Move to home working means firms 'can hire many more execs based overseas'

The mass switch to home working caused by coronavirus is redefining Scotland’s recruitment practices – with companies now enabled to hire significantly more overseas-based executives, according to a key player in the sector.

Ivor Campbell, chief executive of Snedden Campbell – a specialist recruitment firm focused on the medical technology sector – said more firms are prepared to have senior decision-makers located abroad after discovering the effectiveness of remote working.

Mr Campbell said that more than 90 per cent of Snedden Campbell’s business is now done for UK-based companies, many of them start-ups and pre-revenue, compared with around half prior to the pandemic.

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He said: “We have done business from San Diego to Dubai and, when I look at what we’ve been doing for the last six to nine months, almost everything we have done has been in the UK, which is completely different from the situation before Covid.”

Mr Campbell says companies will now 'more readily accept that a lot of roles can be done remotely'. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto.
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The CEO added that prior to the pandemic, if you were going to place someone in a senior role, it was expected that they would be on the firm’s premises 100 per cent of the time unless they were on the road for work.

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“What we have found now is that companies will more readily accept that a lot of roles can be done remotely, and it’s win-win, because they can now put their hands on people they would never have been able to hire before because they would have had to relocate them.

“If they can live with that individual coming in one day a week or five days a month, and doing the rest of the role remotely, then all of a sudden they have a much bigger talent pool than they did 12 months ago. We’ve all learned how to use Zoom and it works.

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The CEO (pictured) co-owns and manages the firm, which recruits talent for medical technology, and especially diagnostics companies. Picture: contributed.

“You just have to get your head around the fact that your business meetings are not going to be in person around a table in Dundee – they will be around a virtual table and there will be one person from the US, one from India, and three based in Europe.”

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It could mean less tax revenue generated by the Treasury as many of the workers won’t pay UK tax, but it saves employers the cost of relocating senior executives from overseas, typically mainland Europe but also the US and, increasingly South Asia and Asia Pacific, and such firms are also able to pay local rates and taxes if most of the work is done there.

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The trend has been fuelled by an exodus of overseas workers caused by Covid and Brexit, according to the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, which recently reported a slump in the numbers of EU workers in the UK.

Mr Campbell – who owns and manages his firm with wife Jennifer Snedden – added that the ability to work remotely will help to override labour shortages in scientific, technical and engineering sectors.

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He said: “We continue to place more people in the most senior roles… These are new people, either for established companies that are growing, or new companies that have significant investments and are bringing people on to convert that investment into profit.”

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