Advertising Talent is Ready to Work Without Borders, Agencies Just Have to Figure it out

The future of work continues to evolve as the pandemic sprints into its third calendar year, keeping people and organizations in flux.

Covid-19 brought many major shifts in our day-to-day work and turned the practice of recruiting talent completely on its head. In 2021, we saw many people changing jobs, but these changes were all done remotely, often with the understanding that as things improved, folks would relocate.

Only, they didn’t. And as the year wore on, companies relied on hard dates for the return to the office. We are now in a much different situation as candidates are either settling into new roles or less interested in moving to a new city, region, or country.

Simply put – the prospect of relocating to a new place just to end up working from home, with little opportunity to establish new relationships and lives, is undesirable.

Many agencies have embraced remote work to some extent, but seem resistant to having employees based outside of their own country or region. The two biggest issues cited here are usually 1) concerns over security with sensitive information and 2) the potential tax implications of having people employed outside the state and country.

That said, there are many newer companies and global firms that have seamlessly switched to having fully global workforces. So it’s clear that these reasons are based in archaic thinking and perhaps indicative of a resistance to the extra work that may be involved in making the shift. To borrow a saying from the construction field, it is easier to build a new house than renovate one. I get it.

But every time, I would encourage all agencies to just figure it out.

The fact is solutions exist to all of these situations. Many companies, especially in tech, have already successfully sustained a dispersed workforce for years. For older multinational firms, it means human resources teams and C-suite leadership will need to prioritize structural solutions to allow more workers in different locations. Companies are searching for the best talent in the world, and it has never been more competitive.

To not embrace a global workforce, will, over the coming years, make these firms less appealing to workers. Any firm today that tells its leadership that it cannot hire for these reasons will be hurting their company’s ability to compete. Furthermore, agencies running global businesses need international people working together to provide a global perspective.

UK-based agencies in particular need to address the issue as the pandemic and the impact of Brexit are creating difficulties when bringing in talent.

No longer being part of the European Union, has added many weeks to a hiring process that used to move fairly quickly. Also, being a person working in the EU – but not an EU citizen –  makes taking a position in London even more complicated because they may not be able to stay in the EU while waiting for their UK visa to process. As it stands, many shops in London are still expecting people to relocate to London, and fully ignore the option of having people work remotely for the foreseeable future.

When it comes to specialized talent, companies will need to be open to individualized situations to leverage the best skills a person has and find a way to fit them in their organization. Take the New Jersey Nets, for example, a team that figured out how to make use of one of their best players, Kyrie Irving. Unable to legally play in New York, the team determined it was better to have him play wherever he is allowed to play than not at all.

The moral of the story is: if you could have one of the best CSOs in America in your company working full-time and visiting once a month, chances are someone excellent can only make your organization better.

As companies try to find a new formula, employees will have to remain flexible too. Companies ultimately need to find what is most effective and that could vary greatly and some organizations may come to the conclusion that they need more facetime.

I understand that the pandemic will hopefully one day subside, and the workforce will be able to once again return to their original offices. But rather than try and predict the future, why not figure out a way to have the flexibility to hire and find the best talent and create systems for them to succeed, regardless of the situation.

It needs to be acknowledged that maybe some efforts with remote work, or people being in the office on a more limited than even three days a week, may fail. But the biggest failure would be not to try.

There is also potential that some of these things have been tried and failed. But the biggest failure would be to not try at all.

By Sasha Martens