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How can an SME manage a global workforce?

12th July 2021 |

The pandemic created a unique business situation. As organisations look to the future, leaders are rethinking the workplace and what the future of work means for their organisations and employees.

Before the pandemic, larger companies were already starting to become more global and recruit the best staff regardless of location. Yet, COVID-19 has made remote working the norm, removing the barriers to the global workforce and organisations are beginning to hire and manage staff around the world. A global workforce will likely become more commonplace and it is unlikely that the world of work will revert fully back to the traditional nine to five office-based structure.

So how can SMEs compete with their larger counterparts to manage a global workforce?

Digital transformation

The pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation, and these new technological innovations will be essential for managing a global workforce. Digitalisation has been key for successful remote working and will be vital for SMEs going forward.

Workplaces are now the cloud, not the office. Access to technologies such as digital employee tracking tools and workforce planning means SMEs are able to function from anywhere in the world. Management software enables leaders to monitor the productivity of employees wherever they work. Indeed, remote working has shown that digital collaboration can be just as productive as office working. 

HR challenges

The biggest challenges SMEs face with a global workforce with HR. Compared to larger companies, HR teams in SMEs are typically less equipped to deal with a global workforce. Each country has its own HR variables, and companies must make sure their organisation is complying with all in-country labour laws.

To succeed with a global workforce, companies will need to restructure how they manage HR process design to put data first and create additional capabilities to manage employee data and information.

A global workforce opens up the talent pool, creating opportunities for a more diverse workforce. Companies are able to recruit and manage staff without having to establish a foreign legal entity – helping to level out the playing field between small and large businesses. However, recruiting candidates from a global pool creates further challenges for HR teams. Instead of just identifying the top talent locally, HR teams must now source the top global talent and compete with companies around the world.

The future of work looks multinational and globally distributed. Despite HR challenges, global working is possible for SMEs. But they will need to think seriously about whether they are able to support staff who live and work permanently in a country where they don’t have a physical presence. Now is the time to take a look at what your company needs to build a workforce on a global scale.

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