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Introduction

It’s safe to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has completely changed the world in more ways than one. Its spread disrupted everything from our globalized economy, to supply chains, to the stock market, to the ways in which businesses employ and manage their workers. The pandemic forced entire countries to adopt “social distancing” guidelines, and it’s threatened to upend our institutions like education, entertainment, and sports.

It’s quite clear that the world will function much differently in a post-COVID world. But why is this? Have we become smarter? Have we become more flexible in the ways in which we live our daily lives? Perhaps.

In just a few weeks, universities and colleges from all around the world ended their in-person programming and sent their students home, where they were forced to adapt to a virtual curriculum hurriedly assembled by their faculty members. Businesses closed their doors, sent home their workers, and moved forward with virtual meetings and conferences via video platform solutions like Zoom, Google Duo, and Skype. Even the sports industry was impacted, playing without fans and with strict social distancing guidelines in place for players and staff members.

As the latest sign that the post-COVID world could look quite different, Google just announced that they plan on allowing their employees to continue working from home until early 2022. When you really put that into perspective, it’s quite a big deal. Why? Because Google is one of the largest tech companies in the world, with more than 118,000 employees as of 2019. How exactly do they plan to manage these employees? How will they ensure compliance in other countries outside of their HQ? How will they keep costs low?

These are all questions that only Sundar Pichai himself can answer. But, at the end of the day, if Google is doing it, why aren’t you?

This is an important topic that we’re going to explore extensively throughout this eBook. We’ll dissect the very basics of what a Global PEO can do, how they can help your business navigate the transition from a physical workplace to a virtual one, and we’ll pay close attention to the ways in which it can help ensure compliance across the board.

From there, we’ll move into some examples of how a Global PEO can function in a virtual workplace world.

As the world continues to adapt to the major stone that has been thrown in our plans, it’ll be interesting to see if other tech companies climb onboard. Previously, Twitter has mentioned that their employees can continue to work from home “forever,” while companies like Apple and Facebook have pushed their work from home requirement to at least January 2022.

However, that might change as the coronavirus continues to evolve. And therein lies one of the inherent benefits that a PEO can offer—flexibility.

By the time you complete this eBook, you should have a greater understanding of how you can go about transitioning your international workforce over to remote working, while enlisting the assistance of a PEO to help you cut costs, ensure compliance, and remain flexible in a situation that remains fluid. Remember, business can be unpredictable, but pandemics can be even more unpredictable. The old ways of doing things simply don’t apply anymore, and that’s why so many companies and institutions have followed suit.

It’s time to envision a new way forward, and through this eBook, you’ll have the map that you need to lead the way.

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Global PEOs Support Your Virtual Environment

One of the most important things to consider about your virtual environment is how you plan to go about staffing your team and ensuring that your employees are being taken care of. Remote work is an interesting topic because it’s still rather novel. Until COVID-19 surfaced, not many companies were fully open to the idea of allowing their employees to work remotely. But in the wake of the pandemic, it’s been quite unavoidable. Before we get into the details of a PEO, let’s look at some important statistics related to remote working:

  • As of 2018, more than 5 million employees work at home half-time or more — only about 3.5% of the workforce. Remote work has grown nearly 180% since 2005.
  • More than 50% of employees have a job where remote work isn’t just possible, but it’s more convenient.
  • Desks are vacant upwards of 60% of the time.
  • In 2019, nearly 80% of survey respondents stated that they’d like to work from home some of the time.
  • Millennials desire flexibility in a job, and remote work is one of those benefits

The Covid-19 Statistics

These statistics were collected prior COVID-19. As you can see, just two years ago, only 3.5% of the workforce were able to work from home at least half of the time. But now, that number has grown substantially, much of it due to the pandemic. However, some statisticians and analytical firms believe that there’s another phenomenon at play here. Take Global Workplace Analytics (GWA), for example.

They believe that by the end of 2021, roughly 25%-30% of the workforce will be working remotely multiple days a week. This is a huge development considering that just three years prior, only 3.5% of the workforce was working from home.

They go on to say, We believe, based on historical trends, that those who were working remotely before the pandemic, will increase their frequency after they are allowed to return to their offices. For those who were new to remote work until the pandemic, we believe there will be a significant upswing in their adoption. Our best estimate is that we will see 25% - 30% of the workforce working at home on a multiple-days-a-week basis by the end of 2021.”

From there, they’ve outlined several important key indicators to help support this estimation, and we’ll dissect some of them next.

Increased Demand for Remote Employees

GWA points to the fact that COVID-19 has facilitated a stronger demand for employees to work from home—and that’s surely to be expected. After all, the general assumption here is that employees feel safer abiding by social distancing guidelines and maintaining a physical presence from the workplace in order to keep themselves and their families safe and protected during this time. But the real interesting fact is the statistic that they include in their analysis that prior to the pandemic, “Surveys repeatedly showed that 80% of employees want to work from home at least some of the time. Over a third would take a pay cut in exchange for the option.”

