Guest Post: Gautam Sahgal, CEO, Perkbox

Ways of working have been transformed in recent years, with the great remote working experiment a proven success around the world. Now, with hybrid working the norm for many, some are already considering the next, natural evolution of the working model – borderless working.


Our research found that 62% of workers in the UK are considering moving abroad to work remotely, with over a third (36%) willing to leave their current job to achieve this.


It’s something HR teams can’t ignore, especially in a competitive jobs market. But allowing workers to live internationally whilst reporting into a central HQ poses a particular challenge for company culture. How do you keep all employees engaged, unified and working towards a shared purpose whilst offering the borderless flexibility that so many increasingly seek?


Worldwide working, wherever


There are many factors fuelling employee desires for international working. For some, it’s the opportunity to fulfil long-held dreams. For example, the romance of leading a more nomadic lifestyle that blends work, travel and rest is leading 14% of people to consider an international move.


For others, the strains and stresses of their current environment is prompting them to look elsewhere. Multiple scandals and the response to the pandemic have seen growing discontent, with 15% seeking a move after losing faith in the UK government. And, perhaps unsurprisingly, spiralling day-to-day costs are causing one in five to consider an international move. This is a particularly pertinent challenge for many and one that could see more and more look beyond their borders for a better quality of life. In fact, the Office of National Statistics found almost 90% of British households are experiencing a hike in the cost of living, with a quarter struggling to pay essential bills in March.


Whatever the reason, it seems that business leaders are generally happy to oblige new working requests. Three-quarters trust their people to work productively from anywhere, accepting that if workers can do the job, why tie them to one location unnecessarily?


However, offering this increased flexibility doesn’t come without challenges.


Friction in the workforce


Living the dream life in the sunshine, without having to give up or change your career is undoubtedly a win for many employees. And who can blame them? But what about those who remain in-office?


In the transition to a borderless style of working, some teething issues are to be expected. Well over half (57%) of workers expect colleagues to work within the same hours they do, no matter the location and 34% expect their employer to pay lower salaries to colleagues based in countries with lower costs of living.


These reveal early warning signs for employers that, without proper management, points of friction could develop amongst a workforce where fluid working patterns are becoming more common. If communication begins to breakdown between colleagues in different locations or frustrations start to creep in, organisations risk negative employee experiences. Left unaddressed, this runs the risk of creating silos in the workplace, compromising company culture, impacting productivity and losing good talent.


HR teams must therefore take steps to unify company culture so people can feel recognised and connected to the organisation and their colleagues, no matter where they are.


Uniting a decentralised workforce


To achieve this, businesses must nurture an environment where everyone feels part of a shared purpose or goal, whilst still having their individual requirements acknowledged and catered to.


Offering access to benefits platforms that allow people to choose those which support their unique circumstances whilst making use of perks localised to their country is a key way to keep people engaged and rewarded. These also offer the agility and flexibility to adapt benefits offerings for different markets or as employee needs evolve, so the benefits experience remains fresh and attractive to everyone.


Platforms can also provide a portal to support across different aspects of wellbeing – whether physical, mental or financial. This can be particularly useful for employees working remotely in another country, who may work predominantly on their own or need assistance adjusting to a new language or environment.


Measures such as this are vital in creating a positive employee experience where everyone feels seen and valued for their contribution. For employers, it also allows them deliver an equal employee value proposition to all of their people, no matter where they’re based, ensuring everyone has parity when it comes to rewards and benefits.


What’s more, empowering leaders and employees to share rewards with their colleagues for a job well done will help to build bonds between teams across different locations, reduce points of friction and boost morale.


Looking ahead


With the cost of living in the UK continuing to climb, the pull of international working is unlikely to abate. Similarly, employers looking to broaden their talent pool and bring in the best, brightest and most competitive candidates and their industry has to offer may increasingly be considering borderless hiring. It’s therefore down to HR teams to deliver an employee experience that unifies workers across locations and maintains productivity and morale throughout the whole organisation. Those who take the steps now to build a seamless, supportive and well-communicated culture for their people, no matter where they are, will ultimately strengthen their position to attract and retain the best talent in a competitive market.