rigid policy or a flexible framework. A framework offers versatility, adapting to diverse needs, while a policy might outline strict guidelines.
Another factor that may impact on this decision will be how centralized or decentralized your business is (for example more decentralized companies prefer guidelines that are left more open to interpretation by local business units)
Identify your Work From Anywhere Risk Appetite
Once you have settled down on whether it is a framework or policy you’ll be launching, the next step is to determine your company’s risk appetite.
For example, heavily regulated banks will be more conservative and have a lower tolerance for risks.
Whereas a technology company trying to attract highly talented technology engineers might have a higher risk appetite.
This is a crucial step as it then determines how far you are willing to go for example in the amount of WFA days you’re willing to consider and the scope of countries you’re willing to accept WFA requests for.
Setting the Guardrails of Your Work From Anywhere Policy
Get your free policy template now
By submitting your details, your consent is implied that we can contact you via email.
How Many Days Should you Allow Employees to Work From Anywhere?
Determining the breadth of your WFA policy is an important step to consider the number of days, you may be restrictive and allow 10 days, or you may be more open and allow up to 30 or 60 days.
Some companies even go up to 90 days, however going beyond 90 days would be considered to be an extremely generous WFA policy, one that likely opens the company up to a multitude of risks.
Did you know we benchmarked WFA days across 110+ companies employing 1.7m people around the world? You can access this in our WFA White Paper here.
What Countries Should You Allow Employees to Workation From?
The next step is to consider what countries will be included in the work from anywhere policy.
Here you can provide a matrix of countries that are included. This matrix can be influenced by multiple factors but a traffic light approach below can be helpful:
- Green list: These are countries that are automatically approved. Countries where you have a legal entity would often be included here for example.
- Amber list: These countries can only be approved after a central assessment by the HR and/or global mobility teams who would review these requests on a case by case basis (usually with the help of either compliance technology or advice from external advisors).
- Red list: These are countries that are never approved, potentially countries that would typically be included in the Red list would be countries with sanctions and/or those deemed unsafe from a safety or data privacy and security perspective, amongst others.
Which Roles Should you Allow to Work From Anywhere?
Another aspect to consider is what roles will be entitled to work from anywhere.
Some of the more conservative work from anywhere policies may restrict certain roles, like sales-generating, from participating in WFA.
Other companies may have certain regulated roles that restrict them from working outside of their core geography.
Certain roles may have technology or data restrictions (e.g. GDPR).
Understanding the implications for specific job functions helps in crafting an inclusive yet practical policy.
Other Factors Worth Considering in your Work From Anywhere Policy
Other factors that may be taken in to account would include:
- Ensure that WFA trips are only allowed if the person has a visa and a right to work in.
- Only allow countries on your WFA policy where technology and data privacy risks would be considered safe
- Here having the right remote work IT policies (e.g. data encryption) and being aware of high risk countries is vital (you can see the likes of the NCSI index or the Nordlayer index for examples, or ask your insurance provider as well as your internal technology security team)
- It’s also important to ensure the employees check that they will have appropriate internet speeds and access when working abroad
- Ensure duty of care and other similar risks are considered for where you allow employees to work from anywhere from.
- Make sure that employees and/or the company checks that adequate insurance coverage is in place, as the typical travel insurance coverage may not cover work from anywhere requests.
How to Manage the Approval Process of Workation Requests
Establishing an approval process is an obvious next step once you have agreed on the broad outlines of a policy. If you’re a small HR and/or global mobility team, you might want to field the first requests to the Line Manager using the framework/policy as set out above and anything outside of the framework/policy comes to you.
Typically the approval process will work as follows:
- Step 1 is for the employee to submit a workation request to their manager who will determine whether the employee will continue to be able to work effectively from that location e.g. is it within a reasonable timezone difference, etc.
- Step 2 is for the request to typically go to your HR team and/or global mobility team who will then review the request. They will assess the scenario against potential payroll tax, social security, corporation tax and immigration risks, amongst others. Those trips that are assessed as low risk can be approved. Here it is crucial to consider using compliance technology to lower the administrative burden and help your internal team to quickly assess the risks when deciding whether to approve or deny the request.
