World Economic Forum: How COVID-19 has hit offshore freelancers – and how they can bounce back

  • In the short term, foreign freelancers have been among those hit hardest by the economic challenges of COVID-19, as jobs have disappeared.
  • In the long term, more remote working could also bring opportunities to developing countries.
  • But only if policymakers overcome key challenges to cross-border remote work.

COVID-19 has accelerated the trend toward remote work, as organizations adapted quickly to lockdowns by asking those employees able to do so to work home. Consequently, nearly 40% of employees have been working remotely in OECD member countries during the pandemic, an unprecedented shift in labour dynamics.

Removing the physical need for employees to be in the office has raised a number of questions about how the workforce will look like in the future. From the point of view of international trade, one of the most pressing questions is, could more remote working lead to a rise in the use of offshore freelancers?

Hiring people from other countries for short-term projects can often be cheaper or provide access to a wider variety of skills than hiring employees from the local workforce. Internet connectivity and increased speed have allowed for increased trade in services across borders.

Read How COVID-19 has hit offshore freelancers – and how they can bounce back

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