This shows that most employees aren’t just interested in the option, but they’d even go so far as to willingly take a pay cut, just so they can work remotely—all prior to the pandemic. At this point, GWA suggests that “The genie is out of the bottle, and it’s not likely to go back in.”

And we’d have to agree!

Increased Awareness of Cost-Saving Opportunities in Work from Home Situations

This is another important benefit that we’ll discuss extensively in this eBook, but we’d like to mention it here because it was included in the analysis from GWA. And really, it comes down to workplace inefficiency.

Remember the statistic that desks in the workplace are empty or vacant 60% of the time? This isn’t something that business leaders and executives have let slip by unnoticed. In fact, that’s why the last recession paved the way for more remote work. Executives understood that it helped them cut costs by downsizing the physical footprint of their office, saving money on utilities, and essentially, accomplishing more with less of a financial burden.

With COVID-19, however, the incentive is a little bit different. The idea isn’t exactly about “where” your employees work, it’s about “how” they continue to work in a post-COVID world. We’re all well aware that social distancing, handwashing, and mask-wearing are all the primary defense mechanisms that we’ve been using to help slow the spread of the virus. In the modern workplace, this is virtually impossible to ensure on a day-to-day basis. So, for that very reason, businesses have learned to adapt.

Remote work isn’t just an option but an absolute necessity in some cases, and it’s opened a world of cost-saving benefits for businesses. Now that leaders and executives have seen first-hand that remote work is possible, it would be rather shortsighted to rush their workers back into the office, especially when all those savings fall directly to the bottom line.

Reduced Business Travel

If your operations are global, then you know just how much money you spend to send your employees overseas—for conferences, meetings, presentations, all of it. With that said, COVID-19 will surely impact the business travel industry because far fewer businesses will be sending their employees overseas to conduct meetings and presentations. They can simply do them remotely, virtually, and safely from the comfort of their own home or office where applicable.

GWA says, “A typical employer can save about $11,000/year for every person who works remotely half of the time. Employees can save between $2,500 and $4,000 a year and even more if they are able to move to a less expensive area and work remotely full-time.” These statistics simply can’t be ignored. And if your employees are able to complete their international work remotely, then what’s there to lose? It seems like there’s only something to gain.

It’s clear just how much of an impact COVID-19 has had on the transition from the modern workplace, to the modern “work-from-home place.” With that said, the benefits are obvious. Businesses save money and business leaders can reduce business travel as well as maintain compliance, knowing that their employees are safe and protected remotely.

Interestingly enough, a Global Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can also help you not only take advantage of the benefits listed above, but potentially enhance, optimize, and expand them for the ultimate cost-effective and compliant remote working experience.

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What is a Global PEO?

A Global PEO is essentially an international entity that provides a wide range of outsourcing services for a business looking to expand into an international market. They provide employee management services, administrative assistance, and compliance strategies for multinational organizations, businesses, and institutions operating outside of their domestic jurisdictions. In other words, they give multinational entities the ability to transfer all of their talent acquisition, payroll, benefits, employee rights protections and employee management needs over to the PEO for a fee.

The benefits of this include everything from freeing up your HR team to focus on the core of your employee relations back at home, to generating tremendous cost-savings from negating the need to formally incorporate your company internationally. But in a COVID-19 world where remote work is becoming the new normal, working with a PEO allows you to tap into a previously unattainable market. You can gain access to new talent, new solutions, and new perspectives—all without having to lift a finger.

Essentially, a PEO is a legal entity that stands as the Employer of Record (EOR) for your multinational organization. This ultimately grants the entity the permission to hire, manage, and pay taxes for your organization within your new host country on your behalf, without the need for your HR or administrative staff back at home to get involved and bogged down with foreign bureaucracy. Fundamentally, it’s a cost-saving, compliance-guaranteeing machine. And in the post-COVID world, it’s so much more than that.

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No Need to Establish a Legal International Entity

When it comes down to it, establishing your international presence isn’t as easy as simply renting an office space (or buying one), hiring some workers, and transferring your operations overseas. In fact, it can be quite complicated, time-consuming, and expensive. Whenever you’re looking to expand your operations overseas, even if you plan on that work being remote, you’ll be subjected to the legal requirements established by that new host country. This means that you’ll be required to establish or, essentially, incorporate your business overseas in the new host country. However, when you work with a PEO, this is no longer required.

Remember, your PEO will serve as your Employer of Record, meaning that whatever remote workers you hire abroad won’t be employed by your business, they’ll be employed by the PEO. This helps to ensure that you can move beyond all those complex requirements that revolve around the various employment rules, laws, regulations, and restrictions, including compliance requirements (something we’ll get to in a bit), and other bureaucratic requirements within the host country.

Your PEO will be able to hire contractors and both full- and part-time workers on your behalf. You’ll control the day-to-day operations of your new international team, but you’ll never have to think about compliance, benefits, payroll, salary, insurance, and the like. Your PEO will take care of all of your international staff so your HR team can keep their focus on your home country.

