Definition of global work

Global work can be described as conducting business that requires frequently crossing multiple cultural, spatial and temporal boundaries either physically (through travel and/or relocation) or virtually (via technology).

One of the main components of working globally, which differentiates it from ‘domestic-focused’ work, entails traveling internationally on a periodic basis to work with others in another country.  Beyond that, the nature of the work performed involves multi-country or worldwide responsibilities and has implications for the organisation on a global scale. This moves away from viewing global work from the perspective of where it is performed (usually taking place abroad) to what is being performed and how it is focused globally (as opposed to domestically).

Broadly speaking, global work can be performed with the employee living and working abroad or remaining located domestically. Forms of global work include:

1) long-term (“expat”) international assignments of 2 to 5 years

2) short-term international assignments of 1 year abroad or less

3) commuter assignments requiring 2-3 week stays in another country punctuated by shuttling back and forth to home

4) discrete episodes of frequent international business travel (“flexpatriates”)

5) global virtual work using information and communication technologies.


Part of understanding how much travel really needs to be performed in global work is asking when and how it can be replaced by another means, such as virtual work via technology. The use of technology can allow global work to be done in several places across multiple time frames, proving integral to the ability to meet global work demands. Many firms are enabling their global managers to use communication tools such as Skype and collaboration technology like WebEx to virtually conduct global work. This can help bridge communication across large distances when international travel is costly or time-consuming. Pame[1]

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