The Covid-19 outbreak is doing enormous economic damage and it will be some time before we can assess what the loss to productivity will be. Working from home, as anybody wrestling with it now will know, just isn’t the same, but there are lessons in the crisis, lessons that a global business can teach you.
To effectively run a team in different countries, on different time zones, means a constant flow of communication, through Whatsapp, Telegram, Slack and whatever else suits. Doing it properly means dedication to recreating the conditions we take for granted in an office. It takes concise and diligent messaging to replicate the urgency of authority and awareness of colleague activities. It takes group chats, consistent subject lines, private messages, concentration and a lot more. More than anything, it takes discipline.
Businesses worldwide are now calling on that discipline from workers suddenly stuck at home. For a global workforce, though, this is already standard procedure. That means a globalized workforce can fill the productivity gap created by compromised workforce mobility.
The competition that comes from global staff will bring the best out of your local employees and give you access to a worldwide pool of talent to support your operations at home. Crossing the digital border on a day-to-day basis will also increase the reach of your company. Suddenly, you have the capacity to serve clients in any market.
More than anything, with an innovative and competitive team formed of talents from across the world, you can reduce cost and become more efficient at the same time. The cost reductions mean you can pay employees more, wherever they are; the communication demands will make staff vigilant and bonded; and the competition will mean you have harnessed more of your employees’ talent.
A globalized workforce can support long-term profitability and reduce cost. The crisis presents an opportunity to globalize and streamline. It is a stunning opportunity.
Barriers to a global workforce are falling. There are more English speakers right now than any other language. It is the dominant language of the internet and it is the second language of almost all the developing world – i.e. most of the world. The number of people with a decent grasp of it is now in the billions.
A globalized workforce is still a real challenge: you will be forced to meet the demands for cultural awareness and use of language. Sayings may not translate and speaking plainly may come across as aggressive to some, just as much as speaking vaguely comes across as deliberately unhelpful to others. It takes practice and anticipation of how misunderstandings occur. You need to build in behavioral and communicable failsafes as a preventive strategy to stop things falling through the cracks. Ultimately, that makes your workflow much more efficient.
Efficiency is the biggest win. Some workforces are already global but it is now possible – with the advance of a common language, common digital skills and modern communications – for industries and businesses for whom this was never an option before to capitalize on it.
This was already going to happen. Covid-19 is just making it happen faster.