The Potential Time Commitment of International Expansion Disappears

International expansion isn’t a quick and simple process. But working with a PEO virtually ensures that you’ll be able to get your new operations up and running quickly—especially if they’re remote.

Your PEO will be responsible for everything from payroll and taxes, to benefits, compliance, and employee protections for your new host country. This means that your HR staff and administrative staff won’t be required to learn the various rules and regulations governing remote workers overseas. Instead, they can pay close attention to maintaining their day-to-day responsibilities back home. Partnering with a PEO will give you more time to focus on the most important aspects of your new expansion endeavors, while ensuring that all the legalities that come along with hiring international workers in a new international market are all taken care of.

Now that the concept of a Global Professional Employer Organization (PEO) is a bit more clear, let’s talk about the three main benefits that come along with that partnership: cost reduction, compliance, and worker protections.

The Cost Reductions

At the end of the day, regardless of if you’re an eCommerce company, a tech company, a fashion company, or a government entity, working with a PEO will undoubtedly help you cut costs. Most of the time, the economy of scale helps to reduce the expenses of various payroll fees, which will allow you to benefit from bulk savings for healthcare insurance. In addition, your establishment costs in your new host country are completely negligible, which means that your only real capital cost is acquiring new employees. And think about it, your PEO will already have a plethora of talent within their grasp, which trims your recruitment costs down to next to nothing.

But along with these cost-reduction benefits, there are others too, and they come directly from your own HR department. Think about it. When your HR department finds out that you’re looking to hire new employees, they need to immediately determine just how to employ them and pay them quickly.

When you choose to partner with a PEO, you’ll see just what a streamlined onboarding process looks like firsthand. They’ll get your new international employees onboarded in just a few weeks, perhaps even days! You might be thinking to yourself, “My HR team is top- notch, it shouldn’t be a problem for us.”

But the fact is that a Global PEO already has a leg up on your HR team because they know the market, they know the customs, they know the social norms, and they know their country’s rules way better than your HR team.

Your PEO will give you the opportunity to forgo the expensive process of recruiting, screening, interviewing, hiring, and onboarding, and they’ll also help you administer benefits. These cost-savings build up over months and years, but they’re also readily available almost immediately. Not to mention, as you plan to scale-up your international expansion, your PEO will help to give you some stability in terms of your employment expenses. You’ll essentially pay a flat rate for the PEO to cover your entire international employment process from end to end. From there, you can translate those direct cost savings into other areas of your international operations.

As you can see, the benefits of working with a PEO in terms of cost savings are quite dramatic. And when you pair them together with the cost savings that come along with a remote workforce, the benefits crystallize. With that said, let’s get into another main benefit: compliance.

PEOs Ensure Compliance

Arguably, compliance is one of the most important benefits of working with a PEO during the transition from a physical workplace to a virtual one. A Global PEO helps to ensure that your entire international workforce, whether they’re physical on-site workers or remote workers, remain secure and always protected. Essentially, one of the main tasks of your PEO is to ensure compliance, and that’s what makes these partnerships so valuable.

We’re going to talk about compliance more extensively in the next chapter, but for now, simply know that PEOs help to ensure compliance. When it comes down to it, one of the biggest challenges that an expanding multinational corporation faces in their global endeavors is navigating the tumultuous waters of local culture, local customs, and legal intricacies. Remember, different cities, states, regions, and countries all have different requirements and different worker protections that need to be considered and followed. Isn’t it enough for your HR department to manage compliance in your host country?

How can you expect them to take on the massive challenge of becoming experts not only in domestic compliance, but in international compliance as well? The costs of bringing on new, more experienced team members, overtime costs for administration tasks, and the headaches that you’d cause for your team members simply aren’t worth it.

Additionally, if your company fails to comply with regulations that govern things like taxes, payroll, and benefits, you could subject your business to international audits, expensive fines, and some troubling times. Your Global PEO specializes in international employment law, meaning they’re well-aware of today’s compliance requirements in different countries. Not only that, but they’ve probably already had their own legal presence established in multiple countries around the world. This means they can ensure simple things like tax withholdings, compensations, and benefits are taken care of.

Ultimately, working with a PEO will dramatically reduce your legal liability. When expanding internationally, mitigating potential risk is important for you, your employees, and of course, your stakeholders and investors.

Last, but certainly not least, let’s talk a bit more about worker protections, but through the lens of remote workers. We already spoke at length about how PEOs maintain compliance, and we’ll discuss that even more in the next chapter. But it’s important to convey just how your PEO can protect your remote workers, too.

Remote Worker Protections

Working with a PEO is a surefire way to ensure that your international workforce is protected by a legal international entity that knows the standards, the social norms, and the expectations, none of which your internal HR team has time to learn. We’ve already covered how a PEO helps to ensure the basic protections of your workers, like payroll, benefits, compensation, taxes, and others, but how does it help to guarantee the protections of your remote workers?

