A gift from the pandemic: remote workforces
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Remote working isn’t a silver bullet to the ongoing talent shortage, but it has significantly opened up viable possibilities that no organisation can ignore.
Post-lockdown, almost every developed nation is experiencing a ‘talent shortage’, with businesses in every sector relaying stories of how they are struggling to hire due to lack of applicants in their local area.
However, at the same time, the potential talent pool has never been larger, thanks to technology and remote working.
The past two years have forced the digitisation of communication tools across business operations, and proved globally that many employees could carry out their job roles working from home.
HR tech outfit Compono sees the business world at an inflection point, and that ‘global
workforce utilisation’ will begin to emerge as a key performance indicator for both managers and investors.
With local talent scarce, businesses need to think beyond their comfortable hiring circle and understand that the right person could very well be from another country, but without the expat price tag.
This is not about viewing jobs as a labour cost saving exercise, as it was primarily seen pre-pandemic, but rather recognising that your talent truly can come from anywhere.
Most, if not all, organisations can more effectively utilise the global workforce that exists at their fingertips.
“Hopefully one of the key lessons learnt by companies is that living a 25km radius away from Head Office is not a prerequisite for a job application anymore, says Trent Innes, CEO of talent tech company Compono.
“Having staff based overseas or cross borders used to be the reserve of senior leaders, or used simply to drive cost efficiencies with areas like customer call centres.
“These days, virtually any company should be looking to utilise the global workforce to their advantage to fill the gaps caused by their talent shortages.”
As anyone who worked remotely during the pandemic experienced, there can be some pretty significant organisational challenges to overcome in setting up effective remote teams.
For the first time in many years, businesses had to revise the basics of how they operated; how they maintained team morale, recruited new talent, maintained productivity and a host of otherwise business-as-usual processes.
“Interestingly, the pandemic showed us that an organisation’s work culture is something that persists beyond the office walls,” says Innes. “You still need to work hard at building a positive work culture, when people aren’t physically together”
Finding the right person for a given role, even if that person is remote, is therefore still a difficult proposition.
When you open up recruitment to include remote workers, your talent pool not only becomes wider, you can actually be more picky when it comes to finding the right person with the attitude and skills you need.
With the predicted increase in applicants this means that there does need to be investment into implementing a recruitment process that quickly screens, ranks and matches candidates not just to the roles but also aligned with the company values.
There are complexities in navigating the legal parameters and payment systems when hiring staff. But just like the rise of HR technology, there are global payroll solutions that navigate and solve these problems for you easily.
The companies that get these two areas right and utilise remote workforces will begin to pull ahead of the pack, particularly in a potentially recessionary environment where they will have to compete for every dollar, according to Innes.
“With so many struggling right now to hire and wages beginning to rise, the composition of a company’s workforce has never been more important,” Innes says.
“It’s not about the best candidate that can commute into the office, it’s about having access to skills and the right attitudes to make growth possible.
“Having a global pool of talent you work with each day has one other big additional benefit; it means you’re putting your business in the best spot to go global.”
Recent YouGov research commissioned by Compono found that outsourcing is a concern for white collar workers in Australia.
The study found top level managers are more than twice as likely as lower level or
non-managers to feel concerned about their role being outsourced (85% compared to 36%).
Innes says there is a fine line that businesses must walk in order to demonstrate that they are acting in good faith when they hire remote workers.
“There’s a big difference between building the best possible teams (which will mean using a global talent pool), and simply outsourcing,” he says.
“Businesses that are slowly outsourcing entire operational units are likely to be making their local employees concerned enough to consider leaving. In a tight labor market, this quickly becomes a self-defeating exercise.
“Clever businesses will strike the right balance between sourcing talent from across the globe without disrupting internal talent. This will mean demonstrating why and when remote workers are being utilised, and the important role local talent plays in delivering the company’s mission.
“If you’re hiring people who have the skills, the right attitudes and align on your company values, you’ll find this to be a far easier transition than it initially appears.”
This article was developed in collaboration with Compono, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.
This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.