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Tech investment grows your business and builds your talent – case proven, says Andrew Millard

First they pursued the home workers, because, when employees were away from their desks, managers felt they couldn’t control them. Then they came for the tech guys, because they spoke a language few managers could understand.

Those misguided prejudices are thankfully dying out. And so they should: it’s proven that remote working and tech investment boost your business. The factors work hand in hand.

When we, at software company Citrix, teamed up with British market research company YouGov, we found a clear correlation between technological investment and
business growth. A survey of British businesses with fewer than 250 employees found that the firms that had grown by 50% or more over the past two years were four times more likely to have substantially increased expenditure on technology in 2014, compared with 2013, than those firms that remained static or contracted.

To grow, many of the companies surveyed had to advance from the domestic sphere to the global one. Almost four in ten of the high-growth businesses surveyed had recruited talent from abroad. Many of these employees relocated, but many did not: more than one in five of the high-growth firms took on staff who worked remotely from their own country. This is a major, important shift: ten years ago, it was rare for companies to hire overseas staff without the latter agreeing to move to the country of employment. Now it is relatively common, and disproportionately so among high-growth firms.

Greater computing power, and better software, means that recruiting talent from abroad to work remotely overseas is no longer a recipe for drift. The opposite is true: companies set up for remote working report greater efficiencies: fewer distractions, no commutes. Staff work longer hours, but shorter days. Well over half the respondents to the YouGov survey said it was the digitization of business process that made this dream a reality.

Clients are also benefiting from the remote -working revolution: almost half of the highgrowth firms surveyed reported that technological investment had allowed staff to collaborate effectively with customers without having to travel. Consider the case of Simon Morton, managing director and founder of Eyeful Presentations, a global consultancy based in the English Midlands. Flying across the world to events was time-consuming, energy-sapping – and very expensive. Simon now uses remote-working software to market advanced presentations live online without physically being present. The result? His company is more efficient than it was, and the time-saving gives him greater capacity for new business. “We have reduced travel dramatically even though we serve more customers than ever,” he says. “We can collaborate with clients worldwide as if we were next door.”

If managers once had to get used to workers not being in the same office, they now have to embrace the fact that many are not even in the same country. Where managing directors might once have wasted hours on board planes, they now use this time to grow their firms.

It has long been said that technology makes the world smaller. Chief executives now know that, in business, it makes it grow.

Andrew Millard is senior director of international marketing at Citrix


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