ATHENS – With COVID-19 lockdowns proving people with technical skills can work remotely from home or anywhere in the world and be connected to their job and company, Greece is offering them a place that comes with good weather.
The country’s ideal climate, renowned hospitality, food and quality of life at a far lower cost than the United States or many other countries – despite a near decade-long austerity and economic crisis that was lifting before the pandemic hit – is being used as a lure to get them.
Greece can be a strong candidate to be an ideal destination for them, but only if its infrastructures are satisfactory, says John Roese, Chief Technology officer at Dell Technologies about a country with often woefully slow Internet speed and breaks that is an annoying hindrance to people on their computers all day.
Speaking to Kathimerini, he said that, “I can easily think of myself working from an island in Greece. This is a very beautiful country. As an employer I am also interested in the talent and not the country a worker is based in,” he said.
He added that, “It is important for the country to have network infrastructures and a broader ecosystem of technology that allows remote working,” he cautioned however and as Microsoft and Amazon are investing in cloud services for computers, phones and technical devices.
Greece has already started attracting foreigners who are able to work online for their employers in other countries while living here, many citing the lower costs for rent, homes and other goods as well as the geographical position in the European Union.
Roese also noted introduction of the fifth-generation (5G) mobile technology in Greece and the creation by Microsoft of a regional data center in the country, stressing that infrastructures have to be developed and be accessible and reliable.
He said that besides those data centers, Greece must develop edge computing, needed for the support of mobile computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) with younger generations and those who use them for a living demanding service.
Some people can work from anywhere in the world, even if their companies are in far-distant countries, a technological advance that has created so-called “digital nomads,” that Greece wants, especially Greeks who had fled during a near decade-long economic and austerity crisis.
As an incentive, Greece's Parliament passed a law giving those nomads-with-skills a 50 percent break on income taxes that can otherwise be prohibitive, as a race for them has begun across Europe.
Forbes magazine outlined the plan in a feature about how working remote has coincided with the pandemic that benefits people whose jobs are technological being able to even work from home, while those whose jobs don't allow that are being left out in the cold.
"If you can work from anywhere, why not work from Greece?" is the way a promotional Greek pitch put it, showing images of whitewashed farmhouses and deep-blue seascapes.
The income tax break that's not available to Greek citizens unless they return would be for seven years and as of January 2021 was open to employed and self-employed workers as long as they have not previously been a tax resident of Greece, or replace an existing job in the country.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis's government hopes the tax break will attract the digital nomads, said his chief economic advisor Alex Patelis, describing them as “The person who's three months in Thailand, two months in Jamaica, and so on. We want them to be two months in Greece, and why not?"