Hybrid work models are finally here. Is transnational localism next?

What is transnational localism?

The pandemic has taught businesses many lessons over the past year-and-a-half, but the biggest of those lessons may be the viability of remote working models.

Despite the doubts that many had about working remotely when this all began, we have seen positive effects on employee productivity and wellbeing alike.


Those positive effects have given employees a strong desire to maintain at the very least a hybrid working model, and many business decision-makers agree.


But how can businesses leverage this newfound knowledge for the better of everyone beyond the pandemic to bring about meaningful and lasting change in the way businesses operate?

The pandemic has taught businesses many lessons over the past year-and-a-half, but the biggest of those lessons may be the viability of remote working models.

What is transnational localism?

At Zoho, for quite some time before the pandemic began, we put a lot of thought into the idea of breaking free from traditional working models.

And the solution we developed is called transnational localism.

So what is transnational localism?

Hybrid work models are finally here. Is transnational localism next?

Transnational localism is centered around the idea of “think globally, act locally” and it involves the establishment of smaller, regionally located offices in rural areas to facilitate the hiring of employees that do not reside within major metropolitan areas, and who won’t need to commute into cities.

These regional offices allow our teams to save huge amounts of hours that would normally be dedicated to commuting into the city for work, while also giving them access to a shared space for tasks that require in-person collaboration or face-to-face client meetings.

And while the benefits of this concept extend far beyond the requirements of a post-pandemic business world, this global pandemic has highlighted many of the shortcomings of traditional office models and revealed an even stronger need for transnational localism.

Our transnational localism journey at Zoho began a few years ago with the opening of several smaller, rural-area offices in India and Texas, which allowed us to begin hiring local talent that was being overlooked in these smaller towns.

Since then, we have opened a number of such “spoke” offices designed for 20-40 people; including 15 offices during the pandemic alone. With more to come.

What are the benefits to your business and workforce?

To truly evaluate the many benefits of transnational localism, you should break it down into three categories: workforce, community, and environment.

For your workforce, this model allows them more freedom, especially those living in rural areas. It not only cuts down massively on their commute times – which alone has great benefits for your people and the environment alike – but it also allows them to maintain a level of work-life balance that so few people are able to achieve comfortably currently.

Small Business Canada

Being able to do all of that, while still facilitating in-person collaboration and face-to-face meetings when needed via smaller, regional offices available to your staff when needed, is invaluable.

On the community side, this model encourages the hiring of local talent who are often overlooked simply due to the fact that they are not in urban centers.

By fostering small-town talent, you can revitalize those rural areas by allowing their people to stay local and encourage growth and progress in those communities and create an opportunity for that local talent to give back to where they grew up. While such a benefit may be immeasurable, it is very real and very important.

Supporting smaller communities and fostering the talent within them is an important strategy anywhere in the world, but it becomes especially important in a country like Canada, where there exist many more rural or even isolated communities.

Many of these communities – including many of the Northern or East Coast communities – have been suffering from a technological deficit (such as inadequate internet access) that has made it almost impossible to properly operate a business in or operate in a remote role. By putting your support into these communities through smaller, more regional offices and the hiring of local talent, Canada can start to correct some of these deficits that have plagued these communities for years or give those communities the tools they need to be empowered to correct those deficits themselves.

And finally, the environmental benefits of such a model are obvious.

By cutting out commute times, you cut out a huge amount of fossil fuel usage – whether that be from personal vehicles or public transit – and as we find ourselves in the midst of an environmental crisis, what could be more important than taking steps to reduce environmental impact in any place possible?

The future of transnational localism

As businesses plan for the post-pandemic world we will hopefully be living in soon, the time has come for some real and meaningful change.

Change can come from anywhere, but traditional working models and traditional office systems are some of the greatest opportunities to drive that change now and far into the future.

We see transnational localism playing a huge part in that change and believe that any business that is capable of it has a responsibility to their workforce, their communities, and the environment as a whole to put a true effort into building such a model.

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