Resources & insights

Discover how you can offer compliant remote work abroad and business travels and how to organise them effectively. Explore real-life examples from our clients' case studies to see the true advantages of this new top employee benefit!

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Every year, millions of people travel to and from the United States. It is one of the most popular countries in the world for immigration, business, and tourism. If you are not a U.S. citizen, you usually need a visa to enter the country.

Getting a U.S. visa can seem difficult because there are many types of visas and specific rules for each. Whether you’re traveling for business, pleasure, study, or to reunite with family, knowing the different visa types and their requirements is very important. WorkFlex is here to help you with this complex process, ensuring an easy application experience. In this guide, we provide a detailed overview of the main visa categories and how WorkFlex can assist you in securing the right visa for your needs.

Understanding all the different types of U.S. visas is complicated. WorkFlex can help

Types of U.S. Visas and Their Requirements

ESTA

The Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) allows nationals from certain countries to travel to the U.S. for tourism or business for up to 90 days without obtaining a visa. Applicants must apply at least 72 hours before departure. ESTA is valid for two years or until the passport expires.  

ESTA is suitable for short-term tourism, business visits (while only under specific conditions only), or transiting through the U.S. However, those who have visited countries designated as State Sponsors of Terrorism are not eligible and must apply for a visa instead.  


Eligible Countries for ESTA

Citizens from countries including the UK, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and most European nations can apply. See the full, up-to-date list of countries eligible for ESTA in the website of U.S. authorities.

ESTA and Business travel
When is an ESTA Enough for Business Trips?

Certain conditions have to be met for ESTA to be the right type of visa for a business trip:

  • Trip duration: The trip must be 90 days or less. ESTA covers multiple entries, but each stay must not exceed 90 days.
  • Traveler's nationality: Only citizens of VWP countries are eligible. These include most European countries, as well as nations like Australia, Japan, and South Korea.
  • Purpose of visit: The visit must be strictly for business purposes as defined below. Employment or payment from a U.S. source is not allowed under ESTA.
  • Valid passport: Travelers must have an e-passport with a machine-readable zone on the biographic page.

ESTA-eligible business activities planned for the trip include:

  • Business Meetings and Consultations: Attending meetings with business associates or consulting with business clients in the U.S.
  • Conferences and Conventions: Participating in conventions, conferences, trade shows, or seminars.
  • Contract Negotiations: Negotiating contracts without direct engagement in productive employment.
  • Short-Term Training: Undertaking short-term training that does not involve hands-on work that directly benefits a U.S. employer.

When ESTA is Not Enough for Business Trips?

If your business travel involves any of the following, you would need to apply for a B-1 Business Visa instead of using an ESTA:

  • Employment or direct income from a U.S. source.
  • Staying in the U.S. for more than 90 days.
  • Engaging in productive work or hands-on tasks that benefit a U.S. employer.

How WorkFlex Can Assist with ESTA

WorkFlex provides the following services to help you with your ESTA application:

  • Application Guidance: Step-by-step instructions on completing the ESTA application correctly.
  • Eligibility Check: Ensuring you meet all requirements for an ESTA.
  • Issue Resolution: Assistance with any issues that may arise during the application process.

Tourist and Business Visas

B-1 Visa (Business Visitor)

For temporary business-related activities such as meetings, conferences, and negotiations. Applicants must demonstrate a legitimate business purpose and strong ties to their home country. Typically, this visa is granted for up to 6 months.

For business travel, the B-1 Visa is typically required. This visa is suitable for attending conferences, meetings, or negotiating contracts. It does not permit employment or receiving payment from a U.S. source. For longer-term work assignments, other visas like the H-1B or L-1 might be necessary depending on the nature of the work and the relationship with the sponsoring company.

B-2 Visa (Tourist Visitor)

For tourism, visiting family and friends, and medical treatment. Applicants need to show intent to return to their home country after their visit. Also this visa is typically granted for up to 6 months.  

Student and Exchange Visas

F-1 Visa

For academic students enrolled in the U.S. educational institutions. This visa requires a proof of admission, financial support, and intent to return home after studies.

M-1 Visa

For vocational or non-academic students attending technical or vocational schools.

J-1 Visa

For participants in exchange programs, including students, researchers, and professionals. Requires a sponsorship by a designated exchange program.  

Work Visas

H-1B Visa

For foreign professionals with specialized skills and a job offer in the U.S. Requires employer sponsorship and meeting specific wage requirements. Typically valid for up to 3 years, extendable to a maximum of 6 years.

L-1 Visa

For employees of multinational companies being transferred to U.S. offices. L-1A for managers (up to 7 years), L-1B for employees with specialized knowledge (up to 5 years).  

Other Specialty Visas

O-1 Visa

For individuals with extraordinary abilities in arts, sciences, sports, or business. Requires demonstration of extraordinary ability and recognition in the field.

E-1 and E-2 Visas

For treaty traders and investors from countries with trade agreements with the U.S.

How WorkFlex Can Assist

Navigating the U.S. visa process can be overwhelming, but WorkFlex helps every step of the way.

Applying for ESTA on your behalf

If an ESTA is sufficient for your specific trip, WorkFlex can do the whole application for you – saving you the manual hassle and time spent for filling out the application forms. Based on the information provided by the employee, WorkFlex inputs all necessary details into the application form, uploads the required documents, and ensures that the visa is sent to both the employee's email address and the HR department.

Handling other types of visa

In case another visa is needed WorkFlex is here to help. Our experienced team provides comprehensive support, including:

  • Visa Consultation: Personalized advice to determine the most appropriate visa type for your needs.
  • Application Assistance: Guidance through the application process, ensuring all forms and documents are correctly completed and submitted.
  • Interview Preparation: Tips and mock interviews to help you prepare for your visa interview with confidence.
  • Ongoing Support: Assistance with any issues that arise during the application process, and updates on the status of your application.

Conclusion

Traveling to the U.S. involves careful planning and preparation, particularly when it comes to securing the right visa. An ESTA can significantly simplify short-term business travel to the U.S. for eligible nationals. For trips involving longer stays or employment activities, a traditional business visa like the B-1 would be necessary.

WorkFlex is here to help you navigate these requirements and ensure a smooth travel experience. Contact us today to start your journey towards obtaining a U.S. visa with confidence and ease.

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is the new entry regulation for visa-exempt travelers entering Europe. Although ETIAS is not yet operational, its implementation will begin with the EU Entry/Exit System (EES) launch and continue into 2025 when ETIAS itself will be fully rolled out.

In this article, we will cover everything you need to know about the upcoming ETIAS requirements, including the application process, eligibility, and important details about its implementation.

Please note: The ETIAS system is not yet live. The official website will start accepting applications in 2025. Any website claiming to offer ETIAS services before this date is fraudulent.

What is ETIAS?

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) is set to become the new entry requirement for visa-exempt travelers entering Europe. Similar to the electronic authorization system in the United States (ESTA), ETIAS requires visitors with visa-free access to the EU and Schengen member countries to register in the system when traveling to these member states.

It's important to remember that ETIAS is not a visa; it is more accurately described as a visa-waiver. Like the American ESTA, ETIAS is a travel authorization for travelers who do not require a visa to visit Europe.

Under ETIAS, these visitors will undergo additional security checks before being permitted to enter the EU. There are two main reasons why ETIAS is being introduced:

1. Increasing Security: Amidst global challenges, the system aims to identify travelers who may pose a security threat to the EU and prevent them from entering before they arrive at the border.

2. Improving Border Management: The system seeks to enhance the management of EU country borders and improve travel efficiency.

Who is required to apply for ETIAS?

Nationals of countries that are visa-exempt when traveling to the EU will need to apply for an ETIAS travel authorization. This includes citizens from the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. A full list of eligible countries can be found on the official EU website.

While nationals from these visa-exempt countries will need to obtain ETIAS authorization, travelers from certain other countries will still require a Schengen Visa to enter and travel through the 27 Schengen countries. Countries requiring a Schengen visa (and not eligible for the ETIAS visa waiver) include India, China, Russia, Belarus, Turkey, and others. For a full list of countries requiring a Schengen visa, consult the official EU resources here.

How to apply for ETIAS

Eligible travelers will need to apply for an ETIAS through the official EU website.

To apply, applicants must have a valid travel document, such as a passport, to which a visa may be affixed. This travel document should not expire within three months of the intended departure and should be no older than 10 years. Please note that not all travel documents are accepted for ETIAS, with specific country requirements available here.

The application process is designed to be quick and straightforward. Submitting the form should take no longer than 10 minutes, and most application decisions will be delivered within minutes. However, processing times can extend up to 4 days if additional checks are required.

Is entry into the EU guaranteed with ETIAS?

It's important to note that obtaining an ETIAS does not guarantee entry into the Schengen Zone, nor does it grant the right to work in these countries. Applications can be refused for several reasons, including if the applicant:

• Used a travel document that was reported lost, stolen, misappropriated, or invalidated.

• Is considered to pose a security, illegal immigration, or high epidemic risk.

• Fails to respond to a request for additional information or documentation within the given deadline, or fails to attend an interview.

• Has previously been refused entry and stay, accompanied by an alert recorded in the relevant information system.

• Provides data, statements, or documents that raise reasonable doubts about their reliability and veracity.

If an application is refused, the applicant will not be permitted to travel to the EU. However, every person has the right to appeal, and the appeal will be processed by the authorities of the country that refused the application.

Practicalities of ETIAS

Validity Period of ETIAS

Approved ETIAS applications will be valid for up to three years or until the associated passport expires, whichever comes first. ETIAS is effective for short-term stays of up to 90 days within any 180-day period. If your travel document expires before your ETIAS authorization, you will need to reapply for ETIAS once a new travel document is issued.

Cost of ETIAS

The cost of an ETIAS application will be EUR 7. However, travelers under 18 and over 70 years of age can obtain ETIAS free of charge.

Conclusion

The European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) represents a significant shift in the way visa-exempt travelers will enter Europe starting in 2025. By requiring these travelers to register through an easy and quick online process, ETIAS aims to enhance security and improve the efficiency of border management across EU and Schengen Zone countries.

As the implementation of ETIAS approaches, staying informed and preparing in advance will ensure a smooth transition into this new travel authorization system. For further details and the latest updates, follow the WorkFlex Visa Services announcements and the official EU resources.

In the evolving landscape of business travel, a new trend is making waves—'Bleisure', a blend of business and leisure. This concept allows employees to extend their business trips for leisure purposes, creating a more enjoyable and fulfilling travel experience. As the practice gains popularity, it becomes crucial to address its legal aspects and integration into corporate policies effectively.

Based on insights of global mobility experts – Dorothee Schweigart, Director of Compliance and Research Center at Workflex, and Daniel Bartoli, Head of Business Travel at Freenow, a leading mobility app active throughout Europe – in this article we will delve into what Bleisure means, provide a clear definition, share examples, and discuss how to seamlessly incorporate Bleisure into travel guidelines.

By the end of this article, you'll have a comprehensive understanding of Bleisure and practical insights from our experience in crafting policies that support this modern approach to business travel. Let’s explore how companies can embrace and regulate Bleisure to enhance the travel experiences of their employees.

What is Bleisure? Defining the Blend of Business and Leisure Travel

The term "Bleisure" combines "business" and "leisure," signifying the fusion of business travel with leisure time. Bleisure can include extending a business trip to allow for personal time, often termed as a "workation," where the trip includes both professional engagements and dedicated time for relaxation or exploration.

While the concept might seem straightforward, its implementation and definition can vary significantly across different companies.

The Growing Importance of Bleisure Travel

The COVID-19 pandemic served as a significant catalyst for the rise of Bleisure. With restrictions impacting regular travel, employees began to value flexible travel options more than ever.

Why is bleisure becoming so popular? To illustrate, imagine a typical scenario where business workshop is scheduled mid-week in Barcelona. Employees traveling from Hamburg can extend their stay over the weekend with minimal additional leave, effectively blending their business obligations with leisure, enriching their travel experience.

This integration of leisure time with business travel not only satisfies the wanderlust of the modern professional but also brings substantial benefits to employers. Companies embracing Bleisure demonstrate a commitment to employee satisfaction, which can lead to increased retention, enhanced employer branding, and a more motivated workforce.

Recent studies, including one by the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) and research at Freenow, show a notable uptick in both interest and implementation of Bleisure policies. A staggering 82% of travel managers reported increased interest in Bleisure, with business travelers expressing a keen desire for guidelines that support combining business travel with leisure activities.

Distinction Between Bleisure and Traditional Business Trips

Understanding the distinction between traditional business travel and Bleisure is crucial for both employees and employers looking to adapt to new travel norms.

Traditional business trips are well-defined: the employer organizes the itinerary, which typically includes meetings, accommodations, transport, and allowances for meals. These trips are tightly scheduled with little to no free time for personal activities, and everything from the hotel booking to the class of travel is governed by strict corporate policies.

How does bleisure differ from business trips

In contrast, Bleisure offers a more flexible approach, where the structured schedule of business obligations can be extended to include personal leisure activities. This autonomy changes the dynamics of the trip significantly. While on a business trip, accommodations and activities are usually predefined; during Bleisure, employees have the freedom to choose where to stay and how to spend their free time, whether that's in a hotel, an Airbnb, or even a coworking space. The flexibility has its implications on the compliance risks and other aspects of the trip that we explore further in the article.

Example of a bleisure trip schedule – combining business activities with leisure
Example of a bleisure trip schedule – combining business activities with leisure

Addressing the Challenges and Opportunities of Bleisure

Despite its popularity, the adoption of Bleisure is not without challenges. Businesses must navigate the complexities of tax implications, social security issues, and compliance with local laws—factors that can complicate the extension of business trips. Additionally, companies need to foster an environment where employees feel comfortable engaging in Bleisure without fear of negative repercussions, ensuring open dialogue and clear guidelines.

As we explore further, we will delve into how businesses can effectively incorporate Bleisure into their travel policies, ensuring a win-win scenario for both the company and its employees.

Considerations for Bleisure policy creation

Creating effective Bleisure policies involves clarifying the parameters of what is permissible and what responsibilities the employee bears during the leisure portion of the trip. This might include specifying guidelines on allowable expenses, the process for extending stays, and the expectations regarding remote work.

Legal and Tax Considerations

• Visa and Work Permits: Employees need to ensure their stay is legally permissible under the visa regulations of the host country. In the European Union, for example, movement is generally more straightforward due to freedom of movement for residents, but specifics can vary based on the nature of the stay and the activities undertaken.

• Tax Liability: The potential to create a tax liability in the host country depends on the nature of the work performed during the Bleisure days. Generally, short stays do not change tax obligations, but this can vary, especially if significant business activities are conducted.

• Social Security: For European travelers, an A1 certificate is required to confirm that home country social security law applies when working temporarily abroad. Companies need to ensure that these certifications are in place for the entire duration of the trip, covering both business and leisure days.

• Health Insurance: While employees are covered by corporate travel insurance during the business portion of the trip, health coverage for the leisure days might require additional arrangements. Companies often encourage employees to use European Health Insurance Cards (EHIC) or arrange for extended coverage to ensure that medical needs are met throughout the entire trip.

• Employment Practices: Employees should avoid engaging in significant contractual activities that could impose new legal obligations or business risks on the company during their leisure time.

Other considerations

• Data Security: With the increasing concern for data protection, ensuring secure connections during workations is paramount. Employees should be cautious about using unsecured public Wi-Fi networks, especially when handling sensitive company data. Companies need to provide guidelines and possibly even technical solutions to help employees maintain high security standards while working remotely.

• Financial Implications and Responsibilities: During the Bleisure portion of a trip, financial responsibilities shift. The employer covers expenses directly related to the business aspects, such as flights, accommodations, and per diems for the official duration of the trip. Any additional days taken for leisure, including extended stays or personal activities, must be financed by the employee. This clear delineation helps prevent confusion over expense responsibilities.

Summing up, to effectively integrate Bleisure into corporate travel policies, companies must address these logistical and compliance challenges comprehensively. This includes updating travel guidelines to accommodate the dual nature of Bleisure trips, training employees on the new policies, and ensuring that all legal, tax, and insurance requirements are clearly communicated and understood.

Start drafting your company’s bleisure policy

As more employees seek to combine business with leisure, it becomes imperative for organizations to adapt their travel policies accordingly. Addressing compliance risks is not just about allowing for flexibility; it’s about doing so responsibly and sustainably. Here’s how companies can ensure they are prepared:

1. Set Clear Guidelines

The first step in managing Bleisure compliance is to establish clear and comprehensive guidelines that define what is permissible. This involves deciding:

• Who can participate: Not all roles are suited for remote work, and not every trip may lend itself to an extension for leisure purposes. Set clear expectations and guidelines on what job roles are eligible for this benefit.

• Activities allowed: Clarifying what employees can do during the Bleisure portion of their trip, whether they are allowed to work remotely or if they should be on vacation, is essential.

• Duration and Location: The length of the business trip should influence the permissible duration for Bleisure extensions. Companies must also consider the destinations they deem appropriate for such arrangements.

2. Communicate and manage risks

Communicating the risks and the measures taken to mitigate them is crucial. Employees should be made aware of the potential legal and safety risks involved in extending their business trips. This includes understanding the implications of local laws, tax obligations, and health and safety standards.

Employers should also prepare for potential emergencies:

• Injury or Illness: What support systems are in place if an employee gets injured or falls ill during the Bleisure portion of their trip?

• Travel Delays or Crises: How should employees handle unexpected travel delays or political crises in their Bleisure destination?

3. Scenario Planning

Incorporating scenario planning into travel policies can help organizations anticipate and address possible complications. By envisioning various situations, from straightforward extensions to complex legal dilemmas, companies can build robust policies that protect both the business and its employees.

4. Documentation and Compliance

Ensuring that all Bleisure activities are well-documented is key to compliance. This includes keeping records of communications about the extension, details of the business and leisure activities, and any managerial approvals. Such documentation not only helps in compliance but also aids in resolving any disputes or misunderstandings that might arise.

Implement the Policy with Effective Tools

To implement these guidelines effectively, organizations might need to consider tools that can help track and manage Bleisure activities. Such tools ensure that both the employer and employee adhere to agreed terms and help in documenting all aspects of the trip for compliance and auditing purposes.

Compliance management tool

WorkFlex addresses the administrative and compliance challenges of Bleisure travel by providing streamlined, integrated solutions for managing the entire duration of a trip. Key contributions by WorkFlex include:

• Comprehensive Trip Documentation: WorkFlex treats each trip as a complete entity, ensuring that all aspects, from business activities to leisure extensions, are thoroughly documented. This holistic approach facilitates smoother management and compliance with both internal policies and regulatory requirements.

• Efficient Management of Compliance Documents: WorkFlex assists in the application and management of necessary documents such as the A1 certificate or Certificate of Coverage for the whole trip. This ensures that employees are properly covered under social security for the entire duration of their travel, regardless of whether they are working or on holiday.

• Dashboard for Documentation and Requests: The platform offers a user-friendly dashboard that allows employers to apply for, manage, and present all relevant travel documentation efficiently. This is particularly useful when dealing with inquiries from tax and social security authorities.

• Flexibility in Travel Planning: WorkFlex’s tools also allow for flexibility in handling the return journey. If the business aspect predominates the trip, the return can be adjusted without complicating the tax implications, thanks to clear documentation and policy adherence.

Mobility management tool

FreeNow simplifies Bleisure travel by merging private and business mobility needs into a single, user-friendly app:

• Comprehensive Mobility Options: FreeNow covers a wide array of transportation choices including taxis, scooters, e-bikes, mopeds, and public transport across nine countries and 170 cities. This extensive coverage ensures that business travelers can easily find suitable transport options, enhancing their travel experience.

• Flexible Travel Policies: Businesses can configure their travel policies within the FreeNow app to include specific references such as project attributes and cost centers. Importantly for Bleisure, the app allows companies to set restrictions like time blocks or deactivate certain fleets based on risk assessment.

• Incentives for Travelers: FreeNow also offers incentives such as cashback on taxi rides and the ability to collect miles through partnerships like Miles & More. These rewards can be used for personal travel, adding value to the Bleisure experience.

• Single App Convenience: With FreeNow, there is no need to juggle multiple apps or set up separate profiles for different travel needs. Everything from booking a ride for business to exploring a city during a leisure extension can be managed within the same app, providing ease and efficiency.

Empowering Employees Through Bleisure

By blending business travel with leisure, companies not only enhance the travel experience but also empower their employees to manage their time and work environment. This flexibility is particularly appealing in the modern workforce, where work-life balance and personal well-being are increasingly prioritized.

However, integrating Bleisure into traditional travel policies requires careful consideration of various logistical aspects. It's essential to ensure that both the business and leisure components are clearly defined to avoid confusion over what is covered under corporate policies and what falls under personal responsibility.

Thailand's stunning landscapes, lively cities, spectacular beaches, warm climate, affordability, and vibrant digital nomad scene make it one of the most visited countries in the world. Many nationals from various countries can visit Thailand without a visa. However, it is essential to comply with the legal stay periods and notify Thai authorities accordingly to avoid consequences such as fines, blacklisting, or even detention.

In this guide, learn everything you need to know about a visa-free stay in Thailand without compliance worries.

Maximum duration of visa-free stay in Thailand

There are over 90 countries whose passport holders are part of Thai exemption schemes or bilateral agreements, allowing them to enter the country without a visa or with a visa on arrival for up to 60 days, increased from the previous limit of 30 days in June 2024. The visa exemption is granted at most twice in a calendar year when entering over land or by sea, but there are no limitations when entering by air.

This list includes EU countries, the United Kingdom, the United States, and many others. The Thai authorities update the list of eligible countries regularly, and you can follow the latest developments on their website.

How to apply for a visa extension in Thailand

To apply for a visa extension, you will need to visit a nearby Thailand Immigration Bureau office. For a more efficient process without long waiting times, in most regions, you can submit the required documentation online and receive your extension without visiting an immigration office.

What documents to prepare

Documents that you must prepare to apply for a visa extension:

• Passport (with the entry stamp you got when arriving to Thailand).

• Completed TM7 form, the application for extension of temporary stay

• Passport-sized photo that’s been taken less than 6 months ago

Submitting documents online with e-Extension

e-Extension is an online application system that allows you to extend your stay in Thailand efficiently, without spending time in long queues in any immigration office.

The Thai e-Extension visa procedure is currently available in selected regions: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Phuket (Blue Tree only), Samut Prakan, and Surat Thani (Koh Phangan and Koh Samui only). The list of available regions is updated regularly, so please visit the official e-Extension website for any announcements.

The e-Extension portal allows you to submit all required documents and pay the visa fee online. If the application is approved, you will receive the e-Extension via email.

Submitting documents at the Thailand Immigration Bureau on-site

If the e-Extension service is not available in the region you are visiting, you will need to schedule a physical appointment at the Thailand Immigration Bureau to submit the documents. There are several offices across the country, covering each major region. See a list of Thailand's Immigration Bureau office addresses here.

At the immigration office, authorities will ask you to submit the list of documents mentioned above. While the visa extension process is often completed on the same day, it is recommended to start as early as possible to avoid long lines.

How much does a visa extension cost

The application fee is 1900 Baht (around EUR 50).

Staying in Thailand for more than 60 days

Staying in Thailand for more than 60 days is possible. One of the best options for this is the Digital Nomad visa, introduced in June 2024, which allows self-employed remote workers to stay in Thailand for up to five years. However, it's important to note that the process can be more complex, with varying rules based on your nationality, purpose of stay, and other factors.

If you're interested in learning about the options available to you, we would be happy to provide support, ensuring your Thai experience is free of bureaucratic headaches.

In today’s rapidly changing business world, the idea of a flexible work culture, or flex work, has become crucial for employer competitiveness. Recently, Flexa, a company empowering the flexible workplace, and WorkFlex hosted a webinar "Future-Proofing Your Workforce: How to Build a Flexible Culture to Stay Competitive" to explore this crucial topic, highlighting the benefits, challenges, and best practices for implementing flexibility in the workplace.

In this article, we share Flexa's and WorkFlex's insights on creating a flexible working policy—what flexible working is, the key components of a flexible working culture, the benefits, challenges, and solutions of implementing such a company culture, and the compliance and legal considerations employers should address when enabling flexible working practices.

 

What is flexible working

Flexible work, also known as flex working, is one where employees have the autonomy to choose how, when, and where they work. At its core, flexibility is built on trust—trusting employees to manage their responsibilities without constant oversight. This trust fosters a more engaged, productive, and satisfied workforce, making it a key element in modern business practices.

 

Key components of flexible working culture

Flexa’s approach to measuring workplace flexibility involves six key areas: location, hours, benefits, work-life balance, autonomy, and role modeling. With 85 million data points from a variety of organizations, from massive corporations to very small companies, Flexa provides a comprehensive overview of what flexibility means to employees and how companies can adapt to these expectations.

1. Location flexibility

The ability to work from various locations, including home, co-working spaces, or even different countries, is a significant aspect of flexibility. Work-from-anywhere policies allow employees to balance personal commitments with professional responsibilities seamlessly.

2. Time flexibility

Flexible hours and asynchronous work models enable employees to choose their working hours, enhancing their work-life balance. According to data from Flexa, retrieved from employers across Europe, there is a growing shift in focus from strict hours to output and results.

Interestingly, 51 percent of people have said that they don't mind whether they have flexible working hours or not. Flexa’s analysis shows a strong correlation between flexibility in location and autonomy and the preference for flexible hours. Thus, location flexibility plays an even stronger role in flexible working policy compared to time flexibility.

3. Variety of benefits

People are increasingly looking for ways to balance their work with their personal lives. Benefits that provide more choice over how we work and live become more and more popular. Traditional perks like free beers on Fridays or similar benefits now feel a bit old-fashioned. Enhanced benefits, such as parental leave, childcare support, and work-from-anywhere schemes, are crucial in supporting a flexible work culture. These benefits help employees manage their personal lives while staying productive and engaged at work.

4. Autonomy

Giving employees control over their work fosters a sense of ownership and responsibility. When employees can manage their tasks without being micromanaged, it leads to higher motivation and better performance.

5. Work-life balance

Supporting employees' well-being is essential. Providing opportunities for a balanced life helps in reducing burnout and increasing overall job satisfaction.

6. Role modeling by leadership

Senior leaders must embody the principles of flexibility. When leadership practices what they preach, it sets a standard for the entire organization and encourages employees to embrace flexible working arrangements.

 

 

Benefits of a flexible working culture

Implementing a flexible work culture offers numerous advantages that can significantly enhance a company's performance and employee satisfaction. By embracing flexibility, businesses can attract a diverse talent pool, improve retention, and boost overall productivity. Let's explore some of the key benefits in detail:

1. Improved hiring and retention

Flexible policies attract a diverse and wide-ranging talent pool. The benefits of a diverse workforce are clear: a more innovative, creative, and collaborative culture. However, without flexibility, achieving this diversity can be challenging.

For example, Flexa has observed that companies previously struggling to hire senior-level women or individuals from diverse backgrounds have seen significant improvements in diversity with flexible work policies. To illustrate, data shows that 86 percent of people want some form of flexible working, and this figure rises to 97 percent when looking specifically at women or people of color. Thus, implementing flexible working policies not only broadens the talent pool but also makes it more diverse. 

2. Increased employee satisfaction and productivity

Employees are more satisfied and motivated, leading to better performance and lower turnover rates. When company culture adopts a mindset like, "I don't care if that piece of content took you five hours or three hours to write. What matters is whether the work gets done, and if we're making progress," it significantly boosts motivation among the team.

3. Enhanced business performance

A focus on results rather than rigid schedules fosters innovation and resilience. With flexibility, trust, and autonomy, employees become more connected to the business and are more involved in its success.

 

Implementing a successful flexible working policy: Challenges and solutions

1. Managerial resistance

While the benefits of flexible work policies are clear, implementing them comes with challenges, particularly managerial resistance. Managers often fear a loss of control. To address this, it's essential to understand their concerns: What are they worried about? What do they think will happen if they approve flexible working requests for everyone?

These fears are often unfounded, as data shows that flexible working can be just as productive, if not more so, while also being more engaging and motivating for employees. It's important to identify which teams are most resistant and understand their specific challenges. For example, sales and customer success teams, which are very customer-facing, may find it harder to adapt to flexible working.

Additionally, managers often fear the complexity of managing different working patterns. Therefore, it’s advisable to implement a company-wide flexible working policy rather than individual arrangements, as this simplifies management and ensures consistency.

2. Consistency in flexible working arrangements

Implementing a blanket flexible working policy across the organization can simplify management and ensure fairness. This approach helps managers handle flexibility more easily, as everyone, including the managers, follows the same guidelines. While it's not feasible to grant every flexible working request, the goal should be to make as many people as happy as possible while still meeting business requirements. Addressing these concerns through training and demonstrating the business benefits of flexibility is crucial for successful implementation. 

3. Impact on early-career employees

Young professionals often need more guidance, and structured onboarding along with regular check-ins can help mitigate this issue. This is where manager training becomes crucial. It's possible for first-time employees or recent graduates to grow, learn, and adapt to work if they have the right manager and tools. However, without proper support, it can be challenging.

Additionally, transparency in the hiring process is essential, especially for fully remote positions. It’s important to ask candidates how they would feel about potentially never meeting their teammates in person, ensuring they are fully aware of what remote work entails.

 

Compliance and legal considerations of temporary work from abroad

One of the most demanded aspects of flexible working policies is the opportunity to work temporarily from abroad. However, this benefit is also one of the most complicated in terms of compliance. Fortunately, all compliance aspects can be effectively managed by defining specific terms in the work-from-abroad company policy and implementing appropriate risk mitigation measures. Answering several important questions to set up your company policy is a good starting point.

