It seems counterintuitive: If you have a work-at-home job, and can perform your job duties remotely, why on earth would any company require you to be based in a given state, province or country? It makes no sense. However, there are many reasons why some companies require that you be based in a given geographic location.
The bad news is that, in some cases, you won’t have that dream job of a home-based office anywhere in the world. The good news is that, in other cases, you might be able to negotiate around the restriction.
Here’s the list:
Amazon has had non-stop legal issues due to its lack of collecting sales taxes in states where it’s conducted business. This is why some companies are leery of having their employees or even contractors working outside of defined geographic regions. Companies may also be legally bound to conduct business in specific regions because of state/provincial licensing requirements.
Unfortunately, you won’t be able to work around the IRS.
If you’re working with a health/medical/biotech company, it’s common for these companies to be under a host of regulations imposed by the federal and state governments. Other companies might also only hold valid licensing for employees and contractors working in select geographic areas.
This requirement is also hard to beat because companies are hesitant to place their hard-won licensing into jeopardy.
Many companies provide days to weeks of on-site training with certified instructors and so prefer their employees and contractors to live within commuting distance. For example, Hilton Worldwide hires remote agents; however, those agents must first undergo 7 weeks of training in Dallas.
You might be able to get around this requirement by asking if a VPN link and secure location are enough to have corporate instructors train you remotely. If all else fails and if the job is lucrative enough, you could travel to your corporate destination and stay at a local Airbnb or hostel until the training is completed. Just think of it as a working vacation.
Some companies are old-fashioned and want their employees (and even their contractors) to appear at regularly scheduled meetings. Sometimes, these meetings occur weekly; other meetings might occur on an annual or semi-annual basis.
If you are being hired as an employee, the company has the right to ask you attend a meeting in person. Given the popularity of virtual meetings, you may be able to back out of it based on distance, family obligations, etc. If you are being hired as a contractor, however, know that the company has no legal right to limit your location or time of work.
5. Area code
Some call centers hire locally because they would rather not have their customers wondering why a phone number from an unknown area code is trying to reach them. This would seem to be a non-issue given that many call centers now operate over VoIP; however, some businesses still prefer using landlines for security.
This may be a point of negotiation for you if you can learn why local area codes are preferred. If you can’t get around the area code issue, look into services like Grasshopper, which may be able to create local area codes via call forwarding.
Your company may be perfectly fine with the idea of you sailing off to Japan for the next 10 months. However, those company’s clients may have a different outlook on your wanderlust. Clients, and especially managed clients who are paying big bucks for your company’s goods and services, may voice a concern about people physically missing from the office. Other companies may voice concern over how your shifted work schedule will ever sync with theirs.
While such concerns can sometimes be alleviated with creative scheduling, other companies may be too worried about losing their client accounts to listen to your proposal.
If your work duties include answering the phone or replying to emails by a given time, you may find your prospective company not too enthusiastic about you working several time zones away.
You can get around this concern by showing how you successfully completed other time-sensitive jobs. Otherwise, you might be stuck looking for other work.
8. Office equipment
Your fancy new computer, phone or other office equipment may come with a caveat: Should it break, the company will only use its local technicians to fix it.
You might assume this would be an easy issue to resolve by going to your local Staples or Office Depot and getting your broken items fixed there. However, there could be workers’ union and/or employment contracts that you violate by doing so.
9. Job duties
Some jobs are just not conducive to remote workers. Case in point is the job of project manager, which requires that you keep daily tabs on other individuals and monitor their productivity. Even if you are hired as a contractor for this position, the company could argue that being far away compromises your ability to effectively complete your assigned duties.
You might be able to fight this claim if the people you manage are living close enough to you that you can still interact with each other on a day-to-day basis. Otherwise, the job may become more trouble than it’s worth.
10. Legal allowances
A company may only be allowed to operate in a certain state or province. If this is the case, there may be stipulations about where employees and even contractors can be hired from and retained for work.
It’s doubtful that you’ll be able to fight such stipulations, so you’re better off applying for work elsewhere.
The Bottom Line
During the hiring process, be sure to inquire why a company or business has a location restriction. As noted above, you might be able to negotiate a compromise around something like training or meetings. Other restrictions, like licensing or taxation, will probably be less pliable.