Remote work’s existence began years ago with the dawn of digital transformation. This development reshaped the very fabric of the corporate world as we know it. For the past year and a half, this profound transition has manifested itself more clearly than ever due to the COVID-19 epidemic, as virtually all office workers were forced to make the exodus from their in-person workplaces to a work-from-home new normal. The silver lining of this development, has of course been the increasing access organizations have to a global talent pool; the potential for hiring the best workers is no longer limited to the law of proximity.
To further illustrate this development: In a recent global survey by CFO Research and Globalization Partners, 81% of CFOs stated their company’s long-term growth strategy includes international expansion, either which are currently ongoing, or in their future plans. The survey also revealed changing attitudes regarding remote work and hiring because of their pandemic experiences, with 85% of respondents indicating enthusiasm for the opportunity to access a more cost-effective, global talent pool equipped with the most relevant skills.
Overall, the survey revealed 3 key findings:
CFOs today hold a global view within their business strategies and hiring approaches.
CFOs are optimistic in 2021, holding the conviction that their success is tied to global expansion.
CFOs have altered workforce management strategies in light of access to the global talent pool.
Embracing Remote Work
Finance leaders have traditionally concentrated on cost reduction as the key motivating factor for operational changes. While cost remains critical to decision-making, leaders should be aware of other opportunities and factors in improving their operating models. Successful organizations should be prepared to accommodate and capitalize on hybrid work models.
Remote work has proven its value during the pandemic. It provides significant cost efficiencies through a dispersed workforce, and also balances demand for employee flexibility while creating opportunities for innovation. For example, closing the books fully remote was never deemed an option in the pre-pandemic era. Now, it’s not only possible; this hybrid is becoming the norm. Collaborative technologies and virtual worksites have also generated greater potential around off-cycle reporting and self-service.
CFOs looking to offer new value and generate tangible business outcomes will capitalize on these hybrid operating models, emphasizing end-to-end processes, on-demand offerings, and improved coordination within their workforce.
Seizing the Opportunity with The Global Talent Pool
New and expansive operating models shed light on needs within the workforce. In a difficult talent market where nearly every function, business line, and industry competes for the best talents, CFOs up against this dilemma should ask themselves: How can I reach more talent in more locations through different delivery methods to fill the gaps in my finance department?
With the broader acceptance of hybrid work, it’s likely that other modes of delivery, including contractors, freelancers, and gig workers, could fill the gaps of many finance teams. We are in an increasingly tight talent market, not only in the United States but globally. Hybrid and remote models provide finance organizations access to global talent pools and specialized resources they might not have previously had.
CFOs have a critical interest in accessing a more cost-effective, global talent pool, a concept favored by 85%, and capturing market share through global expansion, favored by 81%. In comparison, a 2020 CFO.com Survey found only 63% of respondents said they were moving towards a global expansion set-up in light of the pandemic.
When asked to describe their hiring strategy over the next 12 to 18 months, 42% say they want to attract new talent that is unbounded by the geographic restrictions of their company’s operating model.
Hiring New Skill Sets & The Reskilling Process
Finance departments in the context of remote work and digital transformation will also expand the roles and skill sets for which they’re hiring. Finance leaders should understand that there is a broader shift in needs and capabilities as CFOs become more integrated within the C-suite, armed with better financial insights and larger strategic thinking. This shift is contingent upon technologies such as predictive analytics, and AI, which are powered by talent with expertise in those areas.
Keeping operations and insights flowing within the finance organization means reducing dependence on the IT function. Various departments in most corporations are beginning to hire data scientists for their own needs; this is a particularly critical pivot finance leaders will have to make in order to leverage new digital tools. Although traditional finance skills remain essential, skills which are more relevant to the era of digitalization will be in greater demand. Finance leaders can encourage rotations and other development programs for the existing workforce.
CFOs should also seek to acquire those with solid business shrewdness to strengthen the finance organization; workers who can effectively analyze the colossal amount of financial data to make logical, impactful decisions while always considering the business’s broad strategic priorities. Moving forward, finance professionals will acquire a more significant role in determining business strategy and, therefore, they must have a more thorough understanding of potential risks and opportunities.
The world is continuing to reimagine what the new normal for the workplace looks like; this is equally true for finance leaders and their teams that support them. There are significant opportunities to make advancements in performance and reimagine what talent in corporate finance is capable of, and CFOs should understand that they need to make these changes, or fall behind the rest of their competition.