Hiring international employees is easier than ever before. Now, to access this large and diverse talent pool, employers can simply hire remote workers and bypass the inconveniences of obtaining visas or arranging international travel.
The pandemic was the catalyst for this huge shift. Although remote work did exist before the pandemic, this event pushed reluctant business leaders to fully embrace this mode of working. According to Forbes, the number of employees who had never worked from home decreased from 47% to 34% in 2020, the first year of the pandemic.
In this article, we’ll discuss the negatives and positives of remote working for businesses and how you can hire international employees on a remote basis. This can help you make the right hiring decisions and avoid the common pitfalls of remote work and international expansion.
Remote work’s popularity has surged in recent years, largely due to technological advances and the pandemic. Gartner predicted that 31% of all workers globally would be working remotely at least some of the time in 2022, with a staggering 53% of US employees and 52% of UK employees predicted to work remotely.
Debates about remote work often focus on the positives and negatives for employees, such as less time spent commuting or a lack of social interaction, but what’s the impact of remote work on businesses? Here are the main points to consider.
Remote work isn’t the perfect solution for every business. If your company is considering a shift to permanent remote or hybrid work, you’ll need to plan how to tackle these issues:
Communication. It’s harder to coordinate projects and build strong relationships within a team if you can’t meet up in person. Remote-first businesses need to use technology and develop strategies (like in-person gatherings for work or socializing) to maintain communication.
Security. Remote work can lead to a multitude of security risks. If employees are using their own equipment or connecting to unsafe networks, company data could be compromised. Businesses need to take steps such as providing laptops with security software and making sure employees only keep the data they need.
Productivity. You can’t monitor your employees’ activities if they’re away from the office. This means you have to trust them to be productive at home, or you can use tools like time tracking software to ensure tasks are still completed efficiently.
Despite these difficulties, remote work can also offer a wide array of benefits to both employees and employers. Here are just a few of the advantages you can expect:
Increased employee wellbeing. Employees say they’re happier with flexible work schedules that fit around their lives. Remote work offers this flexibility and also removes the necessity of commuting, saving people time and money.
Employee retention. Happy employees are more likely to stay at their current job. Therefore, if you want to improve employee wellbeing and retention, you should consider offering hybrid or remote work.
Higher productivity. Although some companies worry about the productivity of home workers, studies have shown that remote work can actually increase productivity. According to a survey conducted by Airtasker, remote employees only have 27 minutes of unproductive time per day (versus 37 minutes for those in the office).
Lower overhead costs. Office space can be extremely expensive, which is why transitioning to remote work can help companies decrease overhead costs like rent, utilities and office amenities.
A wider talent pool, including international workers. Allowing remote work means that talented workers from all over the country - or even all over the world - can then join your team. This will increase diversity within the company, helping you to consider new perspectives and gain new ideas.
International expansion can help your company reach new markets and grow exponentially. Hiring international employees will make your entry into these markets much smoother thanks to their knowledge of the region, and diversity within your company will also lead to the generation of new and unique ideas.
As mentioned above, remote work has made it easier than ever to include international workers in your team. Your company will no longer be bound to a physical location and technology will facilitate easy communication between different countries.
However, even though the process of hiring international employees isn’t as complicated as before, it’s still a huge undertaking that needs to be carefully considered. Here’s how you should go about hiring international remote workers:
Understanding the laws and regulations surrounding the hiring of international workers can be difficult and tedious, but this is absolutely essential.
First of all, you need to understand the tax laws of the country where your employee lives and take these into account when paying them. The complexity of this process can be off-putting, but payroll management software or even an external HR consultancy will make it easier to handle.
Additionally, you need to consider the employment laws of your worker’s home country. Since they’ll still live in their country while they work for you, the laws of their country will apply. For example, they’ll be entitled to their country’s annual leave and sick leave benefits.
Although remote work has removed some of the barriers around hiring international employees, this is still a much longer process than hiring a domestic worker. In fact, this process can take at least six months, which is why you should fully consider this decision before you take the plunge.
When hiring internationally, you need to have a clear idea of what you’re looking for so you can make this process run as smoothly as possible. It’ll help if you know the skills and qualifications you’re likely to find in particular regions, and if you can speak the language and understand the culture of the country you’re hiring in, this will be a huge advantage.
Once you’ve found your new employee, you’ll need to integrate them into the team and help them feel settled within the organization. This is where a good onboarding process is essential.
For remote employees, it can sometimes be more difficult to feel part of the team, especially if you never meet your colleagues in person. So, to tackle this issue, you must provide a clear onboarding timeframe (perhaps six months or a year) and communicate clearly and consistently with your new employee throughout this process.
During onboarding, you should check in at regular intervals and discuss any issues that arise. Assigning a particular mentor for this employee (especially if the mentor understands the employee’s culture and language) is a great strategy to strengthen their ties to the company.
One of the biggest obstacles faced by international companies is the time differences between different countries. For example, if you have employees in both New York and London, you need to bear in mind that there’s a five-hour time difference. If you expand to other locations, this time difference could increase even further.
When you’re setting up teams and departments, it’s important to consider any communication difficulties that could arise due to time zones. This means that it may not be a good idea to hire someone if their schedule is completely different to the rest of their team’s working hours. However, this difference may be a good thing if you want someone to cover work outside regular hours.
Finally, one of the most important things you’ll need to do before hiring an international employee is make sure that you understand any cultural differences that could cause conflict or tension. This will help you avoid interpersonal issues within the company.
In particular, you should research attitudes towards work in your new employee’s home country. Certain cultures have different expectations regarding work, such as varying attitudes towards overtime, levels of formality, and emphasis on the team vs the individual.
In 2020, a Gartner survey revealed that 74% of CFOs and finance leaders plan to move at least 5% of their employees to remote work after the pandemic. Although this seems like a small percentage of their employees, this statistic shows business leaders’ willingness to accept the transition to hybrid work in the future.
To facilitate this transition, businesses need to consider how they’ll handle issues with security, productivity and communication when people work remotely. A remote-first work culture means that remote employees are equally valued and accommodated, so ‘solutions’ like micromanagement and impromptu video meetings aren’t going to cut it.
Each business will be able to decide how much remote work they’ll allow, but it’s inevitable that remote work will become part of many companies to some extent. Ultimately, it seems like the traditional 9-5 office job is becoming a thing of the past.
Author Bio: This article is written by our marketing team at HR Cloud. HR Cloud is dedicated to providing powerful solutions for your HR teams and creating an exceptional employee experience. Our aim is to help your company improve employee engagement, onboarding, and to save you valuable time!