One current theory is that COVID-19 disruptions interrupted the march of globalization. The result, the theory argues, is that people won’t move so freely as they did before, and organizations will become more insular, both in their thinking and supply chains.
One person who disagrees with this viewpoint is Charlie Ferguson. While he may have a contrarian view, being the Asia Pacific managing director of a company called Globalization Partners, it is worth explaining. After all, his company is part of a new post-COVID-19 paradigm.
Employees as a service
Globalization Partners was founded in the U.S. well before COVID, around ten years ago, and its initial business model played into the momentum for globalization.
The company began with the Employer of Record model, as Ferguson explains.
“An Australian company might want to set up a prawn farm in Vietnam, but they want to send some people to test the water and see how things are,” he says. “Instead of going through all the set up and compliance, they come to us because we have a structure in Vietnam they can use, and their people become our people, and we deal with all of their pay and contracts and local compliance.”
“Then, if the company see that business is viable, they go ahead and set up their structure, or if not – and they want to unwind things and exit — then it’s a lot easier doing it with us than it is if they’ve gone through all the pain of setting up their structures,” Ferguson adds.
Globalization Partners is currently in 187 jurisdictions and has set up “thousands and thousands” of employees on its platform on behalf of the ultimate employers.
Through its primarily automated platform, onboarding an employee with a compliant local contract can take as little as 12 hours.
Ferguson describes it as an “employer of record CRM” platform which is self-serve for both employers and employees, with drop-down menus for countries with information on employment law and compliance.
Employee flexibility champion
That is a neat model that can save organizations significant time and cost in the early phases of entering new markets. And of course, as many have found, closing things down and getting out can often be more protracted than setting up and is doubly painful in that it’s a retreat.
As Ferguson explains, the Globalization Partners model changed during COVID-19 when remote working took off.
There have also been political considerations. When the previous Trump administration slapped visa restrictions on hiring IT talent, Silicon Valley companies turned to providers like Globalization Partners to hire the talent they needed in their country of origin.
“Or say you are a mining company, and you need an engineer,” says Ferguson.
“You haven’t been able to bring people into the country because of COVID-19, but you can find the person that you want in Mongolia, and you can hire them through us.”
“A lot of firms are deciding not to set up operations in a country, but they are now ready to hire people from that country to do whatever the process is. It’s a great opportunity for companies to have access to a global talent pool and for talented people to find great employers in other countries.”
Portable permanent jobs
Regional changes, such as the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership between 15 nations in the Asia-Pacific, will further free up the movement of people between countries and foster a more integrated supply chain.
Ferguson sees a “post-COVID-19” paradigm for talent with these changes, which will create fresh opportunities for organizations and employees.
“In the past, there was this ‘rite of passage’ for young people to leave and go backpacking and find a job and live in another country for a while,” he says.
“Some people will still want to do that, but it’s going to become possible for those young people to take their jobs with them when they travel, and that’s going to be very exciting.”
Lachlan Colquhoun is the Australia and New Zealand correspondent for CDOTrends and HR&DigitalTrends and the editor of NextGen Connectivity. His fascination is with how businesses are reinventing themselves through digital technology and collaborate with others to become completely new organizations. You can reach him at [email protected].
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