This can be looked at in a few different ways, but one of the most important things to consider are the ways in which COVID-19 has impacted the workplace. Not only has it made technology much more integral to the success of your employee interactions, but it’s also forced businesses to adopt remote work, which ultimately opens up the potential for international expansion simply because you don’t need to maintain a physical presence overseas.

For instance, National PEO has shared some insight into the ways in which businesses can better manage their remote employees. When considering the strengths of a PEO, they say, “A PEO can help you   recruit remote workers and deal with the regulatory implications of hiring across state lines.” So, instead of conducting an extensive recruiting, vetting, screening, and interviewing process remotely, your PEO can do it for you.

This helps to ensure that your new international employees are onboarded in a way that allows them to feel comfortable. Not only will they be able to reap the benefits of a local HR team that understands local cultures, customs, and practices, but they’ll be privy to a more efficient onboarding process, which ultimately protects their happiness and satisfaction in working for your company.

From there, a Global PEO can also open your business up to new technologies because that’s essentially what all their operations are based around. Remember, keeping employees in the loop is one of the most important aspects of an employee relations strategy. This means it is imperative to make things accessible, simple, streamlined, and clear.

Typically, PEOs understand the need for multinational corporations to have the ability to seamlessly share important documents, files, and resources to their employees in the blink of an eye.

In the modern office place (pre-COVID), this would occur in-person with simple printed memos and documents that can easily be left on someone’s desk or placed in their work mailbox. But in a remote world, file sharing services and cloud platforms like Google Docs and Dropbox are the primary carriers for these important documents.

For businesses that simply haven’t invested in cloud storage, your PEO will help to ensure that this transition is virtually seamless for you. Not only will you already have a built-in infrastructure designed to help you communicate with your international remote workforce, but you’ll also open yourself up to new technologies that can help to make this new remote world just a bit easier to navigate. You might be asking yourself, “How does cloud technology help to protect my remote  workers?” The answer? Because it makes it easier for them to accomplish their tasks daily, even when they’re thousands of miles away. Ultimately, this ensures that they’re able to remain remote, which is critical during the pandemic.

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when discussing worker protections. When you’re operating a multinational corporation, a PEO can help you maintain compliance in your new host countries because they know the rules, regions, and standards—all the basic employee protections that you’re responsible for in your home country. But when it comes to remote workers, there are other protections to consider, like their safety, happiness, and satisfaction.

Those protections are made possible by partnering with a Global PEO because these organizations make it easier on the part of your new employees and on the part of your HR and administrative staff to maintain communication, to complete your daily tasks, and to ensure a healthy employer-employee relationship. And while you might not think of these as protections, they are–simply because you’re able to keep your employees safe during a global pandemic in a job that they enjoy.

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Global Professional Employer Organizations Optimize Compliance for Remote Workers

In the previous chapter, we talked a lot about the ways in which a Global PEO helps to ensure that your global business endeavors comply from an HR and administrative standpoint with all the rules, restrictions, regulations, and laws of your new host country.

Compliance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated

When it comes down to it, compliance is complicated, no matter if it’s domestic or international. But the fact is that your HR and administrative staff members are already struggling with determining how to ensure compliance with your remote workforce amid the global pandemic. And for most HR and administrative staff members, they’re simply going to assume that whatever compliance regulations they were required to ensure prior to the pandemic still stand today, even when most, if not all, of their workforce is now working from home.

The fact is that upwards of 30% of employers are fined for compliance-related issues every year! Now, could you imagine having to navigate the tumultuous waters of compliance requirements at home and abroad for your remote workers?

Fortunately, compliance doesn’t have to be complicated. Working with a PEO to help ensure that your international remote workers are protected is arguably the best decision you could make when it comes to your international endeavors. Not only will this allow you to keep your eyes on your employees at home, but it’ll give you a chance to pump the brakes, take a breath, and rest easy knowing that your PEO can cover all those requirements overseas, while you reap the benefits of a talented, dedicated, and cost-effective international remote workforce.

It’s also important to consider the fact that international employment compliance is more than simply knowing the ins and outs of the local culture, customs, and legal systems of your new host country. Every city is different, no matter where you go, and that means that you’ll be responsible not only for nationwide compliance, but for complying with regional and city compliance requirements as well.

If you did decide to forgo the assistance of a PEO, you’d be responsible for ensuring compliance in your domestic city, state, and country, as well as in your host city, region, and country, all at the same time. And in the likely event that something goes wrong, you’ll also be hit with fines and, potentially, legal action that could bar you from doing business in that host city, region, or country. Admittedly, any one of those results would spell disaster for your international expansion endeavors. 

