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Digital Nomadism In The Workplace: Top Insights From HR Leaders On Policies And Perspectives

Updated: Jun 15

Unleashing the power of location independence


To gain insight into how companies are handling the growing trend of digital nomadism, we asked HR leaders about their policies and whether they encourage this lifestyle. From facing challenges in payroll to focusing only on the results rather than where employees are located, here are the top eight perspectives shared by CEOs, HR managers, and founders on their company's approach to digital nomad employees.

 

  • Pulling Back Because of Payroll Challenges

  • Considering Digital Nomadism as a Perk

  • Promoting Work-Life Balance and Productivity

  • Varying Policies From Different Companies

  • Boosting Retention With a Flexible Work Policy

  • Embracing the Potential of a Dispersed Workforce

  • Limiting Moves to Reduce Administrative Workload

  • Focusing On Results in a Fully Remote Company

Pulling Back Because of Payroll Challenges

We are pulling back on our company's digital nomad policy because it is creating a lot of headaches for our payroll and tax team. We can't rely on our payroll vendor to continue to manage the state and local tax registration process, and since that has become an internal task, each time an employee moves to a new state, it adds 10-15 hours of admin time.


Brett Ungashick, CEO and CHRO, OutSail


Considering Digital Nomadism as a Perk

We have a fully remote workforce, and our founders are actually digital nomads themselves, so naturally, we allow employees to embrace wandering instead of setting up a home base in a specific city, should they choose to do so.


It is worthwhile for organizations to consider flexibility in this area because it can function as a perk at very little expense to the company. Companies rarely have to spend any budget making this allowance, yet it can yield a glorious return in staff morale and output, as employees are grateful for the freedom. 


Before encouraging digital nomadism, however, companies should field certain considerations, for example, navigating asynchronous schedules and potential productivity hurdles by requiring some mandatory online times, and educating employees to alert HR if shifting states or working internationally to prevent unexpected tax issues.


Grace He, People and Culture Director, TeamBuilding


Promoting Work-Life Balance and Productivity

We encourage living a digital nomadic lifestyle in our company. We believe that quality work is not found only inside the four corners of an office. The more employees feel comfortable, the more they will be productive. 


That is why we encourage digital nomadism—because it allows them to work where they feel most comfortable and productive. Digital nomadism also enables them to pursue a real "work-life balance" as they get to enjoy "life" the minute they go offline after working hours. We impose metrics, though, to measure their productivity and ensure that they are covering all of their tasks.


Steven Mostyn, Chief HR Officer, Management.org


Varying Policies From Different Companies


I've worked in environments that allowed digital nomad employees and those that did not. From those experiences, broadly, I can share that companies have different policies for digital nomad employees. 


Some companies like it because it can attract top talent, save costs, and increase productivity. However, there are also potential challenges, such as communication difficulties, security risks, and cultural differences. 


Whether a company encourages digital nomads depends on many factors, such as the work and the organization's culture and values.


Brittney Simpson, HR Operations Manager, Walker-Miller Energy Services


Boosting Retention With a Flexible Work Policy


Working in the office was pre-COVID, working from home was mid-COVID, and in our post-COVID world, the ideal policy is "work from anywhere." Working from anywhere offers unparalleled flexibility, enabling employees to choose the working environment best suited to them. 


It also allows employees to try digital nomadism, and many staff members do. Of these employees, the overwhelming majority continue to be productive throughout their travels and appreciate the flexibility offered by the organization.


Although this presents challenges for both employees and employers, the improved work-life balance more than justifies this policy. Employee attrition has plummeted, helping us to keep key members of staff.


Chloe Yarwood, HR Manager, Test Partnership


Embracing the Potential of a Dispersed Workforce


As a recruiter in the tech sphere, I'm always looking for ways to work with trends, not against them. When I have an employee looking to leave the area for an extended period, I try to consider the opportunistic possibilities.


For example, I'm looking to see if there may be a source in the area the employee could reach out to, or a client that I might land with a meet-and-greet.


Increasingly, my business is going global, so having workers around the world can benefit me if I stay open-minded to the potential of a dispersed workforce. In fact, I recently made a connection via a traveling employee I wouldn't have otherwise, so I would advise companies against a knee-jerk disavowal of nomadic workers.


Tim Walsh, Founder, Vetted


Limiting Moves to Reduce Administrative Workload


In order to attract top talent, we encourage the hiring and upward mobility of digital nomads. However, as remote work has become more prevalent over the past few years, it has also created more headaches for our HR team, especially from a tax perspective. 


As our remote employees moved more often, it created far too many nexus connections and tax obligations for our organization in other states. To put it simply, it became a logistical nightmare. 


We recently instituted a new policy that our nomad employees cannot move over three times in a calendar year. We established this policy in order to reduce the amount of nexus-related administrative work for our HR and tax teams.


Janelle Owens, HR Director, Guide2Fluency


Focusing On Results in a Fully Remote Company


As a fully remote company, we absolutely encourage digital nomads. Our leadership team lives a nomadic lifestyle, and our results never suffered. The reason for this is our diligent use of sprints and commitment to asynchronous work. 


With the systems we have in place, we don't need to be in the same time zone with any of our team members, as long as the work is done on time. 


Our digital nomads get the same benefits as the rest of the team (PTO, private health insurance, etc.), and we rarely distinguish between them and the “local” team. As a fully remote startup, we hire people from all over the world, so location does not matter to us—only results.


Gordana Sretenovic, Co-founder, Workello


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