The new remote blueprint for going global

In a post-Covid world, it's time for organisations to rethink how to expand beyond the border

The new remote blueprint for going global

by Charles Ferguson, General Manager Asia Pacific at Globalization Partners

The World Bank forecasts that the Asia Pacific region should be at pre-pandemic levels of growth by Q3 2021 (3Q21). This estimation is further strengthened by an increase in trade agreements linked to foreign direct investment (FDI). Australia, specifically, is part of the Regional Cooperative Economic Partnership (RCEP), which constitutes the largest trade block with 30% of the global population and 30% of global GDP. As a result, an economic recovery in Australia is not expected to take long.

Asia Pacific's shift from remote-by-force to remote-by-choice work took global connectivity to new levels. Demand for virtual platforms and collaboration tools exploded as international teams continued working together despite lockdowns and, in some instances, border closures.

The success of remote work brought companies to question the relevance of staying in one place, fundamentally redesigning the traditional buildup of a global footprint. What does this mean for Australia?

Remote work is shaping the future of growth

Remote work unlocked two major global growth opportunities. On one side, it has become a catalyst for market expansion, as relying on local remote teams makes the process easier. On the other, remote work unveiled a global pool of skilled talent that companies can draw on  to suit their growth plans.

Be it for establishing market presence or location-agnostic talent scouting, it is undeniable that remote work has become a virtually indispensable tool for growing companies. We can lay out a blueprint for sustained team and company growth for Australia by focusing on three areas:

  1. Maintain compliance
    Perhaps the most imperative of growth fundamentals, compliance sets the foundation for your ability to scale in a more agile manner. Exhaustive due diligence is key, particularly when leaders are looking to operate in multiple countries.
  2. Build a unique, cohesive company culture.=
    Instilling corporate culture in  remote employees can prove challenging, especially in terms of mentoring young professionals. Leveraging technology the right way, however, can offer a much easier way for company culture to permeate all levels of the workforce.
  3. Recruit the world’s best talent
    Take the opportunity that remote work presents to add the best talent to your ranks. Global hiring can help companies fill skills gaps in their local market. We know there’s a continued  a shortage of design, engineering, and science professionals in Australia, while companies also report lower supply than demand for human resource and marketing skillsets. Global hiring can help Australian companies fill the skills gaps in their local market.

Remote work goes both outward and inward. We can elevate Australia as a global talent hub. Companies all around the world are looking for well-trained, well-educated, English-primary-speaking talent. They can find that anywhere across the country.

This is not one of those offshoring 2.0 conversations. The challenges companies are facing, by and large, have to do with skills gaps. Finding talent abroad might not be lower cost per se, but it can help plug holes in local labour markets with expertise from international markets.

Now, thanks to a variety of workforce models — including fully remote or flexible workspaces — decision-makers do not have to go all in, in any particular market. Leaders can leverage these models to provide recruits with a place of work within the comfort of their apartment, and avoid the costly real estate decisions that were commonplace before the pandemic took companies remote.  [maybe just ‘avoiding costly real estate decisions’]

Working remotely can be a company perk

Remote work can also prove to be a powerful talent retention factor, as long as it is centred toward a company’s most valued asset: its talent.

By offering a choice to your employees, they are empowered to decide where they want to work, what environment helps them perform best, how it looks and the time they spend in it. As long as employees are able to fulfill their expected roles and responsibilities, remote work can serve as a strong loyalty catalyst.

To this end, the biggest leadership takeaway from 2020 is trust. When the C-suite trusts their employees and provides them with the tools to perform to the best of their ability in a remote setting, output improves significantly.

On the other hand, when performance guidelines and success parameters are formulated from the top down — without employee participation or feedback — output takes a significant dive. Leaders can no longer dictate terms, but rather need to work with their remote workforce to establish respectable stretch goals, taking employees’ home lives  into account.

Technology improves remote onboarding and training

Training, recruitment, and collaboration: These are the three areas in the workplace in which virtual reality (VR) technology will play an influential role in the near future. VR facilitates onboarding across locations and for large volumes of trainees, making it a symbiotic complement to remote work.

Microsoft is enabling early versions of VR technology through its  Mesh platform. Brainstorming sessions, collaborative designs, project planning, and technology that enhances a feeling of co-location will soon replace the 2D nature of Zoom or Teams calls.

Numerous academic and industry-focused studies have found VR significantly improves a range of training outcomes. Knowledge retention improves up to 15 times compared to traditional learning modalities, with the added edge of decreasing training costs by 72%.

PwC also did an in-depth study of VR used for soft skills development and saw commendable results. Training times decreased four-fold. VR learners participating in this program were 275% more confident to apply their new skills after training, four times more emotionally connected to the content, and four times more focused than their peers who used e-learning.

The fact  we can us VR to replicate real-life challenges in a standardised manner allows companies to begin assessing someone's abilities, skills, and even personality traits during recruitment. It can provide insight into an individual’s  suitability for a role in a far more dynamic manner than a pen and paper-style assessment.

VR provides assessment close to what recruiters and trainers might carry out in person. Growth-stage companies should expect to integrate VR into their remote onboarding and training as standard very soon.

100% remote might not be the answer

Pre-COVID-19, the idea of remote working was held up in a golden chalice. The idea of not having  to go into an office was viewed as highly desirable. When COVID-19 hit, from one day to the next, it became a forced transition. From this experience, companies and professionals came to realise that a 100% working from home experience is not always ideal. As a result, the idea of choice and the development of a hybrid model emerged.

Flexibility is becoming even more important because a significant number of people are living outside city centres but want to have the option to work centrally. This might mean working mostly from home but having access to a flexible workspace near the central business district or in the true city centre, right where everything is happening.

Over the past year, people reassessed what they really value, what they want from their teams, their organisation, their colleagues, and their friends, and how to build an infrastructure around those preferences. Moving forward, organisations are going to have to start thinking about how to meet these expectations with flexible work hours, hybrid workspaces, or trust systems in order to attract top talent.

On the office space front, significant cost savings come from remote work that can be reinvested in talent. More efficient, productive, effective operations create better experiences for employees. Satisfied employees lead to business stabilisation, which is essential for long-term growth.

Changing preferences, evolving technology, and a global talent pool are but a few of the new options made available for streamlined, sustainable growth. Remote work is poised to revolutionise talent-based growth as Australia thinks beyond the border.

Recent articles & video

CreditorWatch scores Australian Olympian Fiona Crawford as GM for people and culture

‘Cringeworthy’: PepsiCo’s ex-CEO on why she’s never asked for a pay rise

Full Federal Court makes finding on late night out for Telstra worker

Tackling employee churn with strategic and streamlined recognition and reward

Most Read Articles

Research reveals 70% of workers support vaccine mandates in the workplace

Deloitte, PwC issue vaccine mandates to employees

Canva’s global head of L&D on key skills for leaders in a hybrid workforce