Edward Johnson, PMP, CSM

Trusted Advisor

The Coronavirus will Expedite Global Workforce Transformation

Edward Johnson, PMPĀ®, CSMĀ® March 12

The Coronavirus will Expedite Global Workforce Transformation

Up until now, many companies were still clinging to the idea that you have to be in an office for them to believe you are working and being productive. I can understand the reason behind the antiquated thought. Management is behind the times. The company is not ready to embrace the necessary changes to manage a geographically dispersed workforce. Companies lack the technical resources to implement a remote workforce strategy. Those are just some of the reasons why companies were moving so slow to adopt a remote workforce strategy.


Other companies have been all over the offshoring model. Even in that situation they have been prone to having people show up to a dedicated office space. This means they are still managing resources in much the same way. Even the outsourcing model has taken the same path.


Managing a remote workforce is a drastically different way of managing. It mean managers have to find more accurate ways of measuring productivity. Something else people forget is the how to also provide those remote workers a sense of belonging even though they are not in a regular office. This last one is a very big idea. Just because people prefer to work from home, sometimes they still need to know they are a part of a larger whole. A new skill for management.


Looking at the Coronavirus and how the pandemic is playing out, many companies are in the midst of enacting their business continuity plans and making changes to regular operations that will allow for remote work or greatly increasing their capacity for remote work. Other companies have not quite addressed the issue as they should because they did not plan for such a macro event in their business continuity plans. Even those companies are waking up and finally getting things in gear to address the health concerns sweeping across the globe.

Thinking forward, the changes companies are making now could very well wind up becoming the new norm. That will have game-changing impact on the world's workforce and will bring new meaning to the term 'labor arbitrage'. Companies in the United States won't just be looking to places within the country, they will become more comfortable with looking beyond the borders, honing their skills at managing remote workers.


Such a transformation would have a profound effect. Imagine the impact of a sustained remote workforce model.  In the short term, there will be a major impact to those people making more money in one region version those charging less in another. After much fluctuation, the globe will begin to level off and see similar costs across most regions. That turns a local facing corporate mindset into a more global one much faster than how the world is moving now.


You can see this playing out as companies are no longer thinking India is the cheapest place for certain types of resources. For example, you can find very skilled Project Management resources in Ireland and other places. It just happens to be a vibrant skill in that region. You have seen the model implemented as Shared Services Centers. The Coronavirus is going to expedite this process.


As you continue to be a part of the workforce, start to think you are not just competing with local candidates. You could very well be competing with other candidates that are more globally dispersed. If you are a company, leveraging a more globally dispersed workforce may allow your business to become more nimble and expand its pool of knowledge and experience. As with all transformation, preparation is key

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