Having both a steady paycheck and the freedom to travel the world might sound too good to be true, but it’s the work arrangement that many of today’s employees are pursuing. Instead of having to find new work in each country you travel to, digital nomads—people who use the internet to work while exploring the world—prefer keeping the same job throughout their adventures.
A job based in the United States, in particular, may offer more competitive pay than other locations. And keeping the same job you have now would help minimize financial uncertainty, save the hassle of having to find employment elsewhere, and prevent you from having to learn a new role in a different company.
The benefits of working remotely for a U.S. company are clear, but is it feasible? Here are some considerations to bear in mind if you’re thinking about pursuing this unique work arrangement.
Working remotely for a U.S. company
The term “remote work” can be a bit confusing. While many organizations are offering at least some remote work arrangements, such as the ability to work from home one or more days a week, others are giving free rein when it comes to where their employees work.
When we use the term “remote work” here at Oyster, what we really mean is work from anywhere (WFA). Employers with WFA policies allow—and sometimes even encourage—their employees to work from any place in the world. They’re trusted to exercise independence and responsibility to stay connected with their colleagues and continue producing quality work on time from a remote environment.
The perks aren’t just for the employees, however. The workforce is now more dispersed than ever, and many of today’s organizations understand the benefits of being flexible about where their employees are located. Savvy business leaders know that offering WFA arrangements could be an effective tactic for attracting top talent: According to Oyster’s Employee Expectations Report, nearly half of the workforce (44%) say that working remotely is among the top three factors they’d seek in an ideal company. Forbes further emphasizes the benefits, stating that employees who work remotely are also 35 – 40% more productive than in-office employees, have 40% fewer quality defects, and are more likely to stay with the company. Having fewer in-office employees could also lead to more direct benefits, like reduced overhead costs.
With such compelling benefits on both sides, it makes sense for both employers and their teams to consider remote work. With that in mind, there are a few caveats to weigh.
Can I work remotely for a U.S. company?
Working remotely for a U.S. company is certainly possible, but it does come with some obstacles. For one, you’ll want to get consent from your employer and determine your worker classification. Being an independent contractor could be an advantage in this situation, as you’ll be able to set your own hours instead of working on your company’s schedule.
Contractors tend to have more freedom in general, and often control how, when, and where they complete assignments. Nonetheless, contractors typically don’t receive benefits, such as health insurance and retirement planning options, so you’ll be responsible for arranging them on your own.
Once your employer has approved your request for working remotely and you’ve established your classification, you’ll want to look into tax laws. Any non-U.S. citizen employed by a U.S. company will still pay taxes in their home country, even if they’re living abroad. You’ll either pay tax as an employee or as an independent contractor, depending on your classification.
Filing taxes tends to be simpler for employees since the employer is required to withhold taxes on employees’ behalf. To do so, however, the company must establish your country of residence. This can be tricky for digital nomads, so you may want to consult with an expert about where and how you’ll pay taxes.
Contractors will also have to pay self-employment taxes in their country of residence. In many cases, digital nomads pay taxes in the country in which they have the most residential ties, but some need to pay taxes in more than one country.
Some final questions to ask yourself as you decide to work remotely are:
- What are the local employment laws for the territories you wish to visit?
- What type of visa is required?
- How long are you legally allowed to stay in each country with each visa you obtain?
- What tools and equipment will you need to fulfill your responsibilities and stay connected with your supervisor and colleagues?
- What time zone differences will you encounter, and will you be required to attend meetings virtually?
- What will the cadence and method of communication look like?
If you’re one of the first employees to request remote work at your company, the transition may involve some trial and error. In many cases, however, employers will set rules for communication methods and tools and will be able to outline clear expectations for your new work arrangements.
Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.
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