The Unknowns of Remote Work

With the way things have gone in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s clear that remote work is likely here to stay. But what does this mean for businesses? Well, it means that there’s still a little bit of uncertainty related to compliance for remote workers. Businesses aren’t entirely sure which rules still apply, and they aren’t sure how to verify that their employees are still upholding their responsibilities in a world where Zoom meetings, collaboration platforms, and cloud technology have become the new normal.

In the business world, the conversations around remote work have revolved around the ways in which our current circumstances are reshaping the future work of work. This article by Forbes paints an interesting picture of what business leaders are expecting in the days, weeks, months, and even years ahead of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The article cites Sharat Sharan, CEO, president, and co-founder of ON24, who says, “While we could see it coming, once it hit, the pandemic changed business overnight. And when a crisis like this happens, the pace of business is totally different. Weeks start to feel like months, and outcomes are impossible to predict.”

And this is certainly true. In fact, that’s one of the main benefits of a PEO. It helps to give businesses some cost predictability, at least in terms of their international employee management processes, from payroll to benefits. However, PEOs also provide a little bit more stability as the world makes the transition from physical workplaces to virtual workplaces, providing crucial support for so many businesses still reeling from the massive and sudden disruption.

The article goes on to say, “Under these conditions, business leaders had to consider more personal issues than ever to accommodate parents who are homeschooling and providing the tech equipment for teleworking. As a result of these accommodations, attitudes and habits have changed, and things will never be the same.”

In other words, there is a “new normal” on the horizon, and much of it will involve remote work. “The office-to-home transitions have caused workers to break down emotional barriers, giving both colleagues and clients a true lens into what people become once they leave the office.” This has brought a new human element to the workplace even as we move further and further away from each other.

PEOs help to facilitate this human-to-human connection overseas because they make it easier for multinational corporations to foster real relationships with their international remote workers. Instead of focusing on all the compliance issues, business leaders can simply focus on the product, and that works wonders for the employer-employee relationship because it creates a collaborative experience that is simply focused on the task at hand.

However, it isn’t all positive just yet. In fact, “HR professionals are struggling to make remote workers feel like part of the team, and they find it difficult to integrate remote workers into company culture.” This could seem rather obvious, but with a PEO, they’re true experts at onboarding and integration. PEOs understand just how to bring remote employees into your organization seamlessly  and as your Employer of Record (EOR), they’re expected to. This is so important to remember because as things continue to become increasingly virtual, your HR staff can simply focus on ensuring that your domestic employees are well-prepared for the transition, while your PEO handles your international workers.

Lastly, what about productivity? How does that factor into the equation and how can your PEO ensure that your international remote workforce remains productive? For far too long, “Business leaders have argued against the concept of WFH (work from home) due to productivity concerns and tactical problems that limit a supervisor’s ability to observe and coach employees.”

However, COVID-19 has forced employers to get over this fear and find new ways to maximize their employees’ time. And for many employers, this has focused on the concept of scheduling.

In fact, Doodle, a leading scheduling platform, has reported a tremendous increase in its usage from February 1st to March 1st, 2020, which was just about the time when business leaders began to scramble in preparation for potential shutdowns due to the alarming spread of COVID-19. In March alone, Doodle reported a 42% increase in virtual meetings scheduled when compared to just 1 month prior.

Business leaders are looking for ways to ensure their employees are working from home and utilizing their time efficiently to remain productive.

PEOs are automatically given this task when you partner with them, so it should be no different when things shift to remote work. In addition to this, business leaders are also becoming increasingly cognizant of their employees’ mental health during this transitionary period. PEOs are responsible for benefits, employee relations, and the like, which allows you to focus on your domestic team first.

While these might seem like small and simple advantages, they truly do add up, especially as it relates to compliance.

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Technical Issues and Compliance

Remember, compliance doesn’t simply revolve around the ways in which you pay and protect your workers. It also revolves around your ability to provide a safe and effective workplace where expectations are clear, and where your employees have a clear and demonstrated ability to accomplish the tasks that are expected of them.

As the world continues to move closer to more widespread remote work, especially overseas, ensuring that your technology infrastructure is prepared to handle the weight of that is critical. Not only does this put stress on your IT staff—if you even have an in-house IT team—but it’ll also make it more difficult for your HR team to connect with your employees for simple matters. This holds true regardless of if they’re domestic or international.

When you work with a PEO, the chances are likely that you’re partnering with a highly experienced and well-equipped organization who already has an extensive IT infrastructure built for international communication and collaboration. In addition to that, they’ve got local network partnerships which they can leverage to ensure that you can implement leading virtual technology to power your new virtual workplace environment.

The New Economy discussed the ways in which COVID-19 pandemic has shone a new spotlight on the ability of digital technology to connect workers remotely in a new virtual workplace. In speaking about just how detrimental technological disruptions can be, they say, “Technical issues can be hugely disruptive to a workforce even when it has an in-house IT team ready to come to its aid at any moment.” And with that said, they also highlight the need for clear communication with employees in this new virtual workplace environment.

