Since the internet and cloud technology transformed the way businesses operate, flexible working has almost completely removed these restrictions, and the benefits to businesses and the economy as a whole was recognised by the UK government when they changed the flexible working laws in 2014.
Today, more than ever before, it is now possible for businesses to build teams of experts that work remotely across the world. In the increasingly fast-paced and globally competitive market, an international team can give your business a competitive advantage, including the following benefits:
While technology provides the infrastructure and platform for most companies’ growth, it is really the minds and knowledge of the people within the business that will make the difference between success and failure. Finding the right person for a particular job is important, and if you are looking for a very specific set of skills you have a much better chance of getting a talented, motivated and available individual if you open your search up to overseas candidates.
Whether they are based in the UK or overseas, giving individuals the opportunity to work in a way that suits them can empower employees to be as productive as possible. Business leaders need to trust employees to find what allows them to work most efficiently for themselves and then judge them on their output, rather than worrying that you have to keep an eye on them at all times. Many people actually find that not being tied to a traditional office environment allows them to shut themselves away from distractions to focus on the really critical tasks.
Company culture is something many business leaders work hard to develop, and many people are concerned that it may be diluted in some way if their teams are spread across the world. In reality, many businesses find that adding diversity to their company actually helps enrich their culture and may even make them more desirable as an employer. The key is providing a platform and environment that allows individuals to communicate freely, collaborate on projects and make sure that they themselves have a degree of ownership of that culture rather than feeling isolated.
A team that has a varied and diverse background will inevitably have a broader range of experience and ideas to draw upon. Whether it is creative input for product features, marketing campaigns or how to tackle a business problem, an international team member can offer a fresh perspective that a team that is entirely based in the same office may never have thought of. They will see what is working for other businesses they encounter in their part of the world, and adapting ideas that work elsewhere can be an invaluable kind of innovation.
In today’s fast-paced business world, customers are increasingly expecting a response or a solution to their problem quickly. If your workforce is tied to the same location and core business hours, that can means issues can go unaddressed or even unnoticed for a relatively long time in the customer’s eyes. By having a team that is spread across time zones, with a technology infrastructure that allows them to work flexibility, you can make your company much more responsive and agile, which will not only establish a reputation for good service but could also allow you to capitalise on opportunities much quicker.
London might be a hive of thriving start-ups, but studies also repeatedly list it as one of the most expensive places to live in the world, and these high costs are inevitably reflected in premises and wages. By building a team that works remotely you are not only eliminating the need for expensive premises and all the utility costs that come with it, but you may also find equally talented individuals with lower salary expectations.
Of course, while building a team of talented individuals around the world might offer you a host of advantages, there are inevitably significant challenges that come with it. However, leading satellite teams is actually less different to leading office-based ones than you might think, with offsite individuals just requiring a little more process structure and communication in order to thrive.
In most cases, the key is empowering people to be able to work proactively and collaboratively towards wider company objectives, and implementing the right technology infrastructure and trying to develop the right kind of company culture can help you to achieve this.
Bostjan Bregar is the co-founder and CEO of The 4th Office, a structured cloud workspace that enables teams to collaborate remotely. For further information or a free trial for your business go to www.4thoffice.com