Presented by Velocity Global

When it comes to finding qualified talent, borders hold less sway than ever — and decision-makers know this. Ask just about any leader in the tech space looking to grow their global presence and they’ll say that the right talent for the job is often overseas, not in their domestic market.

Velocity Global wanted to know where, exactly, ambitious tech firms were seeking talent. And this is what we learned from surveying 1,000 senior-level U.S. and UK respondents in the industry.

The future of work is a flexible, global workforce

Cross-border teams are nothing new. However, their growing ubiquity is, which creates a new sense of urgency for those vying to outpace their competition. This means that companies must either expand their horizons regarding the evolving global workforce, or expect their competition to redefine the forefront for them.

This pressure is particularly palpable in the tech sector. Firms recognize that operating within their domestic markets won’t afford the type of growth they desire, and 90% of UK and 85% of U.S. firms have plans to expand globally within the next five years. But with the determination to expand also comes the challenge of finding the right talent to fuel that expansion. This is forcing companies to look towards international markets for talent to drive desired growth.

With 45% of U.S. and 42% of UK companies seeking qualified talent abroad, this is what the future of work will look like: teams spread across continents, innovating across time zones, and executing tasks and responsibilities when and where it is most convenient for them.

This should come as no surprise to those in leadership positions. The global workforce is now made up of the Millennial majority, and Gen Z is beginning to supplant outgoing older workers. Both generations have grown up with access to information whenever and wherever they want (or don’t want) it. So, why would they expect to hold professional roles that don’t reflect that on-demand accessibility? If employers hope to attract top talent to fuel growth, they must accept that employees across the globe now demand more autonomy over when and how they work.

The border-bound, 9-to-5 model is out — and that’s good for business

No matter where a company expands, some degree of flexibility to working hours and environments will be required. But this isn’t solely for the benefit of keeping employees happy, healthy, and engaged; it’s an investment in staying ahead of the competition. Why? Because satisfied, dedicated employees who belong to two of the most tech-forward generations provide invaluable exposure to new ideas and perspectives on where innovation and competition might be headed.

So, where is the competition headed to find top talent? For 30% of both U.S. and UK firms, it’s Europe and Asia. This should be unsurprising to executives, as each region is home to some of the most-educated, technically-skilled populations anywhere.

Higher education and well-developed skills are undeniably integral to growing an exceptional team to best position companies for a successful international expansion. However, access to an emerging talent pool accustomed to an increasingly interconnected world is fertile ground for nurturing long-term growth — even if that means first establishing roots in a neighboring market.

Fortunately, both Europe and Asia offer clusters of adjacent countries perfect for a more strategic regional expansion. How so? If Europe is the target, first establishing a presence in an innovation epicenter like the Netherlands offers easy access to exploring options in top expansion destinations such as Denmark or Germany. The same applies in Asia; tech-forward Singapore is a sturdy springboard for pursuing growth options into the APAC region. Even in an ever-evolving digital world, it’s (still) all about location.

The brightest talent lies elsewhere — but it’s not out of reach

Global market dynamics evolve quickly and often drastically; technological shifts routinely uproot industry standards to unearth rich ground for ambitious companies to till. However, this leaves little time for organizations to remain in their domestic markets before their competition establishes itself elsewhere. This urgency underscores just how essential it is for tech firms to explore the most-promising markets early on.

For those already looking abroad, The State of Global Expansion 2019 Report: Tech Industry provides an elevated vantage point to view some of the latest top markets. It offers foundational reinforcement when constructing a global expansion strategy — and serves as a reminder of the urgency needed to pursue growth opportunities elsewhere.

But for others who are unsure whether or not global expansion is the right move in the not-too-distant future, they should ask themselves this: how long can I afford to operate only in my domestic market before looking abroad?

If they are too slow to decide, their competition may very well decide for them.

Ben Wright is CEO of Velocity Global.

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