What will define the next era of work? We know that the 20th century was marked by the expansion of the global labor market. Cultural, economic, and occupational demands led to broader participation across demographics and a major increase in jobs that were labeled “professional” (what we might call “knowledge work” today).
In America, for example, the U.S. Department of Commerce recorded the largest surge in the number of “professionals, managers and administrators, and clerical workers” between 1972 and 1980, with “white collar” office work reaching 50% for the first time in American history.
The rise of the office era also meant the rise of the long daily commute, lasting shifts in people management, and perhaps an overemphasis on creating proximity-based office cultures and connections. Many of these trends have continued into the 21st century, though digital innovation has supported an increasingly diverse and distributed modern workforce.
Now, after a global pandemic and a remote work revolution, employment is in transition once more. The future of work is still being defined, but as the lens of global employment draws things further into focus, HR leaders and people ops professionals are contending with a fresh set of talent and workplace challenges and opportunities.
Reimagining the workplace
In the years directly preceding 2020, the typical knowledge worker experience tended to revolve around physical offices and employees’ geographical proximity to them. For primarily in-person companies, this made sense, and hiring teams limited their talent search to a pool of the closest candidates and not necessarily the best candidates.
Today, an entire cohort of Gen-Z workers have matriculated from education into remote employment. That means their work is more decentralized than that of previous generations, and office culture for these workers is less easily defined.
Additionally, skills shortages and growing business and innovation demands have meant that employers are increasingly considering global employment as a way to scale faster, become more flexible, and reach top talent in under-tapped markets. In one 2022 PwC report, 20% of employers said that they planned on hiring overseas workers to address skills and labor shortages in their organization.
An understanding of these new challenges and opportunities also requires a reimagining of the workplace norms and traditions that have defined the office for the last half-century.
Firstly, businesses should evolve their thinking around the myth that work is a building that you need to go to in order to be productive. There’s plenty of research that says otherwise.
The advancement and ubiquity of digital communication tools and team collaboration software have meant that a physical office is no longer the center of productivity. Instead, work takes place at home, in coworking spaces, on workations, and in coffee shops around the world.
As our collective perspective on the workplaces changes, so too should our approach to managing and making the most of what comes next. This means that people ops and HR leaders will have to adopt technology, digital infrastructure, and strategies that support global remote hiring, onboarding, compliance, payroll, and people management.
Challenges and opportunities of global hiring
Global trends and the general evolution of the modern workplace have meant that new challenges and opportunities are gradually coming to the fore, sometimes in the same package.
For example, global employment will be critical for plugging skills gaps, addressing looming labor shortages, building more diverse teams, and leveling the playing field when it comes to expanding equal access to career opportunities.
On the other hand, time zone considerations, equitable benefits, culture building, and compliance all need special attention in a globally diverse environment.
“When you’re building teams, don’t try to hire in every location around the world all at once,” advises Kim Rohrer, Oyster’s Head of Employee Experience. “Think about the employee experience and what it will be like to be the only person awake, or the only person working, in a certain region.”
We may be biased, but here at Oyster, we’re firm believers that the opportunities of global hiring far outweigh the challenges. For example, hiring can be a lever to create opportunities that impact families and global communities, acting as a means to find and invest directly in global talent wherever it may be.
What is a global employment platform?
A global employment platform is a solution that enables companies to engage talent internationally without the traditional barriers associated with cross-border employment.
Previously, companies wanting to hire globally would need to employ local accountants, tax experts, and lawyers to initiate the lengthy process of setting up and maintaining a local entity. This was prohibitively complex, costly, and time-consuming, often resulting in larger companies with more resources being better equipped to navigate the process. Thus, historically, larger companies have had easier access to a global workforce.
A global employment platform removes these barriers by seamlessly managing compliance, payroll, and legal considerations for companies seeking to engage talent globally. Global employment platforms enable companies to:
Engage talent in different countries
Easily set up and onboard global talent
Manage legal and tax compliance
Calculate the cost of engaging talent
Provide health insurance and offer localized health benefits
Why do companies need a global employment platform?
Everything is inevitably more complex when done on a global scale. But when it comes to cross-border hiring, a global employment platform cuts through the complexity and opens up the door to opportunity. Let’s explore some of the reasons companies need global employment platforms.
Access to wider talent pools
In the past, HR and people teams relied on conventional wisdom that equated proximity to suitability for a role. However, finding talent with specialized skills and qualities often means expanding your search beyond city limits and country borders.
Based on findings in our recent Global Employment Report, we know that hiring across borders can mean access to a wider pool of talent and faster hiring times in general.
When it came to filling software roles, for example, data demonstrates that recruiting internationally was 23% faster when compared to sourcing local candidates only. When roles are untethered from physical locations, it’s much easier to find and attract experienced talent from anywhere.
Imagine that you work for a U.S.-based fintech company looking to hire an in-house graphic design lead. In your search, you come across an experienced graphic designer based in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with a portfolio matching your needs. You believe the candidate has the skills and experience to lead your team.
Why should the decision to bring them aboard come down to location rather than ability and expertise?
In the past, it may have been a logistical minefield to hire this designer. You might have had to set up an entity in Argentina and individually hire legal experts, payroll experts, and HR and benefits experts on the ground. With the associated delays, it’s likely this candidate would move on to other opportunities.
A global employment platform ensures a compliant contractual engagement to onboard the Argentina-based graphic designer, easily pay for their services, offer them benefits, and begin work with them quickly, removing the historical complications.
Many factors play a role in a company’s growth. Being able to quickly and compliantly engage talent in more places means that businesses can break into new markets, expand their offerings, and bring on new talent whose day-to-day work will help grow the business.
