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Young Employees Look Abroad for Remote Work

A man is sitting on a rock and using a laptop.

​Employees of all ages—but especially younger workers—are interested in working abroad, according to a new survey of 1,500 business leaders and employees by Remote, an HR company in San Francisco.

The survey report revealed that Generation Z employees are more interested than members of other generations in working remotely from a country other than their own (80 percent), compared with Millennials (74 percent), Generation X (61 percent) and Baby Boomers (40 percent).

Nearly half of Generation Z workers believe remote work will be more geographically distributed in the future, while just 18 percent of Baby Boomers say the same.

"Gen Z workers tend to really look for more flexibility and expect more global opportunities, whereas we're seeing a little less of this trend among older generations," said Amanda Day, director of people enablement at Remote.

While older workers are in a different life stage and have different responsibilities than Generation Z, they too want to travel to different countries to enjoy work experiences, Chicago recruiter David Marr said.

"I've noticed that older workers who've gone through major life changes want to experience something else, like living in Thailand," said Marr, who has been working remotely for more than 10 years.

Peter Gratale runs global startup company Citizen Remote, a platform for digital nomads and remote workers looking to move abroad.

"I think we will see beautiful countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina start to attract a lot of tech talent," he said.

Remote Work Can Increase Productivity, Retention Rates

The survey also showed that remote work has a positive impact on employee productivity and retention.

Among North American companies that have adopted a fully distributed remote-work model, 60 percent said productivity has increased, while 35 percent said it stayed the same.

Researchers also found that:

  • Remote work does not compromise a worker's productivity or a company's retention rates.
  • Remote work strengthens a company's diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) efforts.
  • There's not much generational difference in who wants to work remotely.

"Over the past few years, as work became less tied to specific locations, a lot of great talent took the opportunity to move away from major cities for many reasons, whether that was a lower cost of living, being closer to family or more access to the things that gave them a better quality of life," Day said. "I believe this was the beginning of a larger trend—not just a blip."

"Remote work is not about timestamping," Marr added. "Employers should be flexible with workers' remote work preferences as long as the work gets done."

Remote Work 'Can Level the Playing Field'

Some younger remote workers are less concerned about the many benefits a company could offer and would rather have a healthy balance between work and life experiences, the Remote report found.

"Now that I'm a father of two young kids, remote work has become something that I'm super grateful for," Gratale said. "Having my daughter bust into my office and come sit in my lap for a bit, or my son coming in to show me his new Lego creation, is worth more than any perk a company can offer in an office."

Day said that remote work gives employees ample opportunities to connect with their colleagues and advance in their career.

"There are a lot of ways to be seen by your teammates and managers beyond physically appearing in an office, whether that's via messaging platform, in collaborative documents, virtual meetings, short videos or … your work product," Day said. "We found that 42 percent [of survey respondents] believed there was no difference in likelihood to be promoted for all remote workers, while 28 percent believed all-remote workers were actually more likely to be promoted."

She added that remote work is beneficial for DE&I progress, and that younger workers seek companies with strong DE&I initiatives.

"For many workers in distributed companies, remote work can 'level the playing field,' " Day said. "Workers are recognized based on the quality of their work and not by superficial qualities they have in common with their managers."

Sarah Dolezal is a freelance writer based in Alexandria, Va.


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