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Fancy remote working in Barbados for a year? A new initiative could make the dream a reality.
As Covid-19 continues to push people out of their traditional workplaces, many employees are beginning to question basic assumptions about where they need to be to get work done.
A recent survey by the London Assembly Housing Committee found that almost half of Londoners now want to move outside the city (why live near head office if you never go in it?). And it’s not just the surrounding countryside people are looking to. Growing numbers of employees are taking remote working to extremes and choosing to relocate abroad.
Barbados is one country hoping to capitalise on this new trend for foreign remote working. On June 30, the country’s prime minister, Mia Amor Mottley, announced the launch of her new Welcome Stamp initiative, offering foreign nationals the chance to make the Caribbean island their home for one year.
“We recognise more people are working remotely, sometimes in very stressful conditions, with little option for vacation,” Mottley said. “Our new 12-month Barbados Welcome Stamp [is] a visa that allows you to relocate and work from one of the world’s most beloved tourism destinations. We believe we have something very special to offer on this little rock we call Barbados.”
Petra Roach, Head of Global Markets at the Barbados Tourism Authority agrees: “Barbados has everything you need to work safely and comfortably through this challenging time. In terms of work-life balance, what could be better than living on an island where there’s so much to do and explore including hiking, catamaran cruises, surfing and an abundance of cultural experiences around every corner.”
For many workers, especially those currently working in Europe, Barbados promises escape not just from the daily 9 to 5 grind but also from the ongoing pressures of the Covid pandemic. “Our Ministry of Health and Wellness has worked tirelessly to manage the impact of Covid-19 on our island,” Roach explains. “We only have seven active cases [as of 20 September] and they are all in isolation being tended by our skilled healthcare professionals. This means you can feel comfortable going outside for an early morning swim on one of our pristine beaches or for a late-night drink in one of our many bars and restaurants.”
Another thing relocating workers will be able to kiss goodbye to is the dreaded commute. Barbados is relatively small, covering an area roughly one-third the size of Greater London (but with 30 times fewer people). So you can drive almost anywhere in under half an hour. The journey from Holetown (a bustling beach town popular with tourists and expats) to the centrally located commercial district is only about 10 minutes.
This district, Welches, is where you will find Barbados’ (so far) sole Regus centre. It is located in the island’s newest commercial office development, and Regus franchise partner, Mark Linehan, is rightly proud. “Anybody who’s used to flexible working in serviced offices will tell you that our centre is top of the range,” he says. “We offer people a first-class, professional environment with excellent connectivity and dedicated high-speed WiFi throughout. So you can come here whenever you need to focus and do your job. Then when you’re finished, you can step outside and you’re back in beautiful Barbados.”
Community Sales Manager, Cheria Kippens, underlines the point. “We have a customer who had been operating out of her hotel for a while before switching to a Regus office. She told me that the increase in productivity she saw was a real game-changer.”
And, as Linehan explains, increased productivity is not the only benefit: “We’ve got a really diverse mix of companies working out of our centre. Local companies, fintech start-ups, multinationals. So it’s a great opportunity for people coming to Barbados to network with like-minded individuals and join a thriving business community.”
Regus customer, Mark Young, is part of that business community. CEO and co-founder of peer-to-peer lending company, Carilend, he left the UK for the Caribbean 22 years ago and, in his words, has never looked back. “The lifestyle here is amazing. Great restaurants and bars. Great beaches. Great working environment. And there’s good infrastructure for families too.”
All sounds too good to be true? Well, before you rush off to start packing your bags, it is worth checking that you qualify. Welcome Stamp applicants must have an income of at least US $50,000 a year and be employed by a company registered and operating outside of Barbados. Beyond that, the scheme is open to anyone who can work remotely and the application process itself is quick and relatively painless. Simply fill in an online form, upload your photo and a scan of your passport, and you will get an answer back from the Barbados immigration department within five business days.
Young has one final piece of advice for any remote workers preparing to make the move. “Before you leave, make sure you and your loved ones are committed to making it work. After that, prepare to be open minded and willing to seek out new experiences – and enjoy it to the max.”
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