This Working Life: Borderless thinking can broaden your firm’s hiring horizon

The pandemic has brought about a more flexible approach to business whereby the successful firms will be the ones that can accommodate remote working as well as in-person collaboration.

Last year, amid the chaos of the pandemic, the government of Barbados did something highly innovative. It launched the welcome stamp, a visa for individuals whose work is location independent, inviting remote workers from all over the world to make the island their office.

As the world closed down, Barbados opened up to the future of work and the 2,796 applications for the pass suggest it was a clever move.

Location constraints have changed since the pandemic. It is only in the last 50 years that cities have had such a draw on young professionals, and even more recently that the tech industry has nestled itself firmly in the metropolis.

Now, an increase in remote working, distributed workforces and digital infrastructure means a large proportion of work can be done anywhere, and everywhere.

You no longer have to live in London, San Francisco or Dublin to launch a brilliant product or find the next visionary for your company. The internet has democratised opportunity, and the pandemic has stimulated a more flexible approach to business.

In 2021, employees are quitting their jobs to seek out better opportunities beyond borders. A global Microsoft survey found that individuals are more open than ever to the possibility of relocating for work, and they no longer feel tied to cities in the same way as before.

But on closer inspection, the desire to collaborate in person has never been more overwhelming. Ceaseless remote working has created siloed teams. Employees are battling Zoom fatigue, yet crave more connection. It’s no surprise that 65 per cent of workers are longing for more in-person time with their colleagues.

The talent market is now candidate-led, but businesses have plenty to gain from this change. Home-grown start-ups and scale-ups thrive with tight-knit teams and in-person collaboration, particularly in the early days when they’re still figuring the best way to work with each other.

When you’re building the processes and structures that will guide working practices for years to come, you need every individual on board. It makes sense to have your whole team in the same room for these activities. Otherwise, the silos you worked so hard to avoid will come creeping back, as employees become disillusioned with operations they had no say in.

As flexible working arrangements continue to gain popularity, we can’t ignore current and future employees’ desire to co-create in person, surrounded by their colleagues. Start-ups and scale-ups have a unique opportunity to present this offering to candidates who have spent the last 18 months craving connection.

Irish start-ups and scale-ups can still apply borderless thinking without building a fully remote team. Consider where you’re sourcing your talent from, and if your offering is strong enough to convince international talent to relocate. As the Microsoft survey pointed out, for the right job, candidates will relocate.

People join tech because they want to solve a problem. If everything goes to plan, your company ends up solving that problem, and then you turn your hand to the next one.

Development opportunities rank highly for candidates. Individuals want to feel like they’re contributing to a greater purpose, and that their employer is equipping them with the skills and understanding to do so.

We can’t avoid the fact that big tech companies put up stiff competition for smaller firms when it comes to hiring. They’ve been in the game much longer, they understand the perks and benefits that keep employees loyal, and their budgets are usually eye watering.

What they lack is the pace and energy of smaller brands. The opportunity to grow as an individual and a collective team is unmatched. When it’s just five people in a small office trying to build something brilliant, those relationships are intense and powerful.

Unlike their more established peers, small and growing tech companies can move quickly and decisively. It’s much easier for a team of 20 to reach a decision and implement change than it is a team of 2,000.

Individuals are making the most of this borderless movement, and so should businesses. No longer limited by location, job choices have multiplied for talented tech recruits.

With an eye on the global jobs market, candidates can look overseas for the best opportunity. And they could be looking at yours. Borderless thinking is the key to finding boundless talent. So what are you doing to attract it?