Pandemic to drive international workforce expansion

Chief financial officers (CFO) are increasingly looking at how to access cost effective workforces from across the world as COVID-19 has highlighted the ability to utilise remote working.

In a global survey by CFO Research and employment platform Globalization Partners, found 81% of CFOs said their company’s long-term growth strategy includes international expansion–either currently ongoing or in their future plans. The survey also uncovered changing perceptions about hiring and remote work because of their pandemic experiences, with 85% of respondents indicating the ability to tap into a more cost-effective, global talent pool that is equipped with the appropriate skills would be desirable.

The survey, conducted by CFO Research of Industry Dive, polled 215 senior finance executives at companies in North America, the United Kingdom, the Asia-Pacific region, and the Europe/Middle East/Africa region. Most of the companies represented had annual revenues of $1 billion or more. It reported there were three key themes amongst the CFO responses.

CFOs are taking an increasingly global view within their business strategies and hiring approaches. They have altered workforce management strategies, and CFOs are optimistic in 2021 and believe that their success is tied to global expansion.

Ninety-three percent of the surveyed executives predict that their companies will meet or exceed their 2021 goals and 81% are planning expansions into new countries as part of their long-term growth strategies.

“The data from the survey points to the fact that CFOs are now re-calibrating their talent plans in order to maximise the opportunity that global remote teams provide from a long-term business perspective, including cost efficiency and access to hard-to-find talent,” said Nicole Sahin, CEO and Founder, Globalization Partners. “In addition, the hubs for highly skilled talent are shifting and currently half of the world’s college graduates come from top emerging countries, which means that companies that adopt this strategy now will be able to gain a competitive advantage in the future.”

“Also, an added benefit that should be noted is that a global workforce typically provides better bottom-line results. Study after study points to the fact that employees who are part of a diverse culture are much happier and engaged,” continued Sahin.

The Study added CFOs have a high degree of interest in tapping into a more cost-effective, global talent pool—a concept favoured by 85%—and capturing market share through global expansion—favoured by 81%. By contrast, in the 2020 CFO Survey only 63% of respondents said they were moving forward with global expansion plans in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic.

When asked to describe their hiring strategy over the next 12 to 18 months, 42% said they want to attract new talent that is unbounded by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.

Three-quarters of the executives also said the Covid-19 pandemic fundamentally altered the way they think about hiring and workforce management and 81% say it altered how they consider remote employees or the work-from-anywhere model. More specifically, three-quarters of the survey respondents anticipate operating remote or hybrid workforce models in the next 12 to 18 months.