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A guide to the future of remote global teams

Worldwide, businesses of all shapes and sizes are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the pandemic. One of those is the transition to remote workforces. But as companies get through the initial pains of this shift, many are beginning to realise the real advantages to remote, global teams.
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Worldwide, businesses of all shapes and sizes are facing unprecedented challenges in the wake of the pandemic. One of those is the transition to remote workforces. But as companies get through the initial pains of this shift, many are beginning to realise that not only do they already have powerful remote capabilities inherent in their organisations, but there are also real advantages to remote, global teams. These include increased efficiencies, business productivity and valuable insights into local markets.

But building successful remote global teams requires a disciplined approach that focuses on a number of key areas that can make the difference between success and failure.

Logistics – Get the Basics Right

The first step to building a remote global team is to figure out the logistics. For example, hiring people is not as simple as sending an offer letter to an international candidate – you need to set up the legal structure to do so first. To hire legally in any country, you must follow the proper local procedures before onboarding your candidate. It’s essential to set up a legal entity, because this will allow your business to pay the appropriate taxes, file payroll, and remain compliant throughout the employment relationship. The only problem? These laws and regulations vary from country to country, and it puts a major burden on the business to discover the unknowns and ensure compliance. 

The challenges don’t end once you’ve hired your candidate internationally. Instead, one of the biggest issues for any company is maintaining compliance over time. Employment laws vary per country and are constantly changing, so staying up to date on each adjustment is essential. Ensure your internal team has the bandwidth to both track and implement all necessary changes on an ongoing basis. 

Finding Talent – Leverage Every Connection

While broadening the talent pool is an undeniable benefit of hiring a remote, global team, there are still challenges involved with attracting the right candidates. A good place to start is to think about the roles you’re opening on your team. Be realistic about the everyday demands of the job, clear about how the role will have a positive effect on the business goals, and upfront about the challenges they’ll be working to overcome with the team. 

In practical terms, many organisations find that the best way to break into a new talent market is through a personal connection. Leveraging all connections and implementing an employee referral program can help fill the job applicant pool. For companies that are just beginning the process of hiring internationally, using a local recruitment company could help make the first hire on the ground much faster.

And don’t forget, companies with a strong employer brand decrease their hiring costs by 43 percent, according to LinkedIn. Make the mission, vision and values of your company visible and clear, and speak out at every opportunity. 

Effective Management – Focus on Culture and Communication

With people in place, how can you effectively manage a remote, global team? Rule number one: do your cultural homework. Having empathy and a willingness to learn makes a big impact coming from a manager. This means more than asking your global employee about a whole range of subjects from their cuisine or holiday traditions. It also means learning about cultural values and areas such as how individualistic or collective a culture is and how that changes the way people work.

In addition to understanding culture, get to know your employees as individuals. Be sensitive to how people from a “dominant” culture within the team may frustrate team members from a region that is less represented, or who have differing cultural norms and values.

Clear communication is also key. It’s very important to establish a system of centralised information sharing to make sure all of your team members can access the same files and tools, and establish centralised, cloud-based sharing to facilitate communication. Check in frequently and consistently to make sure this is working well for everyone.

Company Culture – The Secret to Long Term Success

Many people recognise the value of a supportive, connected community culture. Organisations must be even more intentional about cultivating this type of culture when the team is distributed and diverse. As many of us have experienced recently, using video conferencing services can help tie remote and international teams together and help replace some of the elements of a traditional face-to-face culture.

People who connect daily with global team members feel more connected, engaged, and involved than those who don’t. But this must go hand-in-hand with encouraging active participation from all groups.

The current situation will most definitely have an impact on workforce strategies in the future. Using the experience of recent weeks, businesses are quickly realising that remote working is possible in the longer term, and managing people from everywhere is practical, given the right approach. HR leaders will also begin to realise, if they haven’t already, that there are major advantages to remote, global teams. Specifically, remote teams are inherently more efficient, and when they’re global they bring valuable insights into local markets, which can greatly increase the overall performance of a business. And finally, when businesses embrace remote work, it means the pool of talent just got a whole lot bigger.

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