- Step 3 is for cases that require additional review, typically for higher risk cases that the global mobility team needs additional input on. Here it might be an internal team (e.g. the internal corporate tax team who might review for permanent establishment risks) or an external team (e.g. external tax advisors).
It is critical that employees are made aware that they need to submit approvals well in advance (typically at least 2-3 weeks) before their intended work from anywhere trip, and ideally even longer to allow them to be able to book the flights well in advance.
How to Use Technology Solutions to Implement your Work From Anywhere Policy
Leveraging technology can dramatically simplify the workation approval process. Here it will be helpful to decide whether you’re looking for a ‘plug and play’ technology solution or whether you’re looking for a more integrated solution.
Extremely conservative companies with a high technology budget and a longer lead-time might prefer to go with a more integrated, expensive solution.
Companies with a more practical pragmatic approach might prefer to go with an off the shelf solution.
We covered the different types of technology solutions in this article here.
Pro tip: Our own work from anywhere platform is a ‘plug and play’ technology solution so feel free to reach out to us if you’d like to know more.
Marketing Your Work From Anywhere Policy – Internally and Externally
Once you’ve got your policy, then it’s just as crucial to come up with a clear plan to educate the rest of the business about it and to market it internally.
Before you go to the wider employee population, you need to make sure you educate the other cross-functional teams about the compliance risks and how the policy would operate including, but not limited to HR teams, line managers, people operations, talent acquisition, corporate tax and immigration teams, amongst others.
Bring on your internal marketing and/or PR teams who can help you craft the messaging and marketing plan to create the awareness of the policy both inside and outside the organization.
The messaging internally will be centred around marketing this new employee benefit, whilst also creating awareness of the compliance risks and the new approval processes.
The messaging externally will be focused around integrating and communicating this policy as part of the talent acquisition and employer branding processes. This is equally as important, just look at how more than 1 million people visited Airbnb’s careers page after they announced their work from anywhere policy.
Measuring The Impact of your Work From Anywhere Policy
Equally important will be to make sure that you create the right processes to measure the effectiveness of the policy.
Too many companies launch a work from anywhere policy without focusing on how they measure the ROI of the policy. According to a recent Mercer survey, 93% of companies do not measure the effectiveness of their work from anywhere policy.
We covered some of these metrics during our deep dive on the Spotify work from anywhere policy here.
Ready To Launch Your ‘Plug And Play’ Work From Anywhere Policy
Crafting a robust work from anywhere policy or framework requires a delicate balance between flexibility and compliance. By addressing crucial aspects like scope, approval processes, technology integration, and marketing considerations, you can create a ‘plug and play’ system that empowers employees while safeguarding organizational interests and transforming your employer brand and employee engagement.
Putting together the policy itself can be a tricky balancing act.
Do you play it conservative on the compliance risks but then run the risk of losing talent? If your competitors are offering a more employee-centric, flexible workation policy, this could result in a leakage of strategic talent which could outweigh the perceived benefits of reduced risk from having a more restrictive, inflexible WFA policy.
Or alternatively do you take a higher risk approach on compliance but then spend sleepless nights wondering what risks are lurking out there?
Unless you’re going to be very conservative and have either no work from anywhere policy or even very limited one, then strongly consider defining your compliance technology requirements early in the process. You might find there are solutions out there that make the business case even easier to get over the line with your senior management and other cross-functional stakeholders.
We hope that for any companies who are still contemplating their WFA strategy, with this ‘plug and play’ policy guide, you’ll be basking in the warmth of a well-crafted policy, ready to navigate the world, no matter the weather.
Don’t Worry, We’re Here To Help You Build a Policy
Are you struggling to put together your work from anywhere policy?
Or get cross-functional buy-in?
Or maybe you’re finding it challenging how to present the business case?
Whatever it might be, we’re happy to help. Feel free to reach out to Imelda Keane, our Head of Global Mobility Strategy at firstname.lastname@example.org and we would be happy to help.
And of course, check out our free policy template below, which will help you speed up the process of drafting and then launching your own work from anywhere policy.