Remote Working in Paris
|Stock remote work photos all look the same|
I get asked this question quite a bit, and unfortunately I don’t have a lot of sage advice. The Plague was great because it helped start a remote work revolution. Or so we all thought. But now that the Plague is over (although not for everyone), companies are starting to come out with a lot of bs excuses for why remote work won’t actually work in the long run.
Before our current plague, jobs as a “digital nomad” were only in tech and teaching a language, and teaching didn’t pay enough. If you wanted to live a humane life you had to have a job that paid.
Finding a proper job in Paris as an American was hard. Usually you had to work for a company in the US and be transferred to Paris. But not many American companies did business in Paris, or had a location in Paris, and can you blame them? If you’re a Capitalist, France is a nightmare.
For those French companies that were looking for foreign workers, they didn’t have many openings, and you were among many, many candidates. The interview process in France is also lengthy and not at all like in America. It’s really hard to get a job as a foreigner.
I would also think about how important working for a French company is because the pay isn’t as high as in America. When I worked for a French temp agency, who lent me out to French companies, the pay wasn't on par with an American wage. Even if you take into account the exchange rate, taxes are too high. The tax rate in America is 10% and in France it’s closer to 30-40%. My ex was an analyst as LCL and I was shocked by his pay compared to his American counterparts.
Of course the upside to Covid hitting thé scene was that remote work became the new normal. What a blissful, short lived time. Now companies are finding lots of excuses to send workers back to the office, and I get it, for people with kids, work is probably a vacation from their home lives. But for single people being home is heaven. And for those of us that want to make the world our home being able to work from truly anywhere affords us so much.
Like any millennial I’ve spent the past year leap frogging my way through companies. When I first went back to America finding a job wasn’t easy. But then that month ended (yes our lockdown was only one month), and people were like this isn’t going to end, life has to continue, so they started hiring again. I found that I could move jobs easily, so when something better came along, I left for greener pastures. I found that they weren’t always greener, in fact one job I was only on my third day in when I decided it was crap and I left after only being there two months, but I could find a new job.
When people started going back to work, and companies started running propaganda on why hybrid roles are better than remote, I started to see job postings saying they wanted people to train in person before moving remotely. Or they wanted you in the office part of the week. The vast number of completely remote jobs in America is dwindling.
When I first flouted the idea of Paris to the company I was working for, it worked because my company honestly didn’t care. As long as the job got done we could live wherever. In fact one of my seniors was traveling all over the US at the time so they couldn’t very well say no.
Currently I work for a private equity venture capital firm, and while everyone works in Manhattan, New York was shut down because of the pandemic. Now that NYC is reopening they have mentioned they would like people to be based in NY. This is exactly what the article was talking about. Hired as remote, but changing their minds. I don’t know how to avoid that as it never came up before. I’m a bit bummed that I may have to look for a new job, but I want to be remote so I don’t plan to bend to that demand. I’d rather find something else.
When conducting your search the biggest thing you need to look out for is a company that doesn’t require you to be in person. There are fields that need you on site no matter what. Think of careers that don’t require this. There are actually a lot more than you realize. In fact I found a lot of companies who were like “we were remote before remote was a thing!”, boasting that they were ahead of the trend.
In fact I would suggest looking at startups first. In my experience they are the ones who are most open to remote working. They’re all about changing the rules, and doing new things, and a lot of them want to buck the trend. In my experience of interviewing with a lot of them they are the most amenable. They were the ones who were most like “Paris? We wouldn’t mind a presence there”. They’re more open to a globalized work force, and having people in different time zones. They get that people want to live wherever, and being chained to one location is no longer the norm.
When applying for a job mention that you’ve been working remotely, which is usually a prerequisite to getting a permanently remote job. In fact mention that prominently. Companies like to hire people that have experience in this because it means they don’t have to worry or train you how to do it. Remote work isn’t for everyone, and knowing that you’ve already done it helps companies trust that you’ll do well in that environment.
When talking to the recruiter or hiring manager mention that you’re interested in being away. My resume always listed Paris, and my phone number is French (+33) so people knew right off the bat that this was a person who isn’t based in America. If they agree to interview you then they’re open to it.
I wouldn’t lead with “I want to be based in Paris” but definitely flout the idea at some point. Test the waters. Ask them how important it is that you’re in such and such State and then mention how they feel about you being away for a small amount of time. If they’re open to it then eventually let them know “I’ll be here for a while”, not forever, but for an extended vacation or what have you. Once they see that you’re just as productive here as you are there then bring it up. If you need some tips on how to do that, this is a great article.
It is important to at least mention this at some point because some company’s firewalls won’t work in Europe. In fact I had one company mention it might not be possible because they weren’t sure I could access the company’s systems. I’m pretty sure the IT department could have come up with a way, but you don’t want to be in Paris, have an issue, and then be like “oh by the way I’m in Paris”.
The article also mentions something really great that no one thinks about: knowing your State’s labor laws will help you sell it. My companies have been based out of San Francisco, Geneva, Stockholm, and New York City. I’ve never bothered to look up their labor laws and tax codes, but I mention it because it may have helped land me my jobs. Now that companies are hiring outside of their States they’re going to look at the State you hold your residency in, and no doubt factor in the cost. I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed but some jobs list “you must reside in [whatever state] to be considered”. Now you know why. The job has to pay tax on you so they’re only going to hire from states they deem fit.
I would also throw in, when trying to sell it, that the internet in Paris is top notch. One thing companies ask a lot is how good your internet connection is and the internet in Europe is *chef’s kiss*. I remember when I went back to America and I was using my phone and it was taking like 5 seconds to load, it was so noticeable because pages in France load so fast I never notice. European internet is far superior. Blame it on those underwater cables.
If you do finally move to Paris and work remote, but you still want that community space there are a lot of co-working spaces. There were plenty even before Covid. A great list is here. I personally like being in my own space so I am okay setting up an office in my apartment. In fact space for that was one thing I looked for when renting.
If you can't find the space, look for a rental in the 4th and 2nd because that is where the abundance of co-working spaces are and you won’t have to trek. Although maybe you’re nostalgic for a commute? Either way you’ll find an abundance of them there.
Good luck and happy hunting!