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UK drops position in 20 best countries for remote work

The UK ranks two positions lower compared to last year’s data and stands at 19 as the best country for remote work, according to new research by the cybersecurity company NordLayer.

Last year, the company created the Global Remote Work Index (GRWI), which reveals the best and worst countries to work remotely in terms of four different criteria: cyber safety, economic safety, digital and physical infrastructure, and social safety.

This year, NordLayer evaluated 108 countries compared to 66 last year. Here are the top 10 countries that are best for remote work according to this year’s data:

  1. Denmark
  2. The Netherlands
  3. Germany
  4. Spain
  5. Sweden
  6. Portugal
  7. Estonia
  8. Lithuania
  9. Ireland
  10. Slovakia

The index was compiled by assessing and comparing countries using four index dimensions. Under each dimension are various attributes (sub-dimensions) that, combined, help evaluate general remote-work attractiveness:

  1. Cyber safety — infrastructure, response capacity, and legal measures.
  2. Economic safety — tourism attractiveness, English language proficiency, cost of living, and healthcare.
  3. Digital and physical infrastructure — internet quality and affordability, e-infrastructure, e-government, and physical infrastructure.
  4. Social safety — personal rights, inclusiveness, and safety.

The UK finds itself at 19 in the general GRWI ranking. It has become less accessible to European workers since Brexit but is still a relatively attractive place for tourists to visit, live, and work remotely. It performs regarding economic safety and has a solidly developed physical and digital infrastructure.

While its cyber safety and social safety rankings are less impressive, it does perform well in some specific aspects of those rankings, such as personal rights or healthcare. However, its social safety index is very low, making it quite an unsafe place to stay in. 

Cybersecurity ranking in the UK is somewhat controversial because, despite its excellent infrastructure, its response capacity is not impressive. It does have decent legislation in place, but many countries do it even better, leaving the United Kingdom in the 36th place in terms of overall cyber safety ranking. Unfortunately, the Internet here is neither affordable nor good quality.

UK vs. Ireland

Compared to its neighbour Ireland, the UK lags behind in an overall GRWI ranking. It surpasses Ireland in terms of economic safety and digital and physical infrastructure. In particular, it proves to be more tourist-attractive, cheaper to live in and has a far better healthcare system than Ireland. Infrastructure-wise, while the internet service is quite a bit more expensive in the UK than in Ireland, the UK boasts far better physical infrastructure and e-government while also performing slightly better in terms of internet quality.

The UK gives way to its neighbour regarding cyber safety and social safety. It is a difficult contestant to compete with, however, since Ireland is doing particularly well regarding cybersecurity legal measures and response capacity and boasts an exceptionally inclusive society.

Donatas Tamelis, Managing Director at NordLayer said, “even though some of the big tech companies recently brought their employees back to the office or introduced a hybrid work model, remote work is here to stay. It’s not just a trend, it is a fundamental shift in how we approach productivity and work-life balance. Embracing remote work empowers our teams to harness their full potential, regardless of geographical boundaries.”

For people interested in remote work, Donatas recommends practicing several good cybersecurity practices:

  • Always use a virtual private network (VPN). A VPN encrypts your internet connection and helps protect your personal information from prying eyes. It is especially crucial when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Ensure all your devices, including smartphones, tablets, and laptops, have the latest software updates installed. These updates often include security patches that can help protect against known vulnerabilities.
  • Be cautious with public Wi-Fi and avoid accessing sensitive information such as online banking or entering passwords on public Wi-Fi networks unless you are using a VPN. Hackers can easily intercept data on unsecured networks.
  • Enable two-factor authentication whenever possible for your email accounts, social media profiles, and other online services you use while traveling. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification during login.
  • Use strong and unique passwords. Create strong passwords for each of your online accounts and avoid using the same password across multiple platforms. Consider using a password manager like NordPass to securely store and generate complex passwords.

Donatas added, “in the age of remote work, cybersecurity is not just an option. It's a critical necessity to safeguard our data and protect our organization from evolving cyber threats. Working remotely opens up new opportunities and exposes us to potential security risks. Cybersecurity vigilance is our first line of defence.”

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