Nearshore Americas

The Next Phase in Borderless Work: Global Hiring is Here to Stay

It took decades of technological advances and adjustments to leadership mindsets, but the labor market is finally grasping the true meaning of the word “global”. And yet, much of what sustains international business operations is still dragging behind.

Payment methods, international trade laws, local labor regulations, procurement requirements, recruitment strategies…Many are the barriers still deterring companies of all sizes and capabilities to go truly global. 

“We’re working in a very innovative, borderless way, but benefits, compensation, payment methods, all of these things haven’t caught up yet,” stated Arin Sime, CEO of AgilityFeat and WebRTC.ventures, during his participation at Nexus 2024.

From left to right: Kirk Laughlin (Managing Director & Chief Analyst, Nearshore Americas); Pablo Miller (Founder & CEO, Remoti); Austin Cornell (Director of Revenue, Zero Hash); Arin Sime (CEO, AgilityFeat and WebRTC.ventures)

The globalization of the workforce has opened paths of growth for many communities outside of the so-called developed world. In Latin America and the Caribbean; in the Middle East and Central Asia; in Africa and Eastern Europe. Disruptive players are emerging all over the world, changing the dynamics of their respective markets or even economies at a regional level.

But there’s a considerable gap between the pace of those regional innovators and the ecosystem in which they operate. 

Argentina is perhaps one of the best examples of this phenomenon. The country has for decades been a trailblazer in Latin America’s tech scene and is today regarded as one of the region’s richest sources of tech expertise. However, years of economic storms and a byzantine currency system make it difficult for international employers and global workers to do business smoothly.

Plenty of Argentinean freelancers and employees become experts on payment platforms or crypto just to get the money they earned. Some even find themselves navigating labyrinthine payment paths to avoid high fees by financial companies or heavy taxation at home. And Argentina is but one case in a literal world of instances. 

“We did this survey of 2,500 freelancers across Latin America, the US and the Middle East,” shared Austin Cornell, Director of Revenue at crypto payments and platform Zero Has. “We found that 58% are not happy with their local payment systems; about half say it takes too long to get paid and the fees are too high; and 80% said they would rather get paid in USD-backed stablecoins than their local currency.”

Then there’s the issue of worker benefits. It’s common for global workers to be hired under a scheme that resembles freelancing, in which there’s no actual employer-employee relationship and, therefore, none of the benefits that come with formal employment.

“We’re working in a very innovative, borderless way, but benefits, compensation, payment methods, all of these things haven’t caught up yet”—Arin Sime, CEO of AgilityFeat and WebRTC.ventures

While many international workers earn considerably more than their average countrymen, they have to carry financial burdens that most employees take for granted: health care, retirement funds, paid vacations, etc.

Some international corporations and hiring platforms have come up with innovative solutions to allow even global workers to have benefits. But those are still few and far between.

“In LATAM, not many companies have pension plans,” commented Pablo Miller, Founder & CEO of remote hiring platform Remoti. “What we want is this future digital workforce to have retiring plans based in Miami, here in the US. We have partnerships, and because we hire from the US, although they’re based in Latin America, they’re able to contribute to these schemes.”

The fact is that, for innovators in the Nearshore and beyond, spearheading the new wave of globalization comes with a whole set of risks and inconveniences. And if things don’t change soon enough in and outside their respective territories, it will be a while longer before the dream of a borderless business ecosystem is achieved.

 

More than cheap car salesmen

 “When you say ‘Cheap, cheap, cheap’, you sound like a car salesman,” Pablo Miller said as he sat in front of the Nexus audience.

Services providers offshore and nearshore seem to be waking up to the realities of what the traditional labor arbitrage model means amidst the latest wave of automation. “Value” was one of the words most solicited by Nexus panelists during their conferences, and most of them used it to convey much more than low cost.

Austin Cornell (middle): “We found that 58% [of freelancers] are not happy with their local payment systems; about half say it takes too long to get paid and the fees are too high”
As we underscored in our own assessment of nearshore value, the market is now interested in other advantages besides a voluminous, affordable labor force. Businesses are familiar with the nearshore model. Now they expect to see something new and more sophisticated out of it.

“People know what nearshore is. They’re comfortable with remote work, with agile and software development in a remote fashion, across borders,” Arin Sime commented. “The landscape is totally different from what it was 14 years ago.”

“The best way to avoid a pure price comparison is through specialization in some form,” he added. “Pricing is not that much in the conversation. We don’t really use the term nearshore in those situations [of specialization]. It’s just that we’re really good at this and most of the team happens to be in Latin America.”

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For some nearshore providers, this shift signifies golden opportunities not only for their businesses, but also for the communities in which they operate and/or belong to. The days of “buts-in-seats” are apparently vanishing. In the nearshore –in specific locations, at least–, it’s all about the quality of the talent hired and what employers are willing to offer to keep that talent around.

“The people we’re offshoring are becoming so important in an organization that replacing them is now very difficult,” commented Pablo Miller. “We’re seeing a shift in power: from the big multinational arriving to these towns thinking they can hire whoever they want, and it doesn’t matter if they leave, now power is coming to those hires, who are becoming very valuable and need to be looked after.” 

“We’re always talked about globalization, but what I’m really keen to do is localization,” Pablo stated. “Down south [in the Americas] is being treated with more respect; they have better opportunities.”

Cesar Cantu

Cesar is the Managing Editor of Nearshore Americas. He's a journalist based in Mexico City, with experience covering foreign trade policy, agribusiness and the food industry in Mexico and Latin America.

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