1. How many days per year can employees spend abroad?

This can range from 10 to 180 days per year – reviewing the policies of over a hundred employers, WorkFlex has seen a significant variation. For instance, while Adidas allows 10 days, some companies permit up to 180 days. A common threshold is around 30 days, which many employees find comfortable. With 30 days, employees can enjoy multiple extended holidays or work an entire month from another location.

Interestingly, companies with zero-day allowances don't necessarily prevent employees from working abroad; it often means employees take "hush trips" without informing their managers, exposing employers to significant compliance risks. This is not the ideal culture to promote, so being proactive with a proper policy is essential.

Work-from-abroad company policy thresholds of employers globally
2. What is the geographical scope of your flex work abroad policy?

Companies generally adopt one of three policies: 1) Limiting work to the EU (including the UK and Switzerland), 2) Allowing global remote work, 3) Adopting an "EU Plus" model. The"EU Plus" model allows employees to work within the EU and their home country. For example, a developer from India working in the UK could also work from India. This approach ensures the benefit extends to employees with family in other countries, not just those who want to extend holidays in nearby European destinations.

3. What are the specific terms and conditions for flex work abroad?

Establish clear guidelines on what employees need to adhere to while working remotely to avoid any compliance headaches. For example, employees should consider the following: what to keep in mind when entering the destination country, what documentation to carry while abroad, what aspects to consider in terms of working hours, weekends, and holidays to comply with local labor laws, and what to consider regarding internet and data security.

WorkFlex assists its clients in developing best-practice work-from-abroad policy and employee guidelines to manage compliance. By providing expert guidance and reviewing the practices of other employers, WorkFlex helps companies find the best fit for their unique needs.

Practical steps to start implementing a flexible work culture

By setting clear policies and addressing the above-mentioned compliance considerations, companies can foster a transparent and flexible work environment. Start with implementing some first steps:

1. Survey employees: Understand their needs and preferences through surveys and focus groups.

2. Set realistic policies: Define clear and achievable flexibility policies based on the gathered data. Consider any compliance risks and necessary mitigation measures that are related both to work from home, as well as temporary work from abroad.

3. Trial periods: Implement policies on a trial basis, review their impact, and make necessary adjustments.

4. Transparent communication: Clearly communicate policies and expectations to all employees.

 

Conclusion

A flexible work culture is not just a trend but a strategic approach to building a resilient, engaged, and productive workforce. By understanding the key components, measuring flexibility, and addressing challenges head-on, companies can create an environment where both the business and its employees thrive.

For more insights and support on developing flexible work policies, Flexa and WorkFlex can help. Visit Flexa's website to measure your current flexibility score and get support on implementing or improving your flexible working culture.

For managing remote work abroad 100% compliantly and with ease, as well as best-practice work-from-anywhere policy templates reach out to WorkFlex team.

Embarking on international (business) travel is thrilling, but it often involves a critical hurdle -securing a travel visa. Unfortunately, this process can be complex, and facing a visa denial can be daunting. Let’s talk about that feeling of nervousness everyone gets every time they are applying for a visa. It’s understandable, there is always a potential risk of rejection.And rejection can be a tough pill to swallow.

Especially requesting a business travel visa can be particularly stressful due to the tight deadlines, even more complex documentation & uncertain outcome. A denied business visa can disrupt important business meetings, conferences, or negotiations, potentially affecting business relationships and opportunities. The stakes, and therefore also the pressure to get it right, are often higher than with leisure travel visas. Further, business travel often involves significant financial investments in flights, accommodations, and other expenses. A denied visa can result in financial losses, adding to the stress of the situation.

Let’s talk about that feeling of nervousness everyone gets every time they are applying for a visa. It’s understandable, there is always a potential risk of rejection. And rejection can be a tough pill to swallow. But let’s not get too worked up about it just yet. In this blog post, we will discuss 5 common reasons for a visa denial. So you can get ready, do your due diligence, and hope for the best. Or you can contact our WorkFlex Visa Services team who will do all the work for you, maximizing your chances of receiving approval.

Let’s dive into it.

Reason 1: Errors in the Application

One of the primary reasons for travel visa denial are errors in the application. Even minor mistakes in your visa application can lead to denial. This includes inconsistencies in personal information, travel details, or discrepancies between your application and supporting documents. Double-check all entries for accuracy before submission.

Reason 2: Lack of Sufficient Documentation

Another main reason why travel visa applications get denied is insufficient documentation. Embassies require a comprehensive set of documents, including proof of identity, travel itinerary, accommodation bookings, and more. To avoid this issue, ensure all required documents are accurately compiled, up-to-date, and presented in an organized manner.

Reason 3: Inadequate Interview Performance

The visa interview is critical. Prepare thoroughly, practicing responses to potential questions. During the interview, be honest, clear, and concise. Demonstrating preparedness and sincerity can significantly impact the outcome.

Reason 4: Doubts on Intent to Return

Visa officers assess whether applicants have strong reasons to return to their home country after their visit. Demonstrating ties such as employment, family, property ownership, or ongoing educational commitments can mitigate concerns. The stronger your ties, the less likely your visa will be denied on these grounds.

Reason 5: Previous Visa Violations

A history of visa violations or overstays could adversely affect your current application. Address these issues upfront in your application and provide a reasonable explanation or evidence of change.

Conclusion: Addressing the Core Issues

In summary, while there are numerous factors at play in visa denials, the most critical errors often arise from inaccuracies due to uncertainty (such as incomplete or incorrect documentation, inconsistencies in information, or suspicious travel itineraries) and a lack of sufficient documentation. Understanding these prevalent pitfalls and taking proactive measures to address them can significantly improve your prospects of obtaining a travel visa successfully.

For those looking to ease the stress of dealing with visa applications, outsourcing this task to professional services can be a smart move. Immigration consultants or visa agencies are experts in handling visa procedures. They provide personalized help and support, making the application process smoother. By relying on their knowledge and experience, you can improve your chances of getting your visa approved.

Consider reaching out to trusted immigration consultancy firms or visa services to take the hassle out of visa applications and ensure a smoother journey abroad.

Navigating the visa requirements for your business travels can be quite the puzzle. Do you find yourself asking what type of visa you need or if you even need one at all? And what exactly sets apart a work permit from a business visa?

In today's world, where business trips are becoming shorter but more frequent, and the global business landscape is increasingly interconnected, it's easy to get lost in the maze of visa regulations. To help clear the confusion, here's a concise guide to determine whether you fall under the category of a business visitor or if you might require a work permit or business visa.

Understanding Business Visas and Work Permits in Detail:

Business Visa:

  • Issued for permissible business activities like meetings, conferences, or exploring business opportunities.
  • Focuses solely on facilitating business logistics and relations, excluding labor or services.

Work Permit:

  • Granted for foreign nationals engaging in paid work or contracted labor.
  • Designed for employment purposes, including full-time, part-time, or project-based work.
  • Often work permits may require extensive documentation and personal appearances at embassies.
  • Obtaining a work permit generally involves a longer and more complex process compared to acquiring a business visa

In essence, the choice between a business visa and a work permit hinges on the nature and duration of activities planned in the host country. While work permits suit long-term employment arrangements, business visas offer a streamlined solution for short-term business engagements.


Summary: Differentiating Between Business Visas and Work Permits

1. Nature of Activities:

  - Work Permit: Primarily intended for employment purposes, a work permit authorizes foreign nationals to work and earn income in a host country. It is tied to a specific job and employer.

  - Business Visa: Designed for individuals engaging in business-related activities such as meetings, conferences, negotiations, or exploring investment opportunities. It does not entail actual employment.

2. Employment Arrangements:

  - Work permits are directly linked to employment, while business visas are for individuals conducting business activities without formal employment.

3. Length of Stay:

  - Business visas typically offer temporary short-term stays, often ranging from 30 to 90 days within a 180-day period. Work permits can be granted for longer durations.


So in more practical words:

You're likely classified as a Business Visitor if:

- Your trip lasts less than two weeks.
- You've visited the destination country fewer than three times in the last year.
- Your activities during the trip are limited to attending meetings, conferences, trade fairs, or negotiating deals.
- You maintain a residence outside the country you're visiting.
- Your manager operates from a different country.
- Your employment and salary are tied to a company outside the host country.

However, you may need a Work permit or Business Visa if:

- Your trip exceeds two weeks.
- You've frequented the country more than three times in the past year.
- Your work activities extend beyond occasional meetings to day-to-day operations.
- Your activities might lead to profit generation.
- You require technical equipment for your tasks.
- You're managed by someone within the host country.
- Your sole residence is in the country you're visiting.
- Your salary originates from a company within the host country.

When in doubt, it's always wise to consult with your Global Mobility team or Human Resources department before finalizing your travel plans.

WorkFlex can also help you with this

For those falling under the category of Business Visitor, it's essential to note that even though a visa might not be necessary based on your nationality or other factors, you still need to ensure compliance with certain requirements:

- Sufficient financial resources to cover expenses during your trip.
- A well-defined itinerary for your time in the host country.
- Adherence to the duration required for the purpose of your visit.
- A valid passport along with additional supporting documents such as an employer validation letter, an invitation letter from your host country, details of accommodation, proof of residence and health coverage in your home country, and a copy of your itinerary.

Understanding the nuances between business visas and work permits empowers individuals and businesses to navigate international travel and employment requirements effectively, ensuring compliance and seamless operations across borders. We hope this concise guide assists you in determining whether you require a work permit for your upcoming business trip. Remember, if you're uncertain about any aspect, it's best to seek advice from your Global Mobility advisor, HR department, or legal counsel before proceeding.

Still have many open questions surrounding visa and business visa?

Check out our other resources or speak directly to one of our consultants


Contact us

What are visa agents? 

Visa agents are professionals or agencies specialized in assisting individuals, businesses, and organizations with the process of obtaining visas for international travel. These agents serve as intermediaries between travelers and the relevant government authorities responsible for issuing visas.

Visa agents offer a range of services to streamline the visa application process, including:

1. Consultation: Visa agents provide guidance and advice on visa requirements, application procedures, and necessary documentation based on the traveler's destination country and purpose of travel.

2. Documentation Assistance: They help travelers prepare and organize the required documentation, such as passport copies, photographs, invitation letters, financial statements, and travel itineraries, ensuring that all necessary paperwork is completed accurately and in accordance with the visa requirements.

3. Application Submission: Visa agents facilitate the submission of visa applications on behalf of travelers, either by submitting them directly to the appropriate consulate or embassy or by assisting travelers in completing online application forms.

4. Follow-Up and Updates: They monitor the progress of visa applications and provide regular updates to travelers on the status of their applications, including any additional requirements or requests for information from the visa issuing authorities.

5. Problem Resolution: In the event of complications or issues with visa applications, such as delays, rejections, or requests for additional documentation, visa agents liaise with the relevant authorities to resolve the problem efficiently and minimize disruptions to travel plans.

Overall, visa agents play a crucial role in simplifying the visa application process, saving travelers time and effort, and ensuring compliance with the requirements of the destination country. They provide valuable expertise and support to individuals, businesses, and organizations seeking to navigate the complexities of international travel.


What are the benefits of visa agents?

Visa agents play a crucial role in facilitating business travel visas for several reasons:

1. Expertise and Experience: Visa agents are professionals with in-depth knowledge and experience in navigating the complexities of visa application processes. They understand the specific requirements and nuances of each country's visa regulations, ensuring that applications are completed accurately and efficiently.

2. Time-Saving: Business professionals often have demanding schedules and cannot dedicate the necessary time to research and complete visa applications. Visa agents streamline the process, saving time for both individuals and organizations by handling administrative tasks and ensuring applications are submitted promptly.

3. Reduced Errors: Visa applications require precise information, and even minor mistakes can lead to delays or rejections. Visa agents minimize the risk of errors by guiding applicants through the application process and reviewing documents for accuracy before submission.

4. Stay Updated with Regulations: Visa requirements and regulations can change frequently, posing challenges for businesses to stay informed. Visa agents stay up-to-date with the latest regulations and changes, ensuring that applications comply with current requirements and minimizing the risk of unexpected issues.

5. Personalized Support: Visa agents provide personalized support and assistance throughout the visa application process. They address any questions or concerns, offer guidance on required documentation, and provide updates on the status of applications, providing peace of mind for travelers and employers alike.

Overall, visa agents offer valuable expertise, time-saving benefits, error reduction, regulatory compliance, and personalized support, making them essential partners for businesses seeking to navigate the complexities of business travel visas efficiently and effectively.


Why WorkFlex is more than a visa agent:

WorkFlex surpasses the traditional role of a visa agent by offering a comprehensive suite of services tailored to streamline global travel compliance for corporations. While visa agents typically focus solely on facilitating visa applications, WorkFlex provides a holistic solution for businesses' travel compliance needs. Here's why WorkFlex stands out:

1. Integrated Compliance Platform: WorkFlex offers an all-in-one global compliance platform that extends beyond visa services. In addition to visa management, WorkFlex provides solutions for travel insurance, A1/CoC (Certificates of Coverage), PWD (Posted Worker Directive) compliance, and Duty of Care packages. By integrating these services into a single platform, WorkFlex offers businesses a seamless and efficient solution for managing various compliance requirements related to international travel.

2. Risk Assessment and Automation: WorkFlex leverages advanced technology to conduct risk assessments and automate document generation processes. By analyzing travel itineraries and destination requirements, WorkFlex helps businesses identify potential compliance risks and ensure that all necessary documentation is generated accurately and efficiently.

3. Direct Visa Application: Unlike traditional visa agents that may act solely as intermediaries between travelers and visa issuing authorities, WorkFlex takes a hands-on approach by directly handling visa applications. This direct involvement ensures that applications are submitted promptly and accurately, minimizing the risk of delays or rejections.

4. Expert Guidance and Support: WorkFlex provides expert guidance and personalized support throughout the visa application process. From initial consultation to application submission and follow-up, WorkFlex's team of professionals is available to assist businesses and travelers with any questions or concerns, offering peace of mind and ensuring a smooth travel experience.

In summary, WorkFlex distinguishes itself from traditional visa agents by offering a comprehensive compliance platform, advanced technology solutions, direct involvement in visa applications, and expert guidance and support. By addressing businesses' broader travel compliance needs, WorkFlex provides a one-stop solution for streamlining global travel operations and ensuring regulatory compliance.

Interested in getting to know more information about WorkFlex Visa Services?

Check out our website or directly speak to our team

The correct paperwork is crucial to doing business across borders. Apostille, corporate legal, and export documentation to eliminate risk, delay, and needless cost.

Are you tired of visa applications turning into bureaucratic nightmares? Say goodbye to endless queues and paperwork, and welcome the era of E-Visas – your passport to hassle-free travel. In this guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about E-Visas, from what they are to how to get them, so you can prepare for your next adventure with ease.

Understanding E-Visas:

In a world where time is of the essence, E-Visas emerge as the ultimate solution for travelers seeking convenience and efficiency. But what exactly are E-Visas?

E-Visas, or electronic visas, are digital alternatives to traditional visas. Instead of visiting a consulate or embassy, travelers can apply for visas online, complete with payment, and receive approval via email. It's a game-changer for anyone looking to streamline their travel preparations.

Difference Between an Online Visa and a Traditional Visa

The main difference between an online and a paper-based (traditional) visa is that you don’t need to visit an embassy or consulate at all for visa applications over the internet— the entire visa process is done remotely (online), even the visa payment and the issue document. Another significant difference is that traditional visas are issued for short-term and long-term purposes, while eVisas are temporary.



Which Countries Issue Online Visas?

This list is heavily dependent on your passport and the reason for your trip, among other factors. For example, many nations do not provide E-Visas for business travel; they are solely available for tourists. Also, visas for long-term purposes such as student, work, or family visas, require you to submit a paper-based application and visit the embassy or consulate several times before receiving your permit. Nonetheless, generally speaking, we can state that the tendency is an increasing number of e-visas.

The benefits of E-Visas:

1. Speed and Convenience: No more waiting in long queues or making multiple trips to visa offices. E-Visas can be obtained from the comfort of your own home, often within just a few days.

2. Accessibility: With E-Visas, the entire application process is digitized, making it accessible to travelers from all corners of the globe. Say goodbye to geographical barriers and hello to seamless travel experiences.

3. Cost-Effectiveness: E-Visas typically have lower processing fees compared to traditional visas, making them a budget-friendly option for travelers looking to save some extra cash for their adventures.

In conclusion, E-Visas represent a significant leap forward in the world of travel, offering speed, convenience, and accessibility like never before. By embracing E-Visas, you can bid farewell to the hassles of traditional visa applications and embark on your journey with confidence.

How to obtain an E-Visa:

The process of obtaining an E-Visa varies from country to country:

1. Research: Start by researching the visa requirements for your destination country. Not all countries offer E-Visas, so it's essential to confirm eligibility beforehand.

2. Application: Visit the official website of the country's immigration department or consulate and locate the E-Visa section. Follow the instructions to complete the online application, providing necessary details such as passport information and travel itinerary.

3. Document Submission: Prepare the required documents, including a passport photo and a copy of your passport. Ensure that all documents meet the specified criteria to avoid delays or rejection.

4. Payment: Pay the processing fee online using a secure payment gateway. Once payment is confirmed, your application will be processed by the immigration authorities.

5. Approval: Await approval of your E-Visa via email. Once approved, simply print out the E-Visa and carry it with you during your travels.



Tips for a Smooth E-Visa Experience:

  1. Plan Ahead: While E-Visas offer faster processing times, it's still advisable to apply well in advance of your travel dates to avoid any last-minute complications.
  2. Double-Check Requirements: Each country has its own set of requirements for E-Visa applications. Make sure you thoroughly read the instructions and provide all necessary documents to avoid delays.
  3. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on your email inbox after submitting your application. Communication regarding your E-Visa status will be sent to the email address provided during the application process.
  4. Print Your E-Visa: While most countries accept digital copies of E-Visas, it's always a good idea to carry a printed copy, just in case.

In the realm of digital travel permits, two terms often surface: E-Visas and Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs). While they both facilitate entry into specific jurisdictions, understanding their differences can help travelers navigate the visa landscape more effectively.

E-Visas: Streamlined Solutions for Seamless Travel

E-Visas, or electronic visas, are digital versions of traditional visas. They are obtained through an online application process, typically involving submission of passport information, travel itinerary, and supporting documents. Once approved, travelers receive their E-Visas via email, which they can print and present upon arrival at their destination.

Key Features of E-Visas:

- Applied for online
- Requires submission of detailed information and documents
- Approval granted via email
- Often suitable for short-term visits
- Generally designed for single-entry use

ETAs: Simplifying Entry with Electronic Authorization

On the other hand, Electronic Travel Authorizations (ETAs) operate slightly differently. An ETA is a digital travel permit that allows foreign visitors to register electronically without the need for a traditional visa. While similar to E-Visas in their digital nature, ETAs typically involve a simpler application process and are often used for short-term visits.

Key Features of ETAs:

- Electronic registration for entry
- May not require extensive documentation
- Approval granted digitally
- Often valid for multiple entries
- Designed for short-term visits without the need for a traditional visa stamp

Understanding the Distinctions

The primary distinction between E-Visas and ETAs lies in their application processes, documentation requirements, and intended use. E-Visas are more comprehensive, requiring detailed information and documentation, while ETAs offer a streamlined alternative for travelers seeking entry for short-term visits. In summary, E-Visas and ETAs represent innovative solutions in the realm of digital travel permits, offering travelers convenient alternatives to traditional visa processes. By understanding the differences between these two systems, you can navigate the visa landscape with confidence and embark on your travels with ease.

Choosing the Right Option

When planning your travels, it's essential to research the entry requirements of your destination country to determine whether an E-Visa or ETA is the appropriate option. Factors such as duration of stay, frequency of travel, and specific visa policies will influence your decision.

There's been an ongoing discussion on working vs. presence days – and how to formulate it rightly in the company policy in your work-from-anywhere scheme.
Most company policies around remote work abroad include a maximum (30/60/etc.) of sometimes presence days. Other policies only include working days.

Let’s clarify:
Working days are days an employee works abroad for the company – regardless of how many hours the employee did so
Presence days are all days an employee is abroad working and/or for leisure (incl. the weekends & holidays)

This is quite a complex topic.
After all, as an employer, you have little to say on days that the employee is not working. On the other hand, because of the compliance aspects around presence, it is also understandable that companies decide to include a threshold for presence days.

"For compliance, working days and presence days are both relevant as both have legal impacts!"

Why do you need to check “the days spent” in general?

As days have a strong impact on compliance risk factors, such as wage tax, permanent establishment, work entitlement, social security, etc., the employer must be aware of the accumulated presence days per country (see above).

This way, the employer can limit the compliance risk – both for them, but also protect the employee. Another reason to limit the number of days abroad is to ensure office presence. For this, only working days need to be taken into consideration.

Why do also presence days matter for compliance?

While for some dimensions, such as labour law or permanent establishment, (only) working days need to be taken into account, for most risk factors also presence days have a tremendous legal impact. Such as for:

·     E.g. wage tax

·     E.g. social security

·     E.g. work entitlement & registration

To correctly assess the compliance risks, WorkFlex needs to know how long someone is gone, e.g. for Center of Vital Interest Discussions and the 25% rule remainder in home country social security. So not only working more than 183 days in one country triggers compliance risks, but also vacations, business trips, & weekends count into the 183-day rule as well.

Deep-Dive: What is the rationale behind the 183 days?

Whether you manage business travelers, short-term international employees, or remote workers, you have no doubt heard about the "183-day rule".

This rule states – simplified – that an employee will not become taxable in the destination country, as long as his/her overall presence in that country remains below 183 days per year – which can be a calendar year, tax year, or any running 12-month period).

Both globally and domestically, many tax jurisdictions expect an employer (as well as the employee) to track and report non-resident business travel. However, simply applying a "183-day" threshold does not always work to ensure tax compliance.

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The OECD commentary says:
Although various formulas have been used by member countries to calculate the 183-day period, there is only one way that is consistent with the wording of this paragraph: the “days of physical presence” method. The application of this method is straightforward as the individual is either present in a country or is not. (Source: Bundesfinanzministerium)

Therefore, the183-day rule refers to presence days (incl. weekends), so business travel, vacation, and workation count in this timeframe. It follows from these principles that any entire day spent outside the State of activity, whether for holidays, business trips, or any other reason, should not be taken into account. A day during any part of which, however brief, the taxpayer is present in a State counts as a day of presence in that State for purposes of computing the 183-day period. (Source: OECD, p.210)

If a double taxation agreement (DTA; German: DBA) bases the 183-day period on the tax year or calendar year instead of a twelve-month period, the days of stay must be determined separately for each tax year or calendar year. In Germany, the tax year corresponds to the calendar year. If the tax year of the other contracting state also corresponds to the calendar year, there are no special requirements if the corresponding DTA is based on the tax year for the calculation of the 183-day period (e.g. DTA-France, DTA-Greece, DTA-Italy). If the tax year of the other contracting state differs from the tax year of Germany (= calendar year), the tax year of the contracting state in which the activity is carried out is decisive.

WorkFlex Solution

To make sure to correctly count the presence days & working days, WorkFlex has integrated the question "Will you be working throughout the entire stay" on its platform.

So, for example, if an employee is 5 days abroad in Italy, but only works 3 days there, he will need to answer with "no" and add the number of days they will be working. This enables WorkFlex to accurately count both working days and days of presence in the destination country.

At WorkFlex, we are at the forefront of helping companies offer compliant temporary work from abroad. Understanding how work from anywhere influences job satisfaction, employment decisions, stress levels, and productivity is crucial to us and the companies we serve. We have asked the employees of our clients and they paint a clear picture of the benefits of  work-from-anywhere schemes.

Elevated Job Satisfaction

Our findings confirm that work from anywhere schemes are a significant booster for job satisfaction. An overwhelming 96% of the respondents agree or strongly agree that the ability to work from abroad has markedly increased their job satisfaction. This flexibility is a clear path to a happier and more fulfilled workforce.

A Critical Factor in Job Decisions

When choosing a new job, 97% of the survey participants rated the availability of work from anywhere schemes as an important factor. This sentiment emphasizes that work from anywhere schemes can significantly tip the scales when candidates make employment decisions.

Stress Reduction and Boosted Productivity

Stress reduction and productivity are closely linked, and our survey indicates that 52% of the participants strongly agree that work from anywhere schemes have contributed to reducing their stress levels, while another 35% agree, making it a total of 87% in favour of temporary work abroad positively impacting their work-life balance and productivity.

Note: It's important to acknowledge that, of course, employees speak positively about this benefit. This perspective is shared through the lens of our survey respondents, who primarily consist of employees. HR professionals, who may be more attuned to organizational dynamics, are encouraged to consider these insights in the broader context of their workforce management strategies.

If you are curious which experiences HR professionals made with the topic of work from anywhere, check out the case study of idealo or flix.

Conclusion

The data speaks volumes: work from anywhere schemes are more than a perk; they are a transformational element of modern employment that can lead to greater job satisfaction, be a decisive factor in employment choices, and contribute to lower stress levels while boosting productivity. These findings are an affirmation for WorkFlex's mission to support companies in crafting work from anywhere schemes that are not only compliant but are instrumental in building a happier and more efficient workforce.

As the workplace continues to evolve, it is clear that flexible working arrangements such as temporary work from abroad are not just a temporary trend but are becoming a staple of the modern work environment.

*Source: The insights presented are derived from a survey conducted by WorkFlex, which encompassed 71 clients across various industries, totaling 377 individual responses.

In the past, global mobility was initiated in the interests of the employer. There were classic models such as Long Term Assignments, Short Term Assignments, and Career Assignments. Today, mobility is also carried out at the request of the employee, including remote work and workations.

Key topics:

  • Immigration and visa requirements.
  • Work permits and licenses
  • Social security and A1 certificates
  • Travel insurance (private international health insurance)
  • PWD notification/registration of business trips

Discuss together the new trends and the associated compliance issues with renowned Global Mobility and HR experts WorkFlex Co-Founder Pieter Manden and Director Compliance Research Center Dorothee Schweigard as well as Sandra Harting-Richter from the VHV Group.

After 23 years, sv.net, which allowed companies to apply for the A1 certificate electronically, is now being replaced in Germany.
What does this mean for companies? When will this change overtake effect? How exactly will the process change for companies? What are the costs for using the new software?
You can find the answers and more in this blog post, so thatHR and companies are optimally prepared for the upcoming shutdown of sv.net and the switch to the SV reporting portal on March 1st, 2024. This article also provides a comprehensive insight into the key aspects of the A1 certificate. It also sheds light on why the A1 certificate alone is insufficient to make work and business trips compliant and what compliance risks companies must be aware of.


First of all: What is an A1 certificate?

The A1 certificate, also known as the A1 certificate, is a document that regulates a person's social security rights within the European Union (EU) and the European Economic Area (EEA). It is important for people who work or are temporarily employed in an EU or EEA country. The A1 certificate shows which social security system applies to these persons and prevents them from having to pay into different social security systems twice. Employees, civil servants and the self-employed regularly require an A1 certificate if they are working temporarily across borders within the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland or the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This applies to both business trips and workations.

How to apply for the A1 certificate in Germany until February 29, 2024:

To apply for the A1 certificate, employers and the self-employed have had to submit the application electronically since 2019. There are two main ways to do this: either they use payroll software such as DATEV or LOGA, which forwards the application in a straightforward manner, or they use the sv.net application to submit the application directly electronically. In both cases, the application is automatically forwarded to the responsible social insurance institution.

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Shutdown of sv.net - what does this mean for companies from March 1, 2024?

After 23 years, “sv.net“will be replaced by “SV-Meldeportal”, which enables electronic data exchange with social insurance institutions. Over 500,000 employers carryout around 25 million transactions via sv.net every year. Previously, sv.net was offered by health insurance companies for the exchange of social insurance notifications.

The SV-Meldeportal allows the electronic exchange of notifications, contribution statements, certificates, and applications for employers and the self-employed. Registration in the SV-Meldeportal is required, preferably with an Elster organization certificate or via the BundID.

From March 1, 2024, the A1 certificate for Germany can only be applied for in the SV-Meldeportal. Use of the portal is free of charge until March 31, 2024, after which a user fee will apply, except for the self-employed.

How exactly will the process change for companies?

The IT Planning Council of the federal and state governments has decided to implement the "Uniform Company Account" based on ELSTER. Companies can set up accounts via the websitemein-unternehmenskonto.de, using the company's tax number. Each company account consists of one or more user accounts that are assigned to individual persons. Upon registration, each user account receives an ELSTER organization certificate by post, which is used not only for the initial registration, but also for each login to the SV-Meldeportal.

From 2024, self-employed persons and employees who wish to use the SV-Meldeportal exclusively for applying for and retrieving A1 certificates can alternatively register and log in via the BundID account. This extended registration in the SV-Meldeportal offers employers secure and user-specific access to the applications and data.

It is important to note that a separate registration is required for each branch, each with its own ELSTER company certificate. However, branches can be merged via mandate management.

In general, data cannot be transferred directly from sv.net to the SV-Meldeportal. Every company must register with the SV-Meldeportal. This also applies to companies that previously applied for their A1 certificates via an integration with payroll accounting software - now they have to do this via the SV-Meldeportal. Automatic forwarding of the data is currently not possible. This means a lot of manual work for companies.

A little tip: With the all-in-one software from WorkFlex, you can create A1 certificates within a minute, saving valuable time and money.

