12 min read

Workforce Planning: 5 Scalable Strategies for Growing Global Teams

HR & workforce management


Gabriele Culot


March 25, 2024

Last Update

July 08, 2024

Table of Contents

What is scalable workforce planning (and why is it important)?

1. Develop a remote work infrastructure

2. Streamline talent acquisition and management

3. Foster inclusion and collaboration

4. Set up for flexibility and innovation

5. Fine-tune performance management and remote leadership

Supercharge your organization’s global workforce planning with Deel

Key takeaways
  1. SMEs expanding globally must anticipate future business needs, leverage technology, and implement flexible solutions to build resilient teams efficiently.
  2. Establishing robust remote work systems, including communication tools and cloud-based platforms, is essential for the seamless integration of talent from diverse regions, ensuring operational efficiency and attracting top talent.
  3. Fostering a culture of inclusivity, cultural competence, and diversity initiatives is vital for creating cohesive global teams.

Expanding operations to a global scale is often a crucial step in gaining a competitive advantage, but it comes with its unique set of challenges, especially for small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) that may have limited resources and expertise. 

Navigating the complexities of building a global team, particularly in a remote setting, requires a strategic approach to workforce planning from leadership and human resources managers. In this blog post, we’ll explore scalable business strategies tailored for SME HR teams aiming to expand their global footprint efficiently and effectively.

What is scalable workforce planning (and why is it important)?

Before diving into specific strategies, it’s crucial to understand the essence of scalable workforce planning. Scalability is the ability to expand or adapt operations seamlessly in response to changing demands or growth opportunities. For SMEs venturing into new markets on the global stage, scalability is not just a luxury but a necessity for sustainable growth.

Effective workforce planning in this context involves:

  • Anticipating future business needs
  • Leveraging technological advancements and automation
  • Implementing flexible solutions to accommodate diverse geographies, cultures, and skill sets that fit the overall business plan. 

With the right strategies, SMEs can build resilient and high-performing global teams without exhausting their resources while still being ready to grow rapidly when needed.

Deel success stories

I can’t imagine having to open up an entity in a certain city just to be able to hire someone. Deel solves a real problem, and up to now, we’ve been very happy with the service

Elias Ek,

Co-founder, Keego

1. Develop a remote work infrastructure

A robust remote work infrastructure is crucial for SMEs venturing into global expansion. A well-planned remote infrastructure is the backbone of scalability, enabling seamless integration of talent from different regions and ensuring operational efficiency in different regions. Moreover, investing in remote infrastructure can also be essential for driving and retaining top talent in today’s digital age, where remote work is increasingly prevalent.

The keyword here is infrastructure. Simply shifting meetings to Zoom is not enough; it’s important that the tools and processes you select to support your transition to global remote work interact in synergy and are part of a conscious restructuring rather than ad hoc solutions for specific needs.

Key strengths of a remote work infrastructure

  • Access to communication tools like video conferencing, instant messaging, and virtual workspaces ensures an uninterrupted flow of information and ideas, breaking down communication barriers and enabling effortless collaboration among team members across different time zones.
  • Cloud-based project management software, document-sharing platforms, and collaborative tools streamline workflows, minimize downtime, and empower teams to deliver results efficiently.
  • A remote-friendly infrastructure promotes autonomy in managing schedules and work environments, enhancing morale and attracting a diverse talent pool seeking flexibility and work-life balance.

Looking for more information on why embracing the global workforce is essential?

Download our Business Case for Global Hiring resource to learn more

When to focus on remote work infrastructure

While beneficial across various scenarios, a remote work infrastructure is indispensable for SMEs planning to expand globally, as it helps access a global talent pool and reduces the cost of managing multiple physical locations in each region of operations.

Core steps to implementation
  • Evaluate current infrastructure and identify gaps
    • Conduct a comprehensive assessment of existing technology stack and infrastructure capabilities
    • Identify areas needing improvement or enhancement to support remote work effectively, including network connectivity, cybersecurity measures, software applications, and hardware requirements
  • Research and invest in remote work tools tailored to your team's needs
    • Consider ease of use, scalability, integration capabilities, security features, and cost-effectiveness
    • Examples include communication platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams, project management tools like Asana or Jira, and cloud services like Google Drive or Dropbox.
  • Provide training to ensure smooth adoption across the organization 
    • Offer comprehensive training sessions and resources to educate employees on utilizing remote work tools effectively
    • Address resistance to change by highlighting benefits and demonstrating best practices
    • Establish channels for ongoing support and troubleshooting to support employees in adapting to the new way of working
  • Implement security measures and data protection protocols (learn how we do it at Deel)
    • Make cybersecurity a priority
    • Educate employees on safe remote work practices, such as using secure networks and avoiding phishing scams
    • Regularly update security software and conduct audits to identify and address vulnerabilities
  • Establish communication and collaboration guidelines
    • Establish protocols for virtual meetings, document sharing, and project tracking 
    • Encourage open communication and set expectations for response times and availability to foster a culture of collaboration and accountability

2. Streamline talent acquisition and management

Expanding operations globally demands a robust recruitment strategy that includes filling vacancies strategically, sourcing, assessing, and onboarding talent from diverse regions to foster innovation, adaptability, and competitiveness in compliance with local labor laws. Moreover, it’s about maximizing employee retention and meeting evolving needs through reskilling and upskilling initiatives.