When a technical issue occurs, workers are likely left on their own at home, without the ability to have an IT specialist walk over to their desk to quickly diagnose an issue. This means that your company needs to be strategically prepared to work within these minor disruptions and around a struggling connection. One of the best ways to do this is to maintain clear communication with your workforce both domestically and abroad. Working with a PEO can help you do just that.

Working with a PEO is the Solution

When it comes down to it, working with a Global PEO is so much more than a simple employee management advantage overseas. It’s a comprehensive solution that allows you to make the most out of your international endeavors across everything from employee management to cost-savings, to unique locales and locations, and even to extensive networks that introduce your business to new opportunities.

In the previous chapters, we looked at the fundamental aspects of a PEO. From there, we moved into the biggest potential benefit of working with a PEO, which comes in the form of compliance and employee relations. In this chapter, we’re going to talk about a few more added benefits of working with a PEO that allow you to make the most out of your international endeavors.

It might be difficult to tell at first glance if partnering with a PEO is the right choice for your organization, but throughout this eBook, we’ve tried to highlight some of the most important benefits that often come in the form of compliance, employee relations, and interactions. It’s clear that remote work is going to dictate the new normal moving forward.

The virtual workplace is really becoming a reality, even if it is out of temporary necessity. However, many organizations have already found the value in it, and they’ve seen that it’s not only possible, but potentially more beneficial in terms of cost-savings, compliance, and employee protections.

While it’s true that any company can simply establish their own international legal entity and hire a recruitment firm to acquire talent, a PEO offers you so much more than just an outsourcing solution. It’s a comprehensive system designed to take the weight of international employee management off your shoulders, so that you can begin taking advantage of your international expansion endeavors faster, with less risk, and with more potential for a serious return on your investment. And as it relates to remote expansion in a virtual workplace, PEOs make this transition even easier.

With that said, let’s move into the next chapter in which we’ll outline the reasons for why working with a PEO is the right decision.

Test The Market First

One of the most important steps in your international expansion is conducting your due diligence research. Without that research, your international endeavors could quickly fail to meet expectations, both your own and those of your major stakeholders. Perhaps there isn’t enough demand for your service or product, or perhaps you simply don’t have the necessary infrastructure to maintain an efficient relationship between your domestic employees and your remote employees. And no matter how much market research you do, you’re never really going to know just how successful your idea will be until you get into your new market.

We’ve already spoken about the alternative to working with a PEO and in fact, you can find a more detailed explanation of it in our eBook, “What is the Difference Between a Global Employment Company and a Global Professional Employer Organization?”  You can either establish your organization formally by incorporating into your new host country, then establish a GEC to control your offshore hiring processes, or you work with a PEO. Formally incorporating is a time-consuming process that can be quite expensive and complicated—and it’s also permanent.

And working with a PEO, you give yourself the unique opportunity to explore the potential of an international endeavor without making things too permanent. Remember, you’re not establishing a physical, legal entity in the country.  You’re merely creating a virtual workplace where your employees will be based in other countries, but they will be working in tandem with your domestic team to pursue new opportunities overseas.

Grow Your Business and Not Your HR and Admin Staff

A Professional Employer Organization (PEO) will become your Employer of Record (EOR) once you partner with them. This means that they’ll essentially be hiring employees on your behalf. Not only are they responsible for recruiting these employees, interviewing, hiring, training, and onboarding them, but they’ll also be responsible for ensuring that they’re able to engage in their daily tasks, whether it be remote/virtual or on-site. This takes a major burden off the shoulders of all HR staff and administrative team members because they won’t have to worry about the massive workload that often comes along with expansion.

Think about it. Suppose you’re based in the US but are looking into an untapped market in the city of Berlin. You have 4 HR managers who currently manage 100 domestic employees, but you believe that your Berlin operation will require an additional 50 employees to start. It might be rather challenging for those 4 HR managers to address their daily duties at home, while also recruiting, interviewing, screening, hiring, training, and onboarding an additional 50 employees overseas. This means that you’ll likely be forced to bring on at least 2 more HR managers to help aid in your expansion process.

And if you were expanding internationally, you’d be forced to expand your HR department too—but not if you work with a PEO. PEOs are prepared and expected to cover all those general expansion tasks that your HR team would be required to complete, should you establish your own legal international entity. In this situation, the cost-saving and time-saving benefits are clear. But it’s more of a psychological thing than anything else.

Your HR staff is likely struggling with finding ways to connect with your new virtual workforce daily as it is, so why make it harder on them by forcing them to interact with an international workforce? Instead, allow your PEO to deliver virtually instant savings on both cost and time.

Dedicate your time focusing on your international expansion goals, leave HR to your domestic HR managers, and allow your PEO to do what they do best abroad. Not only does this give you a stronger ability to remain on-budget, but it allows you to expand your business without overloading or expanding your HR/admin teams.