Overview of the registration process

The registration process follows these steps:

1. call up the SV registration portal

2. complete registration for use via "My company account"

3. authenticate in the SV-Meldeportal with the ELSTER certificate

4. enter company number and company data

5. receive letter of authorization with activation code by post

6. enter the activation code

7. release the SV-Meldeportal for use

After successful registration, the SV-Meldeportal can be used without restriction. The ELSTER certificate with which the company has registered is required for each login.

What are the costs for using the SV-Meldeportal?

The use of the social insurance notification portal is subject to variable fees that vary depending on the number of company numbers required by the company for the transmission of social insurance notifications. There are two user groups: the single-client variant and the multi-client variant. Reduced fees apply until March 2024. Companies that register before March 31, 2024 are free of charge for the years 2023 and 2024. Fees will apply from January 1, 2025. If you register before this date, the multi-client variant automatically applies, which enables data exchange for several company numbers. In the fall of 2024, users must choose one of the two variants for which a fee will be charged from January 2025. The costs are 36 euros plus VAT for a single company number and 99 euros plus VAT for multiple company numbers, each for a period of 36 months. There is no limit to the exchange of social security notifications.

 

More data security with the SV reporting portal

The significant difference to sv.net is that data security is considerably higher for companies and employees due to registration via the ELSTER organization certificate on the SV-Meldeportal. Other countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and the United Kingdom have already been introducing much more advanced and thorough processes for years to ensure that data is better protected. Germany is now following suit with the SV-Meldeportal.

 

Apply for A1 certificates with WorkFlex

If you are looking for an uncomplicated and automated solution for applying for your A1 certificates, WorkFlex software is the perfect solution. With our software, you can apply for A1 certificates in less than a minute - without any extra effort for business trips.

Through our integrations with travel booking tools such as TravelPerk, Navan etc., all relevant compliance documents for business trips are automatically generated by WorkFlex - without any extra effort for HR or the business traveler.

If an A1 certificate is required for a workation, the employee only has to enter the relevant data on the platform. This takes about 2 minutes. After the manager's approval, we take care of creating all the necessary documents. With WorkFlex, you can make the A1 certificate process 95% more efficient and save valuable time. It also minimizes the risk of processing errors - in the event of an error, WorkFlex assumes liability.

German Webinar on the topic:



IMPORTANT: An A1 certificate does not protect against compliance penalties

An A1 certificate alone makes a business trip or workation legally compliant.

Although the A1 certificate is a crucial document for compliance in the case of workations and business trips, it alone is not enough to make a workation or business trip "legally compliant". There are several other compliance risks that companies must check and observe in relation to workations and business trips to avoid high penalties and fines.

Companies are aware of the legal situation concerning business trips. However, the legal situation abroad is often unclear, particularly in the context of the increasingly popular "workations". One challenge is that the relevant laws and regulations were not written specifically for"workations". On the contrary, they were written long before the concept of temporary work abroad even emerged.

In general, companies need to consider all 8 risks individually for each workation or business trip: Establishment Risk, Payroll Tax, Social Security, Insurance, Labor Law, Visa & Work Authorization, Posting of Workers Directive (PWD), and Data Protection.

 

If you would like to know more details about the individual risks, their complexity, and their legal and tax consequences, please take a look at our Compliance Handbook

- or talk directly to one of our WorkFlex consultants to get a more in-depth consultation tailored to your needs!


In the era of remote work and digital connectivity, the world has become our office, with boundaries stretching from the sandy beaches of Mexico 🏖️ to the bustling cities of the United States 🌆 and Argentina 🇦🇷. However, for those of us residing in Central European Time (CET) and working with teams based in this time zone, bridging the gap with colleagues across multiple time zones can be a challenging task.

Working from amazing destinations such as Mexico, the US or Argentina would entail being between 4 and 9 hours behind the Central European Time (CET)!

So, how do you ensure that you're not just keeping up but thriving in a global workforce where the early bird catches the worm? Get ready to rise and shine, Americas, because we've got some valuable tips to help you navigate the world of work across time zones.

  

☀️ Get Up Early, Stay Ahead: Whether your company use asynchronous or synchronous communication methods, the sooner you wake up, the better. This helps ensure effective communication without causing disruptions to everyone's daily routines. 

 

🗣️ Transparent Communication is Key: Being transparent about your schedule is crucial. Let your team know where you are, which tasks need immediate attention, and which ones can be managed flexibly. By indicating your most accessible hours and when you may be less responsive due to the time difference, you ensure that everyone is on the same page.

 

⏰ Embrace the Down Time: One unique advantage of working across time zones is the opportunity to use the downtime effectively. Many employees find that working when others are off is incredibly productive, thanks to uninterrupted focus and fewer interruptions.

🤝 Prioritize Tasks: Organize your workday by prioritizing tasks. Focus on important or time-sensitive assignments during the overlapping hours with your European team to facilitate real-time collaboration and foster a sense of unity.

📅 Regular check-ins: Scheduling weekly check-ins with your team or manager tobe updated is essential. These check-ins help maintain open communication andensure everyone is on the same page despite the time difference. 

 

⏰ Use Time Zone Converters: Utilize online tools or applications to easily convert time zones. This will help you coordinate meetings and deadlines more effectively.

 

🌿 Self-Care Matters: Working with a significant time zone difference can be mentally andphysically demanding. Ensure you take care of your health and well-being bymaintaining a balanced work-life routine. Consider blocking out certain hours in your calendar to allow for rest and rejuvenation.

 

By following these tips and embracing the opportunitiesthat come with it, you can tap into higher levels of productivity whileenjoying the amazing landscapes and experiences that the Americas have tooffer. So, rise and shine, America, and let your proactive, persistent, andoptimistic spirit soar across time zones, making your mark on the world ofwork! 🚀🌍

So, whether you choose to seize the dawn or embrace the night, your workation in Asia can be a rewarding adventure. It's all about finding your rhythm and making the most of every moment. 🌏✨

We wish you a wonderful workation! WorkFlex employees have worked remotely from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Singapore and many more countries in Asia.


Check out our other blog entries on workation advice.

Can you picture yourself waking up on a sandy beach in Thailand? What about taking your lunch break in the bustling Gangnam district in Seoul? Yet, there is an issue hindering these unique moments: time differences. Effectively managing work when dealing with significant time differences, such as those EU employees face when taking a workation from Asia, requires a strategic approach to ensure productivity and team cohesion.  

Working from destinations such as Japan, Thailand, or South Korea entail being between 7 and 9 hours ahead of Central European Time (CET)! Let’s face it, also quite a challenging time difference. 😅

But since each person has their own way of working and its productivity peak, so depending on if you are an early bird or a night owl some destinations will fit better than others. Working from Asia can actually be the solution for the one's that feel more productive working late at night - the Night owls 🌃🦉


Generally, “night owl” people are more goal-oriented, creative, and indulgent and can also benefit from time differences for higher levels of productivity. 🚀

Here are 7 tips that can help you work from Asia to make sure you can make the most from your workation:

🗓️ Adapt your schedule:  
If possible, align your work hours with the core working hours of your team in the CET zone, this will mean working during the evening but by adjusting your daily routine, a good coordination flow can be achieved. Try to schedule meetings during the CET morning hours to align with your team's working hours in the CET zone. After 4 pm, it can be quite late, so keeping your afternoons flexible is a good strategy.

🚫 Don't look at your mails & messages right in the morning
:
To avoid feeling like you're working all day and night, it's essential to give yourself some time in the morning to relax and clear your mind. Starting work too early can lead to burnout.

Enjoy the whole morning:
Instead use the time for exploring, trying local food, or going shopping. During the morning is pretty convenient to enjoy your working days. But also, you can simply spend some time laying in bed, after all, you don’t need to wake up early to go to the office.

🏢  Check if co-working spaces are open 24/7: It's easy to forget that not all co-working spaces have round-the-clock access, so make sure you find one that suits your working hours and preferences.

🚶Take breaks and prioritize well-being:  
Nights can be tough even for night owls, so take breaks when needed and prioritize a healthy work-life balance. ⚖️

📊  Balance your workload:
Avoid overloading yourself with work before starting your day. Consider splitting your week into a mix of "normal life days" and "tourist days" to maintain a healthy work-life balance.

🛏️ Wind down before bed:  
To ensure a good night's sleep and clear your mind, try to stop working at least 30-60 minutes before going to bed. Establishing a bedtime routine like meditation, a short walk, or journaling can be helpful in winding down after work.

So, whether you choose to seize the dawn or embrace the night, your workation in Asia can be a rewarding adventure. It's all about finding your rhythm and making the most of every moment. 🌏✨

We wish you a wonderful workation! WorkFlex employees have worked remotely from India, Indonesia, Thailand, Japan, Korea, Singapore and many more countries in Asia.



Check out our other blog entries on workation advice.

WorkFlex’s current two solutions cover two types of temporarily work from abroad, namely Workation and Business Travel.

The new work horizon made these two distinct yet intertwined concepts prominent. As business travel has long been a cornerstone of professional life. It involves individuals journeying to different locations for work-related purposes such as meetings, conferences, and client visits.  

On the other hand, Workations have been the rising star in employees’ demanded benefits, occupying the second place after salary in recent polls. While there are huge similarities between these two mobile work from abroad, still, it is pretty straightforward to distinguish between them from both employers’ and employees’ perspectives. Complications mainly erupt when employers try to measure and mitigate key compliance exposures for both concepts.  

In this blog post, we'll explore the differences between business travel and workation from an HR and employer perspective, shedding light on what employers need to be mindful of and how to effectively regulate these practices.

How to distinguish between Business Travel and Workation

Distinguishing between business travel and workation is not hard at all as there are multiple differentiating factors such as considering the primary intent of the trip, the duration of stay, the location and setting, work schedule flexibility, expense allocation, the nature of formal business meetings, and adherence to company policies. However, one can say that main determining factors are the sponsorship and trip objective.

Expenses incurred during business travel are generally reimbursed by the employer and are directly related to work activities. However, expenses during workation are typically borne by the employee, as the primary purpose is leisure while it really entails a blend of work and personal enjoyment.  

Intersecting yet different compliance exposures for employers in business travels and workations

Defining and assessing compliance risk dimensions for business travels and workations by employers and HR personnel could be overwhelming and very expensive. Especially, if they want to implement a solution by applying risk mitigating measures for each risk dimension.  

The common regulatory compliance exposures for both business travels and workations could be piled in the following categories:

1- Tax Implications
2- Social Security
3- Labor Law and PWD
4- Work Entitlement
5- Data Protection

Despite the fact that these risk dimensions are common for both solutions, they significantly differ when it comes to its assessment. Tax implications for instance could be stricter for workations and more lenient for business travels, given the fact that BTs usually involve shorter trips than workations. Short-term business travel, such as attending meetings or conferences, usually does not create a Permanent Establishment. Most tax treaties have provisions that exempt short-term activities from triggering PE. Such as Paragraph 6 of Article 5 of the OECD Model Tax Convention which serves as a basis for many bilateral tax treaties. This paragraph specifically addresses exemptions for certain short-term activities.  

On the contrary, work entitlement, labor law and PWD could be stricter for BT and more lenient for workations, given the fact that the main purpose of the workation trip is leisure and the business activities comes as an auxiliary.  

Yet, there are other aspects that must be taken into consideration by employers for each solution separately such duty of care and expense management for business travels and performance management for workations.  

Business Travel: A Strategic Corporate Endeavor

1. Duty of Care: The safety and well-being of employees during business travel is paramount. Employers must establish comprehensive duty of care measures, including emergency assistance and medical support. Also, a travel health insurance is necessary to the extent of being mandatory in this case, especially in case of the absence of a social security treaty between the home and destination country. That’s why Workflex provides a THI to each BT request as soon as it concludes its compliance summary.  

2. Expense Management: Employers shall consider implementing robust systems for managing and reimbursing travel expenses. This includes clear guidelines on what expenses are eligible for reimbursement and a streamlined process for submitting and approving expense reports.

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Workation: Balancing Flexibility and Work

Performance Management: One of the employers’ main concerns is clearly define expectations for work deliverables during workation, including deadlines and communication protocols. Also, the time difference plays a vital part in defining communication protocols deliverables in this regard. While HR could assess this on a case-by-case basis in small companies, it is impossible to regulate it in big enterprises. WorkFlex presents the solution in granting the line managers the ability to assess different situations and work expectations for their team members by enabling them to approve or reject employees’ request by a click of a mouse in a robust, automated and time-saving software product.  

In conclusion, finding the right balance between business travel and workation is essential. Most importantly, keeping a robust, efficient system for enabling employees to do both with ensuring compliance and avoiding legal and administrative exposures could be overwhelming.  

At WorkFlex, we don't just assess compliance risks; we proactively implement solutions to ensure a seamless experience for both business travels and workations.

Our comprehensive approach encompasses everything from thorough compliance risk assessments to the issuance of travel health insurance. We go the extra mile by incorporating essential risk-mitigating measures, including Transfer Impact Assessments (TIAs) for robust data protection, detailed visa instructions for hassle-free travel, and social security certificates to address critical regulatory considerations. Moreover, we bear legal-financial responsibility in case a workation or a business travel went wrong.

Check out our brand new “NO TOUCH” business travel solution here.

About forto

forto is a company that specializes in digital supply chains. The technologies of the forto platform cover the entire process flow, from quotation, booking, document management, tracking and tracing to proactive exception handling and analysis. Headquartered in Berlin, the company currently has employees in 17 locations in Europe and Asia, with offices in Milan, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Hong Kong and Shanghai. forto has around 800 employees worldwide with 62 nationalities. German, Chinese and Indian are the most common.

Since Corona, the company has offered its employees the opportunity to work flexibly from different locations - even temporarily abroad.

forto’s „Remote Work“ Policy:
forto emphasizes that remote work and vacation are separate concepts, which is why forto uses "remote work" or even - to match the tool -"workflexing" instead of the term workations.

forto currently allows"workflexing" for 20 working days per calendar year in countries that have a maximum time difference of plus or minus four hours from Berlin, so that people are still reasonably present during regular working hours. If the home country is a little further away than these four hours, there are also exceptions in consultation with the manager. All employees who are employed in European countries can use WorkFlex - including interns and working students.

🔥 Challenge

Since the pandemic, forto has offered mobile working abroad, so that its employees can work safely from their home countries - but only within the European Union. Employees from other countries rightly felt unfairly treated, which prompted forto to look for an external solution. Because it was clear that this benefit was indispensable. Firstly, forto saw how high the demand was. Employees actively requested this from HR and also initiated it from time to time. Secondly, forto has seen how important it is. Employees actively thanked them for the opportunity to work away from their families. And thirdly, because it simply works. The employees did a good job from there and felt comfortable.

However, in order to offer remote work outside the European Union and to keep an eye on compliance and legal aspects, forto had to rely on external help. Before introducing WorkFlex, they struggled to find clear answers to questions such as taxes, insurance and labor regulations related to remote work outside the EU.

  • Who pays tax where?
  • What about insurance?
  • Does the labor law now apply from Germany or from another country?
  • Who is liable if something should go wrong?

All these questions could be answered by the WorkFlex software and the "no-risk" concept.

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💡Solution

In June 2023, forto implemented WorkFlex to enable employees outside the EU to work from their home country. WorkFlex enabled the company to set clear guidelines for remote work, ensure compliance and offer employees a structured process for short-term work stays abroad. The implementation followed a thorough evaluation of various providers, with WorkFlex being the only one that stood out for its complete package:


In addition to clear assessments of the compliance risks for each individual application, WorkFlex offered

1. Liability: In the unlikely event of complications, WorkFlex assumed financial liability, as well as professional support during administrative procedures. This gave forto the peace of mind of being able to send employees around the world without worrying about legal stumbling blocks.

2. Automatic issuance of A1 certificates: WorkFlex took care of all the complex compliance tasks such as issuing A1 certificates.

3. International health insurance: WorkFlex automatically secures travel health insurance for each employee from "Hallesche Krankenversicherung", which provides unlimited medical cover, including Covid-19 cover and repatriation from all countries. The team takes care of the application, communication and management of the insurance during the entire travel period.

4. 24/7 hotline at WorkFlex: WorkFlex offers a hotline available around the clock for all concerns, such as accidents, questions, compliance issues, which Forto has seen as a huge benefit.

5. User-friendly software: Before WorkFlex, forto had no overview of where all employees were, which could have disastrous (legal) consequences. Now they can see where each employee is, how many days they have worked abroad and much more through a simple click of a button.

6. Best support:
forto's dedicated Customer Success Manager responded incredibly quickly and did a great job of familiarizing forto with the tool. At the townhall, the Customer Success Manager also showed the platform, which was very helpful for all employees as well as HR.

7. Assessments for all countries - and nationalities: The WorkFlex compliance engine is able to assess all possible countries and nationalities combinations. forto was therefore able to implement WorkFlex, for example, in its entities inSpain without any problems and also enable their many Latinos to work from their home countries.

📈 Success measurement


The success of the implementation of WorkFlex at forto was demonstrated by

  • Time and resource savings: Using WorkFlex proved to be easy and efficient for both employees and the HR team. The compliance-related challenges were successfully overcome by working with WorkFlex.
  • Less administrative burden for HR: Before, there wasn't even really time to issue A1 certificates. Now it takes the People Ops team no more than a minute per request as all the work has been outsourced to WorkFlex.
  • Increased employee retention and satisfaction: The introduction of WorkFlex has been well received by employees. With clear guidelines and the ability to work abroad for up to 20 working days per calendar year, forto was able to better meet the needs of its global workforce. Employees appreciated the flexibility and the combination of work and travel, especially when it came to visiting their families in their home country.
  • Recruitment success: forto experienced a positive response both within the company and during the recruitment process, with remote work - abroad - being highlighted as a decisive criterion for potential employees.

“On a scale of one to five. I would definitely rate remote work abroad as a five, the most important benefit, because employees really did ask about it and it is also actively asked about in the interview process and apparently the decision is even made based on whether or not remote work abroad is offered. I really believe that this has changed since the pandemic and since the times of Corona and the demand for it is simply so great and it will continue to be so in the future.“
Carolin Braband, Team Lead People Operations
Remote Work at Forto:
Since September, in less than 3 months, forto employees from several different origin countries requested to work 3669 days (= more than 10 years) from 45 different destination countries abroad. More than every fifth request was for Indians to go back and work from India.


Overall, the introduction of WorkFlex at forto has led to improved employee satisfaction, less administrative work and increased attractiveness for potential employees. The introduction of WorkFlex has led to a hybrid working culture at forto, where employees have the flexibility to choose between working from home or in the office. This hybrid model has been well received and will be further developed in the coming year to meet the needs of employees.

forto is convinced that hybrid working models and the option of remote working will shape the future of work.

About AutoScout24

AutoScout24 is known as an online platform for buying and selling new and used cars. Although the platform was originally focused on the German market, AutoScout24 has expanded its presence internationally. This global focus is also reflected in the diversity of its workforce, who were keen to work from home. For this reason, AutoScout24 has enabled its employees to work worldwide since the pandemic - so-called "Working from Anywhere". However, AutoScout24 has encountered many challenges, particularly with regard to compliance.

🔥 Challenge

Before the introduction of WorkFlex in September, working from anywhere was handled informally internally during the pandemic. The challenge was to find a structured solution that met the needs of employees worldwide while maintaining compliance. Because AutoScout24 was still struggling:

  • Unstructured approach: AutoScout24 wanted to make working from anywhere more structured, especially after informal working from anywhere was the norm during the pandemic. WorkFlex provided a solution to enable this flexibility in an organized way.
  • Lack of internal know-how: AutoScout24 initially tried to organize flexible working from anywhere internally. However, the company realized that it was a significant effort and that internal employees did not have the necessary expertise. The decision to use WorkFlex was made in order to overcome these challenges and obtain external support.
  • Diverse employee needs: AutoScout24 has employees of 55 different nationalities. Many employees had the desire to return to their home countries and work from there. WorkFlex made it possible to meet these diverse needs.streamline the process

In September, AutoScout24 introduced WorkFlex to make global remote working more efficient. Previously, they had tried to manage the program internally, but quickly realized that this was very time consuming and complex.

💡Solution

After a careful selection of providers, the company chose WorkFlex for the following reasons:

  • Advanced status: AutoScout24 emphasized that although WorkFlex was still considered a start-up, it was significantly more advanced compared to other providers in the field. The platform was able to offer comprehensive services that met AutoScout24's global requirements.
  • Global coverage: WorkFlex provided AutoScout24 with the ability to offer not just European but worldwide workations - for all nationalities and different branches. This was particularly important to AutoScout24 due to their diverse workforce. The integration of the Netherlands was just as successful as the inclusion of employees with 55 different nationalities.
  • Eliminating compliance risks: AutoScout24 recognized that there were significant risks involved in handling international workations with legal aspects such as payroll tax and social security law. The decision to use WorkFlex was made in order to minimize these risks and to make use of external expertise. AutoScout24 was particularly impressed by the no-risk concept that WorkFlex assumes liability for. The included travel health insurance was another major deciding factor in favor of WorkFlex.
  • Good communication and support: AutoScout24 praised the good cooperation with WorkFlex, the quick response to questions and the continuous support, even for problems that rarely occur.
  • Easy integration and user-friendliness:The cooperation with WorkFlex was described as uncomplicated and user-friendly. Both the preparation and the ongoing support were positively emphasized.

📈 Positive Impacts and Benefits gained:

AutoScout24 has developed its "Working from Anywhere" company policy, which states that employees can work anywhere in the world for up to 10 working days.

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The success of the implementation of WorkFlex at AutoScout24 was demonstrated by:

1. Global destination countries: The introduction of WorkFlex allows employees to work globally. This allows employees to return to and work from their home countries. The challenge of legal complexity was overcome by WorkFlex.
Since September, AutoScout24 employees have already worked from 20 different countries worldwide. 57% of the trips were to non-EU countries. The top destinations were not the typical vacation countries, but - in line with the diverse workforce - India, USA, Turkey, Greece and South Africa.

2. Structured framework: Before the introduction of WorkFlex, working from anywhere was handled rather informally due to the pandemic. Once it was decided to take a more structured approach, WorkFlex was introduced as a solution.

3. More flexibility for employees: WorkFlex enables employees to work abroad for up to ten working days. This is particularly relevant for employees with 55 different nationalities at AutoScout24, who often want to return to their home countries.

4. Employee well-being and work-life balance: The Workations policy positively impacted employee well-being and work-life balance, especially for non-German employees who could extend their stays abroad without depleting their vacation budget. The flexibility offered by Workations contributed to a healthier work-life balance.

5. Relief for the HR department: WorkFlex's expertise and support have reduced the internal workload immensely, especially in connection with forms, approvals and requests for non-European assignments abroad. WorkFlex automates many of these processes or takes over the issuing of all relevant documents such as A1 certificates, CoC, travel insurance

6. Cost savings: AutoScout24 saves costs in several areas by using WorkFlex:

  • External consulting costs: before implementing WorkFlex,AutoScout24 often hired external expensive consulting firms for issues related to payroll tax, social security law and other legal aspects. By working withWorkFlex, these costs can be reduced as the platform offers specialized expertise.
  • Administrative costs: Using WorkFlex eliminates the need to manually create and manage elaborate forms for international assignments.This not only saves paper and printing costs, but also the time it takes employees to complete these documents.
  • Time and cost savings for HR & employees: AutoScout24 employees need less time to obtain approvals for international assignments as the process is streamlined by WorkFlex. This leads to an overall more efficient use of working time.

The collaboration with WorkFlex is extremely positive. The preparation, support, and usability of the tool are outstanding. The flexibility of WorkFlex to include all countries and the continuous support contributed significantly to the success. The automation of processes, such as the application process and communication with employees, resulted insignificant time and cost savings for AutoScout24

Katrin Paetzold – Senior HRBP at AutoScout24

The case study illustrates the success of AutoScout24 through the integration of WorkFlex. Overall, WorkFlex has helped to streamline internal processes, increase employee flexibility, and reduce the cost of remote work abroad per trip.

About idealo

idealo, a leading online platform for price comparison, faced the challenge of managing and optimizing its remote work policy, known as "Workations" or temporary work from abroad. Prior to August 2022, idealo allowed its 1050 employees from 60 different nations to work remotely from any location but lacked a structured tool to manage requests, leading to administrative challenges and potential compliance risks.

🔥 Challenge

As the demand for remote work abroad increased more and more, idealo needed a comprehensive solution to

  • get an overview where everyone is working
  • streamline the process
  • develop a proper, official framework for work from anywhere
  • manage compliance risks
  • get necessary documentation (PWD; A1; CoC, etc.)
  • enhance the overall employee experience

The company sought a tool that could facilitate transparent communication, assess risks effectively, and provide legal and financial coverage for remote work. Further, idealo faced challenges related to IT support for remote employees, equipment issues, and managing pushback from denied requests, especially from employees in Ukraine and Russia. WorkFlex played a crucial role in addressing these challenges and establishing clear boundaries for remote work.

💡Solution

In August 2022, idealo partnered with WorkFlex to implement a robust solution for managing remote work, offering employees the flexibility to work from any location worldwide. WorkFlex provided a transparent risk assessment process, quick application processing, and comprehensive liability.

Reasons for Choosing WorkFlex:

idealo chose WorkFlex for

  • its transparency in risk assessment and speedy application processing
  • the platform's modern easy-to-use interface and efficient workflow
  • the unique no-risk workation concept that no competitor offered
  • the travel health insurance that is automatically issued for every employee working abroad

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Policy Framework

idealo has one of the most progressive policies that exist on the market as it its up-to-183-days policy mirrors the legal limit. idealo allows remote work from any country. Up to 30 days per year within a European country is automatically approved. Then between 31 and 90 days per year from any country if the WorkFlex approval is yellow or green. And then from 91 until 182 days, the approval from WorkFlex has to be green that we allow it, but it's also from any country in the world.

📈 Positive Impacts and Benefits gained:

The implementation of WorkFlex brought several positive impacts to idealo:

1. Efficiency and Time Savings: WorkFlex significantly reduced administrative costs and efforts. The platform's automated features, such as issuing certificates of coverage, eliminated manual paperwork, and streamlined the entire process. Now, HR needs less than 3minutes per request whereas before they needed hours.

2. Transparency and Employee Satisfaction: The transparency in the risk assessment process and the ease of tracking application status through the WorkFlex portal improved communication and reduced the need for employees to inquire about the status of their applications.  

3. Legal and Financial Protection: WorkFlex provided legal and financial liability coverage, offering peace of mind to both employees and the employer during remote work, ultimately contributing to the success of Workations. Also, the employee is automatically health insured via WorkFlex’s travel health insurance, which neither of the few existing competitors offered.

4. Employee Well-being and Work-Life Balance: The Workations policy positively impacted employee well-being and work-life balance, especially for non-German employees who could extend their stays abroad without depleting their vacation budget. The flexibility offered by Workations contributed to a healthier work-life balance.

5. Attractiveness as an Employer:Workations became a crucial component of idealo's external marketing strategy, enhancing the company's reputation as an employee-friendly organization that supports individual lifestyles. The positive feedback from applicants highlighted the attractiveness of idealo as an employer.

Workations in Numbers at idealo:

Since August 2022, idealos requested 577 workations to 64 destination countries. 72% were approved. In 1 year and 3 months, idealos worked 11077working days abroad  - which is over 30years of workations in total.

idealo confirms that this benefit has one of the highest usage rates in their benefit portfolio due to the diverse, international workforce. Most employees use this perk to work from their family’s home abroad – a use case that is dominated in a workforce of 60+ nationalities.

For idealo, it is clear that WorkFlex is the best solution out there. The collaboration with WorkFlex transformed the management of remote work for idealo, turning it into a streamlined, efficient, and employee-friendly process. By addressing challenges, enhancing transparency, and providing legal and financial coverage, WorkFlex played a pivotal role in making Workations a successful and sustainable model for idealo.

When the winter chill has you dreaming of warmer horizons but your vacation days are limited, workations might be your answer. This harmonious blend of work and vacation enables you to temporarily set up your office in sun-soaked destinations, providing not only relief from the cold temperatures but also a unique opportunity to explore faraway lands, dive into new cultures, learn anew language, and immerse yourself in the daily life of a distant country.

Here are our handpicked workation destinations outside Europe, carefully chosen for their warm weather, affordability, beachy vibes, and high quality of life:

Let's dive into the top 5 workation destinations overseas:

Colombia 🇨🇴
Colombia has it all, and there's something for every traveler. From the buzzing techno parties in Bogota to the serene beaches in Palomino.

Look for flexible workspaces in popular cities like Medellin or Bogota. These often provide a conducive environment for work and networking. Take advantage of weekends or short breaks to explore Colombia's diverse landscapes, from the Amazon rainforest to the Caribbean beaches.

🌃 𝗕𝗼𝗴𝗼𝘁𝗮: If you're a techno music enthusiast like Anneke, Bogota is the place to be. The city's nightlife is on fire with some of the best techno parties that'll keep you grooving all night long. Don't miss out on this electrifying experience!

🏞️ 𝗠𝗲𝗱𝗲𝗹𝗹𝗶́n: Medellin is not just about the city; it's also about the breathtaking nature nearby. Head to El Peñón de Guatapé for stunning views and a climb you won't forget. Getting there by bus from Medellin is easy, and the journey is as scenic as the destination.

🏖️ 𝗖𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗮𝗴𝗲𝗻𝗮: This city is a work of art itself. Every corner is a splash of color, and the city tours will take you through its vibrant history. If you're into art and colors, Cartagena is a must-visit destination.

🌴 𝗦𝗮𝗻𝘁𝗮 𝗠𝗮𝗿𝘁𝗮: This city offers a unique co-living experience at Belafonte.With a co-working space, reliable internet, air conditioning, and even rooftop pool access, you can balance work and relaxation. Plus, the opportunity for yoga and dance classes! Don't miss visiting Santa Marta and exploring the nearby Minca for hiking adventures.

