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‘Borderless’ jobs on the rise as London tech scene faces skills shortages

·3-min read
 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

London-based tech firms are increasingly hiring talent internationally and looking to create "borderless teams" amid severe skills shortages and ever-improving remote work technology.

In a new report shared today with the Standard, white-collar recruitment giant Hays identified these so-called "borderless jobs" as potentially key to solving the intensifying war for talent companies are facing.

The report argued the global tech sector is likely to benefit most from the trend.

Alistair Cox, who has headed up the FTSE 250 firm since 2007, said: “Remote working is here to stay and it will likely accelerate as businesses become more comfortable hiring people from further afield and their structures and technology allow it.

"There are potential barriers to this [borderless hiring] that organisations will need to overcome, such as cyber security, embedding their culture remotely, and ensuring they comply with local labour laws. But if these can be navigated, then the potential for accessing talent pools that encompass the globe is huge.”

Many London-based startups are already building larger, borderless teams with remote-only workers based around the world.

Isabel Fernandez Mateo, Professor of Strategy & Entrepreneurship at The London Business School, said: "Due to the rise of innovative team working technologies, we've seen a rise of companies recruiting globally - proving that talent can truly be found anywhere."

Rapidly-growing fintech Wagestream is part of this "borderless shift".

Around 85% of the Fitzrovia-based startup's employees were London-based before the pandemic hit in March 2020. Today just 50% of its team is based in the capital. Out of 79 new full-time employees hired this year, less than half are based near to one of the company's outposts in London, Madrid, Sydney or New York.

Wagestream people director Kelly Barnett said the startup is benefitting from the trend.

“The pandemic has accelerated an underlying trend of prioritising ‘find the best talent’ over ‘find the best talent near us’ as a strategy for companies which can sustainably support a distributed team," she said.

Barnett said the company encourages all employees to do some work from their nearest office, and covers travel costs for those living further afield to attend.

Ben Stephenson, CEO and founder of travel tech startup Impala, said his startup is also hiring "more and more people overseas". Today around 42% of his company's staff are based outside the UK, and he is hiring many new staff from Spain as workers who moved home post-Brexit look to maintain a UK salary level.

"We'd expect to add another 50 team members from outside of the UK in the next 12 months," he said. "We're remote first, so we're completely agnostic as to where people are from, provided they meet certain timezone criteria.

"It is a cosmic certainty that more and more companies will begin and continue to hire outside of the UK given the normalisation of remote working. Companies continue to realise that while face-to-face time can be enormously beneficial, travel budgets make employees far happier than office budgets and a railcard."

Hays' report also concluded that many high-skilled workers now want to be able to code from a beach, or from another country for a month at a time, rather than just in the "hybrid" home-or-office mode.

It found "the skilled labour market has now further evolved with workers displaying an appetite to ‘work from anywhere’ as opposed to simply working from home or the office".

Marina Gorey, heads up HR at Lick, a community-powered decorating startup. She said its 60-person team is hiring across Europe, and said "the ability to attract and secure the best talent wherever they are is key”.

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