Remote work was once rare, but it became the norm for many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now that COVID restrictions have eased, many of these same companies are mandating returns to office, but that’s not always the best way forward. You could also take the opportunity to lean even further into the distributed workforce shift.
Global workforce strategies can be complicated — primarily if you’re new to them — but the benefits are impressive. Here are five reasons to embrace the change.
Global Workforces Mitigate Labor Shortages
One of the biggest advantages of a global workforce is it broadens your talent pool. Businesses across sectors face persistent labor shortages and relying on nearby workers won’t solve the issue. That’s because there are more job openings than unemployed workers in the U.S.
There may not be enough workers with the right experience in your city to meet your needs. That’s likely not the case if you look at the world as a whole, though. If you expand your employment horizons to include other countries — especially emerging economies — you’ll have a much easier time avoiding labor shortages.
Remote Workers Are More Productive
The distributed workforce shift has also revealed remote workers are often more productive than their in-office counterparts. Some companies have seen performance boosts as high as 13% and other studies found remote employees work two hours more a week. Overall labor productivity in the U.S. has risen since the pandemic.
Remote work can boost productivity in a few different ways. Not wasting time traveling to and from work is a big one. Employees are also more comfortable and can maintain a better work-life balance, making them more engaged at work.
Global Teams Promote Diversity and Inclusion
Adopting a global workforce strategy could help you meet diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) goals. DEI plays a crucial role for businesses today, but the area your company calls home may not have as diverse a talent pool as you’d like. Looking beyond borders for employees removes that barrier.
Hiring workers from other cities, states and even countries makes it much easier to foster a diverse workforce. On top of meeting DEI goals, this diversity will provide you with more viewpoints and background experience to fuel innovation and creativity.
Distribution Prevents Disruption
Conventional, centralized workforces are prone to disruption. If all your employees are in one place, one regional event will affect the entire company. Many supply chains learned this the hard way amid the pandemic, as some industries source hundreds of products from one location, leading to massive delays.
By contrast, a distributed workforce is more resilient. If an event like a government shutdown, storm or disease outbreak occurs in one area, it won’t hinder your entire staff. You can then maintain productivity and output when others in the same area can’t.
Flexible Work Attracts Candidates
It’s also worth considering that employees want remote work. Over two-thirds of workers today would prefer to work for a business where they can work remotely. Fifty-nine percent say this flexibility is more important to them than a higher salary.
In light of that, offering flexible work policies will attract job candidates, helping you acquire top talent. Your existing employees will also likely feel more satisfied and engaged in their roles, reducing turnover.
Best Practices for a Global Workforce
If you want to achieve those benefits, know that they don’t come on their own. It takes work, so here are some global workforce strategies to consider to make the most of remote work.
Identify Which Roles Are Ideal for Remote Work
Running an effective distributed workforce starts with recognizing not all jobs suit remote work. Managerial, hands-on or highly collaborative roles can work in a remote setting, but they’re generally easier in person. Roles with more autonomy — lots of writing, coding or data-heavy tasks — are better fits for remote positions.
Look at your current roles or those you may need in the future to determine which you should fill with a global workforce. Making this distinction earlier in the process will maximize remote employees’ productivity and prevent many operational headaches.
Review Regional Laws and Standards
When you start looking for employees in another state or country, be sure to review their laws and expectations. You’ll likely encounter varying tax rates, compensation requirements and other regulations with hefty consequences if you don’t account for them.
For example, Indian labor laws allow up to half of employees’ total compensation to come from additions to their base pay. You may struggle to attract workers if you don’t recognize that, and don’t offer regionally competitive bonuses and allowances.
Communicate Frequently and Thoroughly
Communication must also play a central role in your global workforce strategy. Without natural, face-to-face interaction with coworkers, 49% of remote workers say their biggest drawback is difficulty building relationships with colleagues. Similarly, 46% report feeling isolated and 37% say they lack face-time with managers.
These barriers hinder collaboration and engagement, so you must prioritize active communication. Reach out to remote workers regularly, schedule frequent video meetings — including group sessions — and encourage them to message leaders to promote visibility and collaboration.
Use Technology to Your Advantage
Technology has enabled the distributed workforce shift and remains a key to success in these setups. New tech makes cross-border collaboration easier and faster, letting you and your employees get more out of it.
Cloud computing lets workers view and edit the same documents together in real time wherever they are. Video conferencing software enables you to hold face-to-face meetings to improve communication and engagement. On the managerial side, artificial intelligence can automate compliance and provide real-time translation to support international workforces.
Capitalize on the Distributed Workforce Shift Today
The distributed workforce shift isn’t going away. While some businesses may be trying to move back into offices and return to the familiar, taking the opposite course has many benefits.
Pushing forward and leaning further into global work lets you boost productivity, avoid labor shortages, make employees happier and foster diverse ideas to surge ahead of the competition. Capitalizing on a remote workforce isn’t easy, but if you can do it, you can’t argue with the results.