🏖️ 𝗣𝗮𝗹𝗼𝗺𝗶𝗻𝗼: A gem close to the Tayrona national park, Palomino boasts a beautiful beach.The tubing tour on the Rio de Palomino is a must-try adventure. You can even sleep in tiny cottages right on the beach, with breathtaking sunsets as your backdrop.

While Colombia has made great strides in improving safety, it's essential to stay vigilant. Stick to well-traveled areas and be cautious with belongings.

More questions around working in Colombia? Don't hesitate and write Anneke van Krevel via LinkedIn.

Mexico🇲🇽

With its amazing beaches, Mexican cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, picturesque cities, and fantastic opportunities for road trips and hikes, Mexico is a great workation destination - also to refreshen your Spanish skills - or our 𝗣𝗿𝗼 𝗧𝗶𝗽: Learn some basic Spanish skills to get in touch with the locals and culture as well as to pay local prices. Your efforts will earn smiles from the ever-friendly locals!

Mexico is one of the most popular digital nomad destinations, therefore co-working spaces are also becoming popular in major cities! Also, ensure a stable internet connection by checking reviews or asking locals for the best Wi-Fi spots to guarantee stress-free working! 


Especially Playa del Carmen is recommended by our BDR and Workation Pro Christina Graf, who began to work remotely due to her love for Mexico. Playa del Carmen won her heart as it is the home of 𝗺𝗮𝗻𝘆 𝗱𝗶𝗴𝗶𝘁𝗮𝗹 𝗻𝗼𝗺𝗮𝗱𝘀 (thus, perfect internet connection), but it also has great 𝗠𝗲𝘅𝗶𝗰𝗮𝗻 𝗲𝗻𝗲𝗿𝗴𝘆. Whether you're sipping coconut water by the shore or cold-calling from a terrace with a view, Playa del Carmen seamlessly merges work and play. 🏖🌴

Here are Christina's 𝘁𝗼𝗽 𝘁𝗶𝗽𝘀 for making the most out of your Workation in Playa del Carmen:

🤫 𝗔𝘃𝗼𝗶𝗱 𝘀𝘁𝗮𝘆𝗶𝗻𝗴 𝗼𝗻 𝗤𝘂𝗶𝗻𝘁𝗮 𝗔𝘃𝗲𝗻𝗶𝗱𝗮: It is loud, busy, expensive and not good to work from. Seeking a quieter workspace? Swap the buzz of Quinta Avenida for the serenity behind 15.Avenida.

🌄 𝗗𝗶𝘀𝗰𝗼𝘃𝗲𝗿 𝗬𝘂𝗰𝗮𝘁𝗮́𝗻: See the upside of the time zone differences and embrace your new schedule to uncover more of Mexico's treasures. Dive into journeys from Holbox to Bacalar, discover the secrets of cristal-clear cenotes, stand amazed at Chichen Itza, and dive into the cultural tapestry of Valladolid and Merida.

☕ 𝗖𝗮𝗳𝗲́ 𝘄𝗶𝘁𝗵 𝗮 𝘃𝗶𝗲𝘄: Yearning for fresh inspiration? Playa's got your back. Swing by ChouxChoux Cafe, Peace and Bowl, Basic Foodie, Marley Coffee, and Fresco Habito for a taste of local vibes and a dash of productivity.

🌮 𝗘𝗮𝘁 𝘆𝗼𝘂𝗿 𝘄𝗮𝘆 𝘁𝗵𝗿𝗼𝘂𝗴𝗵 𝗠𝗲𝘅𝗶𝗰𝗼: Tough work calls for delightful bites! From local wonders to global flavors, Playa del Carmen has your taste journey sorted. Christina's favorite places are Ay Taco, Peace & Bowl, Falafel Nessya, Don Mario Les Amis, and El Doctorcito

Mexico's kitchen is one of the only kitchens protected by the UNESCO. Don't be afraid to eat local food from the street stalls. Embrace the local culture by trying traditional dishes, learning basic Spanish phrases, and participating in local events or festivals! This way your workation allows you to really get away from your routine in the home-office.


Other great cities to visit and work from in Mexico are:
- Puerto Escondido
- Mexico City
- Oaxaca
- La Paz in Baja California
- Monterrey

You are afraid of the time difference?
It can actually be used greatly to your advantage! Start early, so that you basically have the whole day off to explore Mexico's wonders during your off-hours, whether it's visiting ancient ruins, exploring cenotes, or enjoying vibrant street markets.

If you have more questions on that, don't hesitate to reach out to Christina Graf who regularly works from Mexico.

Thailand 🇹🇭
Thailand, with its friendly locals, dreamy beaches, paradise islands and bustling cities has long been a popular destination for tourists and digital nomads. The cheap flights, excellent street food and first class hotels and restaurants make it the ideal spot for a workation.

The climate is warm all year round, and the dry season is especially popular to escape winter in the Northern hemisphere. But Thailand is more than parties, beaches and boat tours. It also offers a great opportunity to immerse yourself in a rich culture.

Particularly Bangkok stands as a magnet for travellers of all types. One of the biggest airports in Southeast Asia makes it a hub for business and leisure, with as much as 22 Million visitors per year. It offers various advantages for digital nomads:

  • High-speed internet and Wi-Fi in almost all public spaces
  • Big digital nomad and expat community
  • Fast public transport (AirTrain and Metro) to avoid the crazy traffic
  • A never-ending number of attractions to explore
  • Co-working spaces


When in Bangkok, make sure to check out these locations:

  1.  Grand Palace: Immerse yourself in Thai history and culture at this iconic landmark
  2. Wat Arun: Experience the stunning beauty of the Temple of Dawn, especially during sunset
  3. Chatuchak Weekend Market: Shop for unique finds and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of one of the world's largest markets
  4. Chao Phraya River: Take a boat ride to witness Bangkok's skyline and discover riverside attractions
  5. Lumpini Park: Escape the urban hustle and bustle with a stroll in this green oasis
  6. Khao San Road: Enjoy the lively atmosphere, street performances, and diverse nightlife options
  7. Take a tuk-tuk ride: Dive into the local experience with this iconic mode of transportation
  8. MBK Center: Explore one of the many malls and enjoy the atmosphere of luxury
  9. Octave rooftop: See Bangkok from above like nowhere else at this elegant rooftop bar
  10. Floating Market: Visit one of these unique markets where local goods are sold on boats

Thailand perfectly blends tradition and progress and offers many reasons to place it on top of your travel list.

More questions around Thailand? Reach out to our BDR Nathalie Eder

And last but not least: Indonesia - Bali 🇮🇩

Bali, the perfect blend of nature, culture, and a vibrant digital nomad community, offers an ideal backdrop for work and relaxation. From Uluwatu's pristine beauty to Canggu's energetic vibe and Ubud's spiritual atmosphere, Bali caters to diverse preferences.

Enjoy seamless work-life integration with co-working spaces, high-speed internet, and a lively expat community. Bali isn't just a destination; it's a hub for self-discovery, offering workshops in breath work, Kundalini, dance, and yoga. For a break, explore Bali's renowned surf spots or unwind on picturesque beaches with breathtaking sunsets. Immerse yourself in Balinese traditions, attend local ceremonies, and savor authentic delicacies.

Beyond work, Bali's landscape invites adventures, from volcanoes and rice fields to temples and nearby islands like Gili and Nusa Penida. Bali captivates with its harmonious blend of work and leisure, making it an irresistible destination.

Our Growth Marketing Manager Anna Dung has worked several months from Bali. Here she has summarized her learnings:

Best places to stay & work:
- Ubud
is known for its art and cultural heritage with the Tegallalang Rice Terraces and the Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary

- Seminyak is a trendy area known for its upscale shopping, dining, and nightlife.

- Canggu, the haven for digital nomads

- Lovina, on Bali's north coast, is known for its black sand beaches and dolphin-watching tours. It offers a more relaxed and quieter atmosphere

Our Must Visit’s:
- Jatiluwih Rice Terraces: These UNESCO-listed rice terraces in central Bali provide stunning panoramic views. It's a peaceful area to explore and learn about traditional Balinese agriculture.

- Tanah Lot
: A sea temple perched on a rock formation, providing spectacular sunset views. The temple is a significant cultural and pilgrimage site.

- Nusa Penida is known for its pristine beaches, unique landscapes, and popular sites like Kelingking Beach, Angel's Billabong, and Broken Beach.

- Uluwatu Temple offers stunning views of theIndian Ocean. It's famous for its traditional Kecak dance performances at sunset.

🏡Logistics of Bali Living:

Accommodation: Rooms with pool, aircon, and breakfast range from €25-35 per night. Monthly stays can cost around €450.

Coworking Space: Daily rates of €10-15, with cheaper monthly passes.

Scooter Rental: €3-5 per day, more cost-effective for long-term rentals.

Private Driver: A day's service costs around €45 for up to 6 people.

Street Food: Nasi Champur or Mie Goreng can cost €2-4.

!Attention! 🌧️ Rainy season starts in November and ends in Feburary/March. During the rainy season it can rain a lot - and sometimes it doesn’t only rain for 1 hour. Starting inMay/June the island gets more crowded & prices rise. More and moreAustralians are escaping the winter. InAnna Dung’s and Anna Scheck’s opinion: March-May and September-November are the best times to work remotely from Bali.

More questions around Bali? Reach out to our Bali Experts Anna Scheck or Anna Dung via LinkedIn

South Africa  🇿🇦

South Africa, with its diverse landscapes and rich cultural heritage, has become a sought-after destination for workations. Here are some reasons why South Africa should be at the top of your travel list:

Most importantly for work, South Africa has well-established infrastructure, including reliable internet connectivity, co-working spaces, and amenities conducive to remote work.

And the other big plus compared to other overseas destinations: The Time Zone advantage. If your team is normally working in European time, you would have a maximum of 2 hour difference.

Also, for the free time South Africa offers a variety. The country provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including wildlife safaris, hiking trails, and water sports, allowing workationers to balance work with recreational adventures. For not so outdoorsy persons, South Africa offers also a unique blend of cultures, languages, and traditions, providing a culturally enriching experience for workationers due to ist rich history. For that, make sure to engage with locals to gain insights into South Africa's rich history and diverse cultures. Attend cultural events or visit museums during your downtime

If in Cape Town, explore the unique neighborhoods, indulge in the local cuisine, and take the cable car to TableMountain for breathtaking views. Plan weekend getaways to nearby destinations like the Winelands or the Garden Route for a refreshing break from work.

Pro Tip for Accommodations:
Ensure your accommodation has a generator or solar panels. Cape Town experiences frequent power outages, sometimes lasting for several hours. Having a reliable power source is crucial for uninterrupted work.

Airbnb offers several beautiful houses with solar panels and private pools for a relaxing midday break. Neighbourgood has been recommended as a co-living option.

What to see in and near Capetown in your freetime:

🌈 Bo-Kaap: Capture stunning photos of the colorful houses

🏖 Clifton Beach: Enjoy the white sandy beach with mountains as a backdrop

⛰ Hiking: Tackle Table Mountain, Lions Head, and Signal Hill at sunset

🌿 Kirstenbosch Botanical Garden: Relax in this beautiful botanical garden

🚗 Chapman's Peak Drive: Drive along this scenic route

🌊 Cape of Good Hope: Witness the meeting point of the Atlantic and Indian Oceans

🐧 Boulders Beach: Encounter penguins in their natural habitat

🍷 Stellenbosch: Try wine tasting in this charming town

🚗 Garden Route: Explore this picturesque coastal drive

🦁 Safari: Embark on a safari adventure for a unique wildlife experience

From stunning beaches to majestic mountains and vibrant cities,South Africa boasts diverse landscapes that provide an inspiring backdrop for work. The country provides ample opportunities for outdoor activities, including wildlife safaris, hiking trails, and water sports, allowing workationers to balance work with recreational adventures.

More questions around South Africa? Don't hesitate and write Anna Dung and Anneke van Krevel via LinkedIn.

Remember, the key to a successful workation is finding the right balance between work and leisure, allowing you to not only meet your professional commitments but also create lasting memories in these incredible destinations. Happy workationing! 🌴✨

But don't forget to check with your employer beforehand to make sure to have an A1 certificate and valid travel health insurance when going on workation. Safe travels!

The time-difference is holding you back? We also have great recommendations for European Destinations, in which you can escape the cold! 

Now you know where to go? Check out our workation tips to make the most of your workation!

·     How to organize a workation - Insights from a serial workationer

·     The ultimate 5 Step Guide to your Workation

·     7 Mistakes to avoid on your Workation!

With the right balance, you can turn your workation into a memorable experience, leaving the winter chill far behind. Cheers to new adventures and the freedom to work from wherever the sun shines brightest! 🌞✈️

Looking to escape the autumn/winter blues? But you don’t have enough vacation days left? Workations might be your answer.

What exactly is a workation?
It's the brilliant fusion of work and vacation, that enables you to work temporarily from sun-soaked destinations. It’s not a fully-fledged holiday where you can start on the cocktails at 11am, because you will still have emails to do and tasks to action, but it does offer a change of scenery with warmer temperatures and the chance to relax away from home outside working hours.

Why these destinations?
In a nutshell: Because of sunny weather, warm temperatures, affordability, beach, and a high quality of life—and on top a maximum of 1-hour time difference!

Now let's delve into our favorite winter escape options in Europe that are tailor-made for a workation:

Andalucía 🇪🇸
With its amazing beaches, Spanish cuisine, laid-back lifestyle, picturesque cities, and fantastic opportunities for road trips and hikes, Andalucía is a great workation destination. From the vibrant shores of the Costa del Sol to the tranquil beaches of Costa de la Luz, the region invites visitors to indulge in the sun-kissed paradise and embrace the coastal charm.


Especially Sevilla and Malaga are recommended by us, but all cities offer several co-working spaces, laptop friendly cafés, as well as hotels prepared for remote working travellers.

Other great cities to visit in Andalucía are:
- Granada with the breathtaking Alhambra
- Córdoba with its mesmerizing Mezquita-Catedral
- Ronda & the Puente Nuevo
- Cadiz & the Pueblos Blancos
-
Jerez de la Frontera: The Birthplace of Flamenco

Also, make sure to dive into the world of tapas, where each bite is a burst of Spanish goodness. Whether savoring paella by the beach or enjoying traditional Andalusian gazpacho, the region's cuisine is a delightful journey for the taste buds.

From siestas under the warm sun to leisurely strolls through charming streets, the region encourages a slower, more relaxed approach to daily living, which helps immensely to get rid of the winter blues.

Athens 🇬🇷
The Greek capital is known for its abundant sunshine throughout the year. With approximately 2,500 to 3,000 hours of sunshine annually, it allows visitors to engage in various outdoor activities, such as exploring its vast historic sites, strolling along picturesque streets, and enjoying al fresco dining in the local Greek taverna, all without the discomfort of winter chill. Picture yourself taking a break to wander through the historic Plaka district or visiting the Acropolis and Parthenon after work.

Also consider extending your stay to uncover the allure of Greece's islands: Santorini, Kos, Paros, and Crete beckon with their distinct charms, offering a refreshing contrast to Athens' urban vibrancy.

Moreover, a noteworthy advantage of considering Greece for a workation during the winter months are the lowered costs. Islands like Santorini, Mykonos, and Crete, known for their peak-season popularity, become more accessible and affordable during the winter, allowing workationers to enjoy the charm and beauty of these destinations without the typical high-season costs.


𝗠𝗮𝗱𝗲𝗶𝗿𝗮 🇵🇹 
Often referred to as the Hawaii of Europe, Madeira is a paradise for those seeking beautiful hikes in their free time, excellent internet connectivity, and, of course, local delights like "Bolo do Caco" and "Poncha".
"Bolo do Caco," a round-shaped bread traditionally cooked on a flat basalt stone, is often enjoyed with garlic butter or as a sandwich. "Poncha," a traditional Madeiran cocktail, is a delightful mix of local sugarcane rum, honey, and citrus flavors.

While Madeira might not boast pristine sandy beaches, its allure lies in the rugged coastline, towering cliffs, and volcanic landscapes. Madeira is a haven for hiking enthusiasts, boasting an extensive network of scenic trails that traverse lush forests, dramatic cliffs, and picturesque landscapes. From the challenging trek to Pico Ruivo, the island's highest peak, to the serene Levada walks, every hike unfolds a tapestry of natural splendor.

Madeira is committed to sustainable tourism and ecotourism initiatives, emphasizing responsible travel practices. This ensures the upkeep of the island's natural beauty, including the Laurissilva Forest, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the enchanting Laurissilva-topped mountains.

The island also comes alive with vibrant celebrations, including the famous Funchal Carnival, where colorful parades and lively performances showcase Madeira's rich cultural heritage.

In conclusion, Madeira beckons as a European gem, where nature, culture, and remote work seamlessly intertwine.

Canary Islands 🇮🇨
In general, the canary islands are a dream for digital nomads: Beach, surf, fast internet connection (35Mbps) and a great international community. Especially the Islands Tenerife and Fuerteventura are great to leave the winter blues behind? Why?

In Tenerife, you'll need to choose between the North and the South. Both areas have distinct communities. The North is greener, more rugged, slightly colder, and less touristy, with beautiful coastlines and impressive hikes in Anaga National Park. The South is sunnier but also more touristy, with many large hotels. We'd always opt for the North, with our favorite place being Puerto de la Cruz!

Picture yourself start your day with a refreshing dip in the 𝐁𝐚𝐣𝐚𝐦𝐚𝐫'𝐬 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐮𝐫𝐚𝐥 𝐒𝐰𝐢𝐦𝐦𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐏𝐨𝐨𝐥𝐬. Explore the hidden gem of Masca, resembling Vietnam's Ha Giang Loop. Enjoy the "Golden Hour" at Costa El Sauzal. Arrive early, pack a picnic, and stay late for a mesmerizing sunset experience.

For authentic cuisine, visit "Restaurante Playa Casa Africa." For something unique, try "Restaurante La Ola." Looking for local, budget-friendly fare? Head to "Guachinche Bibi y Mana."

While Fuerteventura may not have the most stunning landscapes among the Canary Islands, it is an absolute haven for digital nomads! Corralejo, in particular, hosts numerous events like meet-ups, breath work sessions, yoga classes, hikes, and parties. Great conditions for (kite-) surfing 🏄

Our Growth Marketing Manager Anna Dung spent 5 weeks there and met many incredible people.

And last but not least: The 𝗔𝗹𝗴𝗮𝗿𝘃𝗲 🇵🇹
The Algarve region is a workationers or digital nomad‘s dream. Here, you'll find stunning beaches, robust internet connectivity wherever you go, a thriving digital nomad community in Lagos, and breathtaking sunsets. It's an ideal spot for surfing and hiking, making it the perfect place to balance work and leisure.

Yes, these places are all not really well kept secrets but winter season means its not their high, which, in turn, means less tourists and lower prices!

Now that we've explored some enticing workation destinations, each boasting warm weather and a maximum one-hour time difference, the possibilities are at your fingertips. You don't need to jet off to far-flung corners of the world; even Southern Europe can provide the warmth and change of scenery you crave. Whether it's the stunning beaches of the Algarve, the laid-back charm of Andalucia, the sunshine-soaked streets of Athens, the natural beauty of Madeira, or the vibrant communities of the Canary Islands—these destinations beckon to remote workers seeking a reprieve from the winter blues.

So, if the monotony of your daily routine has you yearning for a change, why not consider a workation? Pack your laptop, embark on a journey to warmer horizons, and let the blend of work and leisure rejuvenate your spirit.

And don't forget to check with your employer beforehand to make sure to have an A1 certificate and valid travel health insurance when going on workation. Safe travels!

Now you know where to go? Check out our workation tips to make the most of your workation!

·     How to organize a workation - Insights from a serial workationer

·     The ultimate 5 Step Guide to your Workation

·     7 Mistakes to avoid on your Workation!

With the right balance, you can turn your workation into a memorable experience, leaving the winter chill far behind. Cheers to new adventures and the freedom to work from wherever the sun shines brightest! 🌞✈️

What is a social security treaty?

A social security treaty is an agreement between two countries which establishes a common framework to coordinate social security schemes. Thanks to these treaties, it is possible to eliminate dual social security coverage as well as to address issues such as the payment of social security taxes and the transfer of benefits between countries.  

The effects of the treaty materialize once a document is issued by the home country’s authorities. This document (A1 or CoC depending on the country) is the proof of the employee paying social security in their home country and being already covered by that country’s social security scheme.

 

What is the risk of no social security treaty between countries? How does this impact remote workers?

If there is no social security treaty in place between two countries, employees may end up paying social security premiums in two (or more) countries for the same work and also they might miss the benefits they have earned during the time they have been working from different countries. In other words, the existence of these treaties are a relief from a compliance point of view, the lack of them may be a headache.

In practice, when an employee works remotely from another (destination) country and there is no agreement in place, significant challenges arise. For instance, in addition to the mentioned above, the talent and the employer could culminate in contributing to the destination country's social security system by paying social security premiums.

All in all, in the ongoing new reality of remote work, understanding the nuances of social security agreements is crucial for both employers and employees. This requires certain awareness of the potential consequences and the importance of always being provided with documents like the A1 or CoC.  

Your employees undoubtedly love the freedom to go on workations! To avoid compliance risks, we highly recommend implementing a workation management process. Book a demo with WorkFlex today to see how we can help you streamline this process and mitigate potential risks.

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The recently published KPMG report states that CEOs expect to return to the office within 3 years.

However, other studies show that employees want exactly the opposite:

  • Only 6% want to work exclusively in the office (Source: Gallup)
  • 93% expect to work from any location (Source: Deloitte)
  • Flexibility in the workplace is the second most important factor for employee retention (Source: McKinsey)


But how can these two approaches be reconciled? What should HR do? What will the working model of the future look like?

We organized a webinar to answer these questions so that you as an employer can remain competitive in the future.


Check out our exclusive webinar on work in the Post-Covid-Era!

Together with industry experts we discussed:

👉 Will we work 100% remote, hybrid or mobile abroad in the future?

👉 What challenges will the HR team increasingly have to overcome?

👉 How can the HR team maintain team collaboration and corporate culture in a remote or hybrid working environment?

👉 How can the HR team support the transition to this new working reality?

‍‍

Our esteemed experts:‍

  • Prof. Dr. Stefan Remhof: Co-Founder & CEO EDNEO AG, MP People Mobility Alliance, International Management Professor at IU International University
  • Johanna Große Daldrup: Manager torq.partners
  • Pieter Manden LLM MBA: Co-Founder WorkFlex
  • Cara Benecke: WorkFlex Team Lead Customer Success

About Flix
For Flix, a leader in the mobility sector, the concept of 'work from anywhere' is more than just a policy; it's an integral part of their corporate identity. It would be contradictory for a company that connects people globally with their FlixBuses and FlixTrains to restrict its own employees to a fixed location.

Recognizing the shifting paradigms in the post-pandemic world, the company introduced the “work from manywhere” program. Since July 1st, 2022, Flix' employees have the opportunity to work from almost any location in the world – may it be from their grandma's garden or a sandy beach.

🔥 Challenge

At the end of the pandemic, Flix asked its employees if they would like to work from anywhere. This preliminary survey indicated a very high demand. Given the changes the pandemic brought in our ways of working, combined with the diversity in their team, Flix saw a great opportunity to introduce this program.
This, however, brought up new challenges for Flix:  

·     Accompany rapidly changing employee' needs: The rapid shift to remote work during the pandemic has created a crave for more flexibility among employees. This change in mentality – being able to work from anywhere - left Flix trying to balance complex compliance requirements that have not adjusted to the new working environment with their employees’ increasing desire to work from anywhere. They knew they needed an external solution, to make sure they act 100% compliant.

Forbidding workations was not in the interest of Flix as their international workforce demanded having also the right for an international homeoffice and might have done so - also without permission.

·     Ever-changing compliance & legislations: Ensuring adherence to diverse labor laws, tax regulations, and social security mandates was a monumental challenge. Although Flix had a lot of in-house expertise, such as a legal department, tax department, HR - this was a new topic where nobody had already acquired expertise.

·     Complex international workforce: With employees coming from over 90 different countries, the legal intricacies of tax laws, labor regulations, and visa requirements got even more complex. This diversity, especially concerning non-EU nationalities, highlighted Flix's need for an external compliance partner.

💡 Solution
WorkFlex provided the needed solution for these challenges:

·     Individual risk assessment: WorkFlex's tool matched exactly what Flix needed, balancing freedom and compliance. WorkFlex’ compliance logic and automised approach check each work-from-anywhere request individually, making sure Flix is compliant no matter where an employee wants to work or which country they are on payroll on. This careful checking is crucial as Flix has employees from many countries, each with its own set of rules.

·     User-friendly platform: The WorkFlex platform simplifies the process for Flix. It consolidates all work-from-anywhere requests, prepares necessary documents, and ensures that employees are adequately insured, among other functionalities.

·     High and up-to-date compliance expertise: With WorkFlex's legal team, Flix doesn't have to constantly monitor changes in legislation.
 

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📈 Results

Flix created its “Working from Manywhere” policy, which stated that employees can work from anywhere - up to 60 days in low &medium risk countries and five days in high-risk countries.

The success of WorkFlex's implementation at Flix was evident through:

·     Progressive employer branding: By offering global workations, Flix bolstered its image as a forward-thinking employer, catering to the modern needs of its workforce.

·     Boosted employee satisfaction: The positive feedback from employees was a testament to the success of the initiative. The ability to work from diverse locations, be it their hometown or a beach, greatly improved their work-life balance and enhanced Flix's reputation as an employee-centric organization, emphasizing flexibility.

·     Easier Recruitment through competitive advantage: The work-from-anywhere benefit became a significant perk for potential employees, standing out to new applicants. Especially Gen Z and international talent show high interest in the working model during the recruitment process.

·     Reduction of manual effort: Thanks to WorkFlex, employees autonomously submit work-from-anywhere requests. HR is only needed for the final approval, which reduces their efforts to less than 5 minutes per request. No time needed to self-check compliance or to create whole frameworks for non-EU citizens.

·     Savings in costs and administrative efforts: Partnering with WorkFlex eliminated the need for extensive research and consultation with tax lawyers, resulting in substantial cost savings. Further, the streamlined processes reduced the administrative burden, allowing Flix to allocate resources to other pivotal projects instead of needing to check the ever-changing compliance regulations for their international workforce.

 

Recap: Working from Manywhere at Flix with WorkFlex
In total, since the beginning of Flix’ Work from Anywhere Policy, employees have worked temporarily from over 80 different countries all around the globe, as the map shows. Alone during this year, Flix' employees worked for 1452 days from 59 different countries.

Most trips were requested by Indian employees (13,40%), closely followed by the Germans (8,87%). Brazilian, US-American, and Egyptian employees were the subsequent frontrunners in making such requests.

The average workation days per annum per employee was 20-25 days. Thus, it is still less than Flix’ policy threshold of 60 days.

Where Flix' employees have already worked compliantly from - thanks to WorkFlex

At its core, Flix's decision to embrace this model stems from a deep commitment to its employees. The company aims to foster an environment where employees feel valued, understood, and proud to be a part of the organization.

Flix firmly believes in the future of remote work. As the market sees more companies offering such flexibility, it not only sets a new standard but also creates a competitive edge, compelling others to follow suit.

Partnering with WorkFlex has enabled Flix to extend this flexibility even to regions like Asia, Latin America, and Africa, all while maintaining a stringent focus on compliance.

Here are seven tips to make your workation greener:

1. Discover Closer Destinations 🌍:
Ever thought that paradise might be closer than you think? Before jetting off to far-flung destinations, discover hidden gems in your neighboring countries. It's eco-friendly and a great way to boost local tourism.

2. Stay Longer ⏳: Already soaking up the sun on vacation? Why rush back? Extend your stay and work remotely. Fewer flights mean less carbon footprint, and you get to immerse yourself deeper in the local culture.

3. Opt for Green Transportation 🚂: Rethink if that flight is truly necessary. Trains or buses are often more sustainable alternatives and provide a unique travel experience. And once you're there, embrace public transport, bicycles, or your own two feet. If driving isa must, go electric! 🚴♂️🔌

4. Choose Eco-Friendly Accommodations and Activities 🏡🌳: Look for eco-friendly lodgings that have sustainable practices in place, such as water conservation, renewable energy usage, and waste reduction. Only do activities that have minimal environmental impact. For instance, choose kayaking over jet skiing.

5. Power Down & Unplug 🔌: Turn off lights, appliances, and air conditioning when not in use. Consider using a fan instead of air conditioning. Unplug devices – televisions, laptops, phone chargers, and even microwaves suck electricity all daylong. When not in use, pull the plug to save energy.

And here's a pro-tip: Declutter digitally! While working, try to reduce unnecessary downloads and excessive device usage. This not only conserves energy but also enhances productivity.

6. Watch your waste 🚯
Workations often mean short stays, leading to single-use items and excessive packaging. To avoid this, you could:

·      When planning your stay, look out for properties that no longer offer single-use plastic products, such as mini shampoos.

·      Pack a reusable water bottle, cutlery, coffee cup, straw, etc.

·      Swap bottles for soap bars. They're compact, and their eco-footprint is roughly 25% lighter.

·      Embrace local markets for fresh produce, reducing the need for packaged goods. If you have leftovers, consider taking them for later or composting them.

·      Familiarize yourself with the local recycling and composting laws.

