Remote work has become an integral part of our working world. The ability to work from anywhere has transformed how we work, removing geographical limitations and reshaping the traditional office-based model.

At the beginning of the journey, companies had to quickly react to support employees and maintain business continuity. As restrictions eased, employees began to recognize the value of location-independent work, which has led to a growing demand for workplace flexibility. While organizations continue to explore the approaches that best fit their talent and business needs, many have embraced more flexible work models and are enjoying the benefits of a borderless workforce.

The KPMG International webcast: “Work from Anywhere: It’s been three years” asked more than 580 participants from 52 countries, territories and jurisdictions about their current remote work considerations and approaches. This report presents that data and offers insights to the current global trends in remote work and how they are evolving in terms of mobility, tax policies, governance, technology and more.

Future outlook

With global skill shortages expected to continue, the flexibility of work location through remote working presents a viable solution to bridging at least part of the gap. We are already observing organizations benefiting from increased access to skills, e.g., through the implementation of dedicated talent hubs where they can employ key talent remotely or through the expansion of internal talent marketplaces. Furthermore, normalizing remote working within organizations is helping to expand access to individuals who would otherwise be inclined to opt out of the labor market altogether, such as carers and parents of young children, thereby also increasing workforce diversity and inclusion. 

In general, organizations who purposefully use remote working as part of their talent strategy will likely differentiate themselves as an employer of choice.

However, in particularly competitive markets, the offer of remote working, including cross-border, will likely become the industry norm.We already see this trend within the Fintech sector which continually challenges itself to find ways to offer increasingly higher levels of location flexibility.

Where used effectively, it can provide a meaningful yet relatively low-cost addition to the employee value proposition. With cost pressures continuing in a high-inflation global environment, we predict its use to continue.

In 2023, we are increasingly observing divergent approaches in the use of remote working, with some organizations reverting to a full-time office-based model while others continue to adapt to long-term hybrid or predominantly remote operations. 

Operating model strategies are currently being developed by organizations independently, in absence of long-term scientific data pointing towards best practices or clear decision criteria. 

As a general trend, early studies point towards remote working becoming part of permanent organizational design. 

We therefore expect to see an increase in organizations embracing experimentation and starting to internally measure the impact of their remote working programs on their key business outcomes. Those who do will be able to adapt more quickly as the needs of their employees change and ensure better return on their investment in the programs.

While international authorities like the EU and the OECD have initiated efforts to harmonize regulations for cross-border remote working, achieving a standardized approach to taxation and social security treatment of long-term remote working is likely to take time. In the meantime, local governments are taking varied approaches to categorization and treatment of remote workers. 

Open dialogue with the authorities, whether locally or at the OECD or EU level, will be increasingly more important to ensure that the voice of international business is heard and considered as the legislative landscapes continue to evolve. This also means that organizations will need to continue to actively review and monitor the compliance risks inherent in their cross-border remote working programs.

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