The Impact of Remote Work on Expatriation: 

In recent years, the concept of remote work has revolutionised the way we approach employment. With advancements in technology and changing attitudes towards workplace flexibility, more and more individuals are opting to work from the comfort of their own homes or remotely while traveling. However, as a leading expat integration school, it got us at Absolutely French thinking. Has the rise of remote work led to a decline in the number of expatriates? 

The Rise of Remote Work

Before delving into the impact on expatriation, it’s essential to understand the significant shift towards remote work. According to a report by FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics, remote work has grown by 115% since 2005 and in the United States and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend. Therefore for millions, whether it be hybrid work, or full time remote work, this has become the new normal. 

As of 2021, up to 16% of companies globally are fully remote whilst 62% of employees aged 22 to 65 work remotely at least occasionally.


100,000 Remote work Vector Images | Depositphotos

Decrease in Expatriates?

Traditionally, expatriates were individuals who relocated to another country for work, seeking better career opportunities or new experiences. However, with the widespread adoption of remote work, some argue that the need for physical relocation has diminished. Employees can now perform their duties from anywhere with a stable internet connection, eliminating the necessity of expatriation. Leveraging technology to bridge geographical gaps. 

One might assume that the flexibility offered by remote work would lead to a decrease in the number of people expatriating. After all, why uproot your life and move to a new country when you can achieve the same thing from the comfort of your own home?

Read about the importance of spouses for a successful expatriation here!


Working Remotely, As an Expat?

However, the reality is not so straightforward. While remote work does offer greater flexibility, it doesn’t necessarily negate the desire for adventure and new experiences. In fact, for some, the ability to work remotely has made expatriation even more enticing. 

At Absolutely French, it has become obvious that one of the key drivers of expatriation is the opportunity for personal and professional growth. Living and working in a foreign country exposes individuals to different cultures, languages, and ways of life. This fosters personal development and broadening horizons. Remote work doesn’t preclude this; in fact, it can facilitate it. With the ability to work from anywhere, expatriates can immerse themselves in new cultures while maintaining their professional commitments.


The Perspective of an Expat Spouse:  The Importance of Human Connection

Take Genna, who relocated from the United States, encapsulates both the opportunities and challenges faced by expat spouses. Initially, Genna was enthusiastic about moving abroad as she could keep her remote job and not sacrifice her career. However, after six months of grappling with challenging time differences and feeling isolated, the allure of remote work began to wane. Despite the comfort of retaining her US-based position, Genna found the hours unsustainable and the social isolation difficult. So she decided to start searching for a job in France that required her to work in an office environment.

Her transition highlights a crucial aspect of the expatriate experience. While remote work can provide unprecedented flexibility, it does not fulfill the human need for direct interaction and the desire to fully immerse in the local culture. Genna’s move to an office job in Paris not only helped her meet new people but also allowed her to truly enjoy and experience the city in a way remote work could not facilitate. This underscores the inherent limitations of remote work for expatriates.

Check out this interview with one of our Talents of the Month at Absolutely French!


Impact of Remote Work on Expatriation

Expatriation Still on the Rise?

Therefore, despite the disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and subsequent increase in remote work, the trend of increasing expatriation has shown remarkable resilience. The number of people working abroad has continued to rise. According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the number of expatriates surged from 249 million in 2015 to 280 million following the onset of the pandemic. 



While it has undoubtedly transformed the traditional workplace landscape, the impact of remote work on expatriation remains multifaceted. While some professionals may opt to stay in their home countries, leveraging remote work opportunities, it’s clear to us at Absolutely French that the desire for cultural immersion and personal growth continues to motivate individuals to become expatriates.

 As we navigate the new normal of remote work, it’s essential to recognise the value of human connection and the unique experiences that come with living and working abroad. While technology facilitates remote collaboration, I am convinced it cannot fully replace the richness of face-to-face interactions and the experiences gained from immersing oneself in a different culture. 

Finally, remote work and expatriation can work in tandem. With the freedom to work from any location, expatriates can fully immerse themselves in new cultures while still fulfilling their professional responsibilities.



Best Websites for Expats

Absolutely French is the leading French language school uniquely tailored for expatriates.

Through our engaging, friendly, and innovative French courses, we not only promise a seamless integration into French society but also an immersive cultural experience.

Are you an expatriate looking to master the French language and embrace the local culture?

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Tel: 01 83 73 98 49

Address: 15 rue du Colonel Moll, 75017, Paris.