The increasing number of startups going remote shows no sign of slowing down as we pass the mid-point of 2019. The benefits of remote teams far outweighs the costs and complexities. However, even as we acknowledge the positives of remote work, it seems to be growing faster in Southeast Asia than the rest of the world.
We know that building a remote team is not easy and requires infrastructure and a strong process to ensure it succeeds. There are trade-offs, but it does allow companies to scale faster and with less resources.
It does seem that Southeast Asia has emerged as one of the most popular places to source for remote workers, and startups are at the forefront of this. Even HR and sourcing companies like Glints are offering remote teams for hire to companies around the region. With the booming tech scene, an expanding pool of young talent, and an increasingly positive attitude towards flexible work, it makes sense.
We look at some of the reasons why Southeast Asia is becoming the hub for remote work.
An improving talent pool
Southeast Asia has over 650 million people with a young population that is hungry for work. The region is also going through a technology boom, meaning that there is a growing need for tech talent and with that will come a growing crop of talented and hungry people looking for work.
With the growing talent pool and a growing trend towards flexibility over salary, means that even in developed markets like Singapore there is a growing remote talent pool.
There is also the “Sea Turtle” phenomenon, where those who study or work abroad eventually return home to start or further their careers. This means there are internationally trained and educated workers coming back to their home markets – the opposite of brain drain.
Besides the home-grown talent, Southeast Asia is also very attractive to digital nomads working online. Countless foreigners are settling in cities such as Bali, Chiang Mai and Cebu to enjoy the lifestyle, while being able to live on remote and part-time work.
The Southeast Asian tech and startup boom
Southeast Asia has become an incredibly healthy entrepreneurial environment with markets like Singapore and Malaysia leading the way in being business-friendly. This is shown by the growing number of startups entering the market each year and increasing investment and acquisitions by global companies like Alibaba, Tencent and Softbank.
With increase in startup activity means more opportunities for remote work due to better infrastructure and training in the region. The startup scene will ensure that potential remote workers are up to date on the latest technologies and are likely to have been exposed to the pace of work and expectations of a startup business
This provides the ideal infrastructure for a business to scale effectively.
For the time being at least, living in Southeast Asian countries is significantly cheaper than most other markets in the world. Singapore-aside, the cost of rent, food and even a semi-luxurious lifestyle is not going to break the bank for most people.
From dollar meals to rent as low as a few dollars a night, it is possible to live comfortably in Southeast Asia, while working remotely. Even setting up an office in these markets and hiring locals can keep your costs down significantly as salaries for qualified staff can be a quarter of less of what it would be to hire elsewhere in the world.
Southeast Asia is beautiful
Let me be concise – Southeast Asia is one of the most beautiful and diverse regions to visit and live in. From amazing cities, delicious good and beaches as well as mountains, you would be hard pressed to find a better location.
What this results in, is usually happier employees, less stress and an increasing network of talented individuals looking for remote work rather than sitting in a dimly lit office.
Even if beaches and nature isn’t your style, cities like Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok and many more offer a more urban living situation with the benefits of great weather.
If you remove the office space, your overheads are almost negligible and scaling a startup even at an early stage is possible.
The rise of the remote startup is now on
We’re only going to see this trend continue to grow and Southeast Asia should be at the centre of this explosion. With their talent pool, cost of living and a diverse network of individuals, there is no stopping the growth of the new wave of startup businesses.
This is a well put together article and it covers the primary drivers for the growth of remote teams in SEA. It is quite warming where the author observes the brain drain trend reverse into the sea-turtle phenomenon. With the tech boom and knowledge economy, SEA offers much to the world in terms of talent pool. Also, the growth of EORs (Employer of record) and PEOs (Professional Employer Organization) have enabled startups to hire across timezones fulfilling all compliance norms and maintaining compensation standards.