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Written by Nicole Sahin on 25 March 2021 in Features
Features

Nicole Sahin on why the global talent pool is your new competitive advantage.

Last year, COVID-19 triggered the world’s largest remote work experiment. In the process, it caused a complete shift in the nature of work – how it gets done, where it gets done, who gets it done.

Faced with reconfiguring their operations at speed, companies had to cut through the cultural and technological barriers that had presented challenges to remote work in the past. In doing so, they set in motion one of the most profound social shifts of all time.

Preparing the way for the workforce of the future

Incentivised by the pandemic to press the fast-forward button on digital transformation initiatives, enterprises are continuing to push ahead with investments in must-have infrastructure and services to provide a foundation for further innovation and more connected and productive workforces.

There is little doubt that the recent untethering of previously office-bound workers from physical locations has had a fundamental impact on workplace cultures and management styles. It has also driven a rethink on workforce planning and talent sourcing strategies.

With the pressure to build-back better and future-proof organisational resilience, some forward-looking enterprises are now looking at ways to turn talent into a competitive advantage.

Remote working takes off

Indications are that remote working looks set to become a permanent workforce model for most businesses. According to McKinsey Global Institute, 20% of the global workforce has transitioned to a remote or hybrid working model between three to five days a week, and are just as effective.

Companies can deploy skills across borders in ways that previously would have been impossible to imagine

This once in a generation change, triggered by COVID-19 and made possible by today’s automation and digitalisation technologies, has forcibly enabled organisations to experience the benefits of a remote workforce. So much so that, according to a recent Gartner CFO survey, 74% plan to permanently shift employees to remote work once the crisis ends.

Pre-pandemic, companies believed that being present in the office was a key prerequisite for performing optimally. However, the last year has proven that working remotely can be done without impacting productivity.

Released from the burden of long commute times, workers adapted fast to the new remote working model. According to a BCG study of 12,000 employees, 75% report they had maintained or improved their productivity on individual tasks with an impressive 79% confirming they had matched or increased productivity on collaborative tasks.

As the months ticked by, companies began to evaluate the opportunities arising from the success of remote working. So much so that a recent PWC survey of 250 people leaders in more than 30 countries reveals that 43% of companies expect their international workforce population will increase.

Opening up a wealth of opportunities as far as talent acquisition is concerned, international remote work represents an opportunity to build a more virtual and flexible workforce. Companies can deploy skills across borders in ways that previously would have been impossible to imagine.

Tackling the talent challenge

Pre-COVID, organisations were already struggling to address the emerging skills gaps associated with operating in a digital economy. As a result, firms are having to reskill their existing talent or be lucky enough to find and hire the talent they need to fill emerging skills shortages.

 

However, lessons learnt during the pandemic mean leaders now appreciate that their talent pool is no longer limited to within 50 miles of their offices. Having the infrastructure in place that makes it possible to remotely interview, onboard and support talent that is hundreds of miles away means that hiring talent from anywhere has become an achievable reality.

For organisations facing talent shortages in their own country, this means they are now free to look further afield for the right person for the job. Remote working represents a major opportunity for all  since it creates an integrated workforce in which location no longer defines access to career opportunities or the ability to contribute.

Smart leaders already know that companies benefit significantly from attracting, developing and retaining a diverse workforce. Indeed, studies show that diverse teams generate increased creativity, innovation, and financial and operational performance.

Now everything is in place to truly put people at the heart of the enterprise talent acquisition strategy – without worrying about where they live. Enabling organisations to initiate a truly modern workplace culture that offers people more engaging and fulfilling work, while going beyond borders to capture the best talent available.

Delivering on the promise

To successfully expand teams globally, organisations will need to both understand and adhere to employment laws and legislation around the globe and have the infrastructure in place to automate employee onboarding and support, no matter where they live.

That includes ensuring that the rights and benefits packages offered are appropriate and in line with local regulations, that new employees are on a locally compliant employment contracts and taxes and a compliant and time-sensitive payroll is in place.

Familiarisation with local laws and regulations, including legislation relating to remote work, is just the start. The ability to quickly identify, onboard, and manage new employees is going to be key to success.

With nine out of 10 developed nations facing a shortage of talent in 2021, competition for international talent is going to be fierce, so organisations need to ensure the local recruitment strategies and processes they deploy are appropriate to markets they intend to source talent from.

Onboarding is just the start. For international teams to work positively, careful consideration also needs to be given to communication and integration strategies that will generate engagement and support a variety of cultural communication styles.

Similarly, ensuring employees have the right permissions they need to participate fully, and report as needed, backed up by appropriate governance and policies, will be key to enabling people to be fully productive members of the virtual team.

This is where using an Employer of Record (EOR) can help, a business model that allows companies the world over to break into new markets, hire the global remote talent they need with all the HR, onboarding and legal compliance taken off their to-do list.

Not only does this minimise a process which can typically take six months or longer if executed ‘in-house’, it also reduces risk and closely manages the costs of setting up a new business entity abroad. This helps to give businesses the agility and peace of mind to manage the expansion process at their own pace.

Tapping into the global talent pool

The new working landscape that has emerged in the aftermath of the global health pandemic benefits both employer and employee. Organisations that not only allow remote work but embrace it as a core tenet of their workforce strategy are going to come out on top.

Able to hire anyone, anywhere, these enterprises will be able to access the best talent and create diverse team cultures that address their talent and recruitment challenges – minimising the impact of skills shortages to build stronger, more effective teams.

For the workforce of the future to succeed, traditional models for deploying skills across borders will need to be evolved to ensure that organisations have the right skills, at the right time and place to adapt fast to rapidly changing demands. That includes leading people authentically and with compassion so they can thrive in a digital workplace.

 

About the author

Nicole Sahin is CEO and founder at Globalization Partners

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