7. Neutralize Your Travel Footprint 🌱
There are several ways to offset your CO2 emissions, such as Reforestation andAfforestation projects, Renewable Energy Projects, or carbon capture and storage technologies that capture and remove existing CO2 from the hemisphere.

With these tips, you can work productively while also doing your part for the environment. A sustainable workation benefits everyone – you, the local community, and our planet. 🌍🍃


In today's digital age, the traditional office setup is rapidly evolving. With the rise of remote work, teams are now spread across different continents, operating in various time zones. Thanks to the 100% remote model, the WorkFlex Team is working together from 8 different time zones. We love the flexibility and freedom that we get through working from anywhere and anytime.  

This new work arrangement brings, however, its own set of challenges, but with the right strategies, teams can collaborate seamlessly and efficiently. Here are seven tips for working asynchronously from 10 or more different countries from our WorkFlex Co-Founder Patrick Koch:

1. Leverage Asynchronous Tools:
Tools like Teams Messages and Vidyard/Loom videos are invaluable for teams spread across different time zones. These tools allow team members to communicate and collaborate at their own pace, without the need for real-time interaction. People can watch the videos whenever it works best for them, and not when a meeting is scheduled. Whether it's a quick message update or a detailed video explanation, asynchronous tools ensure that everyone stays informed and connected. On top of that, everything is written down or recorded, so that no information gets lost.  

2. Set Clear Goals and Priorities:
With team members working at different hours, it’s crucial to have clear goals and priorities – may it be in the form of OKRs, Deadlines, Asana To-Do’s. This ensures that tasks don't fall behind and deadlines are consistently met. Regular check-ins and updates can help in keeping everyone aligned and focused on the bigger picture.

3. Over-communicate:
Communication is harder when working remotely. Therefore, when working asynchronously, it's always better to communicate too much rather than too little. Clear updates, feedback sessions, and open channels of communication ensure that all team members are on the same page, reducing the chances of misunderstandings or missing information. Further, create spaces where you can say “Thank You”, which is especially important in remote settings.  

4. Block Out Uninterrupted Work Times:
With the potential for constant notifications and updates, it's essential to have periods of focused, uninterrupted work. Blocking out specific times in your calendar can help you concentrate on tasks without distractions, making you more productive and efficient.

5. Trust Over Control:
Lastly, even though loss of control might be difficult and scary sometimes as a manager but learn to delegate! Trusting your team members is crucial in an asynchronous work environment. Instead of monitoring their hours, focus on the quality and timeliness of their work. You will see the effects anyway in their performance! Empowering team members with trust fosters a positive work culture and encourages responsibility and accountability.

6. Centralize Information with Digital Tools:
Having a central repository for information and documents is vital for teams working from different locations. Tools like cloud storage and document management systems ensure that everyone has access to the information they need, anytime and anywhere. Make sure that this is also explained in the Onboarding, so every new joiner knows where to look.  

7. Stay Flexible and Adaptable:
Working with a diverse team from various countries means encountering different cultures, work habits, and challenges. Being flexible and open to change is essential to navigate these differences and create a harmonious work environment. This also helps to work through varying national and religious holidays.  

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In conclusion, working asynchronously from multiple countries might seem daunting, but with the right strategies and tools, it can lead to a highly productive and cohesive team. We at WorkFlex, could never live without it. We love to have such as international team with people working from Germany, USA, South Africa, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Latvia, Egypt, Netherlands, or many more countries when we include the workation destinations of our team.

There is nothing more to say than:  
Embrace the challenges, celebrate the diversity, and watch your team thrive in this new age of work! 🚀

In June of last year, IU was finally able to launch the WorkFlex benefit, opening up a whole new world of work for IU's employees. Gone are the endless, eternally pre-planned trip requests. Since then, the next workation can be planned with just a few clicks. Where have the trips gone so far? We have taken a snapshot of the situation.

Workation. What's behind it?

What exactly is WorkFlex all about? How can you imagine such an application? And isn't it always associated with tax hurdles?

If the past years  have shown us one thing, it is that good work can be done from anywhere! From one day to the next, our private rooms were converted into offices. With the realization that it can be done - and done very well.  If the kitchen suddenly becomes the office,  why shouldn't it also be the café in Valencia? Or the vacation apartment in Zeeland? Our WorkFlex benefit makes exactly that possible: work from  wherever you want - for up to six months a year. With the exception of a  few countries that are unfortunately excluded for security reasons, the big  wide world is open to you. We are firmly convinced that temporary working  from abroad (WFA) is a very attractive benefit that also fits in very well  with the current and future situation of mobile working.

Tax, labor, and social security pitfalls? Not with us!

Through the WorkFlex benefit, we offer our employees flexible options for temporary work from abroad. Combined with a very simple process. Because without worrying about compliances and compliance (like private taxes, visas, etc.) or other risks, you can plan your next workation. It's as simple as submitting a request through the platform with just a few clicks. WorkFlex then obtains approval from the supervisor(s) and performs a risk assessment of the current situation. Everything fits? Well, then you're ready to go. ✈️





IU's recap: Over one thousand approved workations within the first year! 

The figures speak for themselves: A look at the workations applied for last year shows how simple and straight forward such an application is: In the period from June 2022 to June2023, we had a total of no less than 1,000 approved workations at the IU. Whether a long weekend in one of the neighbouring countries or a stay of several weeks or even several months further away. From Australia, Argentina, Trinidad&Tobago or Taiwan: In total, applications to 87 countries around the world were requested and approved last year. The approval rate here was over 95%.

WorkFlex's statistics also show that we are an absolute pioneer when it comes to workation: Various well-known companies were compared in terms of their annual quota of workation days per person. Here it becomes clear once again: With 182possible workation days per year per person, we are right at the top and make remote work what it should be: Self-determined work from anywhere.

For IU, this is a clear sign that they are on the right track and that the benefit is being used well and with pleasure. They are looking forward to the coming year, its destinations and the stories of their employees that go along with it.

Do you also want a job that adapts to your life? Then come aboard the IU and check in for your next workation very soon. ☀️


Check out the full article and IU here

Posted workers notifications – or PWD notifications, in German EU Meldepflichten – are notifications based on the EU Posted Workers Directive (PWD). These notifications concern registrations of employees who will temporarily be sent to work from a different country, e.g. as a business traveller or expat.

The objective of the PWD is to prevent social dumping, by protecting the rights and working conditions of cheaper foreign workers within the EU. Workationers have privately initiated the trip abroad, thus are not posted and PWD notifications are not required. Belgium is an exception to this, as it has converted the directive in national legislation that includes a broader definition of posted workers. More information in this WorkFlex whitepaper.

PWD notifications are obligatory. Non-Compliance can result in fines up to €500k, as well as non-financial penalties such as multi-year restrictions on doing business in a particular country. How strictly this is enforced varies per country. What also varies per country is the exact content of the registration and the method of filing it with the local authorities. Most countries provide online portals or at least an online process for doing PWD notifications. However, in some countries there is no (online) process for doing them. Also, some countries have made the process so complex that it is practically impossible to do PWD notifications. In Poland, for example, a local registration of the posting (entity) is required and all correspondence has to take place on paper in the local language. An obvious reason fora non-existent or complex process, is that social dumping – the original objective of the PWD – is not very relevant in these countries. Not surprisingly, these countries also hardly enforce the obligation of doing the notifications. As a result, these countries can be qualified as low risk.

Looking at the figure below, the low risk-countries are included on the bottom. In practice, employers do not do notifications in low risk-countries. This also applies to WorkFlex. However, as the figure shows our so-called no-risk coverage does apply for trips shorter from 1 to 5 days, and up to 8 days in Spain. This means that WorkFlex protects clients by reimbursing any fines for not doing PWD notifications in these low-risk countries for most business trips. Above the low risk-countries, the figure shows the other countries where PWD notifications are required. In all of these 24 high risk-countries, WorkFlex always does PWD notifications as part of the trip handling subscription. No additional costs are due. The notification confirmation will be uploaded to the WorkFlex platform. The combination of doing PWD notifications in so many countries and offering no-risk coverage for all other countries, should compliantly cover 98% of all business trips.

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The work of the future is here to stay, working remotely is now part of many people's lives. Many employers are not only adopting national hybrid working models, but also policies that allow their employees to temporarily work from abroad. This last topic is especially interesting, because it raises an important question even before the employee enters the destination country.

"How should someone who works temporarily from abroad for private reasons be qualified for VISA purposes?"

Since this is a relatively new topic, regulators never explicitly addressed the temporary remote workers in their VISA rules and regulations. As a result, there is no specific visa or applicable framework for this type of persona. Generally, VISA rules and regulations provide only three possible “titles” for non-nationals to be in a country: tourism, local employment or business travel. The question is whether these titles provide a suitable qualification for the temporary remote worker, and if so, which one. This question is relevant, because the administrative requirements for entering and being allowed to work in the country can strongly differ per title.

Hereinafter, we will separately discuss the three different titles and specifically address whether they are suited to cover temporary remote workers.

1. Tourism

Most countries specifically exclude any type of paid activity in order to qualify as a tourist. Therefore, it is unlikely that temporary remote workers can enter and work from those countries without further ado. Interestingly enough, this would imply that it is incompliant when employees, during their vacation, check their business email on their smartphone. At the same time, for as far as we know no-one ever made a problem out of this before; neither employers and employees, nor governments and authorities. As a result, one could argue that even tourists are practically entitled to perform some work activities.

Some countries specifically allow tourists to work remotely for their employer in the home country for a limited number of days. Schengen Area countries are examples; foreigners who wish to do some remote work whilst on holiday in Europe can do so with a tourist visa, or visa-free if from an exempt country1. Also, pursuant to the American Customs and Border Protection information centre, it is possible to work remotely for a foreign company with the Visa Waiver Program for a certain amount of time within the US.

However, it seems rather opportunistic to claim that this pragmatic exception applies to temporary remote workers everywhere and always, as their working activities generally are not clearly very limited and highly incidental.

2. Local employment

On the other side of the spectrum, there is local employment. If non-nationals want to (permanently) work somewhere, they generally require a proper work permit. An example is the EU Blue Card. Only with this card, non-EU nationals are allowed to accept a job in the specific EU country that issued the card. Local employment in this regard means a local employment, for a local employer. The employee in this set up becomes a resident of the specific country. In the words of the European Commission, the regulations around EU Blue Cards relate to the conditions of entry and residence of highly qualified non-EU nationals in EU countries.

The key drivers for regulating this area is that countries want to protect both their own citizens and the immigrants.Their own citizens to ensure that their jobs cannot be stolen very easily by immigrants. And these immigrants ensure that they are not brought to a country to work against conditions that are much worse than those of the local population (social dumping). Looking at these two key drivers, it is clear that the rules were not meant to “protect” destination countries from temporary remote workers at all.

It goes without saying that temporary remote workers are not a part of a social dumping scheme. That does not mean that it is theoretically possible that the temporary worker ́s remuneration package would lie below the minimum standards of the destination country. Given that this is really unlikely, the number of cases where this will be the case will be extremely low. These exceptions do not change the fact that temporary work from abroad has nothing to do with social dumping.

Equally clear is the fact that temporary remote workers do not compete for jobs with the local workforce of the destination country. Temporary remote workers already have a job! They continue to work for the employer in their home country, and all of their remuneration continues to be paid and borne by that home country employer. They neither intend to become residents in the destination country, nor do they perform any activities for local businesses.

Whereas qualifying temporary remote workers as tourists is “too easy”, it seems at the same time unreasonable to qualify them as local employees. This would quite often require a local sponsor. In the case of a temporary remote worker, this sponsor is not available unless the home country employer would be willing to register in the destination country too. This is clearly not something that employers, who merely allowed their employees to work abroad for a while, will accept. Additionally, it should be noted that the process for obtaining a VISA for local employment is a lengthy, sometimes also costly, process. This is another reason why, if the conclusion would be that temporary remote workers would officially have to obtain a VISA for local employment, this in practice is likely to only lead to more remote workers going somewhere secretly as "tourists".

3. Business Travel

The third and last title for non-nationals to be in a country is business travel. According to the American bureau of consular affairs2, business travel is defined as trips during which the employee temporarily engage in business activities such as:

·     negotiation of contracts;

·     consultation with business associates;

·     litigation;

·     participation in scientific, educational, professional or business conventions, conferences or seminars;

·     other legitimate activities of a commercial or professional nature.

Similar activities have been considered to lead for the application of a business visa by the Schengen Area countries3:

·     meeting or training at a business unit established in the destination country;

·     purchase and sale of products, business transactions and tenders;

·     attending an exhibition, conference or seminar.

Indeed, as a business traveller, you can do meetings, negotiate contracts and visit clients in the destination country. However, the question is whether "remote work" can be qualified as business travel or not. Of course, the rules are old and were not defined when remote work was at all relevant. Some important hubs for temporary remote workers, such as Spain or Portugal, have overtly stated that they do not have a specific framework for this type of travellers. As such, “performing regular work for your home country employer” is not specifically covered as a work activity under the header business travel.

Nowadays, temporary remote work obviously is relevant, and it is our opinion that business travel comes closer to temporary remote work than tourism (point 1) or local employment (point 2) do. After all, what do business travellers do in between having meetings and client visits? Exactly, regular work activities such as sending emails - which is basically exactly what temporary remote workers do. Employers and authorities never made a problem out of this, so we consider it unlikely that this would change now.

Some governments already unofficially confirmed that remote workers indeed qualify as business travellers for VISA/Immigration purposes. Moreover, we are unaware of any government taking a position against this approach. However, this does not mean that this may not eventually happen. Until this is cleared, the "business traveller" option is the best option available. It is neither “too easy”, nor is it unreasonably strict. It is a workable theory if employees would like to temporarily work from outside of the EU, in these cases where they do not have the nationality of the destination country.

2 U.S. Embassy & Consulates in the UK

3 IND  

About TIMOCOM

TIMOCOM, a leading digital marketplace for transportation orders and live shipment tracking, is dedicated to streamlining its customers' logistics processes and helping them save time and money. But TIMOCOM faced a challenge: implementing workations to meet the growing desire for remote work while taking care of all the compliance topics.  

🔥 Challenge

In introducing workations, TIMOCOM faced a number of challenges and obstacles that needed to be overcome:  

  • Growing demand for remote work: following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, employees expressed a desire for flexible work options from home. This growing demand for remote work challenged TIMOCOM to provide appropriate solutions to meet employee needs.
  • Diverse international workforce: TIMOCOM had a diverse workforce with employees from more than 34 nations. This resulted in complex legal requirements, including tax laws, social security regulations, labor laws, and residence and visa requirements. Addressing these legal issues and ensuring compliance were major challenges for the company.  
  • Compliance concerns: Due to different regulations in different countries, it was difficult for TIMOCOM to offer workations without violating compliance guidelines. Complying with legal requirements and regulations related to labor law, taxes, and social security was a complex task to manage.  
  • Operational considerations: TIMOCOM also had to consider operational aspects of workation management. This included determining the number of days offered for workations, supporting employees with family members and second homes abroad, and ensuring smooth operations during employee absences.

💡Solution

TIMOCOM made the decision to use WorkFlex as its workation management software:  

  • Employer Branding: the introduction of global workations played a significant role in increasing TIMOCOM's employer brand. Through this innovative way of working, the company was able to strengthen its attractiveness and reputation as a modern and progressive employer.  
  • Employee retention and satisfaction: An internal survey showed that more than 50% of employees were very interested in using Workations. WorkFlex's solution exactly met the employees' needs for flexibility and work-life balance.  
  • Skills shortage: As an IT company, TIMOCOM was continuously looking for qualified IT professionals.The option of Workations positioned the company as a highly attractive employer in the market, which in turn helped attract highly qualified talent.
  • Compliance Support & Liability: WorkFlex provided clear assessments of compliance risks for each individual application & handled all complex compliance tasks such as the creation of A1 certificates and the provision of comprehensive travel insurance for all employees. In the event of complications, WorkFlex took care of the financial liability as well as professional support with official procedures. This gave TIMOCOM the confidence to easily send employees worldwide without having to worry about legal stumbling blocks.

📈 Success measurement

The measurement of success of the introduction of WorkFlex at TIMOCOM was based on various indicators:  

  • Improvement of employer branding: Workations played a significant role in increasing TIMOCOM's employer brand. WorkFlex's flexibility and support for work-life balance helped position the company as a modern and employee-oriented employer.  
  • Increase employee retention and satisfaction: employees were excited about the ability to use Workations to see their families more often and improve their work-life balance. Positive feedback from employees confirmed the success of the measure. Annual employee surveys showed a significant increase in employee satisfaction after implementing WorkFlex . The flexible work arrangements and the option of using workations contributed to employee retention and motivation.    
  • Recruiting success: As an IT company, TIMOCOM benefited from Workations as an attractive offering for potential skilled employees. The ability to work remotely and use Workations helped attract qualified IT talent faster and position the company as an attractive employer.  
  • Time and resource savings: By working with WorkFlex, TIMOCOM did not have to spend valuable resources on researching and handling the complex processes. Intensive research and the use of expensive (tax) lawyers were no longer necessary. This saved a great deal of costs. In addition, the automated processes and the support provided by WorkFlex significantly reduced the amount of work involved in processing and managing workations. There is now a clear process for each request for mobile working abroad. The intuitive and user-friendly WorkFlex platform made it effortless for any employee to go through the process and provide the required information. The time spent on the Timocom has been reduced to 10 minutes per week. This increase in efficiency allowed TIMOCOM to save both time and resources, which could be used for other important projects.

The introduction of WorkFlex at TIMOCOM brought revolutionary changes for employees and the company as a whole. Workations allowed employees to be more flexible in their work environment and achieve a better work-life balance. WorkFlex's support for legal and compliance requirements enabled TIMOCOM to easily manage mobile working requests overseas for its international workforce while minimizing compliance risks. The positive impact of Workations on employee satisfaction, employer branding and talent acquisition was clear. TIMOCOM was able to save valuable resources and increase efficiency, while WorkFlex provided transparency, risk assessment and a user-friendly platform. Overall, the TIMOCOM and WorkFlex collaboration demonstrated how innovative workations can transform the world of work and provide real value to companies and their employees.

Business travel is rebounding, playing a crucial role in international business expansion, can you relate? 📈 But here's the challenge: HR, Global Mobility, and Compliance teams face challenges ensuring compliance for employees on business trips!

Managing PWD notifications, invitation letters, PE and social security risks, and tracking employee travel details can be overwhelming. But neglecting compliance can result in costs of up to EUR 50 million and damage to your brand.

Check out our exclusive webinar on Business Travel Compliance!


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Together with industry experts we discussed:

👉 What's the most frightening situation a company can face in relation to business travel compliance breaches?

👉What are the strictest countries in terms of business travel compliance?

👉 What are some effective strategies to mitigate business travel compliance risks in your company?

👉 And more.

Our esteemed experts:

*All statements and opinions represent their own, not their employers.

There are many employers who allow workations within the European Union (EU) as they often entail less risks than flying to a third state. However, there are territories for which it’s unclear whether the same rules than in continental Europe apply. We’ll dive deeper into the distinction of workations and business travel-related compliance risks in outermost and overseas territories such as Azores (PT), Aruba (NL) or French Polynesia (FR).

There are over twenty territories located around the globe in the Atlantic, Antarctic, Arctic, Caribbean, Indian, and Pacific regions whose status is often a matter of concern for the employer allowing their employees to work from “anywhere in Europe”. Due to historical and geographic reasons, assessing if a territory is part of the EU or not and which rules apply in such territory may be more complex than expected.

Luckily, the European Commission sheds some light by making the following categorization within the territories located outside of its continental borders:

Outermost regions

Territories that are integral parts of the EU and its single market. These nine outermost regions, even though located far from continental Europe, are considered an extension of their respective member states and benefit from the rights and obligations that come with EU membership. Hence, EU law applies fully and uniformly, just like in any other region within the EU. The archipelagos of the Azores (PT) and Canary Islands(ES) are examples of this. More info can be found here.

Overseas countries and territories (OCTs)

Territories that have a special relationship with an EU member state (namely Denmark, France, and the Netherlands) but are not part of the EU as such. Unlike the outermost regions, OCTs do not have full EU membership, and EU law does not automatically apply to them. However, OCTs maintain a relationship with the EU through various agreements and arrangements established between the EU and the respective member states. They are all islands such as Greenland (DK), Aruba (NL), or French Polynesia (FR). You can find more information on the EU overseas territories here.

This categorization means that territories can be covered (or not) by double tax agreements and social security treaties. For instance, Aruba (NL) as an overseas territory would not be covered by most of the treaties signed by the Netherlands, while Azores (PT) would actually be considered as Portugal for any legal matter and all the potential risks that a workation or business trip could trigger would be the same in continental Portugal than in the islands.

In a nutshell, not all the territories outside of continental Europe are the same concerning tax, social security, labour law, social security, and VISA matters. As a general rule, outermost regions do not generally entail the same challenges as overseas territories. However, a case-by-case assessment is always required, and it’s important that the potential risks are managed. This is why WorkFlex performs an individual risk assessment of each workation request and generates relevant documentation such as employer statements, PWD registrations, and employee instructions among others. This way, both the employee and the employer can comfortably enjoy a workation slightly further from continental Europe.

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Wrong timing

The right timing is super important for the success of a Workation. Make sure that you don't plan your workation during the high season at your destination. For one thing, prices go up a lot, and for another, it gets very crowded everywhere. Make sure that you don't have any important deadlines at work and that your to-do list is not totally overloaded. Otherwise, this will quickly lead to stress - and that's definitely not the point of a workation 😉 By the way, speaking of timing: Remember to check the time zone of your destination when planning your workation or work appointments. It would be totally frustrating if you have to work at odd hours to keep in touch with your team or clients. Make sure you have a schedule that allows you to work effectively while having time to explore the destination.  

Don't have an adjustment period

In addition to the arrival day, we strongly recommend that you take at least one other day completely off. This will give you the opportunity to settle into your home office abroad in the best way possible and get everything ready. Use this extra day to test the internet and make sure you have a stable connection. Explore your surroundings, go shopping and get all the essentials you need for your work stay. This will ensure that you can focus on your work and not be distracted by organizational or logistical issues. So take this time to set yourself up in the best way possible and enjoy the smooth transition into your workation!

Don't plan enough time for Workation!

If you only go on Workation for a few days and do not plan a day off, this can often lead to stress. You will be on site, but you will not have enough time to experience your Workation to the fullest. By choosing a longer duration for your Workation, you can ensure that you are not only working productively, but also have a work-life balance. A duration of 2-3 weeks will allow you to both achieve professional goals and take full advantage of the "Vacation" aspect. This leaves you with plenty of weekends and off hours to make the most of your time. You can go to the beach, take a hike, go surfing or visit museums and sights. It is important that you have enough time not to limit your workation to work, but also to fully enjoy the leisure activities and opportunities to explore locally.

Traveling without protection

Home office abroad is wonderful - but this also brings compliance risks: corporate tax, payroll tax, social security, income tax, labor law, work authorization...🤯 The compliance risks of temporary work from abroad are often underestimated, but can lead to additional fees, taxes and administrative work - not only for your employer! That's why it's even more essential to minimize these risks beforehand. At WorkFlex, we offer a cost-effective and efficient solution for this with our software. Curious? Click here to find out more about our workation management software, feel free to download our exclusive white paper here.

Wrong packing

You definitely need to pack differently for a workation than for a normal vacation. It is important that you prepare well. But what exactly do we mean by that? Pack comfortable clothes that you will wear in your home office. You'll be working most of the time, so it's important that you feel comfortable in your clothes. Remember to pack a few dressy tops in case you have important meetings or presentations. After all, you want to make a professional impression. In addition, we recommend that you bring some technical items that will make your work easier. For example, a second monitor can be very handy to work more efficiently. A laptop stand will help you maintain an ergonomic posture and prevent back and neck pain. If you plan to work from a coworking space or a coffee shop, noise-canceling headphones should definitely be on your packing list. They'll help you focus on your work, even if it's a bit noisy around you. Also, make sure you have all the essential cables and adapters with you so you can easily connect your devices. Nothing is more frustrating than realizing you have the wrong adapter for your outlets. Speaking of outlets, be sure to pack a power strip! Last but not least, think about your health and well-being. Maybe pack a small fitness band or a yoga mat to allow for some exercise and relaxation in between.

Do not have an Internet backup

A stable Internet connection is essential for your workation. Even if you are in Europe, where good Internet connections are usually available, it is still advisable to always play it safe. Without a reliable Internet connection, your workation can be a real challenge. Make sure to get information about the Internet speed from your landlord, hotel reception, or other sources before you arrive. A speed test will give you a good idea of the quality of your local connection. To be on the safe side, we recommend that you always have enough mobile data available as a backup. This allows you to react flexibly and fall back on a hotspot in case the landline connection fails or is unreliable. Therefore, plan enough mobile data in your tariff or get a local SIM card with a sufficient amount of data.  

Booking the wrong accommodation

Make sure your accommodation is a place where you can switch off and relax. During your workation, it is especially important that you get enough sleep and rest to maintain your energy and concentration. For this reason, we recommend that you do not stay in a dormitory in a hostel. There are often too many factors there that can affect your sleep, such as noisy roommates or irregular bedtimes. Accommodation with your own room (e.g., in a CoLiving) or apartment will give you the privacy and space you need to retreat and feel comfortable. If you plan to work from your housing, it is important that you have a suitable workspace. Make sure there is enough space for your laptop, papers, and other work supplies.

Overall, a workation is an exciting way to combine work and travel and discover new horizons. By avoiding these seven mistakes, you can ensure that your Workation goes smoothly, and you get the most out of this unique experience. Use these valuable tips and advice to make your Workation an unforgettable experience and be productive at the same time. So pack your bags, find the ideal time, and get ready for a workation that will broaden your horizons!

Workation Step 1: Find a good time

Before you start looking for the perfect destination for your workation, it is important to find the right time frame. Take time to thoroughly review your calendar and make sure there are no important professional meetings or deadlines during or soon after your workation. Working abroad should give you the opportunity to work productively, but also still leave room that you can enjoy your time abroad. Not only should professional deadlines be considered, but also private obligations and events. Make sure there are no upcoming medical appointments, family gatherings, or other commitments scheduled during this time period.

Calendar checked? Then move on to the 2nd step.

Workation Step 2: Find the perfect destination

Choosing the right destination for your workation is undoubtedly one of the most exciting steps and you are spoiled for choice! That's why we've prepared some questions to help you decide. Consider your personal preferences and priorities to find the perfect destination!

- Would you rather be in the mountains or by the sea?

- Do you prefer a place with warmer or colder temperatures?

- Do you want to be in busy cities to get new impressions and be inspired? Or do you prefer quiet and secluded places in nature?

- What has made you particularly happy on past trips?

When deciding a destination, you should also consider the time differences. Especially for your first workation we recommend to go to destinations with a maximum time difference of +/- 2 hours. Larger time differences often require longer acclimatization periods and are more suitable for experienced workation experts. Another important consideration when choosing a destination are the local holidays. These can greatly affect prices for accommodations. Being aware of those can save you from unpleasant surprises that stores might be closed or activities on hold. Also, pay attention to prices for air or train connections to make sure that your destinations are affordable and comfortable to reach.

By answering these questions and considering the various aspects around it, you can easily find the perfect destination for your workation.

Workation Step 3: Find the right accommodation

Now that you have decided on a time frame and destination for your workation, it's time to find accommodation that meets your needs for your home office abroad. When looking for the ideal place to stay, there are a few essential things to consider: First of all, a fast and stable internet connection is key.

Make sure the accommodation has a reliable Wi-Fi connection with a minimum speed of 30 Mbps. In some cases, the internet speed is already specified in the accommodation description. If not, don't hesitate to contact the landlord in advance and ask for a speed test. Nevertheless, we always recommend having enough mobile data on your phone as a backup, so you can give yourself a hotspot in case of need.

Another important aspect is the workplace: look carefully at the photos and make sure that there is a suitable area where you can work from. If there are no pictures, contact the landlord and ask for additional information.

A comfortable and functional workspace is critical for productive work.

The location of the accommodation is also important. Are supermarkets, restaurants and maybe even the beach within easy walking distance? Is there public transportation nearby if you feel the need to explore the surrounding area? Also consider if a rental car is necessary to be flexible and make the most of your workation.

By considering these aspects, you lay the foundation for an efficient and pleasant working environment during your workation - with a place that does not only meet all the technical requirements, but also offers an inspiring environment to boost your productivity and creativity.

Workation Step 4: Plan your free time activities

During your workation you will spend a large part of your time working, but it is equally essential to make the most of your free time and enjoy the "vacation" aspect of your workation. To avoid wasting time there on planning your free time activities, we recommend doing some research in advance.

Ask yourself how you want to spend your free time and what activities, attractions, etc. are there for you to enjoy. Plan your activities similarly to a traditional vacation. However, you should be careful not to take on too much. Keep in mind that your time is limited and you still have work commitments. Find a healthy work-life balance to best manage your Workation. Set realistic goals and plan enough time for rest and relaxation.

This way you can enjoy your workation and at the same time make sure you don't miss the highlights and attractions of your destination. Long story short:

Don't plan too much - but don't plan too little either... 😉

Workation Step 5: Plan your budget

Last but not least: The budget planning! It is important to keep track of all costs of your workation so that you have your budget under control. Here are some important aspects you should consider when planning your finances:

First of all, you need to keep an eye on the cost of your accommodation. Compare the prices of different places to stay and make sure they meet your requirements and budget. Also, keep in mind that longer stays are usually cheaper than shorter ones - maybe it is worth to stay one or two nights longer if there is a week-discount.

