Laptop, check. Ring binders, check. Surfboard, check.
How would you like to scan your spreadsheets on the veranda of a tropical beach house, or browse your inbox with sand between your toes? That’s what some enterprising nations are encouraging you to do, to boost recovery and stimulate spending in the era of working from home. Economies everywhere are reeling from the pandemic, and countries that rely heavily on tourism have seen vast swathes of the job pool wiped out almost overnight.
Step forward: Remote working visas, which are long-term residency permits aimed at those who can do their jobs as well in one country as another. Complete an ordinary working day – then go sight-seeing or surfing after hours.
Barbados was first out of the gate, and applications are now open for the so-called ‘Welcome Stamp’ visa, which invites eligible applicants to spend a full 12 months in “one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations.” The visa costs a hefty AED 7,350 for individuals and AED 11,000 for families, but successful candidates will be exempt from Barbadian income tax. The country is mercifully low on COVID-19 – recording around 100 cases and seven deaths to date. With office spaces across the world braced for downsizing, workers can look forward to a lot more control over how and where they spend office hours, and the prospect of beach-working is increasingly realistic.
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Fellow island paradise Bermuda has now followed suit, rolling out a similar scheme for year-long residencies costing AED 970 per person. Applicants must be over 18, “of good character”, have health insurance, and be able to show proof of employment and financial means.
If you’re worried about getting sand in your laptop, Georgia in Europe has also thrown its hat into the ring. A rapidly emerging tourism destination pre-pandemic, it has been similarly successful at slowing the spread of COVID-19, and is now rebranding as a safe haven for freelancers. Most details are TBC, but applicants must stay in the country for six months or more and quarantine on arrival. “Georgia has the image of an epidemiologically safe country,” economy minister Natia Turnava tells Agenda.ge. “We are talking about opening the border… to bring to Georgia citizens of all countries who can work remotely.”
The concept of ‘digital nomads’ is hardly a new one, but prior to the pandemic these movable workers made up a small proportion of society. Upwards of 80% of the UAE population was working from home during the lockdown, and many have continued to do so. It remains to be seen how many employees will uproot themselves for new pastures, but, whatever happens, it may be a sign of things to come. Multinational companies have been balancing time zones for years, and if the pandemic has proven anything, it’s that you probably can too.