is it useful for your staff?

Waking up in Barcelona, ​​video meeting, doing a few interviews, interviewing via zoom and then working on stories. During the afternoon you can go for a walk on the Rambla, get a sandwich in the neighborhood and then spend a few hours typing behind the laptop. Sometimes at home, sometimes in the coffee shop around the corner. After five on the bike to the beach and in the evening eat out and on the terrace.

Your reporter at work from Barcelona.

Digital nomadic existence

In other words, the digital nomadic existence. Your editor tried it last month with a friend who works with communication. Like writing, this is a function that can usually be performed remotely for a few weeks. We did it not as freelancers, as the classic digital nomad, but only for the boss.

And that is exactly what is becoming more and more normal. Due to the corona crisis, teleworking has suddenly become commonplace, so why not from another country? Can you see the world again? This is a question that several employees have obviously asked themselves; alone in our office is signed the fifth who for a short time went to work abroad.

Works from Barcelona or Cape Town

The 33-year-old Joost Verhage already realized two years ago that it was going in this direction. In late 2020, he co-founded with Marleen Verweij (30) Sweet Spot Abroad, a startup that allows employees from different companies to work in Barcelona or Cape Town for one to five months. The Amsterdam startup arranges accommodation, training and networking activities, and the brand new digital nomads work from one collaboration space

Verhage has already welcomed employees from law and IT companies, media professionals, Otrium and employees. They pay around 1,500 to 2,250 euros per month for the program, in addition to living expenses of around 800 to 900 euros.

Working from abroad for a while makes you more innovative, we think

A nice shot of money if you want to offer it to all your employees. Why would you do such a thing as an employer? Verhage: ‘We see that it increases people’s well-being. It makes them happier and therefore less likely to burn out. It also makes them more innovative, we think. They come out of their comfort zone, experience new things, meet new people and gain fresh insight. They take it back to their own company. ‘

Young professionals want ‘flexibility’

45 people have already participated so far. The average age of the participants is around 32 years, Verhage estimates. ‘Young professionals look at work in a completely different way than the older generation. They want more flexibility, experience new things, gain knowledge and meet new people. It’s pretty hard if you have them in the office all the time. Then they stay in the same environment, with the same colleagues and friends. By letting them work abroad for a while, you can meet their needs. ‘

According to Verhage, many employers are not yet doing enough to meet the needs of ‘young professionals’. ‘And that while there is one war for talent is. This can be a way to attract talent and last longer. ‘

Also read: Should companies raise wages to attract scarce talent?

Verhage can talk about it. He worked as a consultant at Zuidas for six years until he gave it up two years ago. “It was a lot of work and very little life. I started thinking about how I would like my life to be. It dawned on me that I really liked my job, but that I wanted more out of my life. I decided to create something to make this possible for others. Many people demand it, but companies have never been eager to allow it. ‘

Businesses are hesitant

For example, they fear that employees will feel so good in Barcelona or Rome that they will never return. Or even worse: that they meet employees from another company and go to work there. The wrong attitude according to Verhage. ‘That’s not how it works. You need to make sure that you are an attractive employer. Putting people in cages will not help you. If you facilitate it financially for your employees, most employees will think: cool that my employer allows me to do this. ‘

During the corona, we all worked from home. It did not go well?

Other employers that Verhage spoke to were concerned that staff abroad would ‘lose touch with the company and colleagues’. Verhage: “But you only let someone travel abroad for a few months, not the rest of the year. In addition, we all worked from home during the corona. It went well, didn’t it? ‘

The street in Barcelona, ​​where the undersigned stayed in June as a digital nomad.

Being outside every night

Carla Knoope, 30, worked in Barcelona for a month in May through the Verhage program. She is the head of legal advice ICTRecht and has tested the concept together with three colleagues to see if it is something for their company. It was already discussed at the company during the corona crisis: If you still have to work from home, can you also work abroad temporarily?

