The Asia Pacific region is forecast to account for nearly two thirds of global growth, according to the International Monetary Fund, with technology companies, industrial goods, and healthcare leading the way.
These high growth companies are creating new business models that are essentially global and digital in nature. Consequently, businesses, entrepreneurs and digital firms are focusing their attention on this space as an opportunity to invest, build their businesses and find talent. For businesses stalled by stagnant local economies, global markets can supply both customers and the talent needed to grow.
Freelance markets solve for local talent crunch
In Australia and New Zealand, businesses are increasingly turning to the freelance marketplace to source the critical talent they need to grow their businesses in the digital economy. The emergence of a global workforce ecosystem can supply small businesses with talent on-demand, allowing agile and lean businesses to edge ahead of the competition.
The Asia Pacific freelance economy is growing rapidly and becoming quite competitive. In economies that leapfrogged over legacy analog systems, the majority of freelancers are digital natives with a high degree of technological expertise. In disciplines such as coding, graphics and data analysis, cultural literacy is not always an issue. But even in softer tasks such as copywriting and transcription, the freelance economy is becoming increasingly standardized.
As talent comes to pool in specific geographies, and the global market exerts a downward pressure on competitive wages, using contractors, freelancers and gig workers will become a way of life for businesses who want to effectively exploit changing market dynamics.
Contradictions in Talent Supply and Demand
These dynamics are creating new contradictions in the classic supply and demand calculus: the best talent may not be located in your region, and oftentimes, specialists in emerging economies may be more proficient and skilled. New global online learning hubs may be more effective at getting workers reskilled then prestigious universities, and digital specialists often preference the freedom and flexibility of contract and freelance work over the security of a more traditional employment relationship. They value:
- The opportunity to learn, grow and add new skills
- The freedom to work under their own ideal conditions (the hours, location and intensity of their choosing)
- Ownership or control of their work
- The opportunity to work closely with great leaders and teams
- The chance to do something challenging, meaningful or impactful
Flexible work, in other words, can bring out the best in people: the desire for excellence and personal growth, and pride in outcomes.
Connecting on a Human Level Using Technology
Efficient communication tools are the foundation of collaborative work, especially across geographies. A strong culture of documentation and explication helps remote teams work together effectively, while communication strategies such as video meetings and regular voice communication can help teams connect on a human level.
Social information from verbal and non-verbal cues can’t be communicated across computer-mediated interfaces such as messaging platforms, and yet this information has been found to be vital to the success of virtual teams.
The Flat World
Streamlining operations, building global-mobile-digital platforms, and creating open channels for communication are some key features that a remote culture thrives on. Remote teams require a new kind of structure, where a strong culture stands in for the old authority. Remote workers, by necessity, must have a greater degree of autonomy and freedom to act. They can’t simply walk down the hall or pick up the phone and immediately get an answer each time they need to make a decision. They need strong purpose-driven culture to guide them.
Worldwide, the global talent market is a growing force that is completely transforming the traditional employer-employee relationship, once the foundation of traditional business operations. Businesses that want to thrive in the changeable and disruptive future have to adopt future-forward policies and technologies that can easily leverage this formidable new force.
But it can also be frustrating. Small business owners can no long count on their networks of family, friends and business partners to locate the talent they need. The right worker for the job might be in another city or another country.
Tim Reed, CEO of the business management services firm MYOB, explained, “The changing shape of Australia’s workforce and the widespread increase of shared economy websites across all industries like AirTasker and AirBnB has meant businesses have become more comfortable with a different approach to talent acquisition. Small businesses can tap into a global workforce available around the clock with a broad range of specialist skills that can help improve and develop their business no matter the length of tenure required.”
A Smartphone for Smart Teams
In this new economy, smartphones have grown to be the central communications solution for remote workers. Smartphones offer all the connection technology most remote workers need, including telephone, teleconferencing, email, chat, and even mobile apps that can integrate with collaboration tools.
Mobile smartphone collaboration tools such as Dropbox, Google Docs, and mobile CRM apps help connect remote workers. Spoke, for example, keeps employees in contact with the office by turning their smartphones into office phone extensions. Incoming calls are automatically routed to users’ smartphones, complete with auto attendant, voice mail, group calling, teleconferencing, and other functions.
Smartphones are proving to be the ideal tool to keep remote workers connected to the team, and add-on applications such as Spoke can make collaboration even easier. If you can create a company culture based on collaboration, then technology can help make remote workers an integral part of the operation.