- Job marketplace OfferZen’s co-founder, Phil Joubert, shares the magic of the time zone that connects East with West, Asia with the Americas, and software developers with international companies
Middle Earth, the land of legends from The Lord of the Rings, is home to some of the greatest craftspeople in literary history, who created mythic swords, staffs, and the rings themselves.
There’s a lesser-known Middle Earth in real life too – a time zone that has its own richness of skills. That time zone is GMT +2 (and, by extension, its immediate neighbours GMT+1 and GMT+3).
The massive digital transformation that the entire world is going through has only made it more challenging for companies to find software developers. Demand for software developers’ skills is up by 20%, but the pool of developers in Europe is only growing by 8% year-on-year compared to 12% in Africa.
But what does this have to do with the GMT+2 time zone?
1. A growing pool of highly skilled talent
This time zone is home to roughly five million developers, of which 700 000 are based in Africa. The vast majority want to work remotely, yet it remains a generally untapped pool of talent for international companies (although some, like Amazon and Microsoft, are catching on).
2. Location, location, location
Being closely aligned to the whole of Europe, developers in the GMT+2 zone can work in real-time with team members in Europe, yet also overlap with parts of Asia and the Americas. This enables close cooperation – and easy relocation should they need to work onsite.
It also makes them ideally situated for teams that use a follow-the-sun model. Developers located in GMT+2 can take over from their counterparts in the Asia Pacific region, work on the project, and hand it over to North American teams when they come online.
3. Less competition for dev talent
The search for top tech talent has gone global and the world’s biggest tech companies know that there are good developers in Middle Earth. Demand for software developers is soaring across the US, because most industries rely on software for survival. As a result, the competition between companies to employ software developers has resulted in what Boston Consulting Group calls “The Code War” – an all-out war for tech talent. By contrast, Europe and even more so, Africa, has far less competition for skills, making the hiring process easier.
Remote work is becoming ubiquitous in the region. For example, 92% of South African developers now work in remote or hybrid set-ups. This means international companies that want to rapidly expand their teams can onboard new GMT+2 employees quickly – candidates in this time zone are often already working remotely, so they won’t find it hard to adjust.
5. English proficiency
At least 26 African countries list English as one of their official languages. English proficiency is particularly strong in Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa, where it is widely used as a business language, and as a common language in multilingual communities. This reduces language barriers and makes it easier for teams that stretch across Europe, Asia, the Americas and Africa to communicate.
Finding tech talent remains a challenge, but companies that aren’t actively looking at the GMT+2 time zone, particularly in Africa, will miss out on key opportunities. And the chance to find talent that is “just right”.
Whether there’s time for a second breakfast may be up for debate, but the talent in our own Middle Earth isn’t.