Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur the collaborators are his.
The Covid-19 pandemic has completely changed the way we do business, especially when it comes to corporate relocations.
We’ve seen how digitization has challenged the idea of the ruling locality, and we’ve seen how some businesses can operate without physical offices. Does this mean that corporate relocation and physical expansion have been sidelined?
Relocation is a $ 14 billion industry, but trends have changed in the aftermath of the pandemic. This means that companies need to re-evaluate how they manage relocation, expansion and hiring.
Here are three things companies need to keep in mind in this new world of remote and hybrid work.
Related: Distance work is here to stay. It’s time to dump her and move on.
1. The transfer and its importance (or absence)
Before, relocation and opening of regional offices were something to work on. Opening another location was a goal to be celebrated, and workers were often happy to move and accept new responsibilities.
After the pandemic, this is no longer the case. There is still a need for regional branches in large markets, but the general concept of relocation has been somewhat sidelined.
Now that everyone is used to Zoom calls, Skype conferences, Slack chats, and Discord meetings, the idea of uprooting one’s whole life to move seems absurd. Owl Labs found that there are now 50% more video meetings than before the pandemic, and 59% of workers would only want a job with the ability to work remotely.
Along the same lines, Covid-19 caused such a level of remote global connectivity that there is much less importance in opening new physical offices. In fact, there is now an entire industry around being able to rent meeting space or office facilities for the increasingly rare appearance of having a face-to-face meeting.
I think companies should understand that we have permanently changed our mind about what to do in person and what can be done remotely. For example, I spent a considerable amount of time flying out to meet with clients before the pandemic. If I wanted to negotiate an agreement, there was a widespread assumption that this could not happen remotely. The coronavirus forced us to rethink it, and we now know that a business team does not have to be tied to a specific location to be successful.
Related: The big break is here: how to reposition your thinking and your teams for growth
2. Choose the right person for the job
The pre-pandemic idea of opening a new office has been transformed into hiring a single person in the area as a representative. This may seem like a challenge, but it’s a great opportunity for companies to take advantage of it.
Now, there are no barriers to quick meetings. If there is a mutual interest, a video call can be arranged anywhere in the world and people can complete the business much faster. Previously, it would have been necessary to devote massive resources to face-to-face meetings and to open an entire office. In a post-pandemic environment, we can now create a remote team of just a couple of people to do the same job. This massively improves the prospects for growth, innovation and global expansion.
The only challenge here is to overcome the soft skills gap when it comes to hiring remote workers. McKinsey notes that 87% of companies worldwide are already aware of the problem approaching the skills gap. In the U.S. alone, many young workers struggle with basic tasks such as job prioritization, professional emailing, and business call management.
To combat this, I think it is worthwhile for companies to reallocate some of the resources they would have used for relocation to recruit and train suitable remote candidates. Investing in your team is a great growth strategy, and making sure your remote workers have a solid white skills base can pay off.
In my experience, it’s easy to teach someone about your industry. It is not easy to teach them to be charismatic, to understand the target audience, and to embody local culture. When hiring remotely, find someone with these skills to make initial contact and spark interest with potential customers. You can let the rest of the team take care of subsequent meetings and technical details.
Related: 4 remote work transition movements to consider
3. Balance change over time and keep your brand DNA
Covid-19 accelerated globalization and digitization to a place that experts had not expected to see for years. There is much less need for product customization and new interfaces in our globalized reality. This new culture has shown us that human behaviors and needs are quite similar around the world. If you refuse to change your tactics to suit the times, you are reinventing the wheel and preparing your business for failure.
However, companies need to find a balance between accepting globalization and maintaining the integrity of their unique brand. Understand that people have similar needs in general, but find ways to pass on your values and energy to each new market.
For my business, I will often send someone from my home office as a “seed” for a new location. In the remote work landscape, recruiting the perfect candidate can be a challenge, so I find it helpful to send someone who is already familiar with our values to facilitate the process.
It’s worth spending extra time and resources if you need to find someone who fits your “corporate DNA” during hiring. They will be a long-term asset, especially in the “new normal” of remote work, where you can only have one or two local people in the new market to help you navigate the expansion.
Think of it as an investment in your brand, too. Establishing a unique corporate culture in the global marketplace is what gives you true brand recognition, which is critical when you expand into new markets and do not yet have a customer base.
Related: 50 jobs from home that pay as much or much more than the average American salary
Think of a new business as planting a tree
To be a successful international company, you need to keep an open view when choosing your team. Giving a globally inclusive example integrates into the fabric of your brand and facilitates the transition to new markets.
See the process of starting a new business as planting a seed from which a tree can grow. Choose what type of tree to grow by planting the right seed (or person) for the new location. There may be no instant gratification, as trees take time to develop and flower, but it will be a great investment in your future.