Travel costs are another factor you need to consider. What means of transportation do you want to use? Be it plane, train or car, you need to plan accordingly. Compare prices and book early to get the best deals.

Also think about the cost of leisure activities. Make a list of the activities you would like to do and research the appropriate prices. Consider which activities are really important to you and which may be outside your budget. When it comes to local transportation, you'll also need to keep the costs in mind. Consider whether you will need a rental car or whether there is good public transportation to get you everywhere. Factor the cost of transportation into your budget.

Depending on how long you plan to work from abroad, it may be worth subletting your apartment to boost your travel funds. Also check to see if you can pause certain contracts, such as gym memberships, to save money.

Budgeting is crucial to ensure that you can enjoy your workation within your budget. Keep track of your expenses, plan ahead, and look at your financial boundaries.

This was our ultimate guide to planning your workations. The ability to work flexibly from anywhere in the world opens up new horizons and enriches your life both professionally and individually. Get excited about the many benefits of a workation, whether it's increasing your productivity, expanding your network, or drawing inspiration from new environments. What are you waiting for?

Start planning your workation today and experience the freedom to work where others vacation.

Jasmin Laakmann is a Consultant at WorkFlex. Originally from Germany, she relocated to Portugal a few years ago. For Jasmin, the flexibility to work from anywhere is not just a perk, but a crucial factor in her decision to work for a company, so that she can visit family and friends more often for longer times.

In this blog article, we will delve into

  • Jasmin’s reasons for workflexing,
  • Her best practices for time management,
  • Her advice on Wi-Fi infrastructure & other essentials,  
  • Her experiences on her most recent 2 months workation in India.

Jasmin's view working from India


Why do you value working from anywhere as a benefit?

For me, a German living in Portugal, this benefit is key. The freedom to work from anywhere is more than a workation where I can work from the beach.

In the 10 months I have worked for a company that allowed work from anywhere, I've taken advantage of this benefit mainly to visit family and friends back home. Especially, after holidays like Christmas or Easter, I love to extend my stay in Germany without taking extra time off. This would simply be a waste as my family members also need to go back to work. Further, workflexing allowed me to still contribute to my team and clients without postponing meetings or tasks.  

Workflexing is also great for extending your stay at a far destination. I recently went on a two-month trip to India, where I combined working & traveling. Without the flexibility of working remotely, I wouldn't have been able to take such a long trip. Also, it was great to split my time off to avoid the "work overload" that often comes with returning from a long break.

How do you organize your time when working abroad?  

Before workflexing it is always exciting as there are many unknowns: Will there be a good internet connection? How do I manage the time zones? Will I feel alone? How do I manage to spend enough time with my friends but also get my work done? But I have to say, all those worries can be overcome with good planning and finding a routine. The rhythm might depend on your type of person: whether you like to travel faster or rather stay in one place. I prefer to stay in one place and only do trips on the weekend.  

1. Combine work with some days off, especially if it's a longer destination.  

2. Ask yourself some questions beforehand:  What is it I am seeking in that country? Is it to get some sun, do certain activities, meet friends, etc. and do factors like my working hours and time differences allow me to do these kinds of things? If not, a vacation might be the better option.

3. Stay and work longer from abroad: To fully enjoy your stay and get to know a country, consider staying longer than you would usually do on a vacation. Also, the employer should be happy about this. How will your work mood look like if you are staying for a few days, and how will it look like if you have 3 weeks or longer?

With these in mind, it is easy to not mix leisure and working times or have FOMO that you do not have enough time to explore and feel like you missed out on seeing the country. Instead, you can spend real quality time with friends and family there and work without distractions.

What are your workflexing essentials?

When working abroad, the most important thing is a stable, working internet connection.  

I learned this the hard way on my first day working from India. Even though I extra booked a place that promised stable Wi-Fi (asked the host & read reviews) and even arrived a day earlier to try it out as I was super nervous about it, the power went out during my first meeting. Of course, there was a power cut due to construction work. I know that it can happen anywhere, but I learned that for workflexing it's best to not only check the Wi-Fi beforehand but to also:  

  • always have a SIM Card with enough data  
  • familiarize yourself with alternative places in the surrounding area (some cafés with good Wi-Fi, Airbnb, hotel lobby, etc.)
  • look for quiet surroundings (especially when you have calls and meetings)

My ideal perfect place to work from is somewhere outside with a nice view. I know it's not for everyone, but I feel more motivated when I am more connected to nature than trapped in a dark room.

My advice for the perfect length of a workflexing trip depends on how far the destination is and why you are going. For a closer place without a major time difference,
I would not take time off, as there is still time in the evenings or weekends to wander around.  

If it's a long-distance destination, I would stay longer in this country to make the long travel worthwhile. Either you stay
a minimum of 4 weeks abroad or, my recommendation, combine work with some time off.  

Also, the reason why you would like to work temporarily from abroad is essential when deciding how long you want to stay. I always want to stay as long as I can to be with friends & family. Others use it more to travel around or to live like a local – my colleague Jascha has shared his advice for that.

What does it mean to work with a +5:30 hour time difference in India?  

🏄‍ The day starts with time off. This can be challenging because you need to manage your energy level. But it also means you start your workday peacefully and with no rush to finish it off quickly because you fear missing out on something.

🍽 Your lunch break becomes your dinner break. Not much of a big deal. It works really well for me.

🌚 You work while it's dark. I have also always preferred to work or study late at night. So, no big deal for me. Plus, you already see a lot of sunlight for the first half of the day. And to be honest, for countries like India, it is perfect to use the morning to explore because it gets too hot after.

🧘 After work means straight to bed. This is harder. I had to find a nice routine to make the switch from work to bedtime, but I managed. I mean also sometimes, you could still go out when you finish work at 11 pm because you did not have to get up early in the morning.  

So, even though I also was afraid of the time zone differences, I did not struggle much with finding a routine there as it also has advantages to start working only around lunchtime and seize the day before.

Conclusion

Workflexing has given Jasmin the freedom to travel and spend time with her family and friends while   still contributing to her company. It has allowed her to find her work-life balance and enjoy the best of both worlds. After seeing the benefits of working from anywhere, she would never work for a company that does not allow its employees to see their families without taking extra days off.

In a workforce that gets more diverse every day, with families situated all over the world, workflexing helps to attract the best talent worldwide.

Want to learn more about offering workations as a benefit to your employees as well?

Get in touch with Jasmin or other WorkFlex consultants!


i2x is one of the leading German AI companies founded by the studyVZ ex-CEO Michael Brehm, which helps sales and customer support agents to excel at their job, by giving live guidance and suggestions during customer calls. As an agile company, i2x worked this past year on building up a safe, stable, and compliant flexible working environment. How? By taking the lead in allowing employees to work from abroad while being fully legally protected and using WorkFlex to manage that.

KPIs

  • Win new employees in the competitive market
  • Company-wide workation strategy allowed by WorkFlex
  • Work from abroad accessible to 100% of employees
  • Every employee can work from abroad safely:
  • 90 days within the EU
  • 30 days outside of the EU

Challenges

Looking at the workation policy it is safe to say that i2x is taking the lead in terms of flexible work for all employees. While seeing that working outside of the office was/is mandatory, its employees from 19 different nationalities – from Columbia to China – started wishing for more work location freedom: being able to stay where their families are while not having to take their full vacation at once. After the company saw the need and the possibility of working from abroad they decided to step out of the workation grey zone and embrace a safe company mobility policy.

Solution

The i2x team and Narmatha Ravinthiran, the head of people and organization, got ahead with it and introduced WorkFlex, a solution that enables temporary work from abroad, in three easy steps in their company.

How? While signing their work contract, new employees also sign an amendment agreement which sets the framework of their workations’ possibilities: How and when to use a VPN? What type of password should be used? How to be fully GDPR compliant?

All aspects in regards to social legislation that are key to i2x but also to their clients which have the right of security too. From day one, employees are ensured to work abroad, within and outside of Europe and i2x could ensure a new company mobile work strategy while stopping one-to-one on-demand requests.  In this process, WorkFlex takes care of all the compliance aspects of their workation requests.

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Benefits of introducing WorkFlex

For company
  • Attractive mental health benefit: alongside other mental health benefits such as meditation or sports apps, workations strongly support employee wellbeing and mental health;
  • Tremendous asset in job offers;
  • A work-from-abroad policy with clearly set rules and frameworks: no more headaches due to case-by-case discussions.
For employees
  • Freedom to work from everywhere compliantly and securely
  • No need to use up all vacation days to visit family abroad or work from a dream destination: one can do it while continuing to work remotely
  • A proof that your company indeed trusts you
  • Extra motivation and engagement
“One of the greatest benefits I get from WorkFlex as a Head of HR is that I no longer have to read through an agreement of 270 pages on Brexit in order to say whether the person can go work in London or not. Using WorkFlex is a great relief in my responsibilities: the framework conditions of the workplaces are fully set out in a compliant way. We only have to follow the framework, no more case-by-case requests that take a lot of my time. HR pains are gone in this regard and it is great to see the satisfaction of our employees!”

Narmatha Ravinthiran, Head of People and Organization at i2x

“Temporary work from abroad” is a hot topic. Employees love the idea of working whilst temporarily being abroad for private purposes. As a result, many employers are working on defining a policy for it. That’s good news. The bad news is that most of the policies are quite conservative. They are very much about what is not possible. For example, “You cannot work from abroad for longer than two weeks.” Or, “you cannot work outside the EU”. Company-wide limitations like this are usually driven by a fear of tax and legal non-compliance.

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However, we can and should do better. After all, these compliance risks largely depend on specific situations —where is the employee from? What is the destination country? What is the employee’s role, and what activities will be performed during the international stay? Quite frankly, installing company-wide limitations is like shooting with hale. Instead, let’s shoot for the moon!

Temporary work from abroad is a great opportunity for employers to stand out. Comprehensive data is still limited, however small surveys indicate that many employees would be very interested in temporarily working from abroad.

Simon-Kucher & Partners, a German-headquartered consultancy, surveyed more than 7,000 people across China, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Russia and the United States. The vast majority of these respondents suggested they would add a couple of weeks of ‘workation’ to their holiday if given the opportunity — these figures were led by the Chinese respondents where 70% would enjoy temporary work from abroad as a benefit. In Germany and the Netherlands, this number was around 40%, and roughly 30% in the UK.  

A survey performed by HubbleHQ, a UK-based workspace management platform, shows similar results. Overall, 42% of the employees surveyed would want to use their company’s remote working policy to work from abroad. However, for employees aged 41 to 51 years or above, the percentage of positive responses is below 38%. This is interesting because the key decision-makers of most companies are often older than 41 years of age. In many businesses, these decision-makers are in the outlier age group between 51 and 60 years, where the positive response rate was barely 20%. While businesses would hope that their decision-makers remain impartial to such biases, it wouldn’t be hard to assume that this may be a reason for conservative temporary work from abroad policies.

In comparison, 39% to 47% of the age group between 26 and 40 years gave a positive response for a temporary work from abroad option.This is the same group that is twice as likely to quit their job than baby boomers if their expectations around flexible working conditions are not met. With this in mind, it’s likely that employers who are quick to adopt flexible work policies are more likely to win the war for talent.

This is why employers should be looking to make temporary work from abroad a permanent feature of their employee benefits schemes. The pandemic has made sure flexible working is here to stay, so use it to your advantage. It’s cost-effective and will help you stand out as a progressive and attractive employer. Let’s make temporary work from abroad a benefit beyond boundaries!

Enpal, is a B2C solar panels installation company group, headquartered in Berlin, that encounters multiple HR challenges, so they are quite interested in finding solutions to lighten their workload and processes while being ensured to stay fully compliant. In short: they need simplicity wherever they can get it!


Context

Flexible work is a complex legal matter. Sure, from an employee perspective, working from abroad seems simple: a computer and the internet are enough to do the job! The other (HR)-side though, is more complex and does involve a lot of legal background to solve the new way of working. Companies across the globe are facing an iceberg when it comes to this topic, and so is Enpal. Most importantly, the group wanted to stay competitive in the employee benefits they provide but also not go wild and be later surprised by unpleasant tax revelations.


Challenge

Now with the pandemic happening, employees revealed their need to work from their home countries for a longer time or find the possibility to work elsewhere. In fact, a modern problem for a modern company policy. Once introducing their new mobile work policy and opening up the possibility to work some time from abroad, especially before Christmas time, Enpal received more and more requests from their employees. Without any previous legal knowledge on this matter, the HR department had to get in touch with tax and labor lawyers: they needed the legal and compliance knowledge to be able to provide the needed flexibility.


Process

Before using WorkFlex, Enpal consulted labor tax lawyers to get a general understanding on possibilities to temporarily work from abroad. Employees had to submit a request via a pdf form, which would then be reviewed manually: a quite complex and highly time-consuming process. Enpal has now the roots to set a strong work policy in place and employees can easily request to work from abroad. An automatic risk assessment and application for social security certificates ensures a limited exposure to compliance risks. The process is efficient, transparent and easy-to-use for all company stakeholders.


Benefits
  • Time saving
  • Cost efficient in comparison to heavy tax lawyers services’ costs
  • Strong employee benefit
  • Lever to set the first stone to create a company-wide WfA company policy


Before the pandemic, we didn’t even think about this working from abroad, flexibility level. It was quite a challenge to handle all the sudden work-from-abroad requests. With WorkFlex we can now offer our employees the possibility to request work from abroad through easy-to-use software. Now I can confidently say that we are a well-positioned company when it comes to work from abroad.

Sophie Kostka, Former Head of HR Operations & Culture at Enpal

Pieter Manden is the Co-Founder of WorkFlex and former Head of Trust & Employer Compliance at WorkMotion. He is a Dutch certified tax lawyer specialising in compliance around modern mobility. Pieter has 13 years of professional experience with PwC in the Netherlands and Germany. He was Director responsible for the PwC Germany's Remote Work proposition prior to joining WorkMotion in January 2022.
Gonzalo Corrales Cortes is a Senior Associate Tax & Legal at WorkFlex. He is a Spanish law graduate, specialising in international tax. He enjoyed his international education in Spain, France and the Netherlands. He has working experience in both France and Belgium, where he started his career with Deloitte. Gonzalo is currently enrolled in a Legal Practice Master's program to obtain a certification as a lawyer in Spain.

1. Introduction


In recent years, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic started in 2020, remote work has become a reality for many people. The number of employees working remotely is increasing and is likely to continue to do so in the future. This also means that employees will not necessarily work from their resident country all the time, but possibly from other countries too as part of a so-called Workation (a combination of work and vacation). Especially in this international setup, several employer compliance topics must be addressed, including immigration, social security or tax.

With remote work being such a relatively new concept, it was not in the back of the minds of the regulators who were working on work-related issues. An example of this is the Directive 96/71/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 16 December, also known as the Posted Workers Directive (PWD). The PWD prescribes that employers, amongst other things, need to notify local authorities if they have posted an employee from the employment country in the specific destination country. This is a significant administrative burden that employers prefer to prevent. In this regard a question that we are often being asked is:


Do temporary remote workers qualify as posted workers in the sense of the PWD?


2. Definitions


Temporary remote worker

An employee who works outside the country of employment on a temporary (<183 days) basis, without this trip having any business reason or purpose. The employer has allowed the employee to temporarily work outside the country of employment, but this trip is entirely privately driven.

Posted worker

An employee who, for a limited period, is sent by his/her employer to carry out a service in an EEA member state other than the state in which he/she normally works, in the context of a contract of services, an intra-group posting or a hiring through a temporary agency.

3. Conclusion


We are of the opinion that this question should be answered negatively. Temporary remote workers do not qualify as posted workers in the sense of the PWD.

The fact that some of the PWD´s translation into national law is somewhat ambiguous, does not change our conclusion. In our view, neither the EU nor the specific countries had the ambition to cover temporary remote workers under these regulations. The aforementioned leads to the implication that we find that no PWD notification duties arise related to temporary remote workers.

Hereinafter, we elaborate on the arguments in favour of our conclusion, some grey areas and we discuss a future outlook.


4. The aim of the PWD

The objective of the PWD is to protect the rights and working conditions of the posted employees and to address a number of concerns such as social dumping. Following the PWD, the member states are obliged to guarantee to these employees certain rights and conditions of employment that are granted to local workers in the host country.

Remote workers were not initially meant to be covered. Indeed, regarding the objective of the law, they should not even be a subject of concern, because they do not compete with the local workforce, and rights such as assuring the minimum wage of the host country are irrelevant, since remote workers often come from countries where they are paid higher salaries than local ones. At least, it is clear that this is not a situation of social dumping.

The PWD has been enacted into national legislation by all the EEA member states and Switzerland, thus the definition of posting workers can vary and have a broader or more restricted meaning depending on the country. The majority of the time, remote workers are clearly excluded from the scope of these national rules, especially as they do not meet the posting workers main characteristics. By way of illustration, some examples can be mentioned:


Spain

According to the Law 45/1999, following which displaced worker is deemed to be the worker, whatever his nationality, of the companies included in the scope of this Law moved to Spain for a limited period of time in the framework of a the provision of transnational services, provided that there is a working relationship between such undertakings and the worker during the period of posting.

France

The French legislator has enacted the PWD via its Labour Code, defining a posted worker as any employee regularly established and exercising his/her activity outside France and who usually working on behalf of the latter outside the national territory, carries out his/her work at the request of the employer for a limited period on national territory under the conditions defined in Articles L.1262-1 and L. 1262-2.

Netherlands

The PWD is translated into national Dutch law via the “WagwEU”. This law defines posted workers as foreign employees who have been sent to work in the Netherlands for a limited time as part of a transnationalservices agreement. Under such a transnational services agreement, the employees are at the Dutch recipient´s disposal to perform work activities in the Netherlands.

Based on the above, it becomes even clearer then, that remote workers do not fit in the general definitions of posted workers given in most of the member states national law. The reasoning behind is that a posted worker generally provides a transnational service to a specific recipient in the country of arrival (i.e a parent company or a subsidiary belonging to the group), while the employee working remotely will keep providing the service to the same employer regardless of the place of residence. Besides, while a remote worker is in the destination for private reasons, posted workers are being sent to another country at the request of his/her employer to perform some specific tasks in a contracting enterprise.



5. Arguments against: grey areas


On the other hand, it should be noted that due to the different perspectives to implementing the PWD among EEA member states, a few countries have adopted a much more compliance-heavy approach. They seem to have enlarged the concept of posted workers in their local law. Examples are Portugal or Belgium. In these countries, any “work-related presence” may trigger the application of the directive and could cause more administrative obligations for the employer in order to avoid being fined. This approach would also make the country less attractive for the potential workforce looking for a few weeks or months working therein.


Belgium

According to Belgian national law, a posted worker is an employee that works and was initially hired outside the country but is temporarily working in Belgium.

Portugal

Following the Portuguese Labour Code, a posted worker is an employee hired outside the country but temporarily working in Portugal in the context of acontract of services, an intra-group posting or a hiring out through a temporaryagency.


As such, in the case of Belgium the local implementation of the PWD seems to have a broader sense than other countries. This is also true for the UK, where employees have certain minimum statutory rights from day one. This can be a complicating factor, particularly if a dispute or termination scenario arises and the employee asserts that they have employment rights in another jurisdiction… While in Portugal it could be easily argued that the context is not the performance of a service due to a specific contract but the validity of the same contract with the same employer.

Although in practice these countries have differentiated between posted workers and temporary remote workers situations, by not imposing the PWD rules to privately driven individuals. This was confirmed by local tax authorities upon our request, it has however not been published as an official statement (yet).

Additionally, it is undeniable how the treatment of both posted workers and remote temporary workers remains the same in some specific areas such as Social Security or VISA/immigration law.

Concerning Social Security, it should be kept in mind that when a company posts employees into other EU countries on a temporary basis, most of the time they remain insured for social security purposes in the country where the company business is located. In these cases, an A1 certificate or a CoC (Certificate of Coverage) should be issued. An A1 certificate of coverage is an European form that states the country in which a worker is covered by social insurance. Regardless of the travel reason (privately driven employees or employees sent by their employers), employees must always be covered by social security since in order to protect both employer and employee, there should be a way to certificate their coverage during the stay abroad.

Related to immigration law, when non-EU member state employees are posted into an EU country, they need both a visa and work or resident permits. So do remote workers when they visit third countries, as a result of the performance of services abroad they need a business visa to travel instead of a tourist one as well as being in possession of a valid work permit if requested in the country.


6. Future Outlook


Even if the disparities are bigger than the similarities, these two concepts may be misleading and can drive the legislator to vaguely apply similar regulations on both cases despite the differences. Elements like who is the actual beneficiary of the services, or the request of the employer to carry out the job in another country have been considered key elements to differentiate these two realities by several authors.

Most of the countries have already openly stated that temporary remote workers are out of the scope of their PWD transposition in national law which provides with an unquestionable flexibility for both employers and employees.

Although, due to the high volume of employees aiming to benefit from some periods working from abroad (that will keep increasing in the upcoming years) and the opportunity that entails attracting migrant talent into our borders, governments and EU institutions proactivity is crucial in order to create an assured and suitable atmosphere for both employers and employees and avoiding regulatory gaps for remote workers aiming to work from overseas. Designing remote work policies that comprehend the harmonisation of member state legal approaches or clarifying complex and unclear points regarding social security would be a nice way to start this journey.

Balancing between the employee interest of workations as a benefit on the one hand, and the employer compliance risks on the other hand. How to lay this down in the company policy for temporary work from abroad? What must be in the policy and what not? How would our guests change their policy if they had the opportunity to create it from scratch?

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Guest speakers:

  • Sophie Kostka - Head of HR & Culture @ Enpal  
  • Małgorzata Miaśkiewicz - Global Mobility Principal @ Delivery Hero  
  • Sabine Ziesecke - Tax Partner @ PwC  
  • Moritz Gamon - Teamlead People Operations & Services @ IU Internationale Hochschule  

Risks associated with workations

Workation is generally associated with pleasant experiences – employees get the chance to improve their work-life balance, as well as spend time on boosting their mental health and wellbeing. However, we have to acknowledge the fact that health & occupational risks are not eliminated when working from abroad, and both – employees and employers – should protect themselves from those.

Getting some minor injuries when working in the office is not uncommon. The same can happen when workflexing – to name a few of generic examples, poorly designed workstation in your hotel room leading to back injury; the universal slips, trips and falls somewhere on your way to take a work call from the beach! Injuries can also happen in the spare time when taking a walk on the beach, hiking, surfing, or doing other activities.

Employer Concerns

After hearing about these risks, WorkFlex‘s clients often ask:

  • Who is liable in case an accident happens when the employee is abroad?
  • Is travel insurance always needed?
  • Can the travel insurance for workations be the same as for business trips?
  • How should we handle any insurance claims or any other medical issues?
  • Is health insurance included in the A1/CoC?
  • And others.

The concern of who is exposed to paying medical bills in case of an accident while working from abroad is legitimate! Although it might appear that the work to purchase extensive travel health insurance must be conducted by the employee, the legal frameworks stating what is an occupational accident during workations is ambiguous. Therefore, employers might be enjoined to cover the medical expenses if it is deemed as an occupational accident.

To illustrate with an example, one mother required an early emergency delivery of her baby and post-natal treatments while travelling in a foreign country. After being discharged, she is facing a $950,000 bill for medical rehabilitation because she was not sufficiently educated on what is included in her existing insurance of the home country and because she did not procure a suitable travel health insurance (Nelson, 2014).

Another concern is the quality of medical services employees get in case of an accident. The medical insurance coverage we would receive in destinations might not be as broad as expected, even if you carry public or private insurance and your home country has a social security treaty with the destination country.

Coverage without additional health insurance

Can I rely on my public insurance?

It is important to bear in mind that public insurance is only valid in the EU countries, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Iceland. Generally, it is advised to carry the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) to prove the insurance coverage of your home country’s insurance while travelling abroad. Though public insurance is helpful, will it be able to cover all the different situations you may encounter during your temporary work abroad?

Imagine…

You are a German citizen carrying public insurance and you decide to workflex in France. There will be situations that you encounter where the standard of medical treatment while using your EHIC card will not be the same standard as you experience in Germany.

Scenario 1

If for emergency reasons you  need to seek medical treatment,  you must ensure that the medical facility is under the public health scheme, otherwise the German public insurance will not cover the treatment costs. Even if the German public insurance partially covers the costs, the employee must pay 30% for ambulant care, 80% of the pharmaceutical costs, and 20% of the hospital stay in addition to extra daily charges for the hospital and other co-payments based on the complexity of the treatment. Moreover, it is often required to prepay the treatments in the medical facility before receiving a medical report that can be submitted to the insurance provider.

Scenario 2

If transportation back to Germany is needed for medical reasons, this type of insurance will not cover you – getting this service would imply tens of thousands of euros to be paid either by you or your employer, depending on the root cause of the emergency! Irrespective of the country where the accident takes place, you should assume paying a significant share of the medical costs yourself.  

But what about private insurance?

Although private health insurance providers are required to provide coverage to the insured for at least one month globally, the actual length of the coverage depends on your provider and the insurance conditions might differ to the home country’s standards (see here for an overview of German private insurance providers and their restricted travel policies). However, employees have the option to purchase additional policies to amplify the existing insurance scope. The employee should also assess whether a separate foreign travel health insurance is recommended based on deductibles. These would need to be paid in case of a compensation claim and whether medical repatriation is included. Furthermore, many private health insurance providers reimburse a portion of the premiums if no claims have been submitted in a year. If that is the case, it is advisable to purchase a separate travel health insurance to safeguard the bonification.

To sum up, coverage of workations with existing insurance, either public or private, is indeed extremely complicated. There are a myriad of different rules across all the insurance providers that also depend on the destination of your choice. Moreover, it is important to remember that acquiring an A1 certificate or a Certificate of Coverage (CoC) from the insurer that’s needed for workflexing trips does not address your health insurance needs.

Ultimately, to contain your  financial risk and save effort on researching the local insurance conditions for a destination country, one should procure private travel health insurance to workflex abroad.


Reduce employer & employee risk with a dedicated workation insurance

Injuries abroad can get expensive – not only emotionally, but also financially. Knowing that this pain could be the responsibility of both employee and employer, it’s definitely worth it to hedge the risk by purchasing specific workation insurance packages for each employee.

To minimise the employer and employee risk of potentially paying the medical expenses for the employee, WorkFlex has partnered with Hallesche Krankenversicherung a.G. This provides comprehensive travel insurance for employees temporarily working from abroad using WorkFlex.

With this new feature, WorkFlex has added another layer of safety – travel health insurance for your employees’ workflexing trips.

What’s covered by WorkFlex’s insurance feature?

  • Unlimited medical coverage to suit your and your employee’s needs while in a foreign country, including any emergency situation in any clinic, dental treatments, cases of Covid-19 and medical repatriation
  • No restrictions on home & destination countries: Many insurance providers have great restrictions on countries their packages cover. With the WorkFlex solution there are no restrictions on home & destination countries eligible for the insurance package
  • Easy-to-use & integrated with WorkFlex platform for a seamless and easy application
  • No administrative burden: The WorkFlex team takes care of applying, communicating, and managing the insurance package throughout the whole trip period.
  • Comprehensive & easy-to-grasp guide of the insurance policy provided for the employee and employer. Hallesche Krankenversicherung also provides 24/7 phone and email support for any questions about the insurance coverage or assistance while abroad under 0049 711 66 03 39 30 in 25 languages.

If you want to learn more about WorkFlex’s new insurance feature, feel free to book a demo or reach out to your WorkFlex consultant!

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Dr. Martina Menghi is the Manager for Trust & Employer Compliance at WorkMotion. She is an Italian attorney at law, holding a double degree in law (Italian and French). Prior to joining WorkMotion in August 2022, she worked at KPMG Law in Germany for four and a half years, focusing on international labour law and posted workers obligations, which was also the topic of her PhD thesis.

Pieter Manden LLM MBA is the Co-Founder of WorkFlex and former Head of Trust & Employer Compliance at WorkMotion. He is a Dutch certified tax lawyer specialising in compliance around modern mobility. Pieter has 13 years of professional experience with PwC in the Netherlands and Germany. He was Director responsible for the PwC Germany’s Remote Work proposition prior to joining WorkMotion in January 2022.

I - Executive Summary

It deserves upfront mentioning that the existing labour law regulations have been adopted several years ago and have not been shaped around workations. Rather, they were designed having business travellers and posted workers in mind. Workationers’ are not only a new phenomenon, their situation is also fundamentally different given the lack of a business purpose in the destination country.

After having analysed the applicable rules, we have come to the conclusion that there is good and bad news. Starting with the bad: in principle, there are indeed some labour law provisions of the destination country that might theoretically become applicable. The good news, however: it is extremely unlikely that these provisions will in practice really be applied by a local judge.

The reason for this is twofold. First, only a judge in the destination country can determine that so-called “overriding mandatory provisions” in the destination country are applicable. This implies a litigation where the local judge actually considers itself competent. This last point is unlikely, given that a home country employment contract is in place, the home country remains the habitual place of employment and the stay in the destination country is limited in duration.

Second, according to EU law the “hard-core provisions of the country of habitual employment” remain applicable also to international situations. Hard-core provisions essentially concern the following aspects such as minimum wage, working hours, and paid leave. This means that the aforementioned judge would only be able to apply “overriding mandatory provisions” in the destination country on topics which do not make part of these fundamental, hard-core provisions in the home country. It is safe to say that this is so unlikely, that in practice local labour law provisions will have no impact on workations.

