Remote work presents a whole host of specific challenges. This is especially true in international companies. With the recent growth in from-home and hybrid setups, managers have to adapt their strategies.
Specify goals and communications
Setting goals is a skill. When it comes to distributed work environments, invest the extra effort to make sure they are crystal clear. This applies to both productivity goals and communication expectations. Regarding productivity, you need performance targets and output tracking. Get everyone on the same page about the goals your company needs to achieve in a quarter, season, or year. Break that down by department and role and assign benchmarks.
Utilize the reporting functions of your office programs to monitor performance. You’ll need insight into real-time productivity and historical output. Look for gaps and bottlenecks and correct employees’ courses as needed.
Regarding communication, keep it interconnected. It’s tempting to let remote teams operate independently, but this causes a counter-productive game of Chinese Whispers in the long run. Instead, create a virtual team hub where everyone can stay in touch. You need a unified team presence.
Establish and enforce communication guidelines for everyone. Include them in the onboarding of new employees too. First, choose the ideal communication format for your workforce: emails, live chats, social media groups etc. Next, fix a check-in point, e.g. a daily summary, weekly meeting, monthly review. Since your employees will likely operate in different timezones, it’s important to have occasional fixed communication times to ensure that everyone is caught up on everything.
Also, have a standardized turnaround time for tasks.When there’s a template for how much time everyone has to deliver their output, it makes remote work much easier. In addition, have some kind of notice hub where both you and the teams can post information. Examples would be heads-ups for vacations, sick leaves, events, or changing location. The latter is critical if you have workers who operate from temporary setups.
Explore global payroll solutions
The first thing to do when setting up a remote team based in several different countries is to provide a common communication platform. This means more than company chats and video calls. You also need task management programs, help centers, remote conferencing tools, file storage and file management solutions.
All of these have to contribute to your teams’ productivity. Make sure to select tools and apps that can integrate with each other, or with one central hub. For your own job as a manager, you’ll also need apps and platforms to help you with pipeline management and payment processes.
Take some time to explore global payroll solutions and different HR tools. You want a standardized process for all of your employees. Since you have an international team on your hands and everyone is remote, your goal should be to simplify data exchange as much as you can.
Choosing the right cloud-based, globally available, integrated solutions will ensure that all of your team members are on the same page. All locations will comply with company processes and there will be no lag in recordkeeping and communication.
Ask for regular feedback
Remote work turns the environment itself into an ongoing process. To make sure everything is functioning, identify problems early and resolve them before they escalate. The three standard formats of workplace feedback are polls, one-on-ones, and workshops.
Polls, or surveys in general, are great for acquiring insight on specific issues. They let you narrow down the area of inquiry to just a few likely scenarios. This makes them suitable for quick and precise troubleshooting. To get the best results, make them anonymous.
One-on-ones are more elaborate and time-consuming, but offer deeper and more detailed knowledge. Make sure that each employee has regular one-on-one sessions. These can be with you or another supervisor, but aim for at least two a year. Since employees are identifiable in this scenario, make sure these sessions are confidential and make sure your workers know that. Individual feedback can be on their own role and position, their view of the current processes, workplace atmosphere, and anything in between.
Workshops differ from the above two in that they’re group settings. Polls could be argued to be group feedback too, but the answers are still isolated. In workshops, people interact and influence each other, even subconsciously. This makes them uniquely suited to showing you how your employees function as a unit. Use them to assess cooperation, respect, equality, and trust levels among your workforce.
In summary, to make the most of your international team, keep them interconnected. Centralize your communication and set specific goals. Take advantage of cloud software and gather feedback regularly. As long as you have everyone on the same page, your management approach is a success.
Written by Mike Johnston