Knoope, who is 30 himself, believes – like Verhage – that this desire to walk is partly a generational thing: ‘This is something of a problem with a young generation. Everyone wants so much. Not only a great job that makes you happy, but young people also want to see a lot of the world. They are often quite flexible in this regard. ‘

She ended up in Verhage’s company through another. The month in Barcelona was a success, says Knoope. ‘We ended up in a hot bath of sweet people. However, it was busy. You want to get the most out of your month. In the Netherlands you sometimes go on Netflix for a night, but here you want to be outside every night. Every time you walk out of the office, you feel like you’m on vacation. Sometimes you are still on your main course Monday night at 12 in the morning while still working the next day. It can be hard, but you get more out of life in a month like this. ‘

Work more efficiently than at home

In his own words, Knoope worked more efficiently than in Holland. ‘You’re super motivated to work there because you want to stop in time to enjoy the sun and do something fun.’

With us, the feeling prevailed: how wonderful it was that we got this chance

Other colleagues can now also go on the journey, because experience expert Knoope sees few obstacles in the way of his employer. ‘We had the feeling: how wonderful it was that our employer gave us this opportunity. This only works if there is a good bond between the employees and the company. That’s how it is with us. I can not imagine anyone on the team saying, ‘It’s so nice here, I’ll never come back.’

However, the advice has set a few conditions. An employee must have been employed for two years to be allowed to take on such a trip. The group is still toying with the idea of ​​offering employees who have been employed for five years again one month abroad. ‘We therefore also demand loyalty from the employee’, says Knoope. ‘It can act as a good binder.’

Do you work from abroad in the sunny south? Some companies are worried that it will get the staff tolose touch with the company and colleagues.

Not for all professions

Organizational psychologist Aukje Nauta, a specialist professor at Leiden University, thinks it is a good development for companies to let their employees work abroad. ‘I’ve been saying for some time that we need to adapt work to people, instead of people to work.’

However, she warns that such an adventure abroad is not for all professional groups. ‘For example, forklift drivers have a hard time letting you work from Barcelona for a month. It’s only for people with work that you can do online, anywhere. “

This is a challenge for companies, Nauta believes, because not everyone within one organization has such a position. ‘It will be difficult for a receptionist, for example. He needs to be behind the counter to receive people. At the same time, such a receptionist sees that other colleagues are all going abroad. As an employer, one has to ask such a person: Are you not really jealous? If it turns out to be the case, and the person also wants such an experience, it is good to look for solutions. Maybe the receptionist can do other work for a while so that it can be done.

Avoid squinting

Gender equality is important for organizations that want to roll out this concept properly. In practice, Nauta sees that such benefits accrue mainly to young, attractive people who can express themselves well verbally and are intelligent.

Not only the manager, but also the secretary must be able to work from abroad

‘A bit like the seven ticks’, Nauta refers to the recent book by Joris Luyendijk. It can lead to crooked glances, she warns. ‘If you want people to work abroad, do not choose based on education level, but see if the position allows it. Not only the manager but also the secretary can work from abroad for a period of time. ‘

Also read: Joris Luyendijk: “If everyone at the top looks the same, no one will think anymore”

To give individual attention

Does such a foreign experience, as entrepreneur Verhage claims, increase employee well-being? Nauta cannot make that connection on the basis of science so directly. ‘But it’s a way of giving people individual attention. You talk to them and make tailor-made agreements. This has been shown to make employees happy and reduce burnout. You are seen by your employer as someone who can shape his or her special wishes at work. ‘

In other words, it is essential to have a good bond between the employees and the company, as manager Knoope pointed out earlier. Knoope has been back in Holland for over a month now. But if she was allowed to walk on the horten again, would she do it again? She does not have to think about it for long. “If I get the chance again, I would go again with a heartbeat.”

Why temporary work from abroad can be good:

  1. Employees gain new insights that they take to the company;
  2. Employees receive individual attention, which increases their well-being;
  3. Employees often work more efficiently to enjoy the sun in the evening;
  4. It can be a way to tie talent to you;
  5. It is in line with the wishes of many millennials who want to experience new things.

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