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Beyond borders: Building an open enterprise that attracts top tech talent

Ambitious organisations build an open culture, use open source and are open to global talent

You must build an organisation that’s open to people, processes and technology to attract and retain the top tech talent. That’s what we learned when we spoke to 400 tech professionals across six continents.

The best tech professionals are drawn to organisations that promote collaboration, trust, exploration, innovation, community and the opportunity to work on meaningful projects. If you want to attract and retain these professionals then you must build an open organisation that delivers these things. 

There are three key areas you must focus on when building an open organisation: people, technology and processes. It’s about trusting and empowering tech professionals, giving them the tools they want to use and having a global outlook when hiring them.

Tech professionals want an open culture

We asked over 400 tech professionals across six continents how tech brands can find and retain the best talent. A key insight we gained from the people we spoke to is that culture is crucial. Indeed, 80% of our respondents said company culture is a priority when taking a new role. This is something tech leaders agree on, with James Duez, Founder of Rainbird Technologies, stating: 

“The best tech talent is highly likely to be mission-led and purpose-driven. If the internal culture of their company reflects the values that the company promotes externally, they will feel a strong connection and will go to great lengths to make it successful.”

According to Stefanie Peters, digital nomad and CEO of enable2grow, organisations should look to startups to understand what good culture looks like. In her ‘Open Culture: the secret to sustainable growth and innovation’ article, Peters argues that: “Startup employees are known for being extremely motivated. They identify deeply with the culture and values of their company because they know the purpose and vision they are building toward. Thanks to an open culture, they feel engaged and as valuable contributors to the company’s progress. To create an open culture that enables continuous change, leaders in companies have to trust their employees, allow them to take on responsibility, and enable them to use their strengths.”

It’s unsurprising then that our report found 81% of people working for enterprise companies (organisations with 500+ employees) think they’ll have a problem finding and keeping talent, compared to just 43% of people in smaller companies (such as startups).  

Jim Whitehurst, an Independent Director at Tanium and formerly the President of IBM and the CEO of Red Hat, author of ‘The Open Organization: Igniting Passion and Performance’, posits that an open organisation is one that “engages participative communities both inside and out — responds to opportunities more quickly, has access to resources and talent outside the organization, and inspires, motivates, and empowers people at all levels to act with accountability."

What we take from Whitehurst’s words are the three things we spoke of in our introduction to this article: people, technology and processes.

People: empower tech professionals to explore ideas

According to The New Stack: “The goal for developers is to define and build new features and applications”. To be able to do this, your organisation needs to build an open environment where tech professionals are empowered to explore ideas. You can achieve this by establishing a culture of builders and craftspeople, one where people are encouraged to continuously improve, learn and innovate. 

Part of this is about appreciating there are often multiple solutions to a single problem and that things will sometimes go wrong. “Failure” is replaced by “Opportunity”, as your developers embrace the journey of individual, team and organisational improvement. 

Crucial to creating this environment is being open to knowledge being shared both inside and outside of your organisation. You can achieve this by encouraging your staff to participate in technical communities — for example, attending and speaking at events. 

By taking these steps, you can build an open enterprise organisation that attracts and retains tech professionals because they’ll have the environment to do the things they love — build expertly engineered solutions that accelerate and sustain progress for organisations and have opportunities to share their expertise.

Technology: leverage open source solutions

In Nearform’s ‘Modern Digital Organisation Manifesto’, we state that: “Open source provides a foundation for custom application development, helps set the culture and values of high-performing teams, and attracts and retains technical talent.”

But the value of open source extends beyond this point. The top tech professionals want to use the best technologies and it’s estimated that free and open source software (FOSS) constitutes 70-90% of any given piece of modern software solutions. This means that open source is the foundation of the technologies developers — and by extension, consumers — want to use, so leveraging it is a must if you want to give them the right tools to do their best work. 

The benefits of bringing open source software (OSS) into your organisation go beyond just satisfying the desire of your staff to use the best technologies. OSS helps accelerate productdevelopment and enables faster time to market, reducing the time it takes to get new products and features into your customers’ hands. Paula Paul, Field CTO for NearForm, adds: “Organisations that support employee contributions to the OSS projects that are strategic to their industry benefit from significant improvements to developer productivity, talent acquisition, and retention." This flips the benefit of using OSS back to your tech professionals, as they’re able to make a greater contribution to the success of your organisation in a shorter timeframe.

Processes: be open to global talent

The top tech professionals are based all over the world, from the USA to New Zealand. If you want to attract and retain the best tech talent then you need to be open to hiring from across the globe, otherwise you’ll shrink your pool of available candidates. 

To enable a global recruitment strategy, you must make remote working a key part of your organisation. This is something that shouldn’t be surprising, as it’s been impossible to ignore since the COVID-19 pandemic. However, you may be surprised to learn just how important remote working is to the best tech talent — 67% of the 400+ people we spoke to in our tech talent survey said they’d consider leaving a company if they couldn’t work remotely.

Remote working is something that not only gives tech professionals what they expect from their employer, it also enables your organisation to build its presence in different parts of the world. This positions your enterprise to take advantage of global opportunities, as you’ll have talented tech professionals at your disposal who understand the unique requirements of the regions they operate in. 

Opening up your enterprise by building an international workforce does come with a range of challenges. These include laws and regulations, time zones, culture and more. However, we at Nearform practice remote working and know it to be successful. We’ve been remote-first for over a decade and that’s enabled us to hire top talent from Europe, North America, South America and Asia.

Give tech professionals what they want

Building an open enterprise organisation means you’ll have an approach to people, technology and processes that promotes collaboration, trust, exploration, innovation, community and the opportunity to work on meaningful projects. These are things the best professionals want from their employer and delivering them will give your organisation a great shot of being the enterprise they want to work for.

Insight, imagination and expertly engineered solutions to accelerate and sustain progress.