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Benefits Administration Is a No-Brainer

With a PEO, administering benefits doesn’t have to be your top priority because you’ll have the ability to streamline the ways in which your employees receive and access their most important benefits, including paid time off, retirement benefits, health insurance, and others. Remember, you can’t simply expect your HR and admin teams to understand the local rules, regulations, and laws surrounding employee benefits, compensation, insurance, and others abroad

— it’s simply too complicated.

By partnering with a PEO, you’re enlisting the support of a trusted HR organization that not only understands the local requirements depending on where your new remote workers are based, but they’ll be the ones to handle the administration of all benefits, virtually guaranteeing that everything is in place for each of your new employees. This is critical because should a claim ever arise, you’re not going to be the one liable—it’ll all fall onto your PEO.

Filing Taxes Finally Becomes Simple

For far too many businesses, filing taxes is simply a nightmare. Imagine dropping some international tax compliance requirements onto your accounting team who are already bogged down with their domestic tax requirements. Instead, allow your PEO to take comprehensive control over your international taxes. PEOs are equipped and expected to handle everything from tax preparation to tax filing. They’ll do it accurately and on-time, making sure that your employees, regardless of their employment status (full-time, part-time, contract, etc.) all have the proper withholdings with each paycheck to ensure compliance locally and at the state level abroad.

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Connecting With an International Network Is a Priceless Asset

Most multinational corporations new to the arena won’t have the most extensive network of international partners to collaborate or communicate with. That’s why it’s important for business leaders to understand just how important it is to learn how to leverage their business relationships to ensure success.

If you don’t have a ton of connections overseas, then you certainly aren’t part of an extensive network of vendors, suppliers, contractors, distributors, and other related potential business partners that are often necessary to ensure the success of your operations. With a PEO, you’re enlisting the support of a dedicated established company that already has their own massive network of businesses whom they work with. This means that you can potentially open your business up to new opportunities not just in your new host country, but in any other country in which your PEO has operations.

The benefits of this are truly priceless. The only way to truly succeed in the international market is to embrace it. Remember, every new endeavor requires support. Just as building a multinational corporation requires support, so does establishing a new virtual workplace. And with both of these tasks in mind, your PEO will allow you to make the most out of your opportunities simply through their network of partnering businesses.

This Is More Than an Outsourcing Solution

As you can see, the points outlined in this chapter help to paint a clear picture of the various additional benefits that come along with choosing to work with a PEO. International expansion is hard enough, so why make it more difficult by throwing your HR team under the bus — all while navigating the challenges of a global pandemic and a changing workplace environment from a physical workplace to a virtual one?

Branching out into new international markets without taking the time and spending the money to formally incorporate is critical to your initial success. Get your new virtual operations up and running quickly by enlisting the support of a dedicated company whose sole purpose is to do just that. Shed the weight from your HR team as they continue to navigate the confusing and often contradictory practices of a virtual workplace. And of course, give your business the opportunity to serve as a leading example for the future ways of working that are sure to become a major point of conversation as we continue to transition out of the COVID-19 world we currently find ourselves in.

Working with a Global PEO isn’t just a choice

—it’s a must. It’s the only real way to leverage the power of international expansion safely, legally, and with less risk. This is your chance to grow your business the right way, no matter what industry you’re in. There’s always a way for you to connect with a Global PEO. In the next chapter, we’re going to talk about a few examples of how a PEO can work in two

Working with a PEO Across Industries: Examples

The world is changing, and it’s poised to continue changing as the future unfolds before our very eyes. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed so much in so little time that it’s going to be hard to assume that the world will simply go back to “business as usual.” In fact, we’re in line with the thinking of contemporary business leaders, major tech companies, and others that we’re going to enter into a “new normal,” one in which virtual remote work becomes standard.

With that said, we’d like to use the last chapter of this eBook to discuss two important examples of how working with a PEO can be applied across industries. We’ll look at the ways in which a Global PEO can impact the international operations of a government entity as well as that of an educational institution, such as a college or university.

How a Global PEO Can Aid a Government Entity

As a government entity, regardless of if you’re in the defense, aerospace, security, or technology sector, nothing is more important than maintaining some sort of international presence. Some of this might be due to strategic reasons, while others may simply deal with convenience, cost, and the like.

With that in mind, a Global PEO can provide any type of government entity with the critical support, services, and flexibility that it needs to employ workers and maintain compliance.

Government entities that conduct operations in multiple countries are required to abide by the laws, rules, regulations, and requirements of local governments at the state and federal level. Not only is this complex, but it’s time- consuming and expensive. By working with a PEO, these requirements are instantly lifted off the shoulders of a government entity, paving the way for more effective and streamlined operations overseas.

Remember, the PEO remains the legal employer of those workers, which means that they’ll also retain the liability of those workers. Ultimately, this can help to reduce the risk of a government entity conducting covert operations overseas, while also allowing them to remain focused on whatever task/mission is at hand.

