By Globalization Partners
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What do international team members value? Insights and data from workers at global companies in 15 countries.
The year 2020 accelerated the global, distributed workforce model like no other. Prompted by the pandemic, some companies launched remote work environments overnight. Other companies expended resources, strengthening the early-stage remote infrastructure already in place. Every company plotted a new course forward, and every employee – no matter where in the world they were located – felt the impact.
In our third annual survey of employee sentiment regarding working on a global team, we could not ignore Covid-19 and the remote work shift. We analyzed how these factors affect employees’ perception of their company, their intention to stay in their current role, and their overall job satisfaction.
In June 2021, we conducted a global survey of 1,250 employees from 15 countries to uncover:
- How has the increased adoption of remote work influenced the global employee experience?
- What challenges prevent collaboration and communication on global, remote teams?
- How can companies better support their global employees?
Who did we survey?
- 1,250 employees located in UK, Germany, Netherlands, Israel, Dubai, South Africa, Canada, U.S., Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, Singapore, Australia, and Japan
- Equally split between male and female respondents
- Distributed across working age groups
- Working in companies of 250+ people
- Working remotely to their office, and within teams that have offices in multiple countries
According to their global employees, 63 percent of companies will make remote work a permanent fixture following the global pandemic. Twelve percent reported remote work was already a permanent fixture and will remain that way.
Of global employees surveyed, 10 percent report that they work directly with a team member located in another country at least once every five working days. Thirty percent reported that they work directly with a team member located in another country every working day.
Key finding #1: Remote work doesn’t necessarily mean work from anywhere, but it could in the near future.
The vast majority of global employees have not relocated during the Covid-19 pandemic. Most stayed in the same location while working for the same company.
However, 22 percent have relocated locally or plan to, and 17 percent have relocated internationally or plan to.
Of those who plan to relocate internationally in the next 12 months, 29 percent currently work in the same country as their company’s headquarters. Employee mobility is a factor for which employers should prepare.
Key finding #2: Strong leadership through the pandemic correlates with employee retention.
Fifty-six percent of respondents reported their perception of their company leaders stayed the same or worsened since the outset of the pandemic.
However, of the 44 percent that reported an improved perception of company leaders, over 50 percent plan to stay working at their current company for more than three years. How companies led through crisis correlates strongly with employee loyalty.
Key finding #3: Employees report feeling happier about their jobs since working remotely, but many feel less connected to their colleagues than before.
Forty-eight percent of employees say working remotely has positively impacted their perception – they feel happier about work.
Only 11 percent report they feel less happy, and 41 percent state working remotely has had no impact on their happiness.
However, 32 percent report remote working due to Covid-19 has caused them to feel less connected to their colleagues, and 38 percent feel the same level of connection as before. Only 28 percent feel more connected due to working remotely.
On a positive note, 34 percent of employees state they feel their voice matters more since the remote work shift, while 57 percent report no change. Only 9 percent say they feel their voice matters less, which means companies are mostly competent at making employees feel heard.
Key finding #4: Working across time zones is the biggest challenge for global team members in 2021.
Given the frequency most global employees work with team members in other countries, it is not surprising that scheduling across time zones is the top barrier to successful work collaboration for international teams.
Scheduling across time zones has become increasingly challenging over the past three years. And while language barriers were the top challenge in 2019, they became far less of an issue on a global level in 2021.
What are the benefits of working on a global team? Employees reported team diversity as the top benefit, followed by more creativity, and global insights into other markets.
The diversity benefits of a global team also correlate with employee retention. Of the employees who reported they wish to stay at their current company for more than four years, team diversity was their top-reported benefit.
Key finding #5: Work-life balance is the top factor contributing to a positive global employee experience.
Compensation, while important, was not in the top three factors that contribute to a positive experience on a global scale. Instead, global employees cite good work-life balance, being part of a team, and having the right tools and equipment for the job as the most significant contributors to their positive experience.
What could companies improve upon?
According to respondents, having access to HR policies and documents, and streamlining the submission process for expenses and time off requests are key ways companies could make the employee experience easier on them.
Countries surveyed: UK, Germany, Netherlands
Employees working on global teams and living in the UK, Germany, and the Netherlands reported high levels of satisfaction in their employee experience. When asked what could change to make their experience easier, 40 percent stated that there were no improvements to be made, as compared to 27 percent globally.
Middle East & Africa
Countries surveyed: South Africa, Dubai, Israel
Employees working on global teams and living in South Africa, Dubai, and Israel are most likely to have relocated internationally, or plan to following the Covid-19 pandemic (24 percent vs. 17 percent globally).
In addition, employees located in these regions report a positive outlook on company leaders. Fifty-eight percent report an improved perception since the outset of the pandemic compared to 44 percent globally.
Countries surveyed: Brazil, Colombia, Argentina
In Latin America, more employees report a permanent shift to remote working than the global average. Seventy-four percent of their companies will retain remote work environments following the Covid-19 pandemic versus 63 percent globally.
In addition, Latin American global employees report the greatest increase in feeling their voice matters since shifting to remote working. While 34 percent of global employees say their voice matters more, 44 percent of Latin American employees report this increase.
Countries surveyed: Canada, U.S., Mexico
While Latin America-based global employees report the highest instance of permanent remote working, North America-based global employees report the lowest rate of permanent remote work adoption. Only 54 percent will continue with remote working, compared to 63 percent globally.
In addition, while work-life balance took center stage as the top employee benefit contributing to a positive experience, North America-based global employees prioritized compensation most compared to other regions (44 percent vs. 36 percent globally).
Countries surveyed: Japan, Singapore, Australia
Though, globally, language barriers are only reported as a team challenge 17 percent of the time, Asia-Pacific-based global employees rank language barriers third in their list of challenges, at 22 percent.
In addition, Asia-Pacific-based global employees have slightly different values when it comes to what creates a positive employee experience for them. While global career development and progress is tied for sixth on the list, in Asia-Pacific, workers rank it second in importance, tied with being part of a team.
The holistic employee experience matters – and companies should understand what their teams want.
Employees are more likely to stay at companies that are making remote work a permanent fixture. Of all global employees who say they intend to leave their current job within the year, 37 percent also say their companies do not plan to make remote work permanent. For those who intend to stay longer than a year, this percentage drops to 26 percent.
Employees value strong leadership. Companies had a major opportunity to influence their teams’ perceptions of what they value and how they lead. Strong leadership directly correlates with employee retention.
Employees want work-life balance on a global scale – more than anything else. How can companies strengthen and improve upon work-life balance measures that allow their employees to thrive? Companies that do this successfully will have an advantage in capturing and retaining top talent over those that don’t.
Can we help you grow an engaged global team? Reach out to our team to learn more about how our global employment platform can help.