Remote work and remote staffing are not novel concepts – not at least in the United States that represents a centuries-long history of multi-ethnic struggle to build an economic and technological infrastructure that remains unprecedented and unwitnessed to date.
According to Gartner, remote work, which is also referred to as work from home (WFH) or telework, is a flexible work arrangement in which the employee performs or may choose to perform official chores at a place of choosing away from the office workspace.
According to ValuedHR, remote staffing refers to recruitment of staffers who are expected to WFH rather than the office premises.
The concept of remote staffing is increasingly become linked to and associated with the relatively newer concept of globally distributed teams.
What Is a Globally Distributed Team?
According to aircall, teams with members spread over different regions and, hence, different time zones are referred to as globally distributed.
Remote teams and globally distributed teams have several common characteristics, and even though a globally distributed team is inherently and predominately a remote one, they are not same.
The term remote in the context of a team refers to a situation in which a team has some, most, or all its members working in a remote setting. A family-owned business, for example, can be run by a remote team if these family members are not based in an office workspace.
In contrast, globally distributed teams will have members working in a remote setting, but the spread of the team will be global, which naturally implies that the team will be diverse in terms of skills and education, ethnicity and nationality, and region and time zone.
WFH or teleworking as a notable phenomenon emerged first in the 1970s in the United States.
According to Prithwiraj (Raj) Choudhury’s article “Our Work-from-Anywhere Future,” featuring in Harvard Business Review, the WFH culture began in the 1970s in response to an increase in fuel prices caused by the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 which made commuting expensive.
The culture further strengthened due to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and mandates of the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
However, it was only during the pandemic that we witnessed a phenomenal growth in the WFH culture, in the United States as well as rest of the world.
According to the Pew Research Center, the number of teleworking Americans increased from 20 percent to a whopping 71 percent during the pandemic.
While many thought that WFH would not outlive the pandemic, and as soon as the pandemic subsides, life would return to the pre-pandemic state, this did not happen.
As social distancing restrictions relaxed, the WFH employees intensified their demand for a more privileged working style—the liberty to choose whether they wanted to WFH or return to the office.
BBC article Coronavirus: How the world of work may change forever by Stewart Butterfield: CEO and co-founder, Slack, states, “Our Future Forum research of 4,700 knowledge workers found the majority never want to go back to the old way of working. Only 12% want to return to full-time office work, and 72% want a hybrid remote-office model moving forward.”
Meanwhile, World Economic Forum article, “Are you more productive working from home? This study looks for answers,” states that when asked whether they would opt for WFH even when the Covid-19 pandemic subsides, respondents, who said that they would prefer WFH, increased substantially from 38.1% in the 2020 survey to 62.6% in the 2021.
While the pandemic affected the world in multiple ways socially and economically, two of its impacts – supply chain disruption and labor market crunch – had intense and global repercussions.
The pandemic caused international trade and travel to cease which led to supply chain disruptions and labor market crunch.
While the corporate sector resorted to a more regionalized approach to supply chain management, the same wasn’t true for human resource acquisition, and in the latter case, remote staffing became a preferred solution.
Ivy Schmerken’s article titled Globally Distributed Teams Prove Vital in Pandemic, states that the recent webinar by CRISIL GR&A and Greenwich Associates concluded that globally distributed teams played a critical role in enabling financial institutions reduce the business disruption caused by the pandemic and proved a powerful business continuity planning (BCP) tool.
The article further quotes Dmitri Londos, president of CRISIL, an S&P Global Company, who moderated the webinar, as saying: “The change to remote working models has shown tremendous dependency on globally distributed teams and it’s an important component in everyone’s business continuity models.”
In an environment of growing competition and uncertainty, businesses are faced with an ever pressing need to achieve payroll savings and capacity-building, and globally distributed teams are a quick fix here since companies get to hire professionals and experts from around the world at a relatively lesser cost and without the obligation to comply with strict labor laws applicable in the local jurisdiction.
Globally Distributed Teams and WFH
Both WFH and globally distributed teams became possible through technological advancements in the fields of telecommunication and networking, which allowed for e-communication and correspondence.
Research by Clodagh NicCanna et al. titled Globally Distributed Development During COVID-19 found that out of the 88 sampled IT practitioners – who were part of a globally distributed team – 20 percent were already working from home; 59 percent wanted the flexibility to either WFH or office, 8 percent – who were office-based during the pandemic – wanted to WFH in future; and only 5 percent felt the need to work from office.
This clearly shows that even though WFH policies were introduced as a regulatory measure in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, abandoning them entirely even when the pandemic has subsided is not possible.
WFH is now an employee benefit which the companies will have to give to ensure healthy recruitment and retention, or else the effects of the Great Resignation will continue to trickle down into the future.
The synthesis of remote work and global distribution is synergic because of which globally distributed teams are destined to be the new world order.
Employment Hero adopted a full-remote first policy in 2020 and is pursuing the same even today with a transcontinental team. It says: “With 5 different time zones to contend with on a daily basis, it’s safe to say that we think globally distributed teams are the future. But that’s not to say there are no challenges.”
Similarly, socio-economic indicators strongly suggest that the remote work culture which became mainstream during the COVID-19 pandemic is here to stay.
Skuads’s 30 Interesting Statistics That Prove Remote Work Culture Is Here To Stay states: “According to a report by Strategic Analytics, by 2022, over 1.87 Bn people will be working remotely full-time, which will be about 42.5% of the world’s working population. By 2025, it’s estimated that 70% of the world workforce will start working at least five days remotely in a month.”
With such drastic shifts in the regional and global employment scenario, it is critically important both for the US companies as well as recruiters to see the writing on the wall: the fabric of the workforce of the future is remote, flexible, diverse, inclusive, and global.
As highlighted in the foregoing sections, the labor markets are transforming and the trends of recruitment changing – faster than expected.
As the dust settles on pandemic, the once gloomy future of remote work is becoming visible: team compositions that were once rare and experimental will be the norm of the future.
To stay competitive, US recruiters, both individuals and firms, need to realign their service strategies to match the pace of this transformation, and they can do so by introducing remote, virtual, and global staffing solutions in their service portfolios.
Expertise Accelerated (EA) is a Connecticut-based outsourcing and staff augmentation specialist for accounting & finance services, committed to delivering 60 percent quality-assured payroll savings to the US companies.
EA’s service methodology is quality-centric, and this reflects in its rigorous recruitment processes and the US CPA team training the offshore remote professionals for client-specific roles so they become a strategic fit for the client company.
EA specializes in tracing high value-for-money remote staffers from its offshore talent pools and training and deploying them to deliver assured 60 percent payroll savings to the US companies.
It is pertinent to mention here that these professionals are superior or at least comparable to their US counterparts in terms of technical knowledge and expertise but cost only a fraction of them.
While EA has successfully deployed such resources at its clients in the US, it remains open to partnering with US recruiters on global staffing solutions, and hence, in addition to delivering such resources directly to the US companies, it can deliver them to the US recruiters instead, who would then place them at their own client portfolio.
N.B. The placement mechanism does not compromise the interests of these recruiters in anyway.
Haroon is a turnaround expert with 20+ years of experience in the US CPG industry, half of which is at the C-suite level. He has a proven track record of delivering phenomenal payroll savings to notable US CPG brands. His areas of specialization include trade spend management, business process reengineering, and cost optimization.