The top challenges of remote employee relocation (and how to solve them)

Tips for managing the recent uptick in relocation requests.

Man standing with suitcase at airport looking at plane outside the window

Before the pandemic, your career was tied to your location. If you worked in tech, it was best to live in a booming tech hub. If you worked in the medical field, you had to commute daily to a clinic. But after nearly every profession experienced a shift to working from home during the pandemic (and having the opportunity to realize that it works), more and more employees are requesting a permanent decoupling of career and location and demanding flexibility, both in terms of working hours and physical location. 

Employees everywhere have proved they don’t need to go into the office to have an impact. Today, organizations are seeing an uptick in requests from employees who want to relocate to their home country, move to be closer to family, or live abroad for the fun of it. 

While enabling international employee relocation can be key to retaining top talent, it can be a tricky scenario for an HR department. Relocation requests on an international level trigger administrative, legal, tax implications, visa and residency requirements—and becoming an expert in every country's labor laws just isn’t feasible. 

Let’s dig into some of the common challenges that come with remote employee relocation requests, and we’ll share some tips and tools to navigate them. 

Wondering how Oyster fits into your big picture? Book a customized demo to see what your day-to-day could look like with our global employment platform.

Challenge 1: Complying with local labor laws

The rules and regulations governing work are different from country to country—and noncompliance with local laws can lead to major fines and penalties. If you have multiple employees in one location, you could open a legal entity yourself, but it’s costly and the process is lengthy. In this situation, most companies choose to use an employer of record (EOR) to employ full-time workers in another country. 

Let’s look at an example of how this works. Say a company based in Germany has an employee who wants to relocate to Spain. This can be a tricky situation because if the company doesn’t have a legal entity set up in Spain, they can’t handle visas. In this instance, the employer may choose to use a global employment platform to manage all aspects of local compliance. This includes ensuring employment agreements are up to par with local labor laws and providing the legal protection the company needs. 

Challenge 2: Setting up payroll

It might not be possible to include your remote worker in your home-country payroll once they move abroad. That means you would have to set up payroll in every new country you hire in—and find a way to pay these employees without spending a ton on exchange rates and bank fees. 

There’s no need to spend months (and thousands of dollars) setting up a business entity everywhere you find a great candidate.The simplest solution for managing global payroll is to invest in a platform that does it for you. The ideal platform would empower you to generate compliant local contracts, manage local taxes and contributions, and give you access to local legal and HR expertise.

Challenge 3: Immigration and visa requirements

Because employees are no longer tied to one geographical location, more and more are making the move abroad. This can complicate things for an employer who isn’t equipped to handle the immigration and visa requirements needed to accommodate these changes on their team. 

For example, a company is ready to hire a candidate who recently moved to France, but the visa process will take a couple of months, and they want an immediate start. This is where relocation services like Jobbatical can be quite helpful. They can take care of the challenges around immigration and let employers relocate their international hires easily.

Until the visa is granted, employers can use an EOR for the new employee’s country of residence, and the employee can enter the country and start working from the local office. 

Challenge 4: Compensation

As an employer who hires around the world, it’s important to define and communicate your compensation strategy for your global workforce. Some companies tie pay to location, whereas others follow a location-agnostic compensation approach. 

Whatever compensation your company chooses to use, it's important that you have one singular approach and are up front about it. When it comes to building trust with your global workforce, it’s recommended that companies take a stance, put a stake in the ground, and allow potential employees to decide if that company subscribes to a pay structure that works for them. 

Hire anywhere without the headache

As more businesses shift to distributed, remote-first, and hybrid models, businesses have to give their employees the flexibility to relocate anywhere in the world in order to stay competitive. The reality is that many employees will never make the return to their in-office roles, and it’s our job as employers to help accommodate this new way of working and make that transition as smooth as possible. 

With a little inspiration, your remote team can easily outperform their in-office counterparts. Learn how to unlock the superpowers of distributed teams in this blog post. 

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop and take care of a thriving global workforce. It lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

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