Brexit vs. The Freelance Economy: How Will Digital Nomads Fare During the Largest British Economic Event of the Century?

Brexit vs. The Freelance Economy: How Will Digital Nomads Fare During the Largest British Economic Event of the Century?

6th November 2019 Off By Guest Blogger

Brexit negotiations continue to throw the UK’s future into speculation with each passing day.

These Brexit talks have thus left many apprehensive about where their job prospects lie, especially since immigration has been one of the topics that pushed for the referendum in the first place.

Where do Remote Workers fit within all of this?

Well, Brexit will change the job market in the UK as we know it — digital nomads included. For one, our post on ‘Remote Working and Mental Health’ lists social isolation as one of the biggest pitfalls for remote working. These effects can be exacerbated by changes due to Brexit. There is a real danger of the British economy feeling a lag as thousands of remote workers struggle to readjust, and the list doesn’t end there.

What it means for British digital nomads and companies

The remote work landscape is ever-changing. What was once referred to as “telecommuting” has since been replaced with a more modern term, SmartWorking. Defined as working from a non-fixed location using any combination of technology solutions and network providers. SmartWorking is growing in popularity, with the Irish Times reporting that it will seriously rival traditional office set-ups by the year 2025.

Indeed, there’s a rich culture surrounding the digital nomad lifestyle.

One of the biggest draws to digital work is that it allows individuals the flexibility to travel anywhere.

People freely move across the EU to work with different startups and companies, creating industries built on collaboration.

It’s often up to the companies themselves to work through these logistical kinks, as they’re often the ones who have to sponsor Visas on behalf of the employers. Solutions like SafeGuard Global offer payroll compliancy for companies with international operations, making it easier to employ remote workers. That said, this will mean serious restructuring for these companies. They’ll also need to adjust to new laws, as many of the current employment laws (such as those that deal with parental leave and working hours) are based off of EU directives. 

Britain’s new employment laws are currently under review within the Parliament, which means that it’s just a matter of waiting with bated breath for most companies.

What it means for digital nomads

Operations will likewise get more difficult for digital nomads looking to work in the UK and collaborate with British citizens. Not only will the movement of other EU citizens be curbed, but travel writer James Gonzales highlights that Visa costs will rise for non-EU workers.

While British workers can still technically work for overseas companies remotely, their ability to travel for work might be hampered. EU-based companies who require remote workers to travel onsite for a week or so may end up bypassing British workers altogether.

Despite such setbacks, Computer World editors suggest that the British economy may still reap some benefits from a Brexit deal. As companies may be forced to let go of non-British workers, this will open up new spots for local talent to come in. This will be particularly felt within the IT industry as opportunities continue to rise, with vacancies opening up by 72 percent last January.

Locally, SmartWorking could be the solution for British companies looking to retain top local and global talent.

If Brexit does create an economic slowdown for the UK then the opportunity is ripe for companies to reduce costs by accessing remote talent in regional areas which in turn will regenerate areas as the spending is local. 

If the economy prospers then companies will need access to more talent of which we might see an exodus of Europeans. However, in this case, again remote work gives many options both for workers in and outside of the UK. 

As more and more candidates from around the world look to SmartWorking as a way to obtain international exposure whilst maintaining their work-life, British companies can tap into this market.

Deciding whether to adopt SmartWorking and a Digital Nomad lifestyle is under the discretion of the individual, but there’s good reason to assume that the SmartWorking movement has no intention of slowing down Brexit or otherwise.