APAC’s New Distributed Workforce Economy

Fatihah Ramzi, DigitalCFO Asia | 14 November 2022

Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote

The advantages and disadvantages of remote work were already being discussed before COVID-19. Although some businesses had already created their organizations with purely remote work in mind, many others remained wary. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck, organizations that had not previously permitted flexible working arrangements were forced to quickly put up their remote working infrastructure, both technologically and culturally, in order to maintain operations.

Companies should build upon this new standard rather than revert to their antiquated ways since so much rigor and work went into refining remote working during that time. In many ways, businesses must accept this new standard because failing to do so will probably result in them losing their employees to other companies.

Remote is a company that believes in global talent employment and seeks to unveil the world of remote work for every person, business, and country. With over 900 internal employees, their entire team works remotely in their chosen locations around the world; passionate about what a game-changer it has been.

To find out more about remote work, DigitalCFO Asia spoke with Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

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2022 Workforce Challenges In APAC

The ‘forced remote’ of the pandemic is now giving way to a permanent shift to flexible, remote work. Some companies are already there, but the transition could be challenging for some companies to navigate. The change is being driven in part by employees who have higher expectations for independence and flexibility. In Remote’s newest Global Benefits Report, people ranked flexibility as one of their most important employment benefits – and workers who are already remote actually ranked flexibility as more important than compensation. 

However, it is also being driven by companies that have discovered that remote work offers significant competitive advantages. They can tap into a much wider talent pool, especially for hard-to-fill roles. They can build a more diverse and inclusive workforce. They can achieve global coverage in servicing clients. All of these factors mean that remote work is becoming more than just a convenience. It is a way for innovative companies to attract and retain talent, and compete and win on a global level. Those who are unable to evolve as quickly as their competitors could end up being left behind. 

The Possibility of A One-type-fits-all Approach To Hybrid Work

“With the right approach, there’s an opportunity for any department to work effectively in a remote setting,” says Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

This can be in hybrid or entirely remote models. Remote, has no physical offices, so their finance team is fully remote and distributed across multiple continents. In order to succeed as a remote team, especially one that is global, businesses need to view remote work not as an exception to the norm of daily working life, but instead think “remote-first.” 

To be remote-first means treating remote work, and the needs of remote workers, as the default way of working. Transparency, documentation, communication, and trust are all critical so that everyone is equally empowered to do their best. This does not mean that everyone has to be remote and no one can work in an office. It simply means that everyone learns to communicate in a way that makes it equally easy for co-located and remote employees to do their best work.

Obstacles In Hiring Remotely

Hiring and working remotely means that teams can become more distributed geographically, including across international borders. 

“It is no longer necessary for your entire team to live in the same city or even the same country or continent,” says Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

The biggest obstacles that are preventing this from being more common are the practical challenges involved with employing someone who lives in a different country – how to pay them, how to provide benefits, and how to manage taxes and compliance. Each of these things can involve expensive, time-consuming processes. That’s why most companies choose to hire only in their own country, even for fully remote roles.

Remote was created to help companies solve this problem. The company serves as an employer of record so that its customers can legally hire full-time employees in more than 65 countries, and give them an easy way to hire, onboard, pay, and offer benefits and stock options no matter where their teams are located. 

The Productivity Rate Of Remote Employees

In Microsoft’s Hybrid Work Report, 80% of employees say they are just as or more productive since going remote or hybrid. Flexible work policies generally lead to positive effects on productivity, and they also have other benefits like allowing employees to prioritize their families, health, and wellbeing. 

“For remote roles, it may be necessary to rethink how productivity is measured,” says Pedro Barros, VP of Finance at Remote.

An unfortunate growing trend in remote work is the practice of monitoring employees to ensure they’re working on their assigned projects at particular times, and tracking how many hours they work in a day. This is completely unnecessary. In many cases, it doesn’t matter how much time someone spends in front of their computer or what time of day they’re completing their assigned work. What is important is that an employee’s output is what you expect from someone in their role. 

Challenges In Hiring Remote Finance Professionals

Similar to recruiting talent in other sectors, the challenges with hiring remote finance professionals comes from the competition for top talent. As remote work creates access to a wider pool of world-class finance professionals, companies must also remember that they are competing for the same talent on a global scale alongside the most successful multinational companies. 

One way to stand out beyond pay and flexible work policies is with employee benefits. In Remote’s recent report, 60% of employees say they have chosen one job over another because it offered a better benefits package. For global remote roles, that means offering localized benefits that are tailored to their specific needs.

Maintaining Employee Well-Being Through Virtual Means

Employee well-being and belonging are part of the foundation of great workplace culture, whether that culture is remote or not. Employers play a large role in the lives of their employees, especially their mental health, so creating a culture of acceptance and trust helps to support people to do their best work. There are a number of ways that a company can support their remote employees’ well-being, including letting people take time off when needed, providing resources and training, and implementing a flexible, asynchronous work schedule.