Remote work is a powerful tool in modern business, and not just because remote workers are in high demand. While wellness, work-life balance, and competitive hiring all benefit from work-at-home jobs, remote work offers far more than that. In many businesses, the most important potential of remote work is international hiring. Here are 5 leadership tips to synchronize a remote international workforce.
When your positions are remote, you can hire top talent from all over the world, not just people who live close to your business locations. You can hire from Canada, South America, Germany, or Indonesia; anywhere that has professionals with the skills your company is seeking. Remote work can be done from anywhere over high-speed internet.
Of course, running an international team adds a few layers of challenge – but it’s nothing you can’t handle with the right tools and management techniques. Join us as we dive into leadership tips to synchronize your remote international workforce.
Connect Your Remote International Workforce to Shared Cloud Resources
First, make sure your remote international workforce can connect over the cloud. Cloud-based business resources are the key to truly remote team operations. The cloud makes it possible for your team to connect from anywhere in the world while still sharing the same files, communication systems, and collaboration tools. You can work on the same projects, and even be part of the same internal business networks through cloud-based tools.
Access to Cloud Business Storage
Cloud business storage gives everyone access to globally shared file storage. Whether you are sharing project files or paperwork documents, cloud storage is easily accessible through any authorized login. Your team can upload files, access the same reference material, send each other updates, and easily handle version control from across the globe.
Allocate Cloud Phone Numbers
Do you need your entire team on the same internal phone system? If you share a phone pool or simply want easy and private video conferencing, cloud phone systems are a great way to expand your business through remote hiring. A cloud phone system does not rely on any location and can unify communications across business sites and throughout your network of remote team members.
Simply generate a new employee account, allocate a phone number, and your new team members can use their company phone from any logged-in computer or mobile device. In fact, they can even use their cell phones without giving out their personal number.
Collaborate Through Online Platforms
There is a vast selection of online business platforms that make collaborative projects possible. Depending on your industry and business model, you can connect your remote teams through one or more of these platforms so they can come together on shared work without constantly sending files back and forth. These platforms often offer shared toolkits and methods for remote collaboration, such as comments, notes, and account-linked version control to make teamwork simple from anywhere.
Increase Visibility For Schedules and Availability Statuses
When you are bringing people together from many locations, it’s best to optimize your team schedule. This is true when you are hiring people on the East vs. West Coast, and when you are hiring from all over the world. Availability statuses and shared schedules can help to identify the best times for collaboration and to respect personal time, though it may occur at different hours for each remote team member.
Shared Schedules Display Overlapping Work Hours
Create a shared master schedule with visibility for each team member’s personal working hours. Use color coding to show how schedules overlap and where people are off the clock. This will give you vital insights for scheduling as the team leader and help to reduce misunderstandings regarding availability between team members on different schedules.
Have Everyone Mark Available vs. Private Hours
Ask each person to mark the best times in their schedule for meetings, their preferred focus hours, and the times in which they intend to be offline. This provides added visibility and can help you automate the best times for individual collaboration, meeting times, and private hours.
Availability Statuses Facilitate Real-Time Communication
Make use of availability statuses and ensure they are highly visible. Encourage each remote team member to update their availability status based on what they are doing and where they are in their schedule. Offer automated status changes during private hours. If possible, provide a platform with diverse or custom availability hours so that there is a clear difference between ‘Available,’ ‘Focusing -Do Not Disturb,’ ‘In a Meeting,’ and so on.
Do Not Disturb Settings
In some cases, it can be useful to have a Do Not Disturb setting in which messages arrive but do not generate an alert/update/notification until after the DND hours are complete. It depends on the type of work your team may be focusing on during these hours.
Use Asynchronous Communication to Facilitate Teamwork
One of the best methods you can use to synchronize your remote international team is to use asynchronous communication. While this may seem counter-intuitive, it can help a team collaborate when their schedules do not always overlap. For example, if team members can leave messages, requests, and answers for one another in their own time, projects can get done that would otherwise be postponed until a meeting can be set.
Create a Cadence with Chat and Email
Chat and email are both excellent asynchronous channels. While most people see chat as a synchronous channel for live communication, the fact is that chat messages will wait for the recipient to read and respond, no matter how long that might take. Private and group chats can be used to facilitate both live and asynchronous collaboration.
Emails will also wait for the recipient to respond, so encourage a company culture where emails do not, necessarily, need to be answered immediately.
Habitually Include Complete Information and Resources in Each Message
Instruct your team to include as much information as possible when using asynchronous messaging. Link resources and include detailed information so that the other person, ideally, can complete a cycle of work based on the request or answer as sent. This ensures that a back-and-forth is rarely necessary when two people on different schedules are collaborating.
Cloud-Based Comments and Collaboration Methods
We mentioned cloud-based collaboration platforms earlier. These often have tools that facilitate asynchronous project participation, such as commenting, notated edits, color-coded files, and version control. Your workflow can be significantly improved by using these tools to help team members leave each other notes and move the project forward independently in a shared environment.
Manage Time Zone Compatibility in Your Remote International Workforce
How do you handle the fact that your remote team may be located in different time zones? There are two approaches to managing international hires. Near-shore compatibility and 24-hour operations.
Prioritize Nearshore Remoter Workers or Hires
Nearshore hiring involves international recruiting from countries that are near your home nation. In the US, for example, nearshore includes hiring professionals from Canada, Mexico, and South America. Due to the longitudinal proximity, these areas offer professionals who are in your same time zone. They experience morning, afternoon, and evening around the same time, with some variance from the East to West coasts.
This way, it will be easier to find overlapping hours, and you will not need to worry as much about drastic schedule differences.
Consider 24-Hour Operations for Contrasting Time Zones
If you hire from around the world, the alternate approach is to operate on a 24-hour schedule. This welcomes people on the other side of the globe to work during their daylight hours, then hand the baton to your more nearby team members as the sun crosses over the planet. Working with more widespread international hires can also facilitate your natural night owls. Local night owls can take hours that align with your distant employees, while distant night owls can be up during your normal daylight hours.
Book Weekly Collaboration Meetings During Shared Hours
Lastly, strategize how to bring your international remote team together for the occasional live meeting. Collaborative meetings foster better teamwork, but can be tricky to find a time when everyone is available. Your best bet is to schedule live meetings no more than once a week if the schedule challenges off-hours for team members in another time zone.
The Importance of Collaboration Meetings
Collaborative meetings boost productivity by getting everyone on the same page and making time for rapid-fire discussions. If team members need to discuss an important decision, get on the same page, or bounce ideas off one another in a brainstorming session, these meetings are where that can happen without the slow-down of asynchronous communication.
Live meetings also help to make your team stronger through time spent together as people, not just remote contributors to a shared project. You will learn about each other, share jokes, discuss coffee, and probably meet each other’s at-home pets. These human moments build rapport, camaraderie, and loyalty in addition to the mechanical process of teamwork.
Be Understanding About Internationals Up Early or Late
Of course, if you must ask people to stay up late or early to attend the weekly meeting due to their time zone, be understanding. If someone is sleepy-eyed and holding coffee because it’s 4 AM for them, or if they are frazzled after a long day because your meeting falls within their evening, be kind and encourage your entire team to do the same. Casually let everyone know the meeting lies in each time zone to provide context and move ahead with the meeting.
Find International Remote Workers or Hires with BrightR Limited
If you are looking to hire international and nearshore