remote interview

Tran on a Zoom call at midnight with an American startup founder to discuss the new fintech project

Quan Tran, a full-time blockchain engineer at a Vietnam-based technology development service provider, is receiving three other well-paying job offers at the same time. Those come from foreign teams in France, America, and India, requesting Tran to remotely work for them during his time off.

“I work four more hours a day for two to three outside projects with foreign companies,” Tran said. “Many asked me to quit my current job and work remotely for them as a full-timer.”

Tran specialises in applying blockchain technology to fintech, social impact, digital identity, and digital assets. This hands-on experience mostly comes from his previous remote work for clients in Singapore, Japan, and Korea. Not only is he paid higher salaries, but his skills and knowledge could also be harnessed through working with those global firms.

“Vietnamese regulation has yet opened for many types of blockchain applications, most of which are just pilot projects or experimental products,” he stated.

“Meanwhile, I see that many foreign companies’ blockchain-based products or services are related to the real-life asset security, which gives me more exposure to up-to-date technological issues, as well as efficient problem solving and risk management skills.”

This is in line with the result of a recent survey of 400,000 IT employees using JobHopin, a Vietnam-based automated job recruitment platform for Southeast Asian workers.

The study revealed that 43.2 per cent of the respondents would be attracted to new jobs if they allow them to develop novel specialised technology skills, such as in AI, IoT, blockchain, or computer vision.

Also Read: Tech for good: How Ula aims to facilitate the needs of small businesses in emerging market

Technology staff in India, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam have long been known as the top IT outsourcing solution providers for global companies, according to A.T. Kearney’s Global Services Location Index (GSLI).

“Even before the pandemic, companies based in high labour-cost locations, like Australia and the US, have already utilised remote workers for non-core tasks, or even set up hub offices in lower-cost locations,” said Christopher Lee, senior manager of People & Organisation Management Consulting at PwC Consulting Vietnam. “COVID-19 has only accelerated this trend.”

With the acceleration caused by the pandemic, technology jobs like data engineer, senior software engineer, solution architect have entered the fastest growing remote jobs by application volume globally from March to June on Linkedin, the world’s largest professional networking platform.

“Now that offshore software outsourcing teams are not only performing non-core development tasks, but also gradually receiving frontier-tech integrated software orders,” said Kevin Tung Nguyen, CEO of JobHopin.

“AI and Blockchain are now the two most sought-after technologies. A large number of young IT employees in Southeast Asia are qualified to implement these with relatively lower costs than that of engineers in the developed host countries.”

To retain talents against this increasing acquisition of remote tech talent from overseas, embracing a strong workplace culture is the key strategic plan for local companies.

By observing activities of prominent corporate clients of PwC, Lee underlined several characteristics of such cultures, including the lean structure and low in the hierarchy, open to experimentation, highly geared to learning, low regulations and roadblocks, healthy and positive collegial environment, and especially the meaningful purpose of the technology solution itself.

“[These] companies’ purposes often focus on solving a key problem in society where people can take pride in,” noted Lee.

However, in the long run, he added that the opportunities of having a remote working culture across the globe could outweigh the challenges as it strengthens the “osmosis” effect, or accelerates the exchange of knowledge between developed and developing countries.

“[It helps] creating larger talents pools that will accelerate growth within the low labour cost nations,” Lee stated.

Also read: Is Southeast Asia facing a tech talent crisis in the midst of rapid growth?

Tran also said the same idea as he wanted to apply the new skills and knowledge received from other foreign firms into the local company at which he is working.

“I haven’t planned for permanent full-time remote work for foreign companies,” he said. “As a Vietnamese, I feel more engaged in developing world-class technology products or services made by and for Vietnamese people.”

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