Rethinking Human Capital Flight in a post-Coronavirus World
In the wake of Coronavirus, we are equipped with a new perspective and have a fresh opportunity to tackle the global problem of brain drain.
By whatever name, ‘brain drain’ has existed from the beginning of civilization. Talented individuals have always relocated from the towns and villages where they happened to be born, to the bigger towns and cities where opportunity was thought to exist.
There, in a nutshell, is the genesis story of every big city in the world.
The number of economies entering the post-industrial phase is increasing. Manufacturing jobs are being replaced by knowledge work and with this shift, physical presence and productivity have begun to decouple from each other for the first time. As knowledge work has evolved, particularly in combination with advancements in technology, we have reached a point now where many knowledge worker jobs are able to be completely location-independent, resulting in the rapid progression of remote working.
Knowledge work, however, is heuristic by nature compared to manufacturing. This means that outputs vary more with the natural rhythm of the person and the environment they are in compared to the algorithmic output of manufacturing.
tl;dr: It’s a great time to open your recruiting efforts to the talented people of Lebanon. Now, Oyster can help.
At Oyster, our mission is to remove the barriers that keep talented people from being able to enjoy full-time, remote employment with companies in other countries. Our platform is meant to be a bridge between great people and the great companies that would love to hire them. We are particularly motivated by the chance to bring great jobs to talented individuals who live in parts of the world with limited local opportunities.
In that spirit and in light of the recent catastrophe in Beirut, we are delighted to share that companies with open remote roles can now hire, pay, and give local benefits to full-time employees in Lebanon.
TL;DR: Companies that have recently gone fully-remote can draw inspiration from open source. Doing so provides helpful ways to think about attracting talent and building culture.
Fully-Distributed is Taking Off
Though the headlines have focused on the big name companies and their announcements about going remote, events of the last four months have undoubtedly created a lot of new fully-distributed companies you’ve never heard of. This includes organizations that may have been partially or even fully-colocated (office-based) before Coronavirus. And this is happening in part because remote working has worked out so well for so many of them, and in part because it has proven difficult for many companies to scale down to a “reduced” real estate footprint — to serve a subset of their employees. Hybrid is harder than fully-distributed, we keep hearing. And the truth is that returning to the office is still an open discussion (fraught with overwhelming emergent logistical considerations) even for companies that really want to.
We have also no doubt seen in the last four months an acceleration in the rate of creation of new fully-distributed startups that reject offices altogether, and that do not expect their people to meet physically to get work done. This was already a trend, and any founders who may have been hesitant before Coronavirus because they were worried about investor bias or their own inexperience with remote leadership, now have enormous encouragement to kick the office to the curb.
This means, however, that now many, many more companies, not just the ones that were already on the fully-distributed bandwagon before COVID-19, are going to face the challenges unique to fully-distributed organizations.
Let’s start with a simple analogy: What the Cloud was to 2008, the Distributed Organization is to 2020.
What do I mean by that? Think organizational disruption on a global scale. Think new ways of working, new ways of interacting. Think new organizational structures and forms. Think about the dissolution of numerous formidable barriers—literally physical barriers—that have long prevented organizations from operating more efficiently and effectively. Think new kinds of competition in the marketplace, competition driven by those organizations that have embraced the distributed paradigm and can draw on the expertise of the best and brightest from around the globe to deliver solutions at a far lower cost, far more quickly than an office-centric organization could possibly achieve.
The shift to more distributed organizational forms is going to be bigger for business than the shift to the Cloud.
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg addressed Facebook employees for nearly fifty-six minutes, outlining the company’s new remote working policies and plans. Facebook joins a growing list of high-visibility technology companies that have recently declared they will allow their employees to keep working remotely indefinitely.
“I think that it’s quite possible that over the next 5-10 years about 50% of our people could be working remotely.”
The company’s weekly internal “town hall” all-hands meeting was made available via livestream to the public, offering a view into how Facebook leadership are thinking about the future of work at this momentous juncture. Mark’s articulation of the principles, the thinking, and the new policies that Facebook is putting in place to support remote working is comprehensive and clear. It should serve as a useful reference for leaders at companies thinking about their own plans for instituting remote working.