COVID-19 has changed the way enterprises are operating, and it could impact the way remote employees are recruited. Yet a report by ManpowerGroup found that the shortage of skilled talent has been increasing over the years and impacted 45% of companies worldwide in 2018.

With companies becoming more remote and hiring more work-from-home employees, is the talent pool now global and will this reduce talent shortages? We’ve turned to business leaders to learn if today’s talent pool is truly global, the benefits of hiring employees locally, and what the future impact is for recruiting.

Today’s Workforce Recruiting Trends

“Companies were already shifting toward global recruitment in 2019,” stated Shayne Sherman, CEO TechLoris, “but 2020 shook up everyone's recruitment plans.” He believes the overall trend towards more distributed teams will only continue to grow, but how quickly companies get on board will be different for each industry. Some companies and jobs are more tied to offices than others and these could take more time to adapt to a fully digital work environment.

“Instead of thinking of the global talent pool,” stated Michael Alexis, CEO of TeamBuilding, “it is more accurate to think of a national one.” Organizations may limit hiring to candidates within their home country because of the complexity of employee taxes, insurance and more. The legal challenges of a global workforce, even if they’re working remotely, could still make recruiters hesitant to hire international candidates.

“However, we are seeing some countries adapting their visa and tax rules to take advantage of this new remote working boom,” added Alari Aho, CEO & co-founder of Toggl Hire. Estonia and Barbados, for example, both recently launched visas for digital nomads to work remotely within their countries legally. “The benefits of tapping into a global remote talent pool outweigh hiring locally,” Aho continued, because “more candidates inevitably also means more high quality candidates.”

Are There Benefits to Hiring Locally?

While offices may be closed in the short-term, that doesn’t mean they’re going away forever. Rather than a permanent workplace, offices may become a place where remote workers can occasionally meet, socialize, and collaborate on certain projects. “Even if you work with a distributed team,” Alexis explained, “you can get together for team building activities and similar.” Hiring locally, therefore, enables remote teams to forge in-person relationships which may improve engagement and productivity.

That said, hiring locally isn’t just about encouraging teams to meet in person. Sometimes it's just more convenient for remote teams to work together if they live nearby. “Right now,” Sherman explained, “it's more about ‘are you in the right time zone?' than it is ‘can you come into the office?’” If employees live near each other, they’ll be able to communicate more efficiently with each other and collaborate as a team more effectively.

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The Future Impact on Recruiting

“Overall, the trend toward remote work is good for employers,” Alexis explained, “because it does open up a larger talent pool.” Companies are no longer limited to major cities like New York, Chicago, or San Francisco to find highly skilled workers. Employees, on the other hand, can live where they want and still advance their careers.

That said, employers will need to be ready to handle a larger volume of applications. “Where previously they might have received 100-200 applications per job, it is not uncommon for application numbers to be in the thousands for remote positions,” Aho said. But there are skills testing tools that are designed to help recruiters narrow down the initial applicant pool into a shortlist of candidates. “It makes the hiring process much more manageable for employers if they're only dealing with 50 or so candidates instead of 500.”

Moreover, this larger talent pool often translates into better hiring. “The more diverse your talent pool,” Sherman said, “the better your shortlist of candidates.” Companies can find employees with the best fit wherever they’re available around the world, rather than settling for candidates that fit most of the position’s criteria within their city. “If they decide local availability is an asset, then they must define that benefit and consider it against other hiring criteria.” 

In the future, therefore, location may be just another factor to consider when hiring in today’s global talent pool. “However you define ‘local’,” Sherman said, “having employees that share something with you — be it a sense of your larger community, overlapping work hours, or better access to mentoring — can be better than hiring globally.”