The main goal of this infrastructure is to attract new businesses, such as financial institutions or tech companies looking for lower taxes, an educated local work force, and, of course, great infrastructure.
But the infrastructure is also perfect for telecommuters. Another benefit for telecommuters is the region's two new co-working spaces. One is in Frederickston on St. Croix, and the other is on the neighboring island of St. Thomas. Telecommuters can get daily, weekly, or monthly memberships to work in these broadband hubs. There are also Internet cafes on the islands.
"And at 5 p.m. you walk out the front door and run off the pier and jump into the Caribbean ocean," he says. "It's paradise. It's beautiful. You're surrounded by water and nature. It has a unique feel very healthy. I feel really good when I'm there."
The Caribbean is particularly attractive for people who live in northern states. "I don't know if you've been to Seattle in the winter," says Ted Lawrence. "It's pretty dreary. It starts raining in October and keeps raining through February. So I got in the habit of heading down to the Caribbean in January, February, and March."
Lawrence is a business manager for Bellevue, Wash.-based consulting firm Inviso Corp., managing operating expenses for Inviso's corporate clients.
"The job is very well suited to telecommuting," says Lawrence. "It's very independent work. I spent a lot of time on spreadsheets and making sure that things add up the way they're supposed to."
This year, he worked from St. Croix and decided to just stay there. "St. Crois just appealed to me," he says. "It's far more laid-back than the other two U.S. Virgin Islands. St. Thomas is quite busy and St. John is quite expensive. St. Croix just seemed to strike a good balance. Good people. Real estate values seemed reasonable. So I bought a house, fully decked out with a desk and a few computers and all kinds of deck chairs. I have a view of the Caribbean."
Lawrence starts work at noon each day, since there's a four-hour difference with Washington during the winter months. In the morning, he goes to the beach, or runs errands. One thing he doesn't do is work on the beach, he says. "I have to work with my computer, and beaches and computers just don't get along."
It's important to plan ahead for all contingencies, he says. The Internet can be slow or intermittent where he lives, so his backup plan is renting a desk for a day at ConnectSpace, so that he can work uninterrupted for a long stretch of time.
Gibraltar-based e-learning company Tradimo is all about supporting remote employees in exotic locations, with half of its staff working remotely.
"We chose to set up the company this way because it offers some significant human resources advantages and the people who telecommute love it," says manager Mike Hofmaier. "Ironically, our head office is in Gibraltar, which is in itself paradise."
People commute from the United States, Canada, Germany, Poland and more exotic locations as well, like Thailand.
Workflow is organized so that it can be done remotely, which sometimes can create challenges.
"For some roles, it's important that we get the scheduling right, in terms of the time of the day," he says. "But for many positions, it's not super relevant what time of day they're operating in. We have a 24-hour cycle, and we can continue producing content and keep up with forums no matter what time it is."
Some staffers have to start their days earlier than normal, or work later than in a typical job in order to get enough overlap to hold meetings, he says. "In a lot of ways it works even better, because we can assign something to someone at the end of the day and when we wake up in the morning, it's finished."