Hybrid Strategy: Relocate Versus Remote - An Interview With Relocate.Me Founder Andrew Stetsenko

Updated: Nov 29, 2021

See the full interview between Harry and Andrew here.


Lockdowns have led to a massively enhanced focus of the talent in different countries globally.


As a result, winning the talent race, and hiring better people than your competitors, requires you to either be winning from a remote working policy perspective, or from a relocation perspective - where you source the talent and get it back to your HQ or fixed region, and make it a smooth and happy experience for the prospective employee. As a result – relocation strategy of people to employment hubs is still a massive (and growing) part of a hybrid future!


So how does one decide which strategy to go down, and how does one go about either of these routes? Perchpeek had the opportunity to interview Andrew Stetsenko, the CEO and founder of Relocate.Me, the job relocation platform for tech professionals, where he opens up about taking advantage of the talent market that is out there and, discussing when relocation or remote working is the best for bringing it to your country of work, and how to do so.


This includes:

  • How to access great options from the international talent pool?

  • Where in the world should you be looking for brilliant new hires?

  • How have the global talent market dynamics changed in the last 18 months?

  • Where is Remote or Relocation the best strategy?



The Change in Relocation Vs. Remote Working During the Pandemic


Although a significant portion of major companies are embracing a totally remote future, such as Twitter, Spotify and Atlassian, a similarly significant portion now seem to be set on adopting a Hybrid model for now, where a few days are required in the office in the week and a few months may be taken a year in a different country each year. This includes companies such as Revolut, Ocado and Amazon.


These models require employees to be within a certain range of the office, but often people, and you can see this from what’s happened in the UK and US housing markets, are moving to houses outside the city centres and in the quieter areas surrounding those hubs. This has meant that where some articles had previously suggested that remote working will mean the death of big cities such as New York, London and San Francisco, Hillary Hoffower of Business Insider, said that this has caused these cities to get bigger!


Relocate.Me is a platform that helps tech talent find great opportunities abroad.


A lot has changed for the relocation industry in the last 18 months, and the increase in border restrictions has had a major impact. Andrew shared, “we probably lost 70% of our clients when the pandemic started.” This was due largely to the big trend of companies switching to remote work, allowing employees to work from anywhere.


However, as lockdowns have eased, there is an increase in the number of companies adopting a Hybrid model, with a fixed location.


What is the role of relocation in a hybrid model?

There are 2 major sides to the world of relocation:


- When major corporations send “ambassadors” out to foreign countries to manage relationships and workforces abroad, and create a new hub location.


- When talent from less developed countries, or ones with fewer opportunities, come to a hub location to take a job at one of these hubs.



According to Andrew, the impact of Covid has varied a lot by country, especially with how different embassies have acted.


For example, for a country like Sweden, where borders have remained open throughout the pandemic, not a lot has changed in terms of hiring outside of the country. In countries like Australia, Singapore, and Japan, however, that have maintained locked borders, there has been a major shortage in talent, as no one has been able to get a work visa.


“The second thing that significantly changed,” shared Andrew, “is how you interview international talent.” Pre-pandemic, final interviews would often be conducted in person, so the potential candidate could see the location and country they might be moving to. This often isn’t the case anymore, according to Andrew, with international candidates interviewing remotely and moving to the location of the job sometimes without having ever visited before.


Will Remote Work Change the Relocation Model?


With all these changes, we asked Andrew if the relocation model would withstand this move to a remote first working world. According to him, “Based on our data, we see that still a lot of techies want to relocate even though they will be working remotely.”


Despite being able to work remotely, there are benefits to being near your workforce, and many employees have taken to the hybrid working model. “They prefer to stay four days at home, but one day visit the office,” states Andrew. This flexible working environment allows the company flexibility while also building the internal culture and team.


When asked for an example of where a hybrid model would be most beneficial, Andrew shared his insights on countries like Japan, which are heavily locked down. And because of this, it’s hard to move new employees and their families immediately in. This is where the hybrid model works great, according to Andrew.



The new employee has to start remotely in this case, and it also allows them to get a feel for the company and see if it will be a good fit. “So it means the hybrid model is super beneficial for both, for the employers and for the tech workers as well.” According to Andrew, this is a win-win for both the employers and employees.


The Advantages of Hiring Foreign Talent Over Local Talent Pool


This leads into the question of why hire foreign talent instead of just hiring within the country of the company, which Andrew was able to answer for us. According to Andrew, two great reasons for hiring talent from abroad, are that it both greatly widens the talent pool, and can also help find employees who stay with the company for a longer period.


