According to a recent article published by Forbes, 16% of companies are now remote-first, which means that they offer fully remote contracts to the majority of employees. (There are always one or two roles that require someone to be onsite, we won’t hold that against them.)

According to Forbes’ statistics, this means that 12.7% of US full-time employees are now working fully remotely, and 28.32 are working a hybrid model (that means that 51.9% are still in the office). The number of fully remote employees is expected to increase to 32.6 million, or 22% of the workforce, within the next 12-18 months.

It is also no longer just your big tech and IT companies that are going remote, though they are still leading the charge. It is also increasingly common in marketing, finance, project management, health, and HR.

But what do companies actually mean when they claim to offer fully remote work opportunities?

Let’s take a look at some of the common terms, conditions, and caveats that are attached to the remote work policies adopted by companies in the United States.


Remote Work Policy T&Cs

While remote work policies are often called “Work From Anywhere” policies, this is not 100% accurate. They are called work from anywhere because you can work from home, the office, a coworking space, or a café, but you can’t technically work from “anywhere”. Below are some of the terms and conditions you will see included in remote policies.


You can work anywhere in the country that you are employed

Remote roles are associated with a specific office, where the company has the right to hire employees. At a minimum, you must have the right to work in the country to get the job, or the company can apply for a work visa on your behalf. Most companies mandate that you work from the country where you are employed. Depending on the policy, this can mean maintaining a physical presence or maintaining tax residency so that your employment continues to be legal.


If you change countries, you can expect your contract to change

Some companies have a variety of international offices and will allow you to move, for example, from the US offices to their Australian offices. But this depends on whether the role is considered part of a specific region/time zone team. If they do allow you to move, you will probably need to renegotiate your contract, and it could result in a pay reduction. You will probably also see a change in benefits such as holidays and social security based on local regulations.

While most remote first companies are now offering remote salaries, without applying a cost-of-living difference depending on whether you live in New York or Nashville, they still have different salary bands for different countries. For example, if you move from the US to Spain, you can expect a pay cut.


Time and location limits are placed on international travel

Aware that employees want to travel, and that many will choose to do so no matter what they say, many remote work policies have clear rules around travel to help manage employee availability and avoid legal issues. Most policies allow staff to spend up to 90 consecutive days traveling. This limit is in place to ensure that employee tax and legal residency do not change.

Some companies also give a list of countries that employees can travel to. These are countries where the company is already considered to have an active presence. This is because just one employee working from another country, depending on what they do and how they work, can be considered to give the country an active presence there, making them liable to taxes and other forms of oversight.


Some contact days are still necessary

Some firms claim to be fully remote but still require employees to come into the office. This is usually defined as a number of days per quarter, rather than per week, which maintains flexibility for staff. However, it still means that employees have to maintain a connection with a specific geographic location.

While some firms don’t require employees to come into the office, they will have off-sites and away experiences that staff are expected to participate in. This again dictates where in the world an employee must be.


Many companies are reversing their work-from-anywhere policies

This is more of a trend than a common feature of policies, but several companies that adopted remote-first policies in 2021-2022 in the wake of the pandemic are now reversing those policies and requiring employees to be in the office a couple of days a week. So, while more companies are going remote, there is no guarantee that a company that is remote today will still be fully remote in a year or two.


Remote Work Policy Examples

Let’s look at what some of these terms and conditions look like in practice. Below is a list of firms that have remote work policies and offer fully remote positions. How much information is available about their policies varies greatly, but this is a snapshot of what it looks like to be a fully-remote company in the United States in May 2024.



Finance company Affirm has adopted a remote-first work policy while still offering offices in Chicago, New York, Pittsburg, San Francisco, and Toronto for those who wish. They say that employees can work from anywhere “within their employment country”. Rather than a strict restriction on travel, this probably means that employees must remain tax residents in the country where they are employed. You can see all the roles advertised on their site are listed as remote with a specific country qualification.

