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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people work forever. Now, instead of showing up at the office, half the working world is sending emails, calling clients, and conducting business from home. In many ways, this major shift to remote work has weakened company culture and been a rather isolating experience. After all, it’s difficult to form connections through a computer screen.

However, the pandemic has also resulted in a lot of good. Many remote employees are happier than ever before as millions enjoy a healthy work-life balance — maybe for the first time ever. Now, they feel more connected at work and at home. But has the pandemic made work more global?

Many remote employees are happier than ever before as millions enjoy a healthy work-life balance — maybe for the first time ever. 

In short, yes. While many companies struggled to take their business online at first, they’ve since adopted a flexible global approach that includes workers from all over the world.

1. Accelerated Development

The coronavirus pandemic spelled certain doom for many small businesses as hundreds of thousands permanently shut their doors in 2020. At the same time, large establishments were forced to accelerate development just to stay afloat. Because they had the money and resources to invest in rapid expansion, many chose to broaden their horizons to mitigate risk and increase revenue. These endeavors ultimately took them overseas to create a more global work community.

Of course, growing a company at such an intense rate wasn’t without its challenges. In addition to vetting and hiring new team members, companies also had to update marketing campaigns to target a wider audience. Language barriers, time zone differences and cultural nuances, also made expansion difficult.

However, the rise in remote work made some aspects easier. For instance, since the team could work from home, there was little need for an office or central hub.

2. Increases in Remote Work

The rise in remote work has also contributed to a global work community post-COVID. Even as many businesses return to an in-person model, others are adopting long-term hybrid or fully remote solutions to offer more opportunities to a larger candidate pool.

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Fully remote teams could stand to benefit the most, as they have a larger selection of talent and will likely garner more brand recognition as they recruit people from all over the world to join their team and support their mission.

Companies that choose a partially or fully remote method will also have more opportunities to partner with other businesses doing the same. However, limited technology and internet access may still prevent those in developing countries from collaborating with like-minded corporations.

As of last year, 41% of the world’s population still lacked internet access. Meanwhile, about 40% of low-income Americans don’t have home broadband services or a computer, making it incredibly difficult if not impossible to work remotely. Therefore, companies that wish to develop a remote global approach should consider providing the necessary equipment and tools.

3. Expanded Data Collection

Before the pandemic, many employers believed employees were incapable of maintaining productivity levels while working from home. However, global remote work and COVID-19 have forever changed the way companies define and measure productivity. Now, employers are relying on hard numbers rather than presenteeism to determine engagement and employee potential.

For example, one company might use a time tracking extension to expand data collection and monitor remote workers’ activity levels. Another may require frequent feedback sessions and virtual check-ins to ensure everyone stays on task. These technological tools further allow for global expansion and promote an even playing field to limit discrimination and unfair bias and provide equal opportunities for success, regardless of where employees choose to work.

4. Demand for Flexibility

In a study of more than 16,000 employees across 16 countries, 9 in 10 employees said they want flexibility as to where and when they work. Meanwhile, 54% said they would consider quitting if their employer didn’t afford some type of post-pandemic flexibility. This increased demand for adaptability will likely drive companies to offer better benefits and personalized schedules. In turn, talented professionals from around the world will scramble to score such flexible positions.

At the same time, employees who already work for flexible companies will seek to relocate, which will inevitably create a more global work community. More than 60% of workers with permanent WFH approval have expressed a desire to relocate, some to a different neighborhood, others to different countries.

Businesses that value geographic diversity and employee retention can offer tiered salaries and other competitive benefits to incentivize globalization and ensure healthier working environments.

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Embracing Opportunities for Diversity

The pandemic may have created opportunities for a more global work community, but it’s ultimately up to employers to take advantage of them. They’re the ones who will decide which working environments, technologies, and benefits to offer employees. Those who do adopt a more flexible and global approach will inevitably profit from increased diversity, perspectives, and input. Thus, facing and overcoming subsequent challenges will likely be more than worth it.

Ginger Abbott