Local talent can be picky in choosing their employer, taking into consideration the distance of the commute or other “luxury problems,” according to Andrew. The benefit of hiring foreign talent and relocating them, though, is if the employee is serious enough about the job and company to move, they will most likely want to put their best foot forward in a new environment.


On top of this, hiring a diverse group of people from different backgrounds, education and life conditions creates an incredibly diverse talent pool within the company, which is especially beneficial for international companies. Having “an international team on board… any of the team members can share something about the specific market and they can be your kind of ambassadors.”


Where Is The Best Place To Hire Foreign Talent From?



Relocate.Me helps top tech talent optimise their job applications to foreign companies.


Since foreign talent and hiring abroad are becoming more popular, when asked if there is a pool of untapped talent that companies in Western Europe and the U.S. haven’t made the most of, Andrew shared that it really depends on the country hiring and the hirees more than anything else.


A big factor is language. Companies in certain countries are much more likely to hire from a country that shares their language or at least shares the same roots of the language.


Andrew cautions companies to be unbiased when it comes to culture. A large pitfall, according to him, is when employers judge the talent of certain countries too quickly, having only seen a handful of candidates from there. “You can’t judge (a country’s talent) by having two interviews from candidates from this country - You won’t have the whole picture.”


Instead he suggests companies looking to hire to look for talent in countries should remain as country-unbiased as possible. Just look for people that are “motivated, interested to move, and have an international mindset.”


Andrew has seen both large successful companies who can hire easily from around the world and have few boundaries, and those companies that have strong preferences regarding the locations they hire from. An example he used is the European Union wanting to hire within the European Union, to make the transition less complicated.


However, according to Andrew, based on seven years of experience in this field, he suggests this isn’t always the best method- “ If you want real exceptional talent, please just expand the boundaries for the locations where you want to hire the talent.”


Strategy for successfully hiring from abroad


While going from zero foreign workers for a small company to a full team can seem daunting, Andrew shared his strategy on successfully building up a team of international talent.


  1. Check limitations - The first step in hiring outside the local pool is to make sure you are allowed to and have the proper license. For instance, you may require a special license, like in the Netherlands.

  2. Identify the biggest pain points of relocation - The next step is to identity what parts of the relocation are going to be difficult. These can include a complicated visa process or trouble with lodging. For example, Andrew pointed out that some big cities, like Berlin, have an extremely competitive renting landscape, so the job candidate may need help with finding a flat.

  3. Offer support to job candidates - Moving to a different country to start a job is a big step, and offering support to new employees is essential. Andrew suggested, “if you have some expats in your team so far, try to connect them to share the experience.” Employees who have been there before can help new employees navigate the challenges that come with moving to a different country, including tax benefits, getting a resident permit, medical insurance and more.


Regions Embracing The Relocation Model


As for who was embracing the international talent opportunity the most, Andrew stated “the companies who are ready to hire people from everywhere (instead of specific countries)” are the most successful he’s seen so far.


When he asked relocation candidates where their most desired locations are, it often depends on the work visa situation or the economics, but of the 90,000 registered users of Relocate.Me asked, the top three countries were Canada, Germany, and the Netherlands.


Andrew also pointed out the rising popularity of countries like Japan and other “southern or not so popular countries” among international talent, not as a place to live long-term, but as an adventure living and working in a foreign country for a few years.


Advice To Employers For Greater Success In Hiring International Talent


In regards to how employers can have greater success in hiring and relocating international talent, Andrew had some great advice. He pointed out the importance of having a straightforward interview process, especially with so many prospective employees from all over the world.


Waiting too long to respond to candidates can cause loss of great potential talent according to Andrew. He shared with us, “We see that some employers might be a bit slow in responses… because they say, if they’re not in our country, most likely they could wait.” The problem with this approach is in the 2 weeks the employers are taking to get back to the candidate, they were hired by a different company. Don’t forget - whilst searching through a global employee pool, you are also competing with a global employer pool.


“It’s kind of we’re all in a candidate-driven market at the moment, especially in tech, so the candidates choose the companies where they want to work.”

The market we are currently in makes it all the more important for employers to make the hiring process exceptional. Andrew advises, “Try to sell and present the best of your company, your mission, why you’re looking for exceptional talent.”


Conclusion


With such a massive talent pool available via remote work and relocation of international talent, and resources like Relocate.Me available, companies have a huge opportunity to grow, not only in size but diversity and talent.


When faced with the choice of whether to keep your workers remote or move to more of a hybrid model, keep in mind the advice above and move forward with the model that works best for your company and country. With this new changing world of business, it could be one of the most important things you do in the next 10 years of your business and have long-lasting impacts for years to come.



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