Stories of Impact

The case for global talent in a downturn, and always

The time is now to hire global talent
June 20, 2022
Kevan Lee
Distorted image of office environment with words like "ditch the office" and "higher productivity and engagement" overtop

When I log on to work each day, I am greeted by a stream of “good mornings” from my teammates in Kenya, in Jordan, in Amsterdam, in Canada. The work from our EMEA team is seamlessly passed on to our Americas team who, at the end of their day, pass it along to our APAC team, keeping the momentum going in a virtuous loop as projects follow the sun. I set my hours to work when and where I am happiest and most productive, and my hundreds of coworkers are able to do the very same. 

As a marketing leader, I also have to crunch the numbers. In a distributed work environment, my team’s workspace costs are next to nothing—no HQ, no office. My team’s salary expenses are materially different than a high-cost, hyperlocal company’s—I am able to pay competitively in every market and significantly lift the salary ceiling for teammates in emerging markets. My average teammate salary is close to $100,000, compared to $130,000+ in typical VC-backed roles.

This way of working is the right answer for us at Oyster, and for thousands of other companies around the globe (check out the story of Juno). 

And it’s an especially important and urgent opportunity in times like these, when markets turn and uncertainty increases. 

Why global talent matters in a downturn (and always)

Global hiring makes companies more efficient, more resilient, more socially impactful, more productive, and more diverse.

These are critically important outcomes for companies in today’s day and age. The world, and specifically the tech industry, is entering an uncertain financial period that’s marked by rising interest rates, COVID legacy, and geopolitical disruptions, which are pushing businesses in the direction of cash-consciousness and operational efficiency. 

Historically, such challenges would’ve encouraged businesses to slow down or press pause on their employment plans as a conservative measure, decimating their growth potential and ability to meet consumer demands.

But now there’s another option. 

The global employment model presents a new approach to counteracting economic crises, especially those that are closely linked to a business location. Global employment enables you to do the following: 

  1. Lower your cost of labor: Attract worldwide talent to your team, pay them well, and make your labor costs more efficient.
  2. Become socially impactful: By hiring talent from new markets that don’t typically have access to these opportunities—and providing them a good income—you become more socially impactful. You contribute to the resiliency of these local communities and help reverse brain drain. 
  3. Ditch the office: Most monthly fees for flexible workspaces in London range from £650 to £1,500 per person. That adds up. Think of the savings! 
  4. Higher productivity and engagement: According to a recent McKinsey study, employers see better productivity from remote workers. Along with this, we know that if you implement your remote work practices well, you will see improved well-being and more engagement from your team.
  5. More diversity: More diversity means more business success. Global hiring opens your hiring pipeline to a huge volume of underrepresented perspectives.

Let’s talk about each of these factors in more detail. 

1. Lower your cost of labor while lifting up emerging markets

Today, businesses have an opportunity to compete for top global talent and compensate above local pay rates, while still extending their runway and avoiding the increasing costs in certain premium talent markets. This empowers businesses to choose cost-conscious growth and employment over hiring freezes and layoffs, and it places emerging markets at the forefront for employment. 

Instead of cutting hiring altogether due to cost limitations in premium locations, companies have the choice to diversify their hiring.

We are still hiring at Oyster (see our open roles here). We are living this global mission ourselves. We are shifting more aggressively to hire outside of high-cost cities and to bring in talent that would otherwise not have the opportunity to work for a high-growth tech company in their local markets. 

(For many Oyster employees, this is the first time they’ve landed a job outside their home country.)

We see this reflected in our salary figures internally.

Average salary at Oyster compared to venture-backed tech

And the distinction is even more stark for technical roles like engineers. 

Graph that compares VC backed tech and Oyster employees

At Oyster, our mission is to create a more equal world by making it possible for companies everywhere to hire people anywhere. We believe in a future where everyone has access to great opportunities and an equal playing field. But in order to get there, we need to turn companies toward global hiring. 

This is not a race to the compensation “floor.” In fact, in almost every instance of hiring in emerging markets, we are creating new “ceilings.” 

We’re lucky to play a big role in this movement with our Oyster platform. Twenty-five percent of the team members employed through Oyster live in emerging markets (defined using the United Nations Human Development Index). The time to hire from these markets is as fast or faster than hiring anywhere else in the world. 

Where do I look for global talent? 

You can source great, global talent from a number of places. For starters, we’ve created a Talent Marketplace within the Oyster app; you can sign up for a free account to access this tool. We’ve connected with talent partners around the globe to help source for a variety of roles. Simply enter the role you’d like to hire for, choose the location you’d like to source from, and we will show you a list of partners who can help. We’ll even facilitate the introduction. 

