The pandemic has changed how the world works. Are you keeping up?
If there’s one term we’ve all heard enough of lately, it’s “new normal.” We use the phrase to describe the fallout from a chaotic, comprehensive upheaval in the ways companies around the world conduct business. But these two words are an overly simplistic description of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Immediately after it first appeared in early 2020, the virus picked up speed, sweeping across the globe and leaving upheaval and wreckage in its wake. In a matter of days, we all had to transform the ways we live, work, and interact with each other.
As we all continue to adjust, settle into new routines, and find ways to make the impossible possible, it’s important to remember: this won’t be the last global challenge. And the organisations that are able to pivot, adapt, and adjust to massive disruption are the ones that will come out on top.
We don’t need to look far into the past for proof. Before the 2008 financial crash, Netflix, Airbnb, and YouTube were far from household names. According to Hollie Slade of Forbes, “Of the 100 companies listed on our annual America’s Most Promising List, around a third were formed in the doom and gloom years of the global financial crisis.”
In the case of the current pandemic, the winners are the ones who have been able to quickly move to a remote-first workforce. The faster they made the switch, the less momentum they lost. And, for many, that made the difference between success and failure.
The benefits of remote-first
The longer we operate in this new, remote-first world, the more benefits we see. Of course, remote-first isn’t ideal for every type of company. There are some businesses that require at least some degree of face-to-face (while masked, of course) interactions.
But, for a wide range of companies, remote-first culture provides significant benefits.
A remote-first approach can enable companies to:
- Ensure business continuity is protected
- Recruit and retain top talent more easily
- Save money on facilities, supplies, and other operating costs
- Maintain employee wellness
- Ensure long-term flexibility and adaptability
Smaller companies are becoming more competitive
The ability to work remotely is also leveling the playing field on which smaller companies compete with larger ones. No longer does attracting the best talent depend on the financial might and other resources typically limited to big companies.
Smaller players can use a remote-work arrangement to lure the best talent from around the world, without the substantial costs of setting up a legally compliant entity in each country. Increasingly, CEOs and HR managers in smaller companies are realising the power of this ability, and are ready to compete with the big names.
Attracting a top-tier team
The option to work remotely can be a more powerful tool for attracting exceptional talent than you might think. For some recruits, that flexibility can be even more important than compensation levels. I’m thinking of a former teammate from a past position – let’s call him Miguel.
Miguel was born and raised in Ecuador, and moved to Germany to work for a global brand. He was a superstar at the company, reliably delivering outstanding revenue year after year.
Miguel had exceeded all expectations, but there was something missing: his family. He longed to return to Ecuador, hopefully in time to celebrate his grandmother’s 80th birthday in person.
When the pandemic struck, and Miguel had to wish his grandmother a happy birthday over the phone, he knew it was time to make a change. But Miguel didn’t want to work for an Ecuadorian company, and his current employer didn’t offer a remote option. So, he interviewed with German companies that did offer a remote-first arrangement.
When asked during one interview what level of salary he was looking for, Miguel responded, “The option to work remotely will largely decide which company I join, not which offers me the highest salary.”
Miguel received five job offers, and chose the one that offered him the most robust remote arrangement. Today, he’s back in Ecuador, living near his family, and working fully remotely for the new company. Revenues are flowing into the company’s balance sheet. And Miguel regularly enjoys his grandmother’s famous ceviche.
Getting remote right
Today, the remote-work toolbox is growing and improving at a rapid pace. Employers are tasked with determining which resources will ensure an effective, responsive, and trusted work culture that always remains focused on the customer.
So, what’s right for your organisation? You’re no doubt familiar with the big names, including Slack and Zoom, but there are countless others.
ProofHub has developed a helpful list of their top 26 remote work tools, which you can view here. (While it does start off with their own solution, many others follow.)
These types of tools enable teams to deliver impressive results, without being in the same room. But for all the success of these platforms, many employees miss the in-person camaraderie an office provides. As new platforms and tools emerge and evolve, expect new and better ways of connecting and replicating the in-office experience.
Robert’s global employer has demanded he work in the office to ensure company performance doesn’t suffer. Each day, after an hour-long commute, he must disinfect his hands, and keep a face mask on at all times. Social distancing protocol means his closest teammate is three meters away, making conversation difficult.
Robert works at his desk, meeting via video conference with clients and teammates – always with his face mask in place. Because the company cafeteria is closed, Robert heads out to buy an overpriced lunch, which he eats by himself on a nearby bench.
In the afternoon, he attends an in-person team meeting in a large conference room, with empty seats in between masked attendees, and windows open to ensure ventilation. After another hour’s commute home, Robert sneaks a goodnight kiss to his sleeping children, and sits down to consider his day.
His clients heard his voice, but didn’t see his winning smile, which had always helped him win business and build great relationships. His lunch was expensive and lonely. Robert used to look forward to going to work, but now wonders if there’s a better option for him.
Lucy has a job that’s similar to Robert’s, but her company has recently adopted a remote-first approach.
She starts her day early, preparing for virtual meetings before her husband, kids, and dog need her attention. By 9:00 AM, she has seen the kids off to school, walked the dog, and is well into a meeting with her nine-member team, who are all located in other countries.
From there, she moves to client calls, with a tasteful virtual background in place. Lucy loves the easy interaction with clients and teammates, and the ability to quickly look up needed information in the middle of conversations. She’s signing deals faster than ever before. After a quick, homemade, cost-efficient lunch, her CEO pops into a team meeting to thank everyone for their hard work.
The day’s work completed, Lucy has time for a walk with the family before sitting down to her husband’s legendary lasagne.
The unforeseen challenges of global expansion
While the benefits of a truly global talent pool are numerous, hiring in another country can be daunting. Developing an in-depth understanding of a country’s laws, politics, culture, and compliance requirements demands significant investments of time and money. The risks associated with a global expansion can keep even the most experienced CEOs and HR managers awake at night.
The good news? To employ remote talent and secure new markets, it’s no longer necessary to take on the process of setting up a business abroad. Because now, there’s a better way.
WorkMotion in action
WorkMotion serves as an Employer of Record. That means we’re legally responsible for paying employees, and dealing with taxes, benefits, insurance, visa applications, and anything else that global hiring requires.
This approach takes both the risks and the burdens off our clients. So they can spend their time capitalising on top talent from all over the globe to grow their businesses.
The WorkMotion HR platform enables companies to easily access and organise employee data, and effectively manage a remote, global workforce. In addition to boosting efficiency, the WorkMotion platform eliminates employee management errors that can cost time, money.
Today, we know that companies with an agile, remote-first policy are able to pivot to adapt to sudden change. We also know there’s more change to come. WorkMotion levels the playing field, and makes the world’s top talent available to companies of all sizes, anywhere.
Soon, the next Airbnb or Netflix will emerge from this global crisis. And, while we don’t yet know who they are and what they do, we do know they’ll be powered by global, remote-first teams.