Not only that, but it’s important to consider the additional cost benefits that a PEO can present a government entity in particular. Most often, PEOs maintain a workforce presence in the target countries that most government entities would be interested in pursuing. This means that the economies of scale come back into play, as these entities can save money on payroll fees, health insurance, benefits, and other compensatory costs.

The potential of having a PEO manage your payroll is critical, especially when your operations revolve around complex governmental operations like infrastructure development, military deployments, covert and intelligence operations, and so much more. Not only does your PEO manage the payroll within their host country, but they’ll also ensure that your contract workers are paid quickly and accurately, ultimately improving your relationship. Furthermore, every government entity knows that the international community can change on a dime and having a flexible partner by your side who can help you navigate these changes is critical to the success of your operations overseas.

Now, what about an educational endeavor?

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How a Global PEO Can Aid an Educational Institution

Now, let’s examine the additional benefits that a PEO can provide for an educational institution like a university or college.

When it comes to faculty members, you want to give them every opportunity to explore new potential opportunities overseas. After all, universities and colleges are considered thought leaders, which means that research opportunities, collaborative opportunities, and immersive experiences are critical to the success of faculty members worldwide. With that in mind, Global PEOs aren’t just known for their outsourcing ability but also for their ability to provide a doorway into virtually any location in the world. For colleges, universities, and higher education institutions, this is a must-have in meeting their academic goals and mission.

Just like with government entities, PEOs can provide higher education institutions with an increased ability to explore new locations for the purposes of academic study and research. And in most cases, they already have an extensive workforce on the ground in these locations to help you get your operations up and running.

From there, the benefits become even more important. For instance, colleges and universities in the US have been facing some tough times in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. They’ve been forced to cut costs extensively, and now they’re struggling with funding because states have nearly gone bankrupt by dedicating most of their financial resources to healthcare in order to fight the effects of the pandemic.

Today, some universities have begun to look at the ways in which virtual learning could be a possibility not just now, but in the future as well. This could potentially allow universities to downsize their facilities, to cut faculty costs, and to offer more flexible options for international students. This is precisely where a PEO can assist. A Global PEO can allow your institution to unlock some major cost-savings that are much more realistic than cutting courses, and putting your faculty members and students at risk because it’ll allow you to dedicate your attention to what’s most important—your mission.

Finally, many universities and colleges get their vast financial resources from donors and federal funding. In fact, according to an article published on thebestschools.org, “Colleges and universities exist in large part thanks to donations.”

This is so important to consider because when you partner with a PEO for your international operations, you’re presenting investors and donators with a clear, agile, and streamlined organization with less administrative costs and optimized efficiency, and with the capabilities of putting a large-scale virtual learning experience in place for students domestically and internationally.

Not only will this help to ensure that your institution is more donor-friendly, but it’ll inject your coffers with some much-needed financial capital that you can use to further fuel your international operations.

Remember–These Are Just Two Examples

While these are only two small and relatively simple examples of how the potential benefits of working with a PEO can expand and grow depending on your unique industry or market sector, it’s important to understand that with every industry, PEOs have something extra and supplemental to bring to the table.

As the world continues to move in the direction of the virtual workplace, the necessity of enlisting the support of a PEO for your international operations can’t be more clearly stated. It’s not just an option, it’s a must.

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Conclusion

The world continues to change quite drastically, with only more change on the horizon. Major businesses have already noticed that things are going to look quite a bit different as we begin to emerge from the darkness that was the COVID-19 pandemic, and this means that workers are going to expect to see some answers. They’re going to expect their employers to put in new safeguards that ensure compliance and keep them protected.  They'll also want to seek out new remote work opportunities, and they’ll want to know that their business is financially positioned to stay afloat and maintain those integral international connections if the dreaded “second wave” eventually hits the world again.

We’ve extensively outlined the fundamental benefits of working with a PEO and have shown the potential added value that comes along with a PEO partnership, which can vary and differ between industries. But the biggest takeaway is this: a Global Professional Employer Organization (PEO) can benefit your multinational organization today, tomorrow, and well into the future, regardless of your industry or market sector.

The writing is on the wall: Google is prepared to extend their work from home policy through the first half of 2022, Twitter is committed to ensuring that employees who want to remain remote can remain remote for as long as they want, and Apple, Facebook, and others are looking for new ways to ensure that their workers feel safe, involved, and engaged in a virtual work environment.

But the key thread to remember is that Global PEOs have been navigating remote work for years. It’s just what they do.

Why struggle to learn something new all on your own when you can enlist the support of a true industry expert? The math simply doesn’t add up.

We hope that this eBook has given you the information that you need to seek out the support of an experienced and dedicated Global PEO so that you can make the most out of your international operations and guarantee that your employees’ best interests are kept safe and protected. In a world where unpredictability is king, it’s time to give your employees and your business the peace of mind needed to keep your eyes on the prize.

Thank you for reading.

If you’re interested in partnering with a PEO, contact us today to learn more about what we do, who we are, and how we can help you establish your presence overseas. We look forward to hearing from you soon.