This week I caught up with international entrepreneur, Patrick Linton. Two years ago Patrick co-founded Bolton Remote, an interesting off-shoring service for small and medium sized companies. The rules of international business keep evolving. Read on to find out more…
Patrick, would you explain for our readers the business model behind Bolton Remote? How is it different from traditional international offshoring?
Bolton Remote helps businesses reliably tap into large, dynamic and cost-competitive international talent markets. We’re part HR & recruitment firm, part professional employer organization (PEO), and part co-working space… but everything centers around bringing together the right companies and people, regardless of nationality or geographical differences.
“Traditional” offshoring is usually associated with outsourcing. The two are typically (and incorrectly) used interchangeably. Bolton Remote is purely offshoring in the sense that we help companies leverage international, non-local talent, and not outsourcing in the fact that we allow businesses to keep control over all of their competencies.
We tell companies that they should keep as much as they can in-house, but they can still get the benefits of leveraging global talent (cost savings + access to good people). Previously, small and medium-sized companies were limited to their local talent pool – we just give them more options.
An example would be a software company who thought their only way to access offshore talent was to outsource software development. The problem with that – if you give it to someone else to build and maintain, you’re missing valuable insights, and its very risky because this is what you do. Instead we say: don’t outsource, just use our service and platform to build out your own team that you select and you manage. We focus on attracting and retaining your talent – integrating our knowledge of the local culture to help supplement your management – but at the end of the day, these are “in-house employees”.
What has changed in your industry since you founded your company?
Since starting Bolton Remote in early 2013, I continue to see a massive shift of small businesses, start-ups, and medium-sized companies looking to remain competitive by tapping into new overseas talent markets. The “big guys” like IBM have been doing this for decades by going into these markets (China, India, the Philippines, etc.) and setting up their own operations, hiring thousands of people, and building products and services based on large scale labor arbitrage. This has typically been off limits to smaller firms because of the high barriers to entry setting up overseas operations. So, moving jobs to competitive locations is nothing new – but our model is to help SMEs have access to the same advantages.
In Western countries there is always a fear of losing domestically-based jobs to those who will work for less elsewhere. What would you say to those who fear jobs moving overseas?
Interestingly, many of our customers are more successful because of their ability to bring on remote staff in cost-competitive locations. We enable them to do this easily, quickly and safely. So in that sense, I see what we do as job creation. I think as long as we focus on providing a service that helps companies be more and more successful, and at the same time are creating badly needed jobs in countries like the Philippines, we are doing a lot of good both in the developed countries we serve, and, in the developing markets where we hire talent.
What’s an example of a best practice you’ve seen in managing global talent?
Do not to assume that people value or are motivated by the same things in another culture. In western countries there is an obsession with working from home. That may drive someone to perform in many US organizations. This is far from the case in other places around the globe. I had a conversation recently with a new hire in Manila. He has been working from home for a while now. When I asked him why he is looking for a new job, he said “at home, my only friend is Google.” He explained that working from home was lonely. He often feels left out of the company culture and misses building relationships with other Filipinos. Try to understand what motivates people to perform, and build systems, incentives and processes around that.
From your operations in Manila and Singapore, what do you see as major trends in global HR?
I think we will see new tools and technologies that help companies manage their remote global workforces. There are already some great technologies that have started to revolutionize the way companies manage talent. These include improved video conferencing tools, project management, document storage, workflow management and performance management.
Another trend is that companies of all sizes should expect and plan for multi-cultural, cross-geographical work forces. In global cities like Singapore, it is not uncommon to have people from across the globe all in one conference room. The advent of remote staff is already starting to happen. Only instead of everyone working face-to-face, they are “sitting” remotely side-by-side with global counterparts.
About Patrick Linton
Patrick is the Co-Founder of Bolton Remote and splits his time between Manila, Philippines, Singapore and Australia. A graduate of Belmont University, Patrick has had an extensive academic and professional career in Southeast Asia. Before striking out as an international entrepreneur, Patrick was a consultant for Accenture.
For more articles written for growing companies doing business internationally, please read more from The International Entrepreneur Blog.