Prior to COVID-19, a growing number of employees had already begun pursuing a shift to remote work. Work-life balance has become an increasing priority for potential hires, finding its way into job interviews alongside insurance and other benefits. Pandemic-fueled lockdowns merely forced the hand of many managers who were already receiving a rising number of requests to work from home.
Companies may have invested in remote work as a coronavirus necessity, but some employees are taking it a step further and hopping international borders. Firms are also finding that applicants for their remote positions are reaching out from around the world.
Employers who embrace this global shift will find that the benefits run both ways. While there are still challenges to expanding a workforce beyond political boundaries, today, it’s easier than ever to employ a global team.
What is Happening Globally?
A growing reliance on a diverse workforce has seen a corresponding rise in the number of service-oriented companies tackling globalization obstacles. These companies ease entry into the international community by addressing specific concerns such as maintaining a global payroll and overcoming legal issues.
Service-oriented companies help keep globally-run companies competitive with easy-to-use benefits like an all-online small business 401k plan.
Expansion normally requires many forms of investment, and investors are keen to go deeper than an elevator pitch when assessing opportunities. Here are eight reasons investors should reward companies that have dared to take the international plunge.
1. A Global Workforce Can Greatly Reduce Office Overhead
When COVID struck, much of the office workforce worldwide fled the cubicle farm to work at home. This got executives to wonder whether they really needed to be paying for as much office space going forward. The square footage required to maintain continued social distancing makes a full return to in-office work even less financially appealing.
When on-premises work is increasingly off the table, geography matters less and less. So what if one of a firm’s best, most productive workers is in Chennai rather than Chattanooga?
2. It Helps Companies Manage Disaster-Related Risk
The internet got its start as ARPANET initially developed to keep sensitive data flowing in the event of a data hub being wiped out by warfare or natural disaster. Redundancy was the key to guarding against catastrophic loss, both then and now.
Companies can apply the same principle to their workforce. Geographic dispersal can protect against risks — weather events, political upheaval, etc. — associated with all employees working in one location.
3. It Elevates a Company’s Reputation
Companies that have workers in another country quite naturally develop an increased understanding of the world beyond their borders. You can’t help but care more about cities when you know people who live in them.
When a company opens up its vision to the wider world, it creates a more positive perception of that company. Customers in far-flung markets are more likely to do business with firms that have a local presence, even a small one.
4. It Helps Balance an Aging Population
In the West particularly, the average age of workers is going up. In many developing nations, that trend is reversed. By maintaining a presence in multiple locations, companies are not forced to choose between older, more experienced workers and eager up-and-comers.
Both populations can be incorporated into the fold, promoting a crossover of acquired knowledge with talent, energy, and fresh perspectives.
5. It Can Improve Work Culture in Emerging Nations
Not being bound by local employment opportunities allows high-quality employees to rise above their circumstances and improve their lot in life. While there may be technical or technology challenges to overcome, the benefits of offering opportunities in underdeveloped areas go beyond one person getting a better paycheck.
Improved practices on everything from sustainability to sexual harassment will spread throughout the local business landscape. Successful employees will be empowered to improve not just their own standing but also that of others.
6. It Enhances Companies’ Understanding of Local Culture
Companies deciding to enter a foreign market can greatly reduce their risk of making costly mistakes simply by having an employee in that market.
Global supply chains and tech-enabled communication can help companies enter new markets, yes. But listening to local voices can help them avoid gaffes or, worse, unintentionally offend their target audience.
7. It Expands Access to Talent
Businesses may have a need for a special skill set that is not being adequately addressed in the local community. A lack of highly skilled local talent may, in the past, have required employers to make do with the bodies at hand.
As the workforce has shifted during the pandemic, companies have new opportunities to reconsider the level of performance they will accept. Opening up positions to workers worldwide may enable firms to level up their expectations in terms of minimum acceptable skill levels.
8. A Global Workforce Improves Performance
A worker who is required to occupy a cubicle from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. may or may not be working productively. That employee’s mind might be preoccupied with some unmet personal demand that could have been easily remedied with a later start time.
Nowadays, sophisticated productivity tools can facilitate an accurate assessment of an employee’s value to the company. In many cases, there is no longer a need to set up elaborate office spaces or demand a set schedule. Employees are likely, in fact, to be more productive when they are not forced to overhear a conversation about last night’s big game as they compile a report.
More importantly, addressing employees’ lifestyle needs, no matter where they live, will do much to foster loyalty. Someone who can meet deadlines and expectations when no one is watching will appreciate the flexibility a company offers and do better work into the bargain.
From Pain to Gain
Reconfiguring any workforce cannot be expected to be hassle-free. Companies will definitely experience bumps on the road to a globalized workforce. Yet, many companies that have made the shift have found that it offered many more positives than they anticipated.
A globalized workforce offers firms an array of profitable opportunities and operational efficiencies. Investors should take note.