An unexpected, yet positive, outcome of the global turmoil in recent years has been the surge in remote work opportunities. Before, this work model was typically limited to a select group of professionals. However, recent events have quickly transformed not only how we work but also how we view work.

Remote work has democratized opportunity by enabling people to access employment prospects without migrating to central cities. This development has also helped encourage economic growth in rural areas as remote workers inject their incomes into their local communities.

Aside from the economic benefits for non-urban centers, remote work has many employee benefits too. Workers can avoid the costly rents of big cities and save for more affordable mortgages. They can raise their children in cleaner environments and live closer to loved ones.

Government infrastructure investment

The democratization of opportunity through remote work has also led to government investments in technology infrastructure. For example, Ireland launched its Rural Future plan, a “whole-of-government” policy that provides the framework to transform the quality of life in the nation’s rural areas. This five-year plan is the first of its kind undertaken by a European country since the start of the pandemic. It includes creating a network of more than 400 remote working hubs and introducing tax breaks for individuals and companies that support working from home.

The government has also set a 20 percent remote working target for its 300,000 civil servants. Other measures include financial support to encourage people to live in rural towns and accelerated broadband rollout. The plan will see a EUR 1 billion Rural Regeneration Fund used to convert old cinemas, theatres, and town halls for remote working purposes, all equipped with high-speed internet.

The neutralization of global geography

Similarly, the ripple effect of remote working can be seen on a larger scale through the scope of developing nations. Before the pandemic, many educated and skilled professionals had to emigrate to find employment. Along with their skills and education, they also took their tax revenue and additional financial contributions to their new destination.

The democratization of remote work means professionals worldwide can now experience employment at fair market rates without leaving their home countries. In turn, developing countries can also attract global workers looking to relocate to a more affordable jurisdiction. The acceleration of remote work has increased entrepreneurship, innovation, and infrastructure.

For example, access to smartphones and internet connection is quickly improving across Africa. The rise in fiber-optic cable usage across the continent has generated new opportunities. The latest  Africa Wealth Report from April 2022 predicted that exceptional technology advances and an emerging business class will kick-start a 38 percent jump in total private wealth within the next decade.

Geography and borders used to be limiting factors that defined a person’s employment opportunities. Today, the global acceptance of remote work has demolished that outdated conception. Savvy remote-first companies have quickly realized this and taken advantage of the boundless talent pool at their fingertips.

Leveling the playing field for smaller companies

The democratization of opportunity fueled by remote work has also given small businesses equal access to global talent pools previously reserved for large companies. For the first time in history, small businesses have a fair shot at top-level recruiting by adopting a flexible remote work style to spark candidates’ interest, build their employer brand, and empower their workforce.

Adopting a remote work policy also has a direct impact on talent retention. According to G-P’s 2022 CFO survey, 92 percent of CFOs believe that having a remote work policy helps attract and retain talent. This is key for small companies as employee turnover is costly; between recruiting, onboarding, and training, replacing an employee can cost up to two times the employee’s annual salary.

Adding salt to this wound is that it now takes 18 percent longer to fill roles since the pandemic. This extensive talent sourcing process distracts from focusing on driving performance, in turn affecting growth. However, small businesses can leverage remote work to boost talent retention and gain a competitive edge in today’s employee-centric market.

How remote work benefits employers

Companies can lose time and money by enforcing an office-based model. The majority of these overhead costs is office space itself, including rent, electricity, heating, security, insurance, etc. However, remote work can help lower these expenses — downsizing or eliminating the physical office reduces yearly spending. For instance, Roomba vacuum maker iRobot hopes to save USD 30 million by shrinking its global headquarters this year.

Global market rates can also be more cost-effective for some companies, which in turn helps standardize wages across countries, leveling economic disparities. In fact, G-P’s 2021 CFO survey found that 85 percent of CFOs are highly interested in tapping into more cost-effective talent pools to capture market share through global expansion.

In addition, building a diverse workforce, which remote work naturally enables, not only has financial benefits, but it’s also proven to be a top priority for job seekers. It is estimated that 67 percent of millennials and Generation Z employees value diversity when considering employment opportunities. Naturally, teams made up of multicultural backgrounds bring a more varied set of skills and experience. This combined knowledge can help solve problems faster and bring fresh ideas to the table.

How remote work benefits employees

The desire for workplace flexibility is becoming a worldwide trend. In fact, 54 percent of APAC-based employees said they would likely quit their job if they weren’t offered continued flexibility to decide where and when they work. Nearly 90 percent of UAE-based employees prefer hybrid or full-time remote work. More than one-third of Australia-based workers would instantly quit their job or begin considering a new one if their employer revealed they had to return to the office full-time.

Crucially, workplace flexibility gets results. According to Global Workplace Analytics’ Work-from-Home Experience Survey, employees working from home are productive 75 percent of the time, compared to only 62 percent at the office. The same survey found that remote workers gain back an estimated 35 minutes daily due to fewer unwanted interruptions.

This increased flexibility has positively impacted employees’ emotional well-being also — people now have more time to implement healthy habits, like going for a walk or cooking at home. More importantly, work is measured by outcomes rather than time spent at a desk or in meetings.

The endless possibilities of the everywhere workforce

The past few years have been difficult for the world, but, in retrospect, these global disruptions may have cleared the path for a brighter future. Thanks to remote work, employers can hire industry specialists worldwide, prompting more development, experience, and expertise.

This post was written by Globalization Partners. They are an exhibitor on the HRTech247 Payroll, Time & Attendance and Recruitment & Onboarding floors in the technology hall here