With the advent of the pandemic, remote teams have become a reality. As the months passed by, with little signs of COVID-19 letting us return to normal, people have become used to working from home and better at juggling the nitty-gritty of blurred lines between home and work.
It was a tough introduction, no doubt to companies globally to get used to the new way of working, but leaders and organizations are admitting that they are managing better now than they did at the start of the pandemic.
What does this spell for the teams in future? Will we see a return of back -to-office, co-located teams with some employees working remotely now and then? Will this mean we see more remote teams – teams spread not only across our homes but across different countries? Will this be a tangible reality in the years to come – an unexpected and welcome outcome of the pandemic?
At Shortlist we are in the business of helping companies across India and Kenya build their teams. Based on what we have been seeing in markets we work in and speaking with our clients, we believe remote, cross-border teams are here to stay, and that these hybrid, global teams will be the key to business success in the future, especially the post-pandemic world.
Look around: we are in the midst of a fundamental shift in what work looks like. Here is our take on what’s changing (rapidly) around you:
(1) The pandemic proved everyone wrong about remote work.
The pandemic myth-busted everything we held true regarding remote working. Two of the biggest reasons most companies traditionally do not believe in remote work are 1) the trust factor – they don’t trust their people will work at home when they are not in front of them and 2) the belief that people need to congregate in physical spaces in order to partake in company culture. As of March 2020, when, however, when most white-collar organizations around the world were forced to work from home, and, therefore, suddenly be 100% remote due to external circumstances, they quickly realised that these assumptions did not hold up. Even though no one was in the office and people were left to their own devices in their homes, work was still getting done and companies continued functioning. Remote work unequivocally has proven to work.
(2) Companies now need to respond to business demands flexibly
Over the course of the pandemic, a lot of companies downsized, letting go of staff to make sure they got through the crisis. Initially, these decisions were made in the short term in “survival” mode.
Now, faced with the question of ongoing sustainability (amidst a still present pandemic), companies are rethinking their decisions for the long term. Companies like Facebook, Twitter, Shopify and Slack have made the decision not to reopen offices…ever. Others have opted for a smaller office footprint and embracing optional remote work for a “hybrid” model.
In addition to being pandemic-friendly and flexible, embracing long-term remote work can provide huge cost savings and competitive advantage.
When companies begin to grow again, it will be easiest for those that have embraced remote work to scale. You can hire top talent across the globe to work for you while keeping your overheads light. You can hire them on a project basis to accomplish a particular purpose in a pre-decided timeframe. Remote workers allow companies to be flexible, adaptable, and nimble in a way that single-geo, in-person companies will never achieve.
(3) Did we mention that remote teams are lighter on budgets?
If your company is in a metropolitan city, when you hire locally you have to match the salary in terms of cost of living, leading to costlier local hires. When you open to the possibility of cross-border teams, the best talent across the globe is available to you, not just talent in your (possibly very expensive) back yard. For every remote hire, your overhead costs like office space, internet, utilities go down.
(4) Remote teams enable much broader diversity (it’s on you to ensure inclusion)
As the pandemic unfolded most companies shifted their teams into home offices (or bedrooms, or living rooms) and many employees were working remotely. While some companies have started returning to the office, some have given theirs up entirely. Many organizations will prefer a ‘hybrid’ approach – offering both remote and on-site work arrangements to their employees. This way of working has significant benefits – happier, satisfied employees to reduced overheads, and increased productivity.
However, to reap the benefits of this kind of arrangement, organizations will have to balance offices’ safety and digitally-enabled remote working and find ways to engage with their employees even when they are remote.
(5) Need for flexible, agile leadership
Diverse teams are more innovative, better at problem-solving and decision-making, better engaged and lead to increased profits. Diversity and Inclusion run the risk of becoming ‘buzzwords’ so it’s important to reiterate the impact of diverse teams:
- A 2018 study of 1,000 companies across 12 countries by McKinsey & Co found that companies in the top quartile for gender diversity were 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability.
- Meanwhile, ethnic and cultural diversity resulted in a 33% increase in performance.
With co-located teams based out of a single office, there is a greater risk of homogeneity, especially in geographies where the talent pools are not diverse. When you go remote, you suddenly get a dynamic, diverse, cross-border, global pool of talent to recruit from. Your team can look like the United Nations without much effort. And, your diverse, global team will potentially be more productive and drive better results, which is crucial for tomorrow’s business.
It’s important to note that if teams are only diverse, without efforts to be inclusive and build a genuine sense of belonging, the results will fall short.
So, what’s next for teams? We anticipate seeing a lot more remote, cross-border, distributed teams as companies lean into more flexible, sustainable, and productive options. Will your next hires be remote? Have you looked beyond your (virtual) backyard? As experts on matching companies with the very best talent from 70+ countries across the globe, we can help.
We will be exploring more on cross-border, remote teams in upcoming blogs. Stay tuned here for more.
Are you hiring? Shortlist can help, we offer a wide range of recruitment solutions that help companies build great, diverse teams.