E: Hi everyone, I’m Erika, Head of Marketing and PR at Remote Worker. Today I’m joined by Charles H. Jeffers II, Chief Executive Officer at Bermuda Tourism Authority, to talk about the ‘’Work from Bermuda Certificate’’ they provide for remote workers who are interested in living and working remotely from Bermuda.
E: Thank you very much for joining me here today Charles!
C: Good morning. Erika, thank you so much for having me. It's a pleasure for me to join you and talk about this important program.
E: Thank you so much. So I would like to ask you a few questions to understand a bit more about how it is to live and work remotely from Bermuda, but first...
Q: Could you tell me about yourself and your position at the Bermuda Tourism Authority?
Sure. So again, my name is Charles H. Jeffers II, I was born and raised in Bermuda. But actually, for the last, almost 30 years, I've lived and worked in the United States, as a destination marketer, I would say, for the last 27 years of it, almost 27 years. I worked in Atlanta for almost 20 years as a destination marketer. And then in the Baltimore DC area over the last several years. And Funny enough, I actually worked from Bermuda last summer, I just started this job in April this year. I said summer, but it was actually last October I came to work from Bermuda. And so I got to see firsthand what it was like to work from here, obviously being in Bermuda, I didn't need to apply for the visa. But I was able to do that. And I thought it worked quite well.
Q: I’ve seen that Bermuda offers a one year certificate for remote workers. Could you tell me a bit more about the ‘’Work from Bermuda Certificate’’ you provide, when did you take the initiative to start this programme and why?
Sure. So last year, as we all know, when the pandemic hit, our tourism industry was decimated, not unlike many other destinations around the world. And we knew that we had to do something different because even when tourism started back, and honestly, I mean, our borders were closed from March until July. And when they reopened, we knew we needed to do something different to attract people. And we also knew that people were working from home. Home that could be anywhere. And so what we did was that we offered the opportunity for Bermuda to be their home. And so we had people coming mainly from the United States, but we've had people from as far away as China coming to work here. And it worked very well. Because number one, it introduced people to an environment that they may or may not have seen before. I know some of the work from Bermuda. Certificate holders had never even been to Bermuda before they came to live here. So it allowed them to see Bermuda in a different way. And then it also allowed those who have been to Bermuda before to see it in a different light. As you know, with any place you go, you see it because you’re on a two week vacation. That's one thing, but to actually live here, become part of the environment and the culture is another thing.
Q: I agree. And how many applications have been accepted at the moment to work under the certificate in Bermuda? And how many remote workers are now living and working fully in the country?
So I believe around 700 applications have been approved. Last time I heard it was roughly around 400 people who were here on the island.
Q: How many remote workers are expected to come to Bermuda in the upcoming year?
Well, you know, I think applications are still coming in. So honestly, we don't know. We would love for as many people as possible to come because, as I said earlier, it allows people to see Bermuda in a different light. But also, from a tourism perspective, it helps because those people then become our ambassadors and they may have friends and family who come and visit them while they're working here on the Bermuda certificate, but also, they're talking about Bermuda to an audience that we may not have been able to reach without.
Q: And the pandemic must have affected Bermuda tourism, i say a lot as you’re quite a small island. What does the post-pandemic tourism in Bermuda look like right now and how is the covid situation at the moment?
Yeah, so you're exactly right. The pandemic has affected Bermuda tourism quite a bit. As I mentioned earlier, our borders were closed from March until July, when we reopened in July. I'm proud to say that we’ve been open since we've seen a couple of spikes in our COVID numbers, since July, but for the most part, I think we have, and I say we as Bermuda people, but the government in particular has done a great job of keeping this somewhat under control. Our vaccination rate is about 65%, which I believe is in the top 10 of countries around the world. So we're proud of that. And we hope to get more and more people vaccinated. But also we hope to be portrayed more as a safe haven for those who are looking to get away, whether it be from the United States, the UK, Europe and the rest of the world. So we are doing okay. The Delta variant hit Bermuda like it hit most of the world. So we’re battling that at the moment. But I feel confident that the measurements that have been put in place by our government, will help us to ride this wave and hopefully, come out relatively unscathed on the other side.
Q: Definitely. I know Bermuda is very dependent on its infrastructure as you’re one of the world's leading vacation destinations for tourism. How is the Bermuda infrastructure supporting remote working professionals? Are there any specific services being offered such as co-working spaces or remote working accommodations?
Yes, so many of our accommodations, like Airbnb, for instance, who traditionally have been rented for, one or two weeks, or maybe even a month, have allowed for some of their accommodations to be rented for longer periods. During the length of time that someone will be here, which right now is up to a year. So we have been making accommodations in that regard as for colocation or co-working spaces. But I know that many have become acclimated with other businesses in Bermuda or similar businesses, and have connected with them. So they've allowed a collaboration that they may not have had an opportunity to do before coming to Bermuda.
Q: And what is the lifestyle like living in Bermuda, and what are some of the benefits for the people working remotely from the island?
Well, for me, it’s Bermuda. If you've never been to Bermuda, you're missing out on a lot of the rare beauty of the island. It really is breathtaking. And I've heard of people working, you know, from the beach or working at a location that if you're coming from let's say, somewhere in London or somewhere else around the world, some other big city where you may not have the opportunity to work with such a picturesque background. And so, it has really given people an opportunity to broaden their horizon, but also, Bermuda is one of those places that you can work, as I said, by the sea, but there are plenty of places around the island that are maybe an old fort. Some of our historic destinations, St George's or The Royal Naval Dockyard, where you can find places to do remote work. And, you know, hang out and do your work in a different environment.