Among the fastest-growing companies using Oyster, 37% grow at a rate of 30% or more per year.
Additionally, hiring costs in some parts of the world are higher than in others. Being able to engage talent outside of expensive hubs like the San Francisco Bay Area, New York City, and Toronto, for example, will naturally increase a company’s financial ability to work with talent faster and in different parts of the world.
Hiring global talent means you must remain compliant wherever you have an employee. Because every country has its own set of employment laws and regulations, every employment contract you generate must be compatible with the laws in the specific country or jurisdiction where you’re hiring—from pay right down to days off for annual leave.
At the same time, it’s not realistic to expect your hiring and legal teams to become experts in international employment law overnight.
With the right global employment platform, companies can generate country-specific and compliant contracts and pay a global workforce in a timely and accurate manner, accounting for country-specific tax and social deductions to name a few.
“If you’re looking to hire across borders, a GEP will make your life easier by taking care of the compliance and paperwork so that you can focus on the people themselves,” explains Kim.
How to decide if a global employment platform is right for your business
Inevitably, there will be many use cases for businesses who choose to engage talent through a global employment platform. Some common ones include:
Businesses that want to scale quickly and affordably.
Businesses launching in new countries where local cultural knowledge and language expertise are needed.
Businesses looking to tap into a global labor market to find specialized skills and talent.
Businesses looking to engage international contractors to complete specialized work.
Because HR and people teams have been increasingly stretched thin, a global employment platform is one way to manage country-apecific hiring and compliance considerations without having to wade into the employment laws of every jurisdiction in which you want to engage talent.
When a platform can generate compliant contracts in 180+ countries, enable teams to manage time-off requests, and even help companies create a thoughtful and equitable benefits package for a global workforce, this reduces the risks associated with non-compliance. HR and people teams are then freed up to focus on other aspects of creating an experience and engagement to attract and retain a global workforce.
So, how do you choose the right global employment platform for your business?
How to choose the right global employment platform
Your talent engagement experience may differ greatly depending on the platform you choose. Choosing the right global employment platform for your business means understanding your goals for talent engagement, strategy, and future needs before making a final decision. Your desired relationship with the global talent you engage will also play a role—whether they are full-time or a contractor.
If a global employment platform sounds like a fit for your business, let’s explore some different criteria for choosing the right one.
What should your criteria be when choosing a global employment platform
When choosing a global employment platform, consider the following factors:
Global employment platforms are typically priced on a monthly per full-time employee or contractor basis. It’s important to look around for platforms that have all the features you need at a price your business can afford and scale with. Take future or anticipated talent needs into account. How much will it cost to engage 10 or 15 individuals, for example? Does this make sense for your business?
Country availability is a critical factor when choosing a global employment platform. The platform you choose will ideally support in every country whereyvou plan to engage talent. While no platform supports engagements in every country, Oyster supports engagements in 180+ countries. Other platforms support hiring in 160 or even fewer countries. Consider your target countries and whether the global employment platform you’re considering supports these localities.
Indirect EOR model vs. direct EOR model vs. hybrid model
A global employment platform will likely fall under one of a few categories: direct EOR (Employer of Record) model, indirect EOR model, or hybrid model. A direct EOR model means that the service provider has set up and operates its own entity within a country. They are leveraging their own local knowledge to enable other companies to engage talent compliantly in that specific country.
An indirect EOR relies on the knowledge of local partners and is not incorporated within the country where they are providing services.
A company operating a hybrid model, like Oyster, acts as a direct EOR in some countries and an indirect EOR in other countries.
To read more about the differences, benefits, and drawbacks of each model, check out our post on different types of EORs in the Oyster Library.
Adopting a philosophy, not just a platform
Getting started with global employment requires a mindset shift. Applying the same rules and structures of local employment to the dynamic and nuanced landscape of global employment means you may be neglecting some important considerations.
For example, think about how much work communication is synchronous—calls, DMs, video conferencing, etc. For global employment, asynchronous communication helps teams collaborate more effectively across time zones and overcome the challenges of a decentralized virtual office experience.
Though engaging talent is the first step, adopting workplace policies and practices that are compatible with global remote work makes GEPs all the more useful.
When you can scale the process of engaging and onboarding new talent, there is more space and opportunity to design workplaces that are efficient, empathic, and productive.
The case for distributed work
It’s clear that we're moving steadily into a new office era. Where we're headed, there will be decidedly less office cake and Friday drinks, but more opportunities for flexibility, inclusion, and geographic diversity.
At Oyster, using our global employment platform has allowed us to grow quickly and build a diverse team with over 72 nationalities spread across 60+ countries. This has also meant creating deliberate systems of communication and knowledge management to avoid roadblocks that cultural and time zone differences can inevitably create.
Increasingly, organizations will need new tools to address new challenges. The natural evolution of work trends, technology, and hiring infrastructure mean that distributed hiring and global talent recruitment are more possible than ever. To continue growing and thriving, companies can leverage the power of global employment platforms and grow agile, resilient, and diverse teams.
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Oyster is a global employment platform that empowers visionary People Ops leaders to manage and care for a thriving global workforce. Through its compliant hiring process, streamlined payroll, and localized benefits offerings, companies can bring talent aboard no matter where they're located.
To learn more, check out our Global Employment Assistant: a personalized guide to the tools, resources, and information you need to start building a thriving global team.
Disclaimer: This guide and all information in it is provided for general informational purposes only. It does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal or tax advice. You should consult with a qualified legal or tax professional for advice regarding any legal or tax matter and prior to acting (or refraining from acting) on the basis of any information provided in this guide.