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II - Abstract

This article deals with the complex question of determining which employment law is applicable to remote workers enjoying Workations within the EU. Pursuant to Regulation 593/2008, the principle is the parties’ choice. However, even if employment contracts regularly specify which law is governing the employment relation, in cross-border situations the employee benefits of special protection. In fact, working abroad might trigger the application of the employment law of the destination country, notably concerning two categories of rules: the provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement (1) and the overriding mandatory provisions (2). Unfortunately, both categories are not defined in the EU legislation and national courts are left to define them according to national law.

Provisions belonging to the first category, mainly considered as those on minimum wage, health and safety and working hours, are those of the state in which or, failing that, from which the employee habitually carries out his/her work in performance of the contract. In case it is not possible to identify the habitual place of work, residual criteria apply.

Further, provisions belonging to the second category must always be applied by national courts, regardless of the law applicable to the employment contract. Legal scholars often disagree on categorisations and interpretations of which rules belong to this category. However, the European Court of Justice confirmed that these provisions must be interpreted strictly. The provisions of the destination country concerning some specific matters are “overriding” for posted employees during postings, applicable regardless of the law governing the employment contract and regardless of the posting duration. However, a number of arguments speak in favour of not equating remote workers on Workations to posted employees. In particular, the constitutive elements of posting are lacking from our remote work scenarios, i.e. service provision and host entity.

However, given the fact that the posted worker directive defines the “hard-core” of posted employees’ protection, it makes sense to look closer at those provisions and ask whether these would be applicable to remote workers as well, given their protective nature. Even though it is important to take into account that common rules exist at the EU level for all these hard-core matters, a closer look to these topics lead us to the conclusions that the most potentially problematic aspects might be the salary, given the fact that this is the matter where the highest discrepancies exist among Member States. At the same time, it is worth noting that there is no evidence that hard-core rules would be considered as overriding provisions for remote workers in the destination country.

To summarise: even if a risk of application of some destination country employment law provisions exists, it appears strongly mitigated in case of workations.

III - Position Paper

Can local labour law become applicable to remote workers enjoying a workation?

Introduction

The aim of this paper is to highlight the criteria to take into account when performing a risk assessment concerning the applicable employment law to remote workers temporarily working from abroad. These are employed in a State (Home State) and during a so-called “Workation” (an employee benefit, a combination of work and vacation) are working in another one (Host State). We will refer to them simply as “remote workers” throughout this paper, according to the definition below - even though this term does not reflect the temporary character of the international stay, which is clearly an important aspect. Remote work occurs when employees find themselves in a situation where the below cumulative requirements are met:

  • The employee works outside the Home State on a temporary basis (where “temporary” is generally being defined as below 183 days per calendar year);
  • The employer has allowed the employee to temporarily work remotely outside the Home State;
  • The trip does not have any business reason or purpose, i.e. there is no initiative nor need of the employer at the basis of the trip, the trip is entirely privately driven;1
  • The employee does not give up the residency in the Home State.

The paper focuses on the legal framework in EU law, given the fact that there is a legal source and the majority of WorkMotion clients are European.

It does not intend to analyse national specific rules, if these exist.3 Some national laws are only mentioned through examples and illustrations of practical implementations. However, given the current legal framework, it should be possible to identify some common rules for remote workers on the territory of Member States.

The rules that will be analysed were adopted before the Covid-19 Pandemic and the “explosion” of remote work during and following this. As a result, the rules were never designed with the current reality in mind, which leads to an ambiguous situation. At the same time, clearly remote work did to a certain degree also exist prior to the pandemic. Take Mario as an example: he is an associate at a big German law firm dealing with mergers, projects that usually take months. The negotiations of a new project start after Mario has booked his vacation to Greece. If he is lucky enough to still be allowed by the law firm to leave for vacations, instead of having to cancel it at the last minute, what would be the most likely outcome?

During the vacation in Greece, Mario would most likely have to constantly be looking at his mobile phone and reading and sending emails, in order to catch up and understand what is going on during his (physical) absence from the office. This might raise many questions: would such a situation potentially justify the application of Greek employment law? Is he considered on a business trip, or does he even qualify as a posted employee? It seems that these questions were not considered as vital, before the advent of remote workers.

Potential Conflicts of Law

Not surprisingly, in situations characterised by some degrees of “internationality”, such a cross-border dimension (employment in the Home State, temporary remote work in the Host State) presents potential law conflicts. One of the main risks is notably that the Host State’s employment law becomes applicable. This has some very relevant practical implications. Amongst others, the following questions need to be answered: which minimum wage standards must be applied to the employees, those deriving from the law of the Home State or the Host State? Which law determines the maximum working hours, the minimum rest periods and the annual holidays?

It is therefore crucial to identify, with certainty, the applicable law to the employment relation. In EU law, it is possible to seek the relevant answers in Regulation (EC) No 593/2008 of 17 June 2008 on the law applicable to contractual obligations (Rome I) (hereafter “the Regulation”). This is an instrument of “universal application”, meaning that any law specified in it shall be applied, whether or not it is the law of a Member State, as stated in its Article 2.

The Regulation’s general objective, as announced in Recital 16, is legal certainty in the European judicial area. The foreseeability of the substantive rules applicable to contracts must not be affected.

1. The parties' choice (Art. 8 (1))

As a preliminary observation, the employment contract belongs in principle to the private law sphere. This means that, like in all private law contracts, the parties’ will is crucial and therefore they are able to choose which law shall be applicable.

Employment contracts usually specify which law shall govern it, so this is expected to be the most common scenario.

However, the employment contract is indeed a peculiar one, where one of the two parties (the employee) is facing a situation of weakness if compared to the other party (the employer). If we consider the negotiation power, it is clear that the employee is de facto in the position of having less room for manoeuvre and flexibility than the employer.

Therefore, the Regulation adjusts this unbalanced situation, by providing the employee with some further protection. It establishes, in Article 8 (1) as a general rule, that an individual employment contract shall be governed by the law chosen by the parties. However, it also specifies that such a choice of law may not have the result of depriving the employee of the protection afforded to him/her by provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement under the law that, in the absence of choice, would have been applicable to the contract.

It becomes decisive to answer the following question: how to identify the law that, in the absence of choice, would have been applicable to the contract? Some authors refer to this law as the “objective law” of the contract.

2. Problem 1: identify the habitual place of work (Art. 8 (2))

The main criterion is laid down in in Article 8 (2) of the Regulation: “(t)o the extent that the law applicable to the individual employment contract has not been chosen by the parties, the contract shall be governed by the law of the country in which or, failing that, from which the employee habitually carries out his work in performance of the contract.” Throughout the text we will refer to the “country in which or, failing that, from which the employee habitually carries out his work in performance of the contract” simply by using the expression “habitual place of work”.

The same provision also clarifies that the country where the work is habitually carried out shall not be deemed to have changed if the employee “is temporarily employed in another country”.

It is relevant from the beginning to notice that a regular workation, meeting the criteria defined in our introduction, is very unlikely to change the habitual place of work of the employee.

In this context, it is essential to define the adverb “temporarily”.

According to Recital 36 of the Regulation, “work carried out in another country should be regarded as temporary if the employee is expected to resume working in the country of origin after carrying out his tasks abroad.”

Article 8 has as objective to ensure, as far as possible, compliance with the provisions protecting the employee that are laid down by the law of the State in which that employee carries out his/her professional activities.

For the sake of completeness, it is worth mentioning that the “habitual place of work” is not the only criterion provided by the Regulation. In fact, in some cases it is not possible to determine it. Art. 8 (3) states that, in such cases, “the contract shall be governed by the law of the country where the place of business through which the employee was engaged is situated.” Further, according to Art. 8 (4) “(w)here it appears from the circumstances as a whole that the contract is more closely connected with a country other than that indicated in paragraphs 2 or 3, the law of that other country shall apply.”

It is important to point out that these last two paragraphs (3) and (4) are residual to paragraph 2 and therefore the criterion of the country where the employee is “habitually” working is the privileged one, having priority over the others and to be interpreted in a broad sense.

Only if it is not possible to identify the country where the work activity is habitually carried out, it will be admitted to look at the place of business through which the employee was engaged and at the closest connection to another country.

According to the CJEU, “it was the legislator’s intention to establish a hierarchy of the factors to be taken into account in order to determine the law applicable to the contract of employment.”

Therefore, in our analysis we will mainly focus on the dualism between, on one hand, the “country where the employee habitually works” and, on the other, “country where the employee is temporarily on Workation”. We assume that ideally it shall be possible to identify, and if necessary to distinguish, between the two countries.

The core notion lies undoubtedly in the definition of the adverb “habitually”. The question is how to identify it? Unfortunately, there is no definition in the Regulation. In some cases, it seems easier to define it than in others.

In the lack of a definition of “habitually” in the Regulation, we are facing a notion characterised by “flexibility”. Such flexible notions are actually quite common in the EU law and have the advantage of being used in several legal contexts, enabling the Court of Justice (”CJEU”) to fulfil the notion, by giving an interpretation of their content and their limits.

It might be at first sight disappointing, but, according to the Court, there is no duration that can be taken as a standard reference. This might seem as a disadvantage, but it is actually comprehensible. The identification of the “habitual place of work” is not limited to a matter of countable and definable duration.

It is not possible to answer straightforwardly to the question “How long does an employee have to work in a place before it becomes his/her habitual place of work?”, simply because time worked in a given workplace is not the only factor enabling the assessment of the place of employment.10 There are many other factors to be taken into account.

The CJEU indicated some useful criteria11for identifying the country of habitual place of work performance, including:

  • the actual workplace (in the absence of a “centre of activities”, the place where the employee carries out the majority of the activities);
  • the nature of the activity carried out;
  • the elements that characterise the employee’s activity;
  • the country in which or, failing that, from which the employee carries out his/her activity, or an essential part of it, or receives instructions on his/her tasks and organises his/her work activity;
  • the place where the work activity tools are placed;
  • the place where the employee is required to present himself/herself before carrying out his/her duties or to return after having completed them;

The Court of Justice specified that the notion of “habitual place of work” “must be interpreted as meaning that, in a situation in which an employee carries out his activities in more than one State, the country in which the employee habitually carries out his work in performance of the contract is that in which or from which, in the light of all the factors which characterise that activity, the employee performs the greater part of his obligations towards his employer.”

Furthermore, there can be situations in which the place where the employee performs the greater part of his/her obligations towards the employer is particularly complex. This is illustrated by case law before the CJEU. The Court took the opportunity to specify first of all that in case of a contract of employment under which an employee performs for his employer the same activities in more than one Member State, it is necessary, in principle, to take account of the whole of the duration of the employment relationship in orderto identify the place where the employee habitually works. Failing other criteria, that will be the place where the employee has worked the longest.”

However, this consideration is intended to play a role only where it will not be possible to use the other criteria listed above, such as the actual workplace, the nature of the activity carried out and so on.

It has been pointed out, as a general rule, that occasional tele-work should in principle not affect the identification of the habitual workplace. For example: an employee that habitually works in Germany and for a 6 month-period during pandemic, worked full-time from another EU Member State (e.g. Austria). Whether his/her employment contract stipulates that German law is applicable or not, German law will govern the contract.

Once the country of the habitual place of work of the employee has been identified, it is necessary to look at the provisions that, according to the law of this country, cannot be derogated from by agreement, since those will have to be applied to the employment contract of the employees, even if these employees work remotely in another country for some time.

3. Problem 2: identify the provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement (Art. 8 (1))

A recent decision16 of the CJEU offers a very comprehensive overview on the law applicable to the employment contract, which is worth summing up.

The Court ruled that the correct application of Article 8 of the Rome I Regulation requires the following steps to be accomplished:

  1. In a first step, that the national court identifies the law that would have applied in the absence of choice (namely: that of the habitual workplace) and determine, in accordance with that law, the rules that cannot be derogated from by agreement;
  2. In a second step, the national court has to compare the level of protection afforded to the employee under those rules with that provided for by the law chosen by the parties;
  3. If the level of protection provided for by those rules is greater, those same rules must be applied.

Unfortunately, the Regulation does not give a definition of “provisions that cannot be derogated from”. This means, as confirmed by the Court, whether a provision belongs or not to those that cannot be derogated, will have to be decided according to national law: “The referring court must itself interpret the national rule in question.”

A case-by-case analysis becomes necessary. However, the CJEU had the opportunity in several judgements to clarify, in practice, some guidelines. According to the Court’s interpretation, the provisions in object “can, in principle, include rules on the minimum wage”.

Further, rules concerning safety and health at work, protection against unlawful dismissal, as well as rules on working hours are some relevant examples, coming from national jurisprudences, of rules that have been considered as “provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement” by national courts.

Since it is extremely unlikely that the Host State will become the habitual place of work for remote workers, this second problem is just as unlikely to materialise. The provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement (Art. 8 (1)) applicable to remote workers, will be in fact the ones of the Home State.

Once the Home State has been identified as the habitual place of work and its provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement, is it possible to completely exclude the application of the Host State employment provisions?

4. Problem 3: identify the overriding mandatory provisions (Art. 9)

Article 9 of the Regulation refers to the “overriding mandatory provisions” of the Host State: “The Regulation shall not restrict the application of the overriding mandatory provisions of the law of the forum.”

“Because of their importance for the State that has enacted them, such provisions must be observed even in international situations, irrespective of the law governing the contract under the normally applicable choice-of-law rules of the Regulation.”

Their respect is regarded as crucial by a country for safeguarding its public interests, such as its political, social or economic organisation. They are applicable to any situation falling within their scope, irrespective of the law otherwise applicable to the contract under the Regulation.

The difference between, on one hand, overriding mandatory provisions and on the other, those analysed under the previous section, namely the “provisions that cannot be derogated from by an agreement”, based on Art. 8, is actually not of immediate comprehension.

Unfortunately, the Regulation does not give a definition of overriding mandatory provisions (likewise to the previous article dealing with the provisions that cannot be derogated). Again, a case-by-case analysis is necessary.

The only specification from the legislature is to be found in Recital 37 of the Regulation, where it is stated that the two categories of rules shall “be distinguished”. In particular, those of Art. 9 should be construed more restrictively: “Considerations of public interest justify giving the courts of the Member States the possibility, in exceptional circumstances, of applying exceptions based on public policy and overriding mandatory provisions”.

These two categories of provisions have complementary purposes: Art. 8 seeks to avoid that the general principle of “freedom of choice” of the law applicable to the employment contract will diminish the protection of the employee working in the Host State. Art. 9 aims to enable the Host State to safeguard its public fundamental interests, by applying its core overriding rules to all contractual relations executed on its territory, regardless of the applicable law.

In other words, the application of provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement can be avoided (for instance because the habitual place of work is not in the Host State), while the overriding mandatory provisions are always applicable.

As a derogating measure, Art. of the Rome I Regulation must be interpreted strictly. National courts, in applying it, are not intended to increase the number of overriding mandatory provisions applicable by way of derogation from the general rule set out in Article 8 (1) of the Regulation.

“In considering whether to give effect to the provisions, regard shall be given to their nature and purpose and to the consequences of their application or non-application”.

It has been observed that due to its exceptional nature as “derogating measure”, the practical importance of Art. 9 should not be overestimated.31It is possible to identify overriding mandatory provisions in different legal areas (A). When it comes to employment law, there are currently not numerous available examples (B). Provisions concerning posted workers are considered to be part of this category. However, we will argue that remote workers are not to be considered as posted employees (C).

A. General examples of overriding provisions

As stressed out, it is not easy to establish whether a provision is mandatory or not. In some cases, it is directly stated in the provision itself. Some illustrations can be found in different areas of the law, such as family law, property law or public law. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.

Indeed, the CJEU's decisions “giving effect to foreign overriding mandatory provisions, as allowed by Art. 9 (3)” are particularly rare.34 Failing such an indication, it is a matter of interpretation, to be decided by examining the content of the rule and its underlying policy under domestic law.

It is worth mentioning the prevailing opinion in the German academic interpretation stating that “a clear distinction should be made between the mandatory norms pursuing public goals and those protecting individual interests”.

On the one hand, there are rules interfering with contractual law (named after the German verb “eingreifen”, to interfere, (“Eingriffsnormen”)), in order to pursue public interests. On the other hand, there are rules aiming to preserve and even re-establish a balance between the contract parties and the interests of some specific categories of individuals (e.g. the employees).

This methodology leads to the conclusion that employee's protection does not fall under the scope of overriding mandatory provisions.

This is not only a scholars’ view, it has been confirmed by German courts as well. In this sense, the protection of employees would not be considered as within the scope of Art. 9. A renowned case law did not apply it to a dismissal litigation. The German Federal Labour Court (“Bundesarbeitsgericht”), refused to apply a number of German rules protecting employees against abusive dismissal.

“It is highly debatable whether Art. 9 also covers mandatory rules that are designed to protect certain categories of individuals, in particular weaker parties, such as consumers, employees, tenants, commercial agents, franchisees, etc.”

However, there are also scholars promoting a different approach, according to which “rules aimed at the protection of individual interests can also qualify as overriding mandatory provisions”41 by arguing that “although Art. 9 refers to the safeguarding of public interests (...) this provision should not be construed as implying an a priori exclusion from its scope of all norms aimed at the protection of individual interest”.

Beyond the different argumentations, the interpretative dispute is still open. This shows that for the moment it is not (yet) possible to answer unilaterally and unequivocally the following question: which norms fall under the definition of overriding mandatory provisions?

B. Employment law overriding provisions

As mentioned previously, currently there are not many guidelines in this area and each national court is thus able to establish which national measures must be considered as overriding.

At the national level, a decision of the French State Council (“Conseil d’État”) is considered as “the leading case related to overriding mandatory provisions”.44It stated that a company employing more than 50 employees in France must establish an employee representative committee, even if the lex societatis of the company was Belgian law.

The Supreme Court of Luxembourg ruled that the jurisdiction of the Luxembourgish courts was mandatory regarding employees working on Luxembourgish national territory. Such jurisdiction could not be derogated by a choice-of-court agreement.

At the European level, two significant decisions were adopted by the CJEU,46 where it was recognised that “the overriding reasons relating to the public interest which have been recognised by the Court include the protection of workers.

It is in theory conceivable that a country has “a crucial interest in compliance with a specific overriding mandatory provision in the area of employment law”.48 However, even if an overriding mandatory character can be recognised to employment law rules, it is important to determine to what extent. In fact, they should always be interpreted in compliance with EU law.

According to the most extensive interpretation of Art. 9, national rules having as objective to protect the employee, should be regularly regarded as applicable overriding provisions, even if the employee works in the Host State only on a temporary basis. This would be quite impractical and does not really seem to be supported by any case law at the moment. Even though it cannot be excluded that such an argument might be invoked in the future, this interpretation would clash with the Regulation's wording, according to which they are to be interpreted strictly.

Lastly, it is also interesting to question whether the two categories of provisions - resulting from Art. 8 and Art. 9 - can be cumulatively applied. In other words, whether a provision can be at the same time considered as “non derogable” and “overriding”.51 The discussion seems open and once again, different opinions coexist.52 However, given the Recital 37 suggesting “to distinguish” between them, it seems that a national provision either belongs to one category, or to the other.

C. The (unease) relation with posting of workers rules

According to Recital 34 of the Regulation: “The rule on individual employment contracts [notably the criteria in Art. 8] should not prejudice the application of the overriding mandatory provisions of the country to which a worker is posted in accordance with directive 96/71/EC of 16 December 1996 concerning the posting of workers in the framework of the provision of services”(hereafter: “the Directive”).53In other words, regardless of the law applicable to the employment contract, when employees are posted to a Member State, this has to ensure their protection on its territory. As a result, its provisions concerning specific matters shall always prevail and be applied, for the entire posting duration. These matters are listed in Art. 3 of the Directive,54 constituting the “hard core” of posted employee’s protection.

Through a nucleus of mandatory rules for minimum protection to be observed, the aim is to ensure fair competition among service providers, i.e. the employers posting workers in the territory of another Member State. The promotion of the transnational provision of services requires in fact a climate of fair competition.

The respect of posted employees' hard-core protection in the Host State guarantees that the freedom to provide services is exerted in compliance with EU law. This is ensured by avoiding competition distortions, which would take place if the services providers were able to exploit different levels of posted employees protection.

Due to their protective character in the posting context, the hard core provisions of the Host State are to be considered as overriding mandatory provisions for posted employees.

The wording used in the German implementation of the Directive also qualifies the hard core provisions as mandatory.57 The provision clearly expresses its intention to be applied independently from the law of the contract.

Since 2014,58 posted workers must be registered in the Host State. The aim of the registration is to notify the national labour authorities about the presence of posted employees on the national territory and facilitate controls and inspections.

It appears therefore necessary to answer the substantial question whether remote workers are to be considered as posted employees or not. At the moment, the discussion appears controversial and there is no absolute answer, neither in the legislation nor in case law.

However, strong arguments lead to the direction of a negative answer. Two arguments are substantial,61 while the third one is formal.

1. Remote workers are not providing a cross-border service

The provisions referred to as mandatory by the Regulation are those of the country to which a worker is posted. Arguably, this means in the Host State where they are temporarily assigned by the employer. This is not the same situation occurring in case of a Workation. In fact, the remote workers are not “assigned”, they rather travel exclusively because of their personal interest. For this argument to apply, it is fundamental to exclude that the remote worker has any business reason to travel to the Host State. However, no tangible business purpose can be identified in case of remote workers: the trip is entirely privately driven.

2. There is no service recipient in the Host State

The circumstance that the remote worker will be performing activities providing a service on behalf of the Home Company in favour of a host entity might have a relevant impact on his/her qualification as “posted employee”. If the employee will travel for business purposes, the trip may not be considered solely privately driven any longer.

However, no host entity can be identified in case of remote workers.

If a posting is taking place, there is no doubt that the hard core terms and conditions of the Host State will be applicable to the employee, according to Art. 3 of the Directive.

3. Registration formal requirements

Beyond the above-mentioned substantial arguments, there are also practical considerations. Inter alia, several Member States’ posted workers registration forms systematically require a host company to be provided, as well as the “scope of service”. If these fields are not completed, the registration is rejected and/or considered incomplete. In some cases, it cannot even be submitted, as the online portals prevent the registration if some fields are left empty. Further, in some cases, the scope of service has to be selected from a dropdown list. Not surprisingly, the private interest of employees is not listed amongst the possible services options.

In summary, the lack of two constitutive elements of posting (1. and 2.), in combination with the considerations on the registration requirements (3.), are clear indicators that posting rules, including the hard core rules ex. Art. 3 (1) of the Directive are not applicable to remote workers.

Still, this interpretation is shared but not unanimous and clarity through legislation or case law is urgently needed.

Until then, we can only speculate which national employment law provisions will be considered as overriding for remote workers. National courts will have the last word, mainly on a case-by-case approach.

Not even the CJEU appears in the position of questioning whether, in practice, a national law can be invoked as overriding: “it is not for the Court to define which national rules are “overriding mandatory.”

The CJEU is nonetheless entitled “to review the limits within which the courts of a Contracting State may have recourse to that concept.” As such, it is not excluded by a proportionality check.

It is not possible to predict how the CJEU will rule, so here again there is room for speculation. In the context of remote workers, free movement of citizens might also be invoked in the future. This has proven to be one of the favourite arguments of the CJEU, of great importance for European integration, as far as taking place in the established legal limits, notably provided that the employee does not become an unreasonable charge for the Host State. Citizens of the Union shall enjoy the rights and be subject to the duties provided for in the Treaties. They shall have, inter alia: the right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States.65

Managing and mitigating risks

Once having given credits to the interpretation according to which remote workers are not to be qualified posted employees, it is possible to hypothesise which national provisions can be considered as overriding and therefore be applicable to them in the Host State. As a starting point, it seems reasonable to take as reference the hard core protection rules for posted employees themselves.66 We will try to find out whether the hard core rules would be applicable also to remote workers, even if we tend to exclude their qualification as posted employees.

By using a “a contrario” methodology, it can be argued that if the Regulation explicitly refers to the mandatory character of posted employee core rules, it was not the legislator's intention to include under this kind of protection the other categories of workers, i.e. the employees that are not posted, but rather belong to a different categories, like, for instance, remote workers.

However, these rules have a protective nature and therefore, it is worth questioning whether they might be invoked as “overriding provisions”.

Two general remarks must be made here: first, the hard core provisions are often matters directly regulated by EU law, as it will be illustrated.69 This mitigates the risks.

Secondly, Art. 9 is applicable in active litigation. A national court will have to determine which national overriding provisions will be applicable to pending cases.

We might observe, this is quite unlikely to happen, in practice, in case of remote workers on Workations.

The remote worker is temporarily abroad by using a benefit granted from the employer, without being assigned. Therefore, the probability for the employee to take legal actions in the Host State against the employer might be quite low. At the same time, unforeseeable circumstances might always occur and the possibility cannot be completely excluded. Further, in principle, even in case there is no claim from the employee, it is important to notice that a number of issues, such as worker safety, maximum hours, or employment discrimination are in many EU Member States considered as “public enforcement,” in the sense that their application is to be taken by national governmental authorities. Each national authority is responsible for either taking action to enforce the rules within its territorial boundaries.

Therefore, it shall be argued that even if the employee does not submit any claim, in case of inspections and controls, employment authorities might, at least in abstracto, question whether the national standards have been respected in the Host State.

De facto, the longer the employee stays in the Host State, the longer is likely to occur an inspection or a control and/or a litigation take place. On the other hand, one might also argue that inspections and controls at work are implemented “randomly”. However, on average, it is quite unlikely they will concern remote workers, working remotely from an airbnb, hotel or at a family house, as empirical evidence shows.

Even when it comes to posted workers controls, for instance, these mainly concern the sectors that are “sensitive” from a social dumping perspective and as such are more frequently objects of national inspections and compliance checks. The best example is the construction sector. Not surprisingly, this is also the sector where the majority of postings arise. To give an illustration, if in the framework of the same projects an engineer is posted from the Polish Home Company to the Netherlands to take part to business meetings with the Dutch client and 5 employees are also posted to carry out their activities on to the construction site, it is more likely than the 5 employees will be controlled by labour authorities rather than the first one.

( a ) maximum work periods and minimum rest periods;

Before analysing whether working hours are to be considered as “overriding provisions”, it is worth stressing out that this problem should not be overestimated. Since working hours are the object of an EU directive,76there are not, with a few exceptions, significant discrepancies amongst the Member States.77 The “European working week” seems to be aligned, on average, at 40 hours per week.78

Even taking into account that there still are differences at the collective bargaining agreement (CBA) level, the average difference oscillates between 35.6 and 40 weekly hours. In addition, it is also unclear whether these agreements are applicable to remote workers in the first place (e.g. non all EU Member States systems have erga omnes effects for CBAs).

Furthermore, when looking at working hours there is quite a discrepancy between theory and practice, as can be seen inter alia in the Euro Surveys on “actual working hours per week”, which show the difference among “statutory” and “effective” working hours worked by the employees in the Member States.

Therefore, working hours might not be such a big concern, in spite of legal uncertainty concerning their mandatory character.

It is interesting to notice a decision recently adopted in France, where the weekly working hours are the shortest in the EU, namely 35/w. The French Court ruled that working hours are not overriding, but rather provisions that “cannot be derogated”. If we look back at the interpretation of mutual exclusion of the two categories, one might reach the conclusion that working hours are mandatory for posted employees, but not for remote workers.

( b ) minimum paid annual leave;

Like maximum work periods and minimum rest periods, this matter is regulated in the EU Directive 2003/88.

According to Art. 7 of this directive, Member States shall grant at least four weeks per year to the employees. Contractual agreements might extend the minimum legal requirement. Even if, like for working hours, there might be differences among Member States, it seems reasonable to scale down the biggest concerns.

Given the fact that minimum paid holidays are usually accumulated per month but have to be taken on a yearly basis, the problem appears quite abstract. It seems rather impractical to admit that the remote worker might claim such entitlements during Workations in the Host State, when the stay lasts significantly less than one year.

( c ) remuneration, including overtime rates;

This is probably the most delicate aspect, given the fact that it is where the biggest differences among Member States exist.

Someone observed that in most all jurisdictions of the world, rules on wage/hour tend to be mandatory and reaching everyone, even guest workers only temporarily working in a host country.

Nevertheless, this argument seems in principle quite simplistic and often contradicted by the reality of an interconnected and globalised world, where business trips, especially of short durations, are still, in spite of the pandemic, quite common.

If, for instance, an employee hired in Milan, Italy, under an Italian employment contract, travels on a 3-day business trip to Stockholm, Sweden, in order to negotiate a contract with a potential client, it is quite unlikely to imagine he/she will invoke the Swedish salary application before Swedish courts, even if this might be higher than his/her in the Home State. Further, it is unlikely that the Swedish court will recognise his/her right to have access to the national minimum wage.

Such a scenario would even raise concerns when it comes to legal certainty, if everytime there is a business trip, employees were able to fully invoke standards of the Host State. As mentioned, fragilization of legal certainty is exactly what the Regulation seeks to avoid.

According to the CJEU, ‘provisions that cannot be derogated from by agreement’ can, in principle, include rules on the minimum wage. Once more, if these rules are covered by Art. 8, they would not be considered as overriding according to Art. 9 of the Regulation.

( e ) health, safety and hygiene at work;

Scholars do not agree when it comes to qualifying occupational health and safety. According to some, “local rules always apply due to the territorial principle”.85 According to another interpretation, health protection is actually part of provisions that cannot be derogated, based on Art. 8.

The discussion around this topic is a good legal exercise, however it remains in the end quite abstract in the EU: health and safety at work is in fact already an harmonised topic, where the standards are regulated in several pieces of EU legislation, such as the Directive of 12 June 1989 on the introduction of measures to encourage improvements in the safety and health of workers at work (89/391/EEC).

