HR professionals say remote workers need to tell them where they are based for tax and immigration compliance – but they are not always updated on where staff live.

According to research from Topia, which manages workers mobility across the world, only 46 percent of HR professionals know where their employees are located in 2022. This was down from 60 percent in 2021.

This could be an issue if employees are working abroad for a longer period of time. In the UK, employers must deduct income tax through PAYE as normal for workers who are abroad temporarily. However, this changes if employees choose to stay abroad, which is why HR teams need to be aware of where in the world their staff is.

The study – Adapt to work everywhere – says 40 percent of HR professionals discovered employees working from outside their home state or country. It also found 66 percent of employees who admitted to not reporting all the days they work outside their home state or country.

This is despite 90 percent of HR professionals being confident that employees self-report those days.

The report keenly points out that employees do not break HR’s location reporting rules intentionally. Rather, they either forget to report or do not know what the process is.

91 percent of employees told researchers they were comfortable with their employer tracking their location at the city level. That is enough detail for HR and finance departments to ensure tax and immigration compliance.

The research also predictably found that flexible working is here to stay and that workers would resign to get flexible roles. 29 percent of workers changed jobs in 2021 and 34 percent plan to resign in 2022. Both, due to a lack of flexible working.

 “It’s clear that remote work is here to stay, and our Adapt study suggests that if companies say no to flexible work arrangements, they will lose talented people and struggle to replace them,” said Steve Black, co-founder and Chief Strategy Officer of Topia.

When asked what they look for in a new employer, respondents rank flexible work arrangements as the third most important attribute—after high pay and a focus on employee wellbeing but above great culture, professional development opportunities, social impact, and autonomy.

He said employers should be supportive of wherever employees choose to live.

“To provide an exceptional employee experience, organizations need technology that welcomes employees to explore, request and pursue remote work opportunities. The back-end compliance needs to be automated and accommodating of employees who change locations frequently.”

This is becoming more relevant, as research suggests there’s a growing trend for a ‘hybrid holiday’.

Seventy six percent of workers polled by Virgin Media O2 say they are considering adding remote working days around their annual leave, as part of an existing trip. 

Thirty six year old Lyle Metcalfe is founder of London-based electric bicycle brand Volt. He plans to split his time between the UK and France this winter – using his phone to stay connected to customers, suppliers and on social media while he’s away. He says: “I’m excited and confident that technology allows me to work outside the usual constraints of a fixed location. 

“Nowadays heading off to France for a couple of months is not an issue from a work perspective; and from my own personal point of view it gives me clarity and motivation to achieve more. From a creative and well-being viewpoint, it is important for me not to be boxed in with the usual 9-5 office routine.

“And to the outside world, (unless I tell them), everyone just assumes I’m sat (sic) in an office in the UK, when in fact I’ll most likely be on a ski-slope in the Alps. It’s a complete game changer really.”

Allowing remote workers to log into work from anywhere in the world could also be beneficial to their mental wellbeing. Almost half (49%) of those polled said that their surroundings had the biggest impact on productivity, so it’s hardly surprising that so many are inclined to take advantage of available flexible working options and log on from a sunny climate or exotic location.

Thirty seven percent, meanwhile, say working remotely from Europe will make them more productive – as they expect a new environment to help boost productivity.





Feyaza Khan has been a journalist for more than 20 years in print and broadcast. Her special interests include neurodiversity in the workplace, tech, diversity, trauma and wellbeing.