Make Way for the Workforce Revolution
With a rapidly evolving marketplace and a changing economic climate, it’s time organizations take the plunge and embrace a global workforce. Global is the new local.
I’m often asked why I set out to establish a global -- rather than local -- workforce when we launched QuickCall.com and my answer is simple: I didn’t. I set out to build an international telecom company and knew we needed to recruit highly skilled, multilingual staff. By definition, we are an international company and as such we needed to be certain that our workforce was able to fulfill the demands that came with effectively running this kind of service. And so, we sought great people who could provide excellent telemarketing and customer service to our customers; people who were bilingual and able to support our product in different languages.
Beginning our search locally in Michigan, we quickly realized how difficult it was to find suitably trained people with the required language skills. We had no choice but to extend our search. The right people were out there, I knew that, but finding them would take a leap of faith into a world that was new to me: the world of the global workforce.
The decision to open ourselves up to the idea of recruiting a global workforce remains one of the best paths we’ve taken as an organization. One of the greatest aspects of a global workforce is that you can have the best of the best: we now have a diverse and skilled workforce made up of independent contractors working remotely in Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova, Romania, Serbia, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Germany, England, Vietnam, Egypt, Jordan, the Philippines and the United States – including software departments in four different locations in Eastern Europe. It’s something we simply couldn’t have achieved locally.
We’re not the only company embracing a global workforce. Organizations including Microsoft and Google have opened big development centers in Eastern Europe too, no doubt benefitting from the discipline and expertise we’ve identified in our Eastern European employees. They’re some of the best programmers out there.
Other benefits to a global workforce include having staff available for a full 24-hour window without anyone working the graveyard shift. Why does that matter? It’s two-fold. From a business perspective, it means we’re able to finish projects faster and to a higher standard than anyone else. From an employee relations perspective, it is seen by many as a benefit; our staff know we are unlikely to ask for unsociable out-of-hours working, meaning we offer a greater work-life balance than many other employers.
The final and often overlooked advantage to a global workforce is cultural diversity. Cultural diversity is essential. It enables us to bring knowledge from different corners of the globe, giving us a privileged perspective of what works for our customers – and what doesn’t – in each region. It informs our decision-making from the conception of an idea through to product launch.
Naturally, while there are numerous benefits to having a global workforce there are a few obstacles that need to be worked through. At QuickCall.com, which is an international calling app, we found cultural diversity to be an overwhelmingly positive workforce trait -- but it presented a few obstacles. For example, the majority of the people we hired in the US were immigrants; they’d come to the US having left behind a culture they are familiar with and now must quickly adapt to another. At times, it has been difficult to communicate because our new employees cannot yet fully understand the discussions in fast-paced meetings. To solve this, we always follow up our meetings with a written summary to give everyone an opportunity to read through key actions from the meeting, ask questions and gain a better understanding of what was discussed.
We’ve also experienced volatile political situations in countries that directly impact our global workforce. With war and political unrest comes potential for loss of internet connection--we may lose contact for months. We’ve worked to minimize this element of risk as far as is practical by strategically selecting combinations of staff to work on specific projects with a view to help us maintain communication channels through all eventualities.
Ultimately, our global workforce means we need to continually work very hard to connect with our employees. We take employee engagement seriously because the moment you neglect to connect with an employee is the very moment you find an employee losing focus and direction. We utilize internal communication channels – phone calls, email and video conferences – to update and share successes and priorities; we update our remote staff on procedural changes at the same time as head office staff; and importantly, we promote a culture of openness and knowledge sharing to ensure our remote employees feel empowered to seek out answers to any questions they may have.
There’s no question about it, operating a global workforce takes ambition, effective management and a willingness to be bold in the midst of the unknown, but when done right it can bring huge benefits. From cost savings and improved productivity to establishing a more diverse and highly skilled workforce, in my mind there’s no doubt about it: a global workforce is something we should all be striving to achieve. The workplace as we know it is changing, so now’s the time to cultivate a workforce that truly works for you.
Dan Banu is a company leader who leads with empathy, knowledge and experience. His career history combines significant financial acumen with technological experience, achieving success with challenging and complex businesses. Prior to entering the telecommunications field, Mr. Banu worked in the financial sector where he discovered a passion for building teams and projects from the ground up, and for designing systems for high efficiency and returns. As president of holding company SRVR LLC and its brands, including QuickCall.com, Dan puts these strategies to work in building a high growth future.