Here’s a preview of the remote work news we're covering in this week's newsletter:
- 🇳🇱🪧 The Netherlands makes remote work a workers' right
- 🇨🇷✍🏽 Talkin' visas with the Director of Marketing for Costa Rica's Tourism Board
- 📈💸 Can remote work help us beat inflation?
This is the Wayviator Newsletter — Summer Edition.
🇳🇱🪧 The Netherlands makes remote work a workers' right
We've talked before in the Wayviator newsletter about legislative debates in Ireland regarding a worker's right to remote work.
The law is sitting between two houses of parliament, approved by the parliament and awaiting ratification from the Senate.
Let's talk about the specific implications of this law, as it is very likely to be imminently approved:
Generally, in Western capitalist democracies like The Netherlands, businesses are private enterprises. They have the right to conduct their affairs how they wish, like private individuals.
This freedom to conduct business and run their company how they wish is, of course, limited by regulations and employment law. Employers can't dump pollutive chemicals in the river, be racist in their hiring practices, fail to pay a minimum amount of severance, etc., etc.
There are rules.
Western European countries tend to be extremely worker-friendly in their rules (relative to North America, the UK, and Australia, for instance).
The new Dutch law contemplates making remote work a right — in cases where it can't be proved that there is a valid reason why a worker being on-site wouldn't be necessary. So this is a right to "remote work — where remote work actually makes sense".
Factories, hospitals, police stations, and warehouses still need people on site, so forklift drivers won't benefit from a "right to work remotely" if their job requires sitting on a forklift.
But a Dutch worker who can prove that their knowledge work can be done remotely, via computer, could benefit from a right to work from home.
Some companies will argue — understandably — that while it may be "mechanically possible" for someone to work remotely, that doesn't mean working from home is what's ideal for the company.
Many companies value the traditional reasons for having an office: oversight, training, team cohesion, communication, morale, camaraderie, etc.
Most companies around the world — if they prefer to have people in the office — are currently not obligated to accommodate remote workers. They can say: "This is how we do things, if you don't like it go find a remote-friendly job at a different company. We're just not one of those companies."
This law may force Dutch companies to rethink their hardline approach. Direct government regulation is the next aftershock in the seismic economic shift that remote work has created in the global labor market.
🇨🇷✍🏽 Chatting with Carolina Trejos, Director of Marketing for Costa Rica's Tourism Board
Costa Rica just made it much, much easier to enter the country and work legally and remotely for an employer or business from outside the country.
The details, which we shared last week, are essentially the following:
- Work for any foreign employer, or your own business, remotely — if you can prove $3,000 USD in monthly income, or $4,000 USD (if you have a family)
- No income tax levied by Costa Rica on your income
- The term of the visa is one year, renewable for a second year
- The government has committed its own processing teams to a 15-day turnaround for each application.
- You can bring in the equipment you need to work remotely with no import tax (technically "importing computers", etc. would have theoretically been subject to an import tax)
- You need to prove you have health insurance for the duration of the stay. Check out our newsletter sponsor Insured Nomads for products that will cover you in Costa Rica and around the world.
Some inside fútbol: in the months leading up to the final passing of the bill, there were last-minute changes specifically directed around making the visa easy to apply for. You can see that philosophy embedded in the "maximum turnaround time" in the law.
Governments with digital nomad visas that are cumbersome, bureaucratic, poorly designed, or hard to actually get will lose out on attracting remote workers to countries whose processes are smooth, easy, and fast.
Costa Rica has clearly learned from the middling success of other programs to prioritize ease of application and speed of approval.
We asked a few more follow-up questions to Carolina Trejos, Director of Marketing at Costa Rica's Tourism Board:
Wayviator: Is there a limit on how many digital nomads are allowed into the country?
Carolina Trejos, CR Tourism Board: No, the Law does not indicate a quota for the Digital Nomad visa.
The visa is available for one year and renewable for a second year. After that is there a "cooling-off" period where someone has to leave Costa Rica and can't return? What happens to someone who wants to remain in Costa Rica after using two years of the visa's eligibility?
The authorization of legal residence is granted under the category of “Estancia para Trabajador y Prestador Remoto de Servicios” and is a right to reside, as opposed to an immigration visa.
Applicants can apply again indefinitely, as long as they comply with the conditions indicated in the regulations.
Where exactly can people apply?
What do you hope to accomplish with this digital nomad visa in the next five years?
Costa Rica has ample opportunities for digital nomads. Our first phase is to communicate the benefits of this new law, primarily in the United States.
According to our reports, 50% of digital nomads worldwide are from the U.S., where we have a strong relationship, proximity, similar time zones, and good air connectivity (direct flights).
We will update our website, VisitCostaRica.com, with a new section containing everything remote workers need to know about Costa Rica, the Digital Nomads Law, requirements, and benefits.
📈💸 Can remote work help us beat inflation?
Good news and bad news in an article from CNBC about how remote work can help beat inflation.
The good news is that remote work may be exerting pressure on the labor economy, slowing down rising inflation.
The bad news (for workers) is that this is happening because employees are willing to take lower wages in exchange for permission to work remotely (often in places with a lower cost of living).
You can take a lower salary if your New York-based company allows you to live in Manhattan, Kansas instead of Manhattan, NY.
Wages are one of many components that are used to arrive at the tidy percentage of "the rate of inflation".
Wage inflation in recent years is now, generally, peaking. High-growth companies have undertaken layoffs, and the market has taken a turn since late 2021 for macroeconomic and geopolitical reasons far more complicated than just "the shift to remote work".
The bottom line here is that wage levels, already under pressure from globalization, will face a new dynamic in a "hire anywhere" world.
We tended to think of wage pressures on blue-collar jobs. Outsourcing affects factory workers more than corporate offices.
But now, C-level executives, VPs, marketing directors, Big 4 Accountants, lawyers, bankers, and many, many more knowledge workers will be willing and able to take slight salary cuts if employers are willing to let them live in Mexico, Costa Rica or lower-cost locations domestically within the US in Canada.
That's an example in the context of the Americas.
In Europe, this dynamic could look like high-priced UK labor accepting a lower market salary for the ability to live in Portugal, Croatia, or Spain — and thus driving down the median salary in London's knowledge workforce.
Remote work may help us beat inflation — but highly-paid knowledge workers in cities with a high cost-of-living need to be ready for a market shift where salaries are not necessarily supporting income levels commensurate with living in an expensive neighborhood.
The competition is everywhere now, including places where the cost of living and lifestyle can allow for lower salaries.
Around The Web 🍿 Quick hits on remote work news
San Francisco grapples with its remote work exodus.
#VanLife, a remote work subculture, encourages people to work from a van in national parks
The Kids Aren't Alright: Does Gen Z hate working from home?
Not financial advice! But NASDAQ highlights where remote work might bring investment opportunities.
Five remote work lessons from a remote work early adopter (who learned from their mistakes)...