Screenshot of Oyster's talent marketplace

There are also a host of job boards that allow you to attract global talent. Plus, you can use these boards to research where other companies are listing their roles, which may give you a sense of where the talent might be. 

  • Indeed, one of the world’s largest job search engines, delivers more than 2x the number of global hires versus other sites, due to its massive worldwide reach. When posting your job, simply select the desired geographies you’d like to source from.
  • Hired is a reverse job board. Candidates create profiles, and companies apply to interview candidates. 
  • Remote job boards are top destinations for global job seekers. Three of the top boards include Remotive, We Work Remotely, and RemoteOK.

How much do I pay? 

Once you find great global talent to hire, you can use a platform like Oyster to handle all the ins and outs of global employment—everything from contracts to benefits. The question of compensation is one of the biggest unknowns when hiring in a new location. We often advise companies to set a budget for the role and do research on the market using tools that aggregate salary data, as well as work to understand the candidate’s needs and expectations. (OpenComp, Pave, and Payscale are a few widely-used compensation tools.) Don’t anchor on the lowest number; aim to pay fairly and reasonably. It’s a bit of an art, but worth the effort because doing so yields great talent and loyal employees.

2. Become socially impactful

Along with lowering cost of labor and experiencing capital efficiency gains, companies who hire globally are also able to elevate talent from countries that have traditionally lacked the opportunity to participate in as many roles before, particularly in the tech sector. 

Hiring talent in global markets can also help companies:

  • Bring diversity goals and business goals into alignment to cultivate an impact-driven culture.
  • Engage with global candidate pools and hire based on talent and performance, irrespective of location.
  • Increase access to work opportunities across the world and support reversing brain drain.
  • Support wealth distribution and uplifting emerging economies.

In our Oyster impact report, we projected $50 million in total-dollar flow per annum going into emerging markets by the end of 2022, based on hiring data from the Oyster platform and thanks to socially-impactful companies looking to hire beyond traditional talent centers. 

As tech companies point their hiring toward the developed world and uplift these economies by (typically) paying more than local salaries, we are on a path to making the world more equal. Look at the alternative: If global talent were hired only in their local markets, they would have no option to receive payment above local market salaries. 

3. Ditch the office

Traditionally, one of the largest business expenses for companies is overhead, driven by the rent and maintenance of an IRL headquarters location. The cost to keep an office—especially in cities like San Francisco, New York, or London—can be prohibitive. 

The pandemic allowed many companies to rethink their office plans. Now that return-to-office is on the agenda for many, global hiring provides an opportunity to rethink HQ for good. 

Take Buffer as an example. The technology startup held office space in San Francisco for its first four years while building a fully distributed team around the world. As the team grew—with more and more people spread out globally—a physical office location in an expensive US city no longer made business sense. 

Buffer saved $100,000 by ditching the office. (And this was in 2015 when office costs were way lower.)

4. Achieve higher productivity and engagement

It probably comes as no surprise that when employees are able to work from where they are happiest, they become more productive. Several studies have put data behind this theory. 

Most recently, a study by McKinsey showed that more and more employers are seeing better productivity from their remote workers versus their in-office staff. A Stanford research team also found that employees are more productive when working from home versus the office, and that the increase in productivity keeps improving year-over-year. 

Even before the pandemic, this trend held true: 77 percent of employees who worked remotely at least a few times per month show increased productivity, 30 percent claimed to do more work in less time, and 24 percent did more work in the same period of time.

5. Become more diverse 

At Oyster, we see diversity across our team through a number of different lenses, all of which have been augmented by our ability to hire from anywhere. We have greater gender diversity, ethnic diversity, geographic diversity, etc. 

We feel the impact of additional perspectives on our business, and many others have felt the same within their companies. McKinsey’s semiannual report on diversity in business points out: 

“Companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 percent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile.”

Harvard Business Review makes an important point: it’s not enough simply to check the box for a diversity number. You must also be deliberate about learning from each other’s differences and “foster inquiry, egalitarianism, and learning.”  

At Oyster, we are here to help

As a global employment platform with a mission to create a more equal world by making it possible for companies anywhere to hire people everywhere, Oyster is positioned to help employ talent across the world and in emerging markets.

Globally distributing work can both make the world a more resilient place and make businesses more efficient. 

We’d love to help your company on this path toward hiring “beyond.” 

Schedule a call with one of our global hiring experts, or review our deep library of content for additional inspiration and ideas.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, hire, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

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