Jobs and the Future of Work

I believe the future of remote work is borderless and inclusive — here's how we get there

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that remote work is feasible for individuals and companies. Now businesses should go further and be open to remote candidates from anywhere in the world.

The COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated that remote work is feasible for individuals and companies. Now businesses should go further and be open to remote candidates from anywhere in the world. Image: Unsplash/Desola Lanre-Ologun

Tatiana Reuil
Global Shaper, Buenos Aires Hub, Buenos Aires Hub
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Future of Work

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  • The vast majority of professionals expect remote work to become the new normal.
  • To make sure that the benefits of remote work are felt by all, companies should be open to overseas candidates for their remote roles.
  • Borderless remote work could help boost diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

This blog was updated on 2 May, 2023

The COVID-19 pandemic upturned the world of work — and nothing was more disrupted than where we work. As millions of workers worldwide were forced indoors, to many peoples’ surprise, productivity did not universally drop. The work got done.

In fact, working from home was a resounding success for many companies and their employees. But that workplace revolution only went so far. It remained largely constrained within borders, and it has stayed that way.

Today, many companies advertise “fully remote” positions that turn out to be geography-dependent. Well-qualified candidates are passed up for fully remote jobs purely because of where they live. Of course, some companies need people to work in a specific place or time zone — but many do not.

Embracing borderless remote work could help companies improve their talent pool. Moreover, for companies seeking to boost Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I), borderless remote work can help create a truly diverse and global workforce.

Here's how to make borderless remote work happen, to the benefit of companies and their employees.

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Building a remote and inclusive workforce

First, analyzing how a role and its responsibilities can become truly location independent. Be creative and think outside the box. With today's technology, more and more businesses are conducting the same activities they did before without being in the same place at the same time.

Take exercise, for example. Who would have imagined that going to the gym through the internet could be possible? And yet, after the COVID-19 pandemic, people prefer to attend online gym classes. According to The Business Research Company, the global online fitness market is expected to grow from $11.39 billion in 2021 to $16.15 billion in 2022. The report estimates it to grow up to $79.87 billion in 2026. This demonstrates that companies now have the technology to do almost anything online — they just need to be willing to try.

Companies should be open to the candidate's willingness or commitment to the role. Even if the employer believes the candidate needs to be in a certain time zone, for example, there could be people in another geography open to that working pattern. Ask the candidate how the job would work for them. Many are perfectly willing to work unusual hours if it gets their foot in the door of an exciting company or field.

Before not considering the possibility of accepting applications of candidates from other countries, do your research and investigate different legal ways to do so. Multiple organizations already hire globally and remotely following compliant and legal rules of employment.

There is great talent everywhere in the world that wants to be part of your team. Analyzing your options to hire in a legal, transparent and global way can be worth it. You never know how talented a candidate can be and how they can become a great asset even if they are in a different country or continent. Identify your options and get help from experts so you can hire or contract in a legal and compliant way to connect your company with global talent.

Clear messaging and a culture of trust

Businesses should be clear with their messaging. If a remote work job can only be completed from certain geographies, companies should make that clear from the start — it will save them and potential candidates time and resources.

Businesses should also create protocols on how to design job offers, recruit, hire and onboard new candidates regardless of where they live. A significant part of this is building a culture of trust. The pandemic demonstrated that employees are just as capable of working from home as they are in the office — they should be trusted to do so.

A remote culture of trust sees employees enjoy working remotely and independently, but in communications with their employers. Remote teams, in turn, benefit their companies by keeping costs down and being available at different hours. Employee progress and activity can be measured and monitored through clear goal-setting, but counting working hours or surveilling monitors or computer activity fails to create that necessary atmosphere of trust.

If a company does not trust its remote employees, that is a problem of organizational culture, not a problem related to a specific working style — whether that style is in-person, home office, hybrid or fully remote.

Embrace borderless remote work — or get left behind

It is clear that the world is moving irreversibly in a remote work direction. According to Owl Labs' State of Remote Work Report, “1 in 2 people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19.” Goodhire report that “61% of Americans would be willing to take a pay cut to maintain remote working status.” According to Growmotely, 74% of professionals expect remote work to become the new normal.

Just three or four years ago, this seismic transition toward remote work would have been unimaginable.

To make a borderless workforce truly work, we also need a borderless market, policies, protocols and working systems. This may seem like a far-flung idea now, but just three or four years ago, this seismic transition toward remote work would have been unimaginable.

As workers continue to embrace remote work, it is possible to imagine legal restrictions on working location easing, perhaps first for in-demand roles such as software developers.

Companies are already losing big opportunities by remaining attached to a local-national-in-person working style. Remote jobs, in theory, allow companies to attract and hire top talent from around the world.

Furthermore, having a culturally aware and sensitive organization has come to be expected by consumers. Having employees that can truly work from anywhere signals to consumers that companies take their DE&I commitments seriously.

It is clear that remote jobs work. Now businesses should test the water by going a step further and making good on their commitments to DE&I. They should hire candidates based on their skills and the new views they bring to organizations — not where they live.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

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