WHEN 24-year-old Kirsty Nicholson was offered a permanent job with Copylab, a financial communications agency based in Glasgow, she had a dilemma. Having had a taste of the work as an intern, she wanted the content writer job but also wanted to visit friends in Australia and spend time travelling abroad.

To her surprise, Copylab’s chief executive Ross Hunter offered her freelance work while she was away that would help out the company during busy periods.

Kirsty said: “I was so pleased. I was away for five months and worked about four and a half weeks of that in total. I covered two quarter-ends when things are always busy. For me, it took away lots of stress knowing I’d be earning more money during my trip. I didn’t have to look for work in Australia or use up a work visa.

“I saved up before I went but working while I was away meant I could afford to go to Bali and Fiji too. They were amazing places but the island resorts are expensive compared to other places I visited, I wouldn’t have made it to them without the extra work.”

Kirsty is evidence of a growing trend towards remote working, not just from home, but from abroad as well.

It is a trend confirmed by new figures in a report by work-life balance charities Family Friendly Working Scotland and Working Families together with childcare provider Bright Horizons.

The report shows that 32% of Scottish working parents already work from alternative locations, such as their home or anywhere other than their normal workplace, including overseas.

While 42% say advances in technology have enabled them to use remote working as a means of achieving a better work-life balance, another 42% said their workplace had not taken advantage of the opportunities technology now provides to support it.

A YouGov poll from 2018 show that 55% of Scottish workers say they work flexibly whether it be hours and/or location of the job. Of the 43% who don’t currently work flexibly 56% would like to.

The Chartered Institute for Personnel Development is currently co-chairing a Government taskforce to encourage flexible working and overcome behavioural and attitudinal barriers. The right to flexible working was extended to all employees in 2014. Nikki Slowey, co-director of Family Friendly Working Scotland, said: “Working anytime and anywhere is becoming much more normal for many Scottish workers and at the more extreme end we’re starting to hear about employers who have staff remote-working from abroad.

“For those businesses that use technology to bring people together and share information, it makes no difference if someone is in the office, remote working from home 10 miles away or is working from another country, so long as they do their job well and are contactable.

“Management styles are changing and employers are realising that ‘presenteeism’ in the office isn’t a benchmark for quantity or quality outcomes. The evidence continues to stack up that allowing people more control over where and when they work means better engagement and productivity.

‘‘For employees, remote working from abroad can be the dream scenario. Whether they’re freelancing to bank extra cash while they travel the world, or working from an overseas base, they balance work and home-life in a way that makes most of us green with envy.”

Emma Axelson, chief operating officer for Copylab, splits her time between Edinburgh, where her teenage son attends school, and Stockholm where her husband and his children live. The family frequently criss-crosses the North Sea to be with each other and Emma often works during trips to Sweden.

Emma, 51, said: “My way of working has allowed me to have a second home and that’s fantastic. From a company perspective, allowing people to work abroad brings genuine business benefits. When we’re looking for innovation and best practice, we can draw on our experiences in other countries.

“We’re also now in talks with a couple of Scandinavian companies so having staff work abroad opens up different markets. Staff learning other languages if they live abroad helps with this too.

“But most of all, allowing people to work where they like helps them feel happier. Happy staff are more likely to go the extra mile and stay with us. It can take time and resource to train someone up for investment writing, so we want to retain that skill and expertise. Retaining staff also benefits our clients as they get to work with the same person who understands their business, not someone new every six months.

“I know some companies are still hung up on having people in an office where they can see them. But allowing people to manage their own time helps to attract the right kind of people.”