As the Co-CEO of Omnipresent, I’ve been asked by investors, clients, partners, and employees for my views on how best to navigate turbulent times as a globally distributed company. Below I have outlined some advice:
- Assess your workplace model. Address your approach to expansion, hiring, and cost saving with a global-first mindset.
- Communicate often and with cultural sensitivity. Being global-first can have great benefits, but during times of uncertainty, communicating well and ensuring everyone feels supported is even more important.
- Review and manage risk. Wherever you find your business, now is a particularly important time to understand how to remain compliant in all the legal jurisdictions in which you operate.
First, let's look at the various elements impacting the current economic outlook.
Inflation across all major economies has climbed to levels not seen for 40 years, exacerbated by the implications of the Ukraine/Russia conflict, notably on energy supply. To counteract this, central banks have begun to raise interest rates from their sustained historic lows of recent years. Finally, equities have experienced significant falls in 2022 to date, with NASDAQ suffering to the greatest extent of major markets.
In these times of heightened economic uncertainty, one of the main questions preoccupying economists and businesses alike is whether 2022 will be a temporary “blip” in growth or whether the medium-term will see a sustained downturn and even recession. Regardless of what transpires, now is the time for contingency planning to ensure that your company will emerge stronger. Here are some suggestions that can help.
Assess Your Workplace Model
The world of work has changed dramatically over the past few years. The health crisis catalyzed the shift towards global-first work, and various macroeconomic changes have led us to a point where it’s imperative to take a step back and reassess how we operate our businesses.
Regardless of your preference for remote, hybrid, or office-first workplaces, the pandemic showed us that we can all work remotely with little impact on productivity. If you’re already a remote-friendly business, now is a great time to take full advantage of what this can mean for your talent acquisition and reduction of overheads.
The Great Reshuffle has seen employees moving to companies that offer flexibility and fulfillment. When you have the freedom to choose to hire people anywhere in the world, you can select people who are in employer-friendly countries, and you get access to the very best talent, even on a tighter budget.
If the pandemic unveiled benefits of being remote-friendly for your business, now might be a good time to review expensive leases. According to the 2022 Spring US Occupier Sentiment Survey from CBRE, 73% of companies plan to have some sort of hybrid workplace policy and demand for office space will reduce by around 9%.
Communicate Often and with Cultural Sensitivity
During times of change, people need to feel psychologically safe, and a really important aspect of that is to communicate openly and regularly with your employees, even if you don't have all the answers. Communicate what you know when you know it, and make sure your team understands that you have really smart people working on the rest.
Being geographically distributed and culturally diverse is not only a huge strength for Omnipresent; it’s entwined in the fabric of who we are and what we do. As such, regardless of what’s going on in the world, we try to ensure that our entire team feels supported and valued no matter where they are based or what their job is. This means being extra sensitive to national and cultural inclusivity in our team communication.
Review and Manage Risk
Regardless of the benefits of having a global-first business, the world is complex and ever-changing. This means that now it’s even more important to understand and manage risks in all the legal jurisdictions in which you operate.
If you decide your organization needs to lay off employees, having a well-considered off-boarding process in place can reduce the impact on your existing team, bolster your employer brand, and minimize the risk of legal repercussions. Local labor laws determine when, why, and how you terminate employees. These rules differ from country to country, and so the process can be complex.