Setting the scene – the global workforce

So where does a global workforce sit regarding the way business is being conducted in today’s environment?

Well, it is probably best to start by painting a picture of how the global business environment has been shaped by advancements in technology, innovation and thought leadership.

Over the past 500 years, there have been three recorded industrial revolutions (we’re entering a fourth now, but that is a story for another day).

The first revolution was all about transitioning from hand production methods to machines, making it easier to increase production, improve efficiency and drive business growth.

The second recorded industrial revolution was all about mass production, removing the reliance on coal and using petroleum and electricity to drive production.

It is easy to see that the first two revolutions focused on using available technologies, resources and innovation to achieve better outcomes whether it be using better tools to create and build or using technology to facilitate a more efficient way of production.

The common theme being the use of technology to drive effective change.

A global workforce – what is that?

As of 31 December 2017, statistics state that 55% of the world’s population have access to the internet.

Over the past twenty years the levels of innovation have surpassed anything in history. The rapid development of computer technology paired with the introduction and rapid development of the internet have empowered an era of innovation in the not only the way business is conducted, but how we communicate.

This is the third industrial revolution, and since 1980 it has completely redefined the global economy.

The traditional bricks and mortar business, constrained by location and defined by utilising a local workforce is totally extinct. With the current technology available and the internet facilitating 24/7 access, immediate and instantaneous communication and computers and other handheld devices providing the means for collaboration and engagement, people can work at any time from any location.

As with the previous revolutions, there has always been a precursor driving the change. The most common theme trying to drive cost savings and efficiencies, and the global workforce is no different. Businesses in high-cost jurisdictions are strangled by high-costs of doing business (namely wage and salary costs for local employees).

Driving growth by embracing a global workforce

It is difficult to drive growth locally if operating costs are high, and this is where the global workforce is a game changer. With technology and the internet tearing down geographic barriers, businesses can access labour in lower cost jurisdictions. Often called offshoring or outsourcing (two different ways of doing things, but again, we will look at this later), businesses can access the savings of a remote employee to work as an active part in their business.

Engaging with a remote employee in a low-cost country (Philippines, India or South Africa – to name a few), the business can access lower wages/salaries, cheaper utilities and a reduction in other traditional overheads.

Using a global workforce is commonplace today, with a large corporations, small-medium businesses and event small businesses accessing its benefits. Even government organisations have embraced a global workforce.

So, if you’re looking to drive growth you need to consider a global workforce as part of your strategy.

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