Q: Amazing. And what’s the distance like to, for example, restaurants, beaches and convenience stores for people staying? Is it easy to get around and navigate on the island?
So for me, it's only 22 miles long. Nothing, nothing is too far away! And I have to remind myself, my fellow comedian said, you know, you can go from one end of the island to the other in a relatively short space of time. So getting to places is really not that difficult. Whether it's to the beach or to a restaurant. I mentioned earlier that you can do things by the sea. We have a ferry system that allows you to take you from, say, the dockyard to see Hamilton, where you can go shopping or go to some of our restaurants and things of that sort. So, it's really not that difficult. And then we have the mopeds and the electric car vehicles that you can rent. Some have even bought some of the electric bikes, pedal bikes. I've seen some of them getting around the island, and then again, in a different way than they would have if they were at home.
Q: Remote Workers often lack social interaction when working abroad and wellbeing is something that is vital for productivity. Are there things remote workers can do to meet new people and feel part of the community, events or networking activities for example, to meet like minded people?
Sure. So we have had two events for our remote workers. Working with the Bermuda Development Authority, we have responsibility over the events. And they've gone well, I mean, I would like to see more attendance to those. So we're going to do some things to hopefully increase that attendance. But those who have attended have found them to be very useful, because what they've done is number one, they've introduced them to others who are doing the same as they are as a remote worker. But also it allowed them to meet with locals, like myself, and Gina and others who have lived here for many years and can help them to navigate the island. I also understand that there's a Facebook group and a LinkedIn group that has been created to allow them to network with each other. But I would also add that there are other community groups they can be a part of. I'm part of a walking club that actually walks every Sunday, and we've had a few of our remote workers who joined us on the Sunday walks. And those Sunday walks start from various locations throughout the island. And so I've seen them come in. And actually one Sunday, I walked with one and we got to talk about her experience in moving to Bermuda. She moved here with her family, her husband and her young son and she just absolutely loves it, especially for her young son, as Bermuda has become his classroom. You have a living classroom here where you can not just talk about the ocean, but you can go to the ocean and actually dig up shells and then talk about things, like the ocean issues that we have in our world today and be able to explain those issues in a more real life environment.
Q: So, what's the culture like living in Bermuda? The people, food and traditions? Does Bermuda have anything their most known of?
Well, if I had to answer and ask the question about what are the people in Bermuda most known for? It's probably our friendliness. I always say that people come for the beaches, but they come back for the people. Because it's rare that someone comes to Bermuda and doesn't encounter a Bermudian who will go out of their way to ensure that they have a fabulous time here on our island home. But there are many things that we're known for. We're a very culture driven country, we have our traditions, you know, we like to do things in a certain way, during a certain time. We just celebrated the cup match, which is a two day cricket match. Where it’s the eastern and western ends of the island who meet each other. The East being the best, but they didn't win this year. But they play a cricket match against each other. And really, the island is divided during this time. There's a few people who refuse to pick a team, which I'm not sure about. Maybe they have commitment issues. But I think that you have to pick a team. And if you do, if you pick a team, you should pick St. George's. And if not, you're picking Somerset, who are the current holders of the cup. But yes, that's only until next year!
Q: That's amazing! And what experiences and activities can you indulge in as a remote worker in Bermuda? Do you have any fun tours and entertainment on the island that’s attractive?
Sure. So you know, I would say this, as a remote worker, the first thing I would say is try to get involved in what Bermuda is getting involved in. As I mentioned about the walking club earlier. But there are a number of bars and restaurants and activities that you can participate in that the locals are participating in as well. And I think that will help to change your perspective and become more a part of the island. We have the work from Bermuda certificates that are up to one year, but we also have a number of people who work from Bermuda beyond that and they have their guest workers who work in everything from our reinsurance industry to our hospitality industry. But, you know, there are tours that will help you to get a better understanding of the island. Two that I can think of that are great. One is by Titan tours. Titan tours does a tour of the island that takes you to different places, they talk a lot about our history in Bermuda and what we have done to support, let's say, the United States leaving the colonisation of the UK in the 1700s. And then another tour is by a Kristin White. She does her tour in St. George's where she highlights a lot of the things that I mentioned were done to help the United States join the war. And I think those are two great tours that I can think of that will help you to understand that, even though Bermuda may be small, it has played a critical role in history, especially in the western history.
Q: For remote workers who are interested in applying for the ‘’Work from Bermuda Certificate’’, where should they apply and are there any requirements?
Yes. So there are requirements. But you can go to our website, go to https://forms.gov.bm/work-from-bermuda/Apply. You have to have a certain level of income, you also have to have a job. You can't come looking for a job here unfortunately, you have to have a job before you come here. And that's basically it. The accommodations or things of that sort, you have to be able to support yourself. But, we're just looking for a certain level of income so that you can show that you will be able to support yourself. There’s a registration fee of $263. And that is a lot less than what other destinations offer. So it's an affordable application process. I would encourage people to at least take a look to see if they'd be interested to live here and hopefully we can get them settled into our Bermuda culture!
Q: Amazing, anything you would like to add to our remote workers who may be interested in coming to Bermuda?
Well, I would say, if you're interested in coming to Bermuda, and you’re a little apprehensive, reach out to us at the Bermuda Tourism Authority, or our partners at BDA. And we will be happy to answer your questions and help you get settled. There are actually a few companies that are looking to prepare better to be able to help those who are looking to come and work from Bermuda. So you're not left floundering on your own. So if that's of interest to you, please come by or send us an email. We'd be happy to help you.
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