( f) protective measures with regard to the terms and conditions of employment of pregnant women or women who have recently given birth, of children and of young people;

For the categories in object, the need for protection is somehow even bigger, since they are not only employees, but also in a particularly weaker situation.

Given the fact that the initiative of Workations lies exclusively in the employees initiative, even if it shall not be excluded a priori, it is hard to imagine remote workers in such situations, able to invoke this kind of protective rules in the Host State.

Here again, the matters are regulated at the European level and minimum standards are shared by EU Member States, as stated in Directive 92/85/CEE.87

( g ) equality of treatment between men and women and other provisions on non-discrimination.

Non discrimination is a “classic” EU topic. The EU rights are build around the non-discrimination principle. Several directives have been adopted to fight against illegitimate discriminations,89 and Member States commonly share the minimum standards.

As illustrated, Member States have a limited discretion in legiferating around the “hard-core” aspects of the employment relations. Therefore, even if differences exist, notably concerning salary standards, their scope should not be exaggerated.

In practice, companies usually have thresholds calculated on the base of duration also for registering posted employees, even if in several countries, posting registration obligations apply as of posting day one. It is a matter of risk evaluation. Therefore, it makes sense to advise companies operating in sensitive sectors, where inspections are most likely to occur (e.g. construction) to be compliant with registration obligations from the very beginning. For companies posting mainly so-called “white collars” a more extensive and tolerant approach might be the best one (e.g. registration only of postings exceeding a certain duration).

This premise is necessary to highlight how, even if there is no doubt that rules concerning posted employees obligations are better defined and established than those concerning remote workers, risk assessment always plays a crucial role. In other words, it is hard to imagine that for companies adopting a 100% compliant approach would always represent the best solution. Compliance checks imply in fact costs and time.

Conclusions

Taking into account the above, it is worth noting that EU Member States have a legitimate interest, in compliance with EU law, in guaranteeing the protection of workers on their territory. This can be achieved by imposing the mandatory observance of some local rules. However, in order to invoke the application of national law, a sufficiently close degree of connection with the Host State is required.

The rationale behind the posted workers Directive and its rules on minimum protection is to facilitate the freedom to provide services.

The question is whether and to what extent the Host State might need to apply national employment law provisions to the remote worker. In this context, it is also to be taken into account whether the remote worker is able to harm competition, or interact with the labour market of the Host State.

As a general rule, employers should evaluate whether Workations might trigger an impact on the applicable law to the employment relation. Local employment laws could in principle, in some cases, override the contractual wording and contractual choices. To summarise, whenever Problem 1 is solved, i.e. when it is possible to clearly identify the Home State as the country where the employee habitually works, looking at Problem 2, becomes redundant. In fact, there is no need to look at the “provisions that cannot be derogated”, because they overlap with the ones of the State of habitual place employment, i.e. the Home State.

However, as we saw, it is in principle always relevant to look at Problem 3, i.e. overriding mandatory provisions.

It is unfortunately not possible in abstract terms, to predict with certainty which provisions might be considered applicable due to their “overriding mandatory” character.

In several cases, the EU legislation is not specific enough or we are facing a lack of clear provisions. Clarifications at the legislative and judicial level would be more than welcomed. In the meanwhile, there is still much room for speculation and different interpretations. However, nothing prevents that in the future the authorities' practices might change and evolve in different directions. New EU legislation might be adopted, filling the current legal gaps and providing different answers than those given so far.

Lawmakers need to adjust existing rules to a new reality. This is an authentic need not only for employment, but for all legal areas where there might be significant consequences for remote workers, starting from taxation.91 Once again, reality is overtaking legal provisions.

This still remains an unexplored territory and therefore, it becomes crucial to adopt a cautious approach and not extend too much a “permissive” interpretation of the existing rules. At the same time, if the law does not explicitly forbid something, it does not make necessary sense to automatically assume that it is incompatible with EU law.

Even if some prudence is necessary, the risks might be mitigated in several cases, if taking into account the Workation context. Since it cannot be a priori excluded that some national employment provisions might be applicable in the Host State, a safe approach might be the

preferred choice. Nevertheless, we definitely tend to support the argument that in situations such as Workations it is, for practical reasons, very unlikely to be the case.

Workations are rapidly becoming an important employee benefit, and that´s for a good reason. If employees are no longer expected to work from the office, why should they only work from home? Although, not all people adapt at the same pace, and many consider it weird to go on an extended vacation only to work from there too. To be more specific, our baby boomer parents probably think it’s a classic ‘Millennial’ or ‘Gen Z’ thing to do. Nevertheless, we expect workations to develop into something usual as more employers increasingly offer them and employees continue to enjoy them.

Employers are sometimes hesitant to allow workations because of the compliance risks.

Permanent Establishment (PE) risk, in particular, is considered a showstopper. The risk here is that the employee could trigger a corporate tax liability in the destination country, meaning the employer would need to pay corporate taxes over the profits generated in the destination country. Given that the presence in the country is very limited, however, these corporate taxes generally aren't the key problem. The biggest problem is the administrative burden that comes with having to pay the taxes which, besides setting up bookkeeping, includes registrations with authorities and documentation for intercompany billing and profit allocation.

For this reason, it’s safe to say that employers really don't want their employees to constitute a PE. After all, workations should be an employee benefit rather than an employer burden.

This raises the questions; how does an employee temporarily working from abroad constitute a PE, as well as if, (and how) it can be prevented? And this is where we have good news — there’s no “permanent” in temporary work from abroad. As the name suggests, PE’s require a certain level of permanency. A workation is by character temporary and will therefore generally not be permanent enough. This is supported by both the OECD and the UN, the two organisations whose tax treaty models and commentaries have been most widely adopted. Both state that a so-called ‘fixed place of business PE’ and ‘service PE’ will usually not be constituted if the presence in the other country is below 183 days. This is one of the reasons why an international stay that exceeds this threshold no longer qualifies as “temporary”. In practice, workations are generally much shorter.

Of the more than 1,000 workation requests processed through our WorkFlex platform, more than 95% were below 30 days.

This makes it highly unlikely that these workations pose a PE-risk, even in countries that have adopted even tighter policies around ‘fixed place of business’ or ‘service PE’s’ than the OECD and UN policies. Yet, there are three additional factors that need to be considered;

  1. That the company doesn’t have an office or entity in the destination country. If it does, it must be made clear that the employee did not visit the office or perform activities for the benefit of the local entity. Deviating from this will not always, nor automatically, create a significant PE-risk. However, it would make it difficult to confidently state that the workations are not likely to form a PE-risk.
  2. For the 183-day threshold, you may be required to look at multiple workations in the same destination country. In other words, an accumulation of workationers in one country might increase the PE-risk in that location.It’s therefore recommended to have a single system in place, like WorkFlex, to manage all of the company’s workation requests. It’s also important to note that this accumulation doesn’t simply apply to employees from different departments who happen to enjoy a workation in the same country. PE-risk is more likely to increase  if there is some organisational overlap. For example, if various employees working on the same project accumulate in the same, destination country. Although this is often the case for business trips, it’s hardly the case for workations. It does show why it is important to distinguish between the two from each other, though.
  3. Lastly, is the only type of PE –- other than the previously discussed ‘fixed place of business’ and ’service PE’ – that can still pose significant risk even if the workation is below 183 days. This concerns the so-called ’dependent agent PE’. In short, the OECD and UN consider a ’dependent agent’ an employee that habitually plays the principal role leading to the conclusion of contracts. It is broadly accepted that “habitually” implies a certain frequency. For example, five contracts where the individual played the leading role. Still, this doesn’t exclude the theoretical possibility that a dependent agent constitutes a PE during a workation of one day. For this reason, it’s recommended to take two extra measures to mitigate and manage the dependent agent PE of workations.

The first one is to determine who actually qualifies as a dependent agent. Normally, the vast majority of employees don’t, as they do not habitually play this leading role in the conclusion of contracts. Examples of employees who are more likely to qualify as a dependent agent are senior managers and employees in sales and procurement roles. Workation requests of these employees need to be highlighted. A second measure is to assess the actual dependent agent PE risk for these requests. Questions to consider are; how often does the employee usually perform high-risk activities? Can they realistically refrain from performing these activities during the envisioned workation?

Together with many specialists in the field, we are of the opinion that even the most senior employees should be able to enjoy a 30-day workation without triggering a material Dependent Agent PE risk.

However, a case-by-case assessment is always required, and it’s important that the potential risks are managed. This is why WorkFlex performs an individual risk assessment of each workation request and generates relevant documentation such as employer statements and employee instructions. This way, both the employee and the employer can comfortably enjoy a workation.

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Scout24 is one of the leading digital companies in Germany and home of ImmoScout24. With its 20 million users every month ImmoScout24 successfully brings together homeowners, real estate agents, tenants, and buyers.

Now, how did the company embrace the changing way of working for its employees?

  • 850 employees globally
  • 50 nationalities
  • Main markets: Germany and Austria

The challenge

As was the case for millions of companies worldwide, working from somewhere else than the office, also from abroad, became a huge consideration for Scout24 when the pandemic did hit. Fast forward two years and, Scout24 is seeking to formalise flexible arrangements without running the risk of breaking international tax or labour regulations. Hence, implementing the opportunity to work from abroad. Since at Scout24 the opportunity to work from abroad is given, it was important to create very clear regulations which supported the overall strategy.

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The solution

Flexible or at least hybrid work was now in everybody’s mind and companies needed to align. So did Scout24. They made a point of giving their employees an additional benefit that allowed employees the flexibility to work from abroad, which had to be based on clear processes and regulations.

Under normal circumstances, if an employee is working more than 183 days abroad, taxes must be paid in this country, however this was relaxed by many countries during the pandemic. Arrangements for cross-border workers (Konsultationsvereinbarungen) that took place during the pandemic were temporarily limited.

Scout24 got in touch with WorkFlex because they were aware of the potential to allow “working from anywhere”. And with the help of WorkFlex, allowances could have automatic risk assessments, issuance of A1 certificates and more. Now, Scout 24 employees can request working from abroad up to three months each year within the European Economic Area and up to one month from outside of it.  

  1. Positive feedback from the employees: work-from-abroad requests are increasing and the official request process enables full clarity for all parties.
  2. Tax- and compliance-friendly: the legal and tax teams can count on a fully proficient documentation follow-up. The teams can also access the risk assessments easily making it a great decision-making tool.
  3. Time savings thanks to an automatic risk assessment.
  4. Professionalism and automation: requests are facilitated.

At Scout24, we decided early on to embrace the new world of work through flexible working and to strengthen the work-life balance of our employees. With WorkFlex, we are providing the right tool to support our strategy. Requests for working abroad are automated and now part of our way of working. We improved tax and legal compliance respectively. Thanks to the first-class service, we can respond more quickly to the wishes of our employees, which means that they can start actively planning and designing stays abroad more quickly without having to think about it too much.

Krzysztof Lysik – Head of Tax at Scout24

Workations are rapidly becoming a significant employee benefit, for a good reason. Why should employees only work from home if they are no longer expected to work from the office? Allowing them to work from abroad for some time is an excellent example of implementing increased flexibility, similar to enabling them to work from home. For employers, the beauty of flexibility as a benefit is that it is more or less free of costs. That is, as long as the employer does not pay for the workation and the workation does not trigger any unexpected obligations for the employer. As an employer can decide on the first topic, this white paper focuses on the second topic.

Any unexpected obligations for the employer are likely to relate to the compliance risks around workations. A practical example would be the obligation for the employer to set up payroll in the destination country or the employer's liability in case the employee requires medical assistance during a workation. This raises the question of which compliance risks are related to workations, and how employers can manage or mitigate these risks.

Definition of Workation

Before diving into the compliance topics, it is essential to align on the definition of a workation. In short, this is a situation where an employee continues to work while temporarily abroad for private purposes.

The following four characteristics are relevant:

1. Abroad. This means outside the country of employment and residence of the employee. The employee will not give up his/her residency in the home country during the workation.

2. Private. The stay abroad is privately driven and has no business objective at all. Thus, a workation is something different than a business trip. A workation can be combined with a business trip, e.g., when the employee stays for a workation after visiting a business seminar.

3. Work. The employee continues to perform work activities for (the benefit of) his/her home country employer only. This means that the employee does not create any local value in the destination country.

4. Temporary. The stay is temporary, namely maximum 183 days in any running 12-month period (accumulated per country). However, many employers have limited workations within their company to a maximum number of working days that lie significantly below these six months, such as 30 or 60 days.

Summary of compliance topics


Tax

  • Corporate Income Tax: The risk that the employee constitutes a so-called Permanent Establishment (PE). This would trigger a corporate liability for the employer in the destination country. Although this is not necessarily expensive in terms of the taxes due, the administrative burden that comes with this liability is disproportionally high.
  • Employment Tax: The risk is that the employer needs to set up payroll to calculate, withhold and remit employment tax in the destination country. If a remote worker constitutes a PE in the destination country, this will also trigger an employment tax liability. On the contrary, as long as a remote worker does not constitute a PE, the employment tax liability is generally only triggered in exceptional cases.
  • Social Security: The social security risk around workations is twofold. First is the risk that the employee loses coverage from the home country's social security system. Second, the chance that the social security system of the destination country becomes applicable. Both risks are relatively easy to manage for countries within the EU and countries where a social security treaty is in place.
  • Personal Income Tax: The risk is that the employee becomes taxable in the destination country for personal income tax purposes. If this only affects the employer indirectly, e.g., the employee's income tax liability can trigger an employer's employment tax liability.

Legal

  • VISA / Immigration: Does the employee have the right to work in the destination country? One may question whether a valid working title is required if the visitor's primary purpose is tourism. This is somewhat unclear, as the VISA / Immigration legislation was not written with 'workationers' in mind. Nevertheless, it is essential to consider this topic, as the fines and penalties for illegal labour are generally hefty.
  • Local Labour law: The risk that local labour law becomes applicable. Assuming the employment contract explicitly states that the labour law of the home country applies, it is unlikely that local labour law becomes applicable. This may differ for particular arrangements, such as those around minimum wage and working conditions. In this regard, it is relevant to note that notifications based on the so-called Posted Worker Directive are not applicable for employees enjoying a workation. After all, the employer may have approved the workation but did not post the employee. Moreover, the employee does not perform services locally.
  • Duty of care: Every employer has a duty of care for its employees. However, it is relatively unclear what this duty of care precisely consists of, i.e., when the duty is fulfilled. Generally, it prescribes the employer to do everything that can be reasonably expected. As a result, an employer's duty of care is likely much lower during a workation than when the employee works from the office. At the same time, it also means that it cannot be excluded that an accident during a workation should be considered a work accident for which the employer bears the (partial) responsibility.
  • Internet and Data security: The risk is that the employee working from abroad breaches security regulations in the home country - such as GDPR regulations - or the destination country. Such as a local prohibition on using VPNs. The breach might also find its origin in client contracts, which may exclude the service providers from performing their services from particular countries.
  • Sanctioned countries: Looking at our WorkFlex data, it is rather unlikely that employees want to spend their workation in a country sanctioned by institutions such as the UN or EU. However, this is not impossible thus it is recommended to have the list of these countries available.

The long list above might scare people off, but it should not. The risks hardly differ from those relevant when employees work abroad for business purposes, e.g., during a business trip. Also, employees used to work now and then during their vacation, even before the term workation was invented. Neither of these examples was/are considered a big problem, so one should not make the risks above a red flag all of a sudden for workations only. Instead, one should be educated on the risks and manage or mitigate them.

In-depth assessment: PE-risk

For example, taking a better look leads to the conclusion that it is unlikely that workations create a significant PE risk. As the name suggests, PEs require a certain level of permanency. However, there are no "permanent" temporary workers from abroad. A workation is temporary by character and will generally not be permanent enough. The OECD and the UN support this, the two organisations whose tax treaty models and commentaries have been most widely adopted. Both state that a so-called 'fixed place of business PE' and 'service PE' will usually not be constituted if the presence in the other country is below 183 days. This is one of the reasons why an international stay that exceeds this threshold no longer qualifies as "temporary." As a result, even in countries that have adopted even tighter policies around 'fixed place of business' or 'service PE' than the OECD and UN policies, employees enjoying workations will hardly ever constitute a PE.

Yet, three additional factors need to be considered:

1. Local presence. The employer does not have an office or entity in the destination country. If it does, it must be made clear that the employee does not visit the office or perform activities for the benefit of the local entity. Deviating from this will not always, nor automatically, create a significant PE risk. However, it would make it difficult to confidently state that the workations are not likely to form a PE-risk.

2. Accumulation. For the 183-day threshold, you may be required to look at multiple workations in the same destination country. In other words, accumulating workationers in one country might increase the PE risk in that location.

It's also important to note that this accumulation doesn't simply apply to employees from different departments who enjoy a workation in the same country. PE risk is more likely to increase if there is some organisational overlap. For example, various employees working on the same project accumulate in the same destination country. Although this is often the case for business trips, it is hardly the case for workations. Nevertheless, it does show why it is essential to distinguish between the two from each other.

3. Dependent Agent PE. Lastly, the only type of PE- other than the previously discussed 'fixed place of business' and' service PE' – can still pose a significant risk even if the workation is below 183 days. This concerns the so-called' dependent agent PE. In short, the OECD and UN consider a 'dependent agent' an employee that habitually plays the principal role leading to the conclusion of contracts. It is broadly accepted that "habitually" implies a specific frequency. For example, five contracts where the individual played the leading role. Still, this doesn't exclude the theoretical possibility that a dependent agent constitutes a PE during a workation of one day. For this reason, taking two extra measures is recommended to mitigate and manage the dependent agent PE of workations.

The first one is to determine who qualifies as a dependent agent. Typically, most employees don't, as they do not habitually play this leading role in the conclusion of contracts. Examples of employees more likely to qualify as dependent agents are senior managers and employees in sales and procurement roles. Workation requests of these employees need to be highlighted. A second measure is to assess the actual dependent agent PE risk for these requests. Questions to consider are; how often does the employee usually perform high-risk activities? Can they realistically refrain from performing these activities during the envisioned workation.

Managing and mitigating risks

Besides being educated, employers should manage and mitigate the compliance risks of workations. This can be done in many ways. A common way to start is to draft a policy. It forces the company to consider what it wants to allow - and what not. This is not only relevant for compliance purposes. There can be various business objections against workations, e.g., when the employee is expected to be in the office at a particular time or when the time difference between the home location and destination is too significant.

Further, a crucial part of managing workations is ensuring a process is in place. After all, one cannot manage what one does not know. The process starts with the employee initiating a workation request. After this, it should include a manager's approval, as well as a tax and legal compliance assessment taking into consideration the topics mentioned above. Once the request has been approved, the process should prescribe the request of a social security certificate. Other potential actions may include generating and notifying the company ́s travel insurance company, putting an addendum to the employment agreement in place, generating an employer statement and/or employee instruction sheet. Preferably, this process is supported by a technology that combines all of the process requirements above. Moreover, a technology-enabled process saves both the employee and the employer time, besides having some other advantages. For example, suppose the number of workation requests is high. In that case, the technology can help to focus on those requests that are potentially problematic. Moreover, technology can help put an audit trail in place so that all information and documentation are easily accessible. A solid policy and (technology-enabled) process should pave the way for both the employee and the employer being able to comfortably and safely enjoy a workation. And that is exactly the objective: workations are meant to be an employee benefit, not become an employer burden.


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While a workation within the EU entails fewer risks than working from third countries, this does not mean it is risk-free. In practice, they have proven to be a BIG burden for employers, but why?

Permanent Establishment (PE) risk

Watch out, because if the employee conducts activities on behalf of the enterprise, a Dependent Agent PE could easily be triggered. Some EU countries have a strict approach to PE and potentially even a Fixed Place of Business PE could be created depending on the location where the employee is working from.

No audit trail and employee's confirmation of the work-from-abroad policy

This means a higher labour law risk, in case something goes wrong during the workation. Combine this with no travel insurance (from the employer) and it turns out to be not as safe as one would expect.

No management

A good 30-day workation management requires some time. Even a trip within the EU should not be done without proper employee instructions and neither without A1s (or a WorkFlex Social Security Statement for countries where the process of obtaining an A1 is not that quick). Sometimes forgotten, yet essential.

Accumulated presence

Be careful, not every EU country follows the same logic to stipulate tax obligations in regard to physical presence. That is why in particular countries (e.g. Czech Republic) being compliant can be more complex than expected and it demands you to update yourself regularly as local regulations often change.

HR risk

Not adopting a Working From Abroad policy is definitely not appealing for any employee. Some may wonder why they cannot spend more days abroad if they are EU nationals and want to enjoy this benefit.

Implications of family visits

Visiting family is one of the main purposes of a workation and this entails two inconveniences. Firstly, these trips may lead to having the center of vital interests in the other country (and this has some tax implications). Secondly, workations in the EU countries only could lead to non-EU citizens wondering why they cannot visit their families. Eventually, this policy can reduce engagement and reduce retention.

Your employees undoubtedly love the freedom to go on workations! To avoid compliance risks, we highly recommend implementing a workation management process, even if your current policy permits travel within the EU for less than 30 days. Book a demo with WorkFlex today to see how we can help you streamline this process and mitigate potential risks via the No-Risk Workation Concept.

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The Workation Alliance is an organisation founded in 2022 to connect companies that offer workations as a benefit to their employees. The mission of the Alliance is to promote the benefits of workations and help member companies overcome the challenges associated with offering this unique benefit. In just six months, the Workation Alliance has already attracted over 30 well-known companies as members. These members come from a wide range of industries and geographies and all share the common goal of providing their employees with an innovative way to improve their work-life balance.

Recently, the Workation Alliance hosted its first open webinar, aimed at sharing data and insights on the benefits of workation in the future. Hosted by Pieter Manden LLM – Global Mobility expert and founder of WorkFlex - the webinar featured experts from companies such as Allianz, Bosch, and Clevis, who shared their experiences with offering temporary work from abroad. If you missed it, you can now watch the full recording below.

Workation is the act of traveling while working remotely. It provides a great opportunity for employees to have a change of environment, which can lead to increased productivity, creativity, and motivation. Previously reserved to freelancers and the self-employed, this concept is now also possible for employees since the pandemic changed the way we work.

The benefits of workations are not only limited to employees, offering this can also be very beneficial to the employers. It can provide a competitive advantage in terms of attracting and retaining talent and it can also lead to cost savings for the company by lowering employee turnover rates – because happy employees want to stay with you.

One of the key speakers at the webinar was Daniel Zinner – Associate Partner at Clevis Consulting and founder of the People Mobility Alliance, who discussed how Covid-19 has revolutionized the way global mobility works in corporations. Previously, the only way to work internationally was on an international assignment approved by the company. The options were then limited to where the company had subsidies and a project need for the individual. However, in the last three years, the approach has shifted towards an individualized approach, and the focus has shifted towards technology that could empower the administration to support people in this.

Gudrun Kipp from Robert Bosch was one of the key drivers in offering Workations at Bosch. They realized very early on that workation was not a short-lived trend, but something that is here to stay. In just one year since implementation, they have already had over 2000 requests, and employees would like to work abroad for even longer than they are currently allowed to. Gudrun's advice is to involve senior management as early as possible as it accelerated implementation massively for them.

Oana Haiek, Global Mobility at Allianz, shared that getting to where they are now in offering workation has been a continous learning process. However, it is so worth it when they receive feedback from employees on how much they enjoy the freedom that workation gives them.

All three agreed: workation is a trend that is here to stay. The experiences shared by Allianz, Bosch, and Clevis demonstrate the benefits that workation can bring to both employees and companies. As the world continues to adapt to the changing work environment, it is essential to consider new approaches such as workation to improve productivity, job satisfaction, and employee well-being.

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Do you want to offer workations compliantly in your company but skip the effort of creating a workation management process?

Book a Demo with one of our WorkFlex experts and find out how No-risk Workation can help you to offer this benefit without compliance risks.

Your employees would love to go on workations. But you are reluctant to give them the freedom to work from anywhere because of concerns about employer compliance risks.  Is there a common ground? 🤔  

Yes, there is! 🙌  

Watch the webinar on No-risk workations led by WorkFlex Co-Founders Pieter Manden & Patrick Koch. In the webinar, we will introduce you to the groundbreaking concept of no-risk workations that protects the employer from the relevant compliance risks of workations.


Jascha Ehleben is a Consultant at WorkFlex. He's a serial workationer and the prime example of practice what you preach when it comes to work from anywhere. Since joining WorkMotion as an SDR in April 2022 he has been on 9 Workations in Europe and Asia.

Workationing has been a popular trend for quite some time now. It's the best of both worlds: you get the chance to travel and explore a new place, but still stay connected to your work (and you don't have to use all of your holidays).  

But there are a lot of things to consider when planning to work from abroad. Why should you consider going on a workation? Where should you stay? How to pick the right place to work from?

Last year I have been on workation to 9 different countries. Here are my top tips.


Why go on a workation?

Let me start off by saying that a workation cannot replace holidays. The two are not the same and should not be treated as such. If you have a vacation - you rest and don't work; if you work - you work.  

BUT, that doesn't mean that you cannot enjoy some of the benefits that you would have on vacation - like exploring a new country, with all the excitement and adventure that comes with it – while still being just as productive as you would be when working from home.  

But what exactly are the benefits of working while you're away? These are my top five reasons to take your job on holiday:

  • You can travel to new places and learn about their culture and history. Getting out there and exploring will help you learn about different destinations around the world.
  • Refresh your mind and recharge your energies. Traveling and exploring new places in my free time provides me with new perspectives and inspiration which translates into more creativity and higher productivity when I am working.
  • Escape the cold winter. Rather than spending 4+ months of the year with rain, grey skies and the cold, I can spend my days in countries where it's still warm enough to spend time outdoors (and where it doesn't get dark before I even finish work).
  • Meet friends and family that live abroad. Many of my friends and co-workers live in different countries and I normally wouldn't get to see them very often.
  • And make new friends along the way. Especially when staying in hostels and co-living spaces, it's so easy to meet people from all over the world. I have met so many amazing people on my travels from different backgrounds and different cultures, that I never would have come across otherwise.

How to get the best out of your workation?

Find accommodation that works for you

Choosing accommodation is a big decision. Will you be going solo or with friends? What’s your budget? How much privacy do you want or need for your work?

  • Hostels and co-living spaces are great for meeting other travellers, especially when you are travelling alone, I would recommend staying in these places to connect with others and avoid getting lonely.
  • When you need quiet time and to relax alone, so then an Airbnb or hotel might be better.  
  • If you want to meet local people you can also book a room in an Airbnb (here you can often get great recommendations for the best local food and activities).  For me, as someone who travels for long periods at a time, balance is key - so I suggest trying out different things to see what works best for you and mix it up!


Find the right workspace

When deciding about where to work, it’s important to consider the type of work you do. Some jobs are more suited to working in public spaces than others.  

  • If your job requires a lot of calls or meetings, then you may want to avoid finding a workspace in an open coffee shop and opt for somewhere quieter, like a co-working space, an airbnb with a dedicated workspace or even a hotel room.
  • Working from shared spaces in hostels or cafes can still be a nice option to switch things up on days where you just need to work on some simpler tasks on your laptop without having calls.

The important thing to consider for both is to make sure that wherever you choose has reliable WiFi before settling down with your laptop and latte (unless you want the stress of running around with all your stuff to find a better connection for a spontaneous call)!


Make sure you have a good balance between work and fun activities

It’s important to make sure you have a good balance between work and fun activities. You might be travelling but you still need to get your work done!

  • Manage your expectations: during your working hours, you still have to try to get as much done as you normally would and don't expect to constantly be on adventures.
  • Use time zones to your advantage: if you start later you can go explore in the mornings or have a nice breakfast. If you start earlier, you can have more free time after work
  • Use your weekends: I like to take an extra day off on Monday or Friday, rent a car and really explore the location. These kinds of trips are always the highlight of my workation because you can see so many new places every weekend and just spontaneously decide to see nature or a new city, so you always have different impressions that you wouldn’t get at home.

Try out different things, find what works for you and enjoy the freedom
Even if you're not interested in being a digital nomad (or your job doesn't allow it), having a workation once in a while could be beneficial for your mind, body and soul. Personally, working from abroad has made me more productive, more focused and less stressed.

While there might be challenges, there are so many opportunities as well. The most important thing to remember is to be realistic. Enjoy yourself and make the most of this unique experience.

Hopefully you find some of these tips useful and learn something new. And, who knows? Perhaps this will inspire you to take the plunge yourself and plan your own workation!


In a series of 3 webinars, we explore everything you have to know about managing workations compliantly and efficiently together with best-in-class experts of temporary work from abroad. Join in for employer experience stories and opinion-sharing!

Episode 1: Should your company make workations a benefit? (🇩🇪 in German)

Flexibility at the workplace is among the most demanded employee benefits that help employers win the war for talent. Besides talent attraction, there are many additional bonuses to workations - e.g. improved employee satisfaction and loyalty. However many companies also fear that workations will hurt employee productivity.

Episode 2: How to get the workation compliance right? (🇬🇧 in English)

Many employers are now offering workations to employees. However, not everyone is aware of the severe employer compliance risks associated with workations, including permanent establishment, wage tax, social security, and others. In the webinar, we discuss what are the must-have HR processes and documents to manage and mitigate the risks.


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Episode 3: What workation management tool to choose? (🇩🇪 in German)

Your employees love to go on workations and they request a lot of trips. You are aware of compliance risks and acknowledge they have to be managed and mitigated. In the webinar, we discuss what tools can you use to manage the workation compliance and workation management process.

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