How Remote Work Helps SMEs Reach Global Expansion

Developing an international footprint is no longer a task reserved for large companies with sizable financial lungs. While it certainly helps to have stable revenue streams and available cash flow for growth, global mobility is now in the reach of small companies with international growth aspirations.

The latest developments in remote work and digital technology on a global scale are acting as a growth enabler for companies with small headcounts but big international aspirations. Yet, few SMEs (small and medium enterprises) have a fully-fledged global mobility program with dedicated resources.

How can SMEs go about acquiring the necessary global HR expertise and a thorough understanding of the legal requirements inherent to global mobility without breaking the bank? What ways can they meet employee expectations on an individual level with minimal management? What is the right level of support on the ground to capitalize on the globalized practice of remote work?

Here’s how remote work helps SMEs reach global expansion–and it starts with a good global mobility policy.

1.  Draft a Nimble Global Mobility Policy

Since many professionals and companies have become accustomed to remote work, SMEs can now capitalize on a global remote workforce as a viable alternative to traditional employee assignments abroad. Companies must keep compliance in check when looking to hire anyone, anywhere, based on the specific market’s labor laws and changing regulations around remote work. Although hiring local talent remotely in the location of interest may bypass immigration issues, there are still tax liabilities as well as compliant payroll and benefits to consider. Any SME’s effective growth strategy should include a compliant, strong global mobility policy that encompasses:

  • Standardizing and structuring compensation approaches;
  • Providing adequate on-site support to employees (compliant contracts, payroll, and benefits);
  • Establishing a tax policy clarifying the assignee’s role and responsibilities relating to expatriate tax, personal tax, and company compliance.

2. Reap the Savings of Flexible Working

Today, with remote work, SMEs can capitalize on skilled talent working in cost-effective locations. Additionally, they can reintroduce flexible working as a talent retention perk. For instance, perhaps assignees returning to their home country on either business or home leave can extend their reunification periods with their families while working remotely to deliver on their commitments in the host country.

3. Keep Employee Experience Front and Center

Remote work has raised the stakes on how companies traditionally conceptualized employee wellbeing. For the past two decades, the common approach to managing mobility revolved around segmenting assignments by either duration or purpose. Today, employee expectations have evolved at an unprecedented fast pace around work-life balance and mental health, making solid and hands-on employee support a centerpiece of global mobility management.

This adds to the complexity for SME leaders accustomed to segmentation. Segmentation may fall short in connecting with the aspirations of employees. However, community, purpose, and job satisfaction will play a more prominent role going forward. Giving employees a voice and echoing their preferences and concerns is an important element of meeting employees’ aspirations.

A global mobility policy should integrate remote work elements to include a wide array of options for employees to choose from, from the classic expat-lite or local-plus policies to the emerging virtual assignments.

4. Look for Valuable Partnerships

For SMEs  looking to operationalize its global workforce aspirations, the seemingly infinite global talent pool may seem daunting. Building up a global mobility management team with remote work elements can be both time intensive and resource consuming. SMEs that further delay their international growth plans could miss their opportunity. This is especially true considering the increasingly competitive landscape and that remote work has leveled the playing field. To mitigate administrative complexities, SMEs can access the burgeoning Employer of Record. They can tap into this industry to find strategic partnerships that can help streamline and materialize their international footprint aspirations.

Photo by LovelyDay12

How Your Business Size and Style Impacts HR Strategy

Human resources (HR) strategy encompasses necessities like hiring, retention, employee growth opportunities, and benefits packages. However, the specifics for how your HR strategy accomplishes those needs and engages with employees vary based on a company’s size — and sometimes, its structure and style. For example, particular federal labor requirements come into effect for companies with workforces of certain sizes. HR professionals must abide by those when applicable.

Plus, the amount of resources available to an HR professional often varies according to a company’s budget. Similarly, a business could probably have a much broader or complex strategy if it had an HR department rather than one person handling all responsibilities.

Here’s a look at different business types and how they could influence an HR strategy…

1. Large Businesses

HR representatives at large companies are especially likely to connect their strategies to a company’s overarching goals. The resources and expertise associated with big companies often make it easier to determine what works and what doesn’t.

For example, Cadbury is one of the world’s largest confectioners. Its history dates back to 1824. Even in its early stages, the company explored how to invest in its staff. For example, the brand had a “worker village” where employees and their families could live. Today, the company’s HR strategy aligns with Cadbury’s goals, and people remain a priority.

Many large companies also want to see those investments pay off. They may be more likely to use productivity trackers to pinpoint top performers and the workforce members requiring corrective coaching.

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools for HR are also popular at large businesses. Strategies may include using it to find the most qualified candidates or show which employees are upset and may leave soon without intervention.

2. Employee Stock Ownership Plans (ESOPs)

Companies run under the employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) style allow workers to own shares. This approach has numerous benefits. For example, one study shows that ESOPs grew more than 5% faster than non-ESOP companies. Employee morale and productivity can rise, too, especially as workers recognize the direct link between their contributions and company success.

The HR strategies associated with ESOPs often focus on reminding current or potential employees of this business type’s benefits. For example, Chicago’s West Monroe Partners is a consultancy that became an entirely worker-owned enterprise via an ESOP in 2013.

Managing director Nate Ulery offered insight into the specifics. “Anyone who is an employee in a plan year with at least 1,000 hours of service receives shares,”  he said. The allocation of shares varies based on an employee’s salary and their length of time. Ulery confirmed, “We feel equity should go to those who have decided to spend a significant period of time at the organization.”

Employees at ESOPs also typically receive other benefits, such as the opportunity to sign up for 401(k) plans. That means an HR strategy should focus on attracting and retaining workers in other ways while simultaneously clarifying an ESOP’s advantages.

3. Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Whereas many large businesses have in-house HR teams, that option is out of reach for many entrepreneurs who run small businesses. Some of them initially try to handle all the HR duties themselves. Soon, they realize that creating and upholding their strategies requires help from outsourced providers.

They conclude delegating responsibilities helps them focus on other aspects of their businesses. For example, if an entrepreneur has no HR experience, they may find that the associated tasks are exceptionally time-consuming and cumbersome. That may cause them to sacrifice devoting time to what they know best.

Outsourced specialists can also confirm which federal requirements come into effect once a small business has at least 50 workers. That advantage ensures that small-business owners don’t unintentionally overlook labor law stipulations.

The HR strategy at a small business may emphasize creating and maintaining a strong culture. It’s often easier to shape and influence a company’s values when 10 people work at it instead of 1,000. The behaviors of one employee cause a proportionally larger impact on a smaller operation than a larger enterprise.

Similarly, a small-business HR strategy may feature a robust top-down approach. If a company only has five employees, it’s highly likely that workers regularly interact with the leadership. However, at a 50,000-person enterprise, many employees won’t have such engagements.

Exceptions Exist

Creating and following HR strategies can be challenging, especially as a company evolves. However, as long as professionals aim to support organizational goals, they’re starting with a strong foundation.

People should also keep in mind that exceptions to the examples provided in the sections above are always possible. For example, although large businesses typically have the most resources for investing in employees, small businesses can do the same.

They may not provide expansive campuses full of worker perks like Google does, but HR representatives play vital roles in demonstrating that employees matter. Worker appreciation should factor into all HR strategies, whether the company has four employees from one town or 40,000 people clocking in from all over the globe.