Conservatism and the benefits of a global workforce
Organisations are traditionally: a place where people gather to work on something they are specialized in to create a certain service or product. Last century this place was often a factory and in the second half of the century, we moved into a service economy and the place became an office. In that office, people come in the morning, sit in front of their pc, do their work and go home.
The past years, home-working has become more popular. Instead of travelling every day, wasting time in traffic jams, people work from home. And some companies have even started engaging people remotely from other countries in their organisation. This is possible because we have the technology to communicate from home as if we’re in the office. We can share files, use online tools and we have replaced local servers by cloud-based servers. But still many people are conservative and believe that people should work from their office. What should we do to move into an organisation model with a global workforce? And WHY should we?
The benefits of a global workforce.Why should we change our model of organizing?
- Talent: By tapping into the global labor pool, an organization has a much higher chance of engaging the brightest minds.
- Easy availability: In the US and Europe, there is a lack of skilled people and this lack will grow.
- Cost savings: The salaries in many countries are lower than in your country.
- Flexibility: Usually people are hired globally as freelancers or through a local company. The people are then not on your payroll and you can engage them per project or for the period that you need them.
What should we do to get organised for a global workforce?
1. Adapt a different mindset
The people that we now work with should become supportive of working with people from another country, another cultural background. People need to get out of their comfort zone; out of the belief that it’s much easier to have people sit in the same room, speaking the same language.
2. Re-organize how we work.
Organizing is basically a sequence of things people do to get a certain outcome, a process. We need to look at our current process and think what we need to change to work with people that work remotely. Most processes work sub-consciously, they are routines, grown by just doing what we do. In order to adapt the way we work, we need to draw or write down our current process. Then re-map this process and make a new drawing or description. And then reflect, re-organize and grow a new routine.
3. Select the right tools
We need to select the right tools to support working remotely. This is different for every organization. There are some ‘best practice tools’ like basecamp for managing projects, github for version control in software projects. I have recently written an article with a more complete overview. Yesterday I went for dinner with one of our clients who aren’t fond of process and procedures. Nevertheless he did develop some tools they didn’t use as much earlier. They do everything with the tools Google provides: Google docs for managing requirements, Google sheets for tracking projects and time spent, Google hangout for communicating, Google drive for storing ‘traditional’ documents. In any case you need to select tools to: A. manages projects; B. Track time; C. Communicate verbally and written; D. Share files. Select one tool for each of those four and you have the basis for managing a remote workforce.
4. Practice, learn, and improve.
It takes time to build the right routines, because the people involved need to learn. With the right mindset, the willingness to learn and continuous improvement, your company can achieve the benefits of a global workforce.