MoneyTransfers.com took a look at some of the latest research into remote workers’ attitudes towards their setup, and the best places to work remotely.
The city that came out as the best for remote workers was Lisbon, per a ranking put together by rental site Holidu. The hilly Portuguese capital on the west coast has become a digital nomad hub in recent years and is considered one of the best places to live for remote workers overall. What’s more, the country has a visa – the D7 or ‘entrepreneur visa’ – that makes life a bit easier for this crowd.
In second amongst the best cities to work remotely came Barcelona, Spain, which offers an array of co-working spaces and cultural activities; and in third was Budapest, Hungary, where prices for rent and dining is lower but there is still a strong digital scene (see methodology below).
Meanwhile, in a 2022 survey, nearly a third (31%) of respondents said remote working caused no additional struggles for them. Out of a total of 2,118 remote workers surveyed, this was by far the most popular answer.
Of the struggles those surveyed did mention, not being able to switch off at the end of the day (25%) and loneliness (24%) came out on top.
As for the biggest benefits, the main theme was flexibility: whether that was in time (67%), working location (62%) or the ability to live somewhere else (55%). The best places for remote work, then, are perhaps not so important as the flexibility offered by individual employers.
“Working remotely has gone from a niche usually only filled by freelancers and out of necessity, to something so popular that lawmakers in the Netherlands think it should be an enshrined right,” says Jonathan Merry, CEO of MoneyTransfers.com.
“The recent surveys looking at the appeal of remote working are telling: people feel it gives them more control over their working hours and how it fits into their lives. This could help people achieve a better work-life balance; although remote workers do also say it can be difficult to switch off.”
Merry adds: “As for the best place to work remotely, there are always going to be different priorities that make somewhere the most suitable choice for someone. Remote workers have cited being in a different time zone as a difficulty, for example.
“But the likes of Lisbon, Barcelona and Budapest have clear draws, such as their sunny climate and good availability of desk space for the former two, and affordability for the latter.”
Where else could make remote working a right?
Following on from the Netherlands, we could see more countries pass laws to make remote working a legal right.
In the UK, around 17.4% of people worked mainly from home in 2020; a figure that was obviously impacted by the pandemic, but that was still relatively high within Europe, making it one of the best places to work remotely during COVID. In France, for example, the figure was 15.7%, in Germany it was 14.8% and in Spain it was 10.9%.
However, the UK government has been fairly negative towards remote working since the end of Covid lockdowns, with various senior ministers, including Boris Johnson, exhorting people to head back into the office. That could change with his successor – Rishi Sunak, one candidate, has heralded the benefits of the office for young workers; but Liz Truss, the other, has said flexible working (if not fully remote) can help women and ‘levelling up’ the country.
According to the World Economic Forum, Finland had the highest proportion of home workers (25.1%) in the EU in 2020. As a country known for its progressive policy-making as well as having a trend for remote working that pre-dates the pandemic, it could look to cement this right in law.
Ireland is another country with a high proportion of home workers (21.5%). Many global tech companies have bases there (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Microsoft and Dell, to name a few), which may increase a culture of remote working. Last year, the country also set out a plan to create 400 new remote work locations in rural areas, by turning vacant buildings into co-working spaces and encouraging pubs to allow people to work in them on quiet afternoons.
This is part of a push to get more people based outside of its cities: but a law to allow remote working could well follow.
Notes on methodology:
Surveys into remote worker attitudes are by Buffer, via Statista
List of best cities for remote workers is per data compiled by Holidu which ranked the world’s 100 best cities according to the factors: Average WiFi mbps per second; Number of co-working spaces; Average price of buying a coffee; Average price of taxi per km2; Average price for two beers in a bar; Average price of one bedroom apartment per month; Average cost of a meal at a local, mid-level restaurant; Average number of sunshine hours; Number of ‘Things to do’ on Tripadvisor; Number of Instagram photos with hashtag #cityname.