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ALL THE WORLD'S AN OFFICE

The next wave of globalization will be made possible by remote work

People cool off in the water at the Unisphere at Flushing Meadows Corona Park in the Queens borough of New York in 2015.
Reuters/Shannon Stapleton
Can virtual work make us more of a global village?
  • Jackie Bischof
By Jackie Bischof

Deputy membership editor

As Gunilla Hellqvist, the Stockholm-based head of Nasdaq’s European market operations, starts to consider when and how her employees might return to their offices in the near-future, one of things on her mind is how she can retain the level playing field the coronavirus pandemic has created for her team.

Hellqvist oversees 230 people in half a dozen cities. After shifting to working from home earlier this year, her team dramatically stepped up their number of check-ins. She’s been surprised and pleased to see how much more included people feel as a result. “Before, it [could] be five people in the meeting room in Stockholm, maybe having another person on the phone. Now, with virtual meetings, they feel that we are all equal,” she says. “It’s actually a very positive thing, that we come together on a more equal basis, when we can be on the same level, on the same meetings. They feel that they are a super strong [united] team because they meet each other so often.”

Globalization—the ideal of an interconnected world—is predicated on the idea that we are stronger working together than split apart. But it has proven politically divisive, in large part because its costs and benefits have not been shared equally. If the expansion of remote work makes it easier and more common to work with colleagues across borders, could it also make globalization more popular? For our field guide on virtual, borderless teams, we asked experts what kind of impact the dramatic shift in working from home precipitated by Covid-19 might have on global collaboration.

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