This is matched with a remote-first compensation structure, which starts with a base salary determined by market data for the role, but also the “geo region” in which you are employed. Affirm’s regions are: USA states CA, NJ, NY, CT, and WA; USA all other states, UK, Canada, Spain, and Poland.

New employees in the first USA category are usually offered between US$70,300-$87,900 per year depending on role and experience. They also give employees equity in the company, so that rewards come through company performance. Those in the second USA category can expect 10% less, in the UK 20% less, in Canada 40% less, in Spain 50% less, and in Poland 60% less. You can see Affirm’s full compensation policy here.



Airbnb also adopted a remote first policy in the wake of the pandemic during which they saw that flexibility works and invested in the required infrastructure to make it happen.

According to their policy, employees can work from home or the office. They have offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York City, Berlin, and Paris. Employees can move anywhere in the country where they work, and their compensation will not change. The company moved to single pay tiers by country. Employees have the flexibility to work in over 170 countries for up to 90 days a year in each location as long as they maintain a permanent address in their employment country for tax and payroll purposes and maintain time zone availability.

Teams meet up regularly for connection and collaboration through team gatherings, off-sites, and social events. The company gives plenty of notice to ensure planning.



Atlassian calls their remote work policy “Team Anywhere”, which lets employees work from home or the office, as long as they maintain residence in one of the 13 countries where the company has legal entities. Staff can also work outside their designated home bade for short periods each year. While not giving up on meetings, they are adopting written and asynchronous communication for most communications. As in other cases, all job vacancies are listed as remote with an associated office location.


Dell Technologies

Dell classifies itself as fully remote but offers a mix of fully remote and hybrid roles. Hybrid workers are required to come into an approved office at least 39 days each quarter, which is about two-thirds of working days. Remote workers aren’t required to come in, but also aren’t eligible for promotion or to change jobs within the company.



Dropbox also takes a virtual-first approach to work, allowing all employees to work fully remotely and completely revamping their company culture around remote-first. They still maintain their offices in places such as San Francisco, Sydney, and London, and teams are attached to an office, but there are no specific days that people need to come in.  Offices have been turned into creative and collaborative studios, which they admit get little use. Each office has a quarterly get-together for team building, but these are usually somewhere inspiring rather than in the office.



Nationwide is a company that went down the path of fully remote working and then backpedaled and told employees that they need to be in the office two days a week from April 2024.



In 2021, PwC announced that its 40,000 US client services employees could work from anywhere in perpetuity, including overseas for up to eight weeks at a time. Staff not facing clients, such as HR and legal, already had the ability to work virtually. However, they still tethered staff to the office, requesting that they come in three days a month for critical meetings.

But PwC is now encouraging staff to return to the office, suggesting 50% of the year (not per week). But they have emphasized that this is a suggestion and that time in the office is not being tracked.



Shopify has also defined itself as a digital-first company that gives employees the freedom to choose where they work. They say that their company is built around a mission rather than a headquarters. They hire in several countries including the United States, Canada, China India, Israel, Japan, Singapore, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

This is coupled with a policy called Destination90, which allows staff to work from any location in any time zone for 90 consecutive days



Zillow also has a remote work policy, which applies to about 85% of its US employees. These employees are not associated with a specific office and do not need to be in the office on a regular basis. But they must be based in the US at a physical location of their choice, which must be identified to the company. Staff are expected to visit an office or team event a couple of times per quarter and can work from the office if they choose. There is a booking system that depends on available space.


Work From Anywhere?

One thing that this review makes clear is that “work from anywhere” is more aspirational than a reality today. This is because companies are trying to go virtual in a world where tax, legal, and other systems are designed for physical offices. There are bound to be teething problems, but many companies are doing a very good job of trying to give their employees as much flexibility as possible while remaining compliant.

A bigger concern is the companies who told their employees that they were going remote first and then started backtracking and telling staff to come into the office a couple of days a week. While that is their prerogative, changing policy feels like breaking trust with those who took roles or adapted their lives on the basis of a remote-first approach. One thing that companies owe their employees is consistency and clarity.