Virtual, international teams are becoming more common in today’s workplaces. This trend is possible because of the prevalence of remote work. Currently, over 70% of employees already work virtually, at least part of the time.
There are many advantages to expanding your hiring efforts beyond geographical boundaries. Most importantly, it will expose you to a global talent pool. At the same time, managing an international workforce also comes with challenges. Here are some tips for how you can enjoy the benefits of global remote workers without succumbing to the potential pitfalls that could hamper your business operations.
Consider Employment Regulations
One of the most significant challenges related to managing a global workforce is dealing with international regulations. For example, the U.S. has the Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act. However, India has a Wage Code that was updated recently. It lays out employment rules that are very different from those in the U.S.
A company with international employees needs to consider factors like wage laws, employee benefit rules, employee allowance requirements, and tax regulations. A human resources department needs to ensure that they meet all the requirements in the given country for employees. Some places have a separate set of laws related to work with contractors.
Another option is to work with an Employer of Record (EOR), which is a third-party entity that acts as the legal employer for your workers in a given country. An EOR handles all local requirements, and your contract with them rather than with individual workers.
Determining Fair Payment and Salaries
A company needs to negotiate compensation packages and salaries when hiring. This step is the same whether you are hiring locally or globally. You also need to be aware of salary expectations for existing employees, who may seek raises or ask for performance reviews from time to time.
With a global workforce, determining fair compensation packages can be complex. Employees in other countries will likely have different expectations of what a starting salary should be, and some may not negotiate at all and merely accept or decline your initial offer.
Human resources workers can address these differences by understanding the quality of life expectations for employees in each location. As a starting point, you can build around universally valued benefits, such as vacation, healthcare, and housing. Focus on offering competitive packages in these areas, and then you can negotiate other things, such as additional benefits, on a case-by-case basis.
Organizing Workflows and Scheduling
Organizing smooth and productive workflows for employees who do not share a location can be a challenge. These difficulties get amplified when the team is working from different time zones or even on different continents.
The first steps involve coordinating activities, communicating goals, and setting a system for tracking progress and deadlines. A centralized scheduling tool is also essential. It will ensure fairness for all employees and will make planning, arranging meetings, and collaboration easier. Also, it will help you get the best performance out of international workers because they can work according to their natural rhythms instead of having to conform to your schedule.
Time-clock tools can help you track hours worked for employees in different locations. You can add a system to ensure transparency by confirming employee identity through facial recognition. These tools can help automate and simplify scheduling and record-keeping without forcing international employees to conform to the time zone of your main offices.
Engage with Employees
Remote workers can sometimes feel disconnected because they lack “face time” with their co-workers and managers. One way to combat this is to touch base with team members via available communication channels each day. The goal of an informal email or chat message is to replicate a casual “water cooler” conversation. It will make employees feel more connected, help you gain insight into their mindset, and give them a chance to bring up any concerns, needs, or ideas in a low-pressure setting.
You can also offer a wide range of communication tools, allowing each employee to access the option that best suits their needs and preferences. These can include chats, voice or video calls, emails, and collaboration platforms.
Encouraging communication options also allows employees to find their comfort zone and have opportunities for engagement and communication that fit their personality and cultural norms.
Providing Training and Career Development Opportunities
Onboarding, training, and development are as necessary for a global workforce as a local one. You can give skilled employees a chance to improve their abilities by offering a chance for career progression.
Extending training opportunities, either virtually or through a third party in the employee’s location, can help with internal promotions and offer employees incentives to stay with your company instead of seeking opportunities elsewhere.
Be Aware of Cultural Differences
It is crucial to understand that a global workforce will have different motivations, communications styles, and benefits needs. People from some countries may embrace goals-oriented tasks and pursue clearly defined achievements, while others strive to be valued members of a team or seek approval from management-level employees.
These cultural differences can foster creativity because of the different experiences and perspectives offered. You can take advantage of this by creating forums where employees can bring ideas without worrying about judgment or critiques.
At the same time, management-level employees need to be aware of culturally appropriate communication practices for employees from other locations. A company with a global workforce needs to provide information or training so that managers are aware of the expected etiquette.
Advantages and Challenges of a Global Workforce
Managing a global workforce requires you to address practical considerations, such as scheduling and communication platforms, and other issues related to local laws, salary requirements, and cultural norms.
Is it worth taking these steps to manage a global workforce? Here are some of the potential advantages that companies with international employees get to enjoy.
- You can choose from a larger pool of talent. If you are not limited by geography, you can find employees with the exact skills you need.
- You can draw on the experiences and insights of people with diverse backgrounds and perspectives.
- It can positively affect your bottom line. Though you need to invest in virtual tools, you do not have to operate a physical office and pay the expenses that come along with it. International employees work remotely, and the equipment and systems they need will likely cost less than operating a physical office.
In some industries, a global workforce can increase productivity. If you have teams in different time zones, you can have a 24-hour work cycle rather than having your systems sit idle for 16 hours per day.
There are also some challenges to employing a global workforce. These are things that you need to address if you plan to have international employees.
- Scheduling meetings and collaborative projects can be challenging because of time zone differences.
- Management staff members need additional training to understand the norms and communication styles of people from different cultures.
- You need to take employment laws and salary requirements in different countries into consideration.
With the proper tools and practices, you can overcome issues and enjoy the benefits of a global workforce