With competition for tech talent still fierce — a trend unlikely to abate at any point soon — organizations are looking farther afield to bring IT professionals into the fold, particularly in the areas of software engineering/application development and application support.
A recent Gartner study of 288 C-level executives and their direct reports found 58% of organizations have moved toward a model where some technology talent is working in a fully remote, borderless arrangement.
The analyst firm defines borderless workforce as "talent working remotely from different countries based on an employment contract made across national borders."
Among organizations that have borderless talent, nearly two in 10 members of their IT workforce are borderless, and the survey found more than a quarter (27%) of leaders are currently exploring hiring borderless technology employees.
The rise of this employment model has also led to an expansion of cloud-based communications and collaborations tools — fully half of organizations surveyed said they have cloud office suites, workstream collaboration, meeting solutions, and digital whiteboarding solutions.
More than seven in 10 organizations surveyed (71%) also said they feel it is critical to factor in the specific needs of borderless tech workers in their workplace strategy.
Indeed, some constraints in the remote hiring model include the complexity of administration support and cultural issues, as well as security and legality concerns.
India is the most selected country for recruiting borderless technology labor for European and North American companies.
Manifold Benefits of Borderless IT Workforce
Borderless hiring does not imply recruiting everyone from anywhere, Gabriela Vogel, senior director analyst at Gartner, pointed out.
"It all comes down to finding the sweet spot between the skills you need, the regions that have them, and where there are no expansion constraints, such as taxation or cybersecurity risks," she explained. "Because going borderless entails corporate risks and costs, the recruitment strategy must be co-designed."
That means CIOs must collaborate with the chief human resources officer (CHRO), chief financial officer (CFO), chief information security officer (CISO), and the legal department to develop an entry strategy.
"Borderless hiring can revitalize your recruiting strategy by broadening search locations where the CIO is short on talent to drive strategic growth, especially if that skill is in short supply in the hiring region," Vogel said.
One option is to use the company's overseas subsidiaries in the region. If the company does not have a legal presence in the destination country, some leaders are using crowdsourcing platforms to find talent.
A third option, Vogel said, is to work with outsourcers that provide international professional employment organization (PEO) services.
A co-employment contract designates the PEO as the employer of record (EOR) and delegates administrative responsibilities such as benefits, payroll, HR compliance, and tax implications to the PEO.
"Partnership is the answer independent of the expansion tactic," Vogel explained.
Borderless Technology Talent Hiring Here to Stay
As increasing retention and hiring has risen to among the top three priorities for CEOs this year and into 2023, borderless recruitment is no longer an exception.
Vogel said borderless technology talent hiring is not a transitory trend.
"The tech labor market and its talent, not enterprises, are pushing for borderless hiring," she said. "As a result, externalities will dictate the rate and model of borderless hiring expansion."
Like the early days of digital commerce, advancements in taxation, law, and compliance, as well as worker acceptance and equity across various working arrangements, will influence the speed and type of expansion.
"What is safe to say is that borderless will be a strategy used more widely to hire talent; however, this does not mean that it will be used for every job and in every location," she added. "What began as an exception is no longer an exception."
To find talent, CIOs may need to invite a new class of recruiting partners, according to Vogel.
"Recruiting firms that specialize in IT recruitment understand the specific technical requirements and discover candidates from other parts of the world," she said.
However, in many cases, the local recruiters CIOs have worked with are not the best choice because they may not have any experience with recruiting people in foreign countries and do not operate seamlessly across borders.
"For those organizations that don't have any existing partnerships with a global recruiting firm, CIOs should look for one that has a global network," she explained. "Organizations already engaging with a global recruiting firm should evaluate whether they can match the new requirements."
Demand for IT Professionals Still Robust, Despite High-Profile Layoff Plans
The layoffs and hiring freezes mounting at U.S. technology companies are unlikely to be a harbinger of trouble in the broader U.S. labor market, economists say.
Despite a few notable tech companies — including Meta, Twitter, and Amazon — announcing massive layoffs, for the most part the outlook for IT talent remains positive.
Meanwhile, tech leaders are increasingly dissatisfied with their role and their organization in the post-pandemic workforce, with around half ready to quit their current job without flexible work options or the ability to advance in their career.
About the authorNathan Eddy is a freelance writer for ITPro Today. He has written for Popular Mechanics, Sales & Marketing Management Magazine, FierceMarkets, and CRN, among others. In 2012 he made his first documentary film, The Absent Column. He currently lives in Berlin.