Leveraging a global talent pool is essential for SMEs to thrive in today’s hyperconnected international marketplace and be ready to embrace the future of work.

Key strengths of streamlined talent management

  • A successful global talent acquisition strategy taps into diverse recruitment channels to attract top talent worldwide
  • A comprehensive strategy assesses cultural fit, language proficiency, and adaptability, reducing the risk of misalignment or cultural clashes and ensuring a cohesive team dynamic
  • A well-crafted strategy allows the flexibility to utilize contractors or full-time employees based on project requirements, skill availability, and budget constraints, expanding the talent pool and enabling dynamic workforce scaling

When to focus on streamlining talent management

While always beneficial, a streamlined talent management strategy is especially important for companies facing rapid growth or needing to quickly pivot to new services, products, regions, or customers.

Core steps to implementation
  • Define clear job roles and requirements for global positions
    • Design a matrix with the organization’s top requirements, including specific skills, language proficiency, and cultural competencies
    • Design job description templates that can be easily adapted to new roles
  • Optimize the promotion of vacancies
    • Use the right platforms to post vacancies. While LinkedIn is globally available, many regional or role-specific job boards can help access top talent
    • Tailor postings to be aligned with the different platforms you advertise and to attract talent aligned with the organization’s mission and values
  • Standardize your processes
    • Implement assessment techniques that include structured interviews and skills evaluations, ensuring alignment with role requirements
    • Consider implementing technology and AI tools for efficient evaluation and decision-making
  • Cultivate relationships with talent pools
    • Actively engage in proactive outreach
    • Participate in relevant industry events
    • Foster partnerships with educational institutions or professional associations to nurture potential candidates
  • Keep your strategy effective 
    • Regularly review and refine the talent acquisition strategy based on feedback, performance metrics, and evolving organizational needs
    • Adapt to changes in the global talent landscape, emerging technologies, and market dynamics to ensure long-term effectiveness

3. Foster inclusion and collaboration

In the context of global expansion, fostering a culture of inclusivity and cultural competence is vital for SMEs aiming to cultivate successful global teams. Cross-cultural training and diversity initiatives create an environment where diversity is embraced, differences are respected, and varied perspectives are leveraged for innovation and collaboration. 

Investing in these initiatives lays the groundwork for cohesive and high-performing global teams that thrive in multicultural settings and have a deep understanding of the nuances of specific markets, demographics, and their interactions.

Key strengths of inclusion and collaboration

  • Cross-cultural training equips employees with knowledge of cultural norms, communication styles, and business etiquette across different regions. This familiarity enables them to navigate cross-cultural interactions effectively, fostering meaningful connections with colleagues and clients worldwide.
  • Through cross-cultural training, employees develop empathy and respect for cultural differences, reducing conflicts and enhancing collaboration.
  • Diversity initiatives enhance employee satisfaction, retention, and overall well-being by promoting a sense of belonging and equity. These can be key ingredients in the success of an SME.

When to focus on inclusion and collaboration

While always necessary, a strategic focus on inclusion and collaboration is especially important for companies with multicultural teams that are not regionally focused and for companies that are in the initial stages of setting up remote collaboration.

Core steps to implementation
  • Provide training and education
    • Design and deliver interactive workshops or online courses providing practical insights into cultural awareness and sensitivity
    • Cover cultural dimensions, communication styles, and norms specific to target regions 
    • Use case studies and role-playing exercises to facilitate experiential learning
    • Introduce these topics as part of your onboarding process
  • Leverage training into lived practices
    • Establish cross-cultural exchange programs or buddy systems to facilitate peer-to-peer learning and cultural exchange
    • Pair employees from different backgrounds to collaborate, share experiences, and deepen cultural understanding
    • Encourage open dialogue and mutual respect
  • Formally embrace inclusive values
    • Embed diversity and inclusion principles into policies and decision-making processes
    • Review existing policies to promote diversity and equity
    • Implement initiatives like diversity training for hiring managers
  • Encourage your workforce to learn and explore
    • Organize cultural immersion experiences such as language classes, cultural events, or international assignments to provide firsthand exposure to diverse cultures
    • Encourage employees to engage with different cultural communities both within and outside the organization
  • Adopt an iterative approach and never stop improving
    • Establish metrics to measure the effectiveness of diversity initiatives
    • Regularly assess employee feedback, diversity representation in hiring, and retention rates to gauge progress and identify areas for improvement.

4. Set up for flexibility and innovation

For SMEs expanding globally, adopting a flexible organizational structure and going beyond traditional hierarchies to create a dynamic environment is imperative, as it enables swift responses to market changes, embraces innovation, and delivers value to customers. 

By embracing agile principles, SMEs can foster cross-functional collaboration, decentralize decision-making, and adapt rapidly to evolving market dynamics, driving growth and success in the global marketplace.

