David Seinker, The Business Exchange founder & CEO
The recent submission by the Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier to request that the national government urgently introduce a Remote Working Visa is a significant step in a direction that could see South Africa become a destination of choice for remote work.
While the explicit motivation is to attract more long-stay tourists who can work from anywhere in the world, this does also present an opportunity to establish South Africa as a location at the forefront of the hybrid work revolution.
As a tourist destination, South Africa is revered for its natural beauty and while the all-round Instagram-worthy natural splendour is a major drawcard, there is some work to be done in highlighting the world-class professional environment many of our cities and towns offer, and the call for this visa is definitely a step in the right direction.
There are many reasons why South Africa is the ideal remote work destination: We have a fairly sophisticated digital infrastructure, a similar time zone to key markets and high levels of proficiency in English. These factors, combined with the widespread adoption of a remote policy by employers around the globe, mean that flexibility is here to stay. As such, there is no reason why that flexibility could not include working from a different country entirely, where the added benefits are cross-cultural integration and networking opportunities.
The economic importance of tourism is well documented, but the remote working visa has the potential to unlock a whole new segment of the economy as it calls for different services, including shared and serviced office spaces, accommodation, leisure facilities and gyms, and transport, among others.
This also presents an opportunity for serviced office spaces to come to their full right. Remote workers are hardly interested in signing long-term leases or bothering with the operational side of keeping an office space going. The serviced office model speaks to exactly that convenience – offering a dynamic, productive place to work, plus the potential opportunity to network with other professionals from around the globe. That’s where the true value lies.