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“Twenty or 30 years ago, it wasn’t easy for a company if they decided to expand in Europe,” said Brian Dames, chief marketing officer of Safeguard Global, which provides global workforce management services. “It was a major strategic undertaking to figure out, where am I going to go in an international market? What are the things I need to know?”

To make that leap, a pre-Covid survey conducted by U.K.-based Safeguard Global found that companies will have to not only understand the data around their own workforce expenses but also in-country candidate pools, salary expectations, employment requirements, tax regulations and more if they want to achieve growth.

Having the data, knowing how to analyze it and then applying it strategically to predict and adapt achieves “global fluency” for expanding organizations, Dames explains. This fluency will become even more important in the competitive post-Covid hiring environment, he says.

His company provides such analysis for its clients, using data gathered from their worldwide clients and other country-specific information relevant to hiring such as salary data.

In the conversation below, Dames discusses how any company can use this strategic framework to expand and thrive globally. The interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Remote Report: How has pandemic-inspired remote work affected hiring?

Brian Dames: The power dynamic has completely shifted between the multinational employer and global talent around the issue of location and remote work. I think there was a collective belief that became operating fact that you have to have a certain material percentage of your employees together in the same physical location to maintain productivity.

This social tidal wave has completely turned that notion on its head. We’ve now proven that we can be fully productive with a remote workforce and even improve productivity. It has forever changed the way multinationals need to think about how they’re going to offer employment and engagement to candidates that they’re trying to attract as well as retaining their [existing] workforce.

The “work anywhere” concept is the first demand from global talent as it understands its own power. Next, it’s going to be around [such additional concerns as] working for multiple companies, doing project-based work, getting paid in specific country currency or crypto currency, personal development expectations, company culture, social responsibility, commitment to diversity, etc.

RR: What skills will HR need to address these new challenges?

BD: If you look [at our] global fluency data, 80 percent of HR leaders believe the ability to operate in different countries is vital to their success. Only 40 percent of those companies make regular use of workforce data and analytics.

When I see those two pieces of data together, it says to me that there’s an aspiration and understanding that [the company needs] to have a global presence and to be even better prepared. Then the question is, do they have accessibility to the data, and is it normalized in a way that allows them to view it, analyze it and make decisions on it? I think there are operational, technological data-savvy skills that are going to be required to be able to react to the shifts that are taking place in the market.

You have to be educated to respond to the different dynamics in regions and countries around the world. You [also] have to have access to the information to be effective in engaging those talent pools.

RR: How can HR use the global fluency framework to craft people strategies in a world that includes remote workers?

BD: That [global fluency] data orients the HR function to say, we’ve independently verified that these are the areas we need to improve in or [which] could lead to a competitive advantage or differentiation. It socializes the story.

Second, HR is so interdependent on other functions to get things done — technology, finance — and other stakeholder groups it supports. Global fluency provides a platform that says, we have fact-based data that tells us that these things will deliver value to our organization and we know that we’re behind in these areas or we see these opportunities to really create differentiation. Then you can use it as a measuring stick.

And you can go back and assess 18 or 24 months down the road and say, these are the improvements, this is how it has changed, this is how we compare to the benchmark and this is the value it’s given to the organization.

RR: What are the companies you work with saying about their global remote-work policies?

BD: Across the board, we are seeing everybody reassessing how do to engage [their] current workforce and what do [they] need to be thinking about to attract future talent. They are thinking of some sort of hybrid model. And more advanced, progressive tech companies have gone all-remote.

We see a lot of companies thinking about what their physical footprint looks like now and what will be the new rules of the game.

Now, global talent is not just looking locally, [but also is] looking nationally or internationally as to what their options are. The war for talent has gotten even more complex because global talent understands what their options are. … Multinational [organizations] are going to have to think about how they’re going to structure their workforce. They’re not only competing in a particular local area — they’re theoretically competing with every hiring company on the planet.

It’s our belief that the companies that figure this out the fastest will have a leg up.

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