Key strengths of flexibility and innovation

  • A flexible organizational structure promotes decentralized decision-making and empowers autonomous teams to take ownership of their work. By delegating authority and fostering accountability, SMEs can streamline decision-making processes, reduce bureaucratic red tape, and respond faster to emerging opportunities or challenges.
  • A focus on innovation encourages cross-functional collaboration and knowledge sharing across geographically dispersed teams. Breaking down silos and facilitating open communication channels enables SMEs to leverage diverse expertise and perspectives for innovation, problem-solving, and continuous improvement.
  • Non-traditionally hierarchical organizations can adapt seamlessly, adding new hires, reallocating resources, or pivoting to new initiatives without being constrained by rigid structures or processes.

When to focus on flexibility and innovation

While suitable for dynamic industries or fast-growing startups, agile organizational structures may pose challenges in highly regulated or hierarchical environments. However, with proper planning and stakeholder buy-in, even traditionally structured organizations can benefit from these principles.

Core steps to implementation
  • Conduct a thorough assessment of the current structure, processes, and culture 
    • Identify bottlenecks, centralized decision-making, or hindered collaboration
    • Use the insights gained to inform where and how principles of flexibility and innovation can be applied effectively
  • Consider implementing Agile methodologies like Scrum or Kanban 
    • Choose an Agile framework aligned with business goals, size, and culture, such as Scrum or Kanban
    • Introduce practices like sprint planning, daily stand-ups, and retrospectives and adapt them to your specific needs
    • Focus on streamlining workflows, increasing transparency, and fostering continuous improvement
  • Promote a culture of continuous learning and experimentation
    • Emphasize failing fast, learning from mistakes, and iterating on ideas
    • Provide professional development opportunities, training, and knowledge sharing
    • Empower team members to embrace change and contribute to growth
  • Secure leadership buy-in and support structures
    • Appoint coaches to guide teams in adopting agile practices effectively
    • Ensure leadership supports teams in autonomy and decision-making
    • Provide resources and support for teams transitioning to agile ways of working
  • Measure and iterate
    • Implement metrics to track the effectiveness of flexibility policies
    • Regularly review performance indicators, gather feedback, and iterate on processes to improve efficiency and adaptability

5. Fine-tune performance management and remote leadership

Effective performance management and remote leadership development are pivotal for fostering accountability, engagement, and productivity within distributed teams. This goes beyond traditional performance appraisal; it’s about establishing a framework aligning individual and team goals with organizational objectives, filling skill gaps in the current workforce, fostering transparency and continuous feedback, and equipping leaders with skills to manage remote teams across diverse cultures and geographies.

Key strengths of effective performance management and training

  • Effective performance management begins with transparent performance metrics and objectives aligned with organizational goals. Clear expectations and KPIs enable employees to understand their role in achieving broader organizational missions.
  • Technology is crucial in remote work for tracking progress and providing real-time feedback. Tools like Deel Engage can facilitate connectivity, performance monitoring, and timely feedback despite geographical distances.
  • Remote leadership demands unique skills like effective communication and cross-cultural competence. Investing in leadership development programs equips leaders with strategies to navigate distributed teams, build trust, and foster collaboration in a remote setting.

"Deel Engage is our go-to platform for all things talent management, saving us up to 180 hours in feedback processes alone."

Caroline Randazzo,

Head of Human Resources and Recruitment, Aquatic

When to focus on performance management and remote leadership training

Performance management is important for all organizations in any circumstances. On the other hand, remote leadership development is vital for remote or distributed teams where physical proximity isn’t feasible or is not part of the overall company strategy.

Core steps to implementation
  • Define goals for individual and team performance 
    • Ensure set goals are achievable and realistic
    • Use a recognized goal management framework (like SMART, CLEAR, or PACT) to ensure goals are aligned with business objectives, ensuring clarity and measurability
    • Communicate goals effectively to all stakeholders
  • Implement regular check-ins and performance reviews
  • Ensure accountability at all organizational levels
    • Design performance reviews so that feedback can flow both ways
    • Make performance reviews a safe space to openly discuss concerns, expectations, and doubts
  • Establish feedback mechanisms and recognition programs 
    • Design these mechanisms to be clear and easily understood
    • Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and celebrate success
    • Encourage constructive criticism and open communication
  • Monitor and adjust performance management processes
    • Regularly monitor performance metrics and solicit feedback from employees
    • Adjust processes as needed to optimize performance and enhance employee engagement

Supercharge your organization’s global workforce planning with Deel

Expanding globally presents both opportunities and challenges for SMEs, but building scalable and high-performing global teams can be easy with the right strategies and tools.

Deel gives us access to hiring people in a compliant way, anywhere. Those are people that we wouldn’t have been able to hire without Deel, as we wouldn’t be able to open an entity in every country where we wanted to hire someone. It also enables us to be close to our customers, they are all over the world, so we need to be there too.

Sanna Westman,

Head of People, Planhat

Deel offers a host of solutions to support organizations in their expansion to the global marketplace and the future of work. From visa support and EOR solutions to help you secure the best talent anywhere you may need, to a full HR suite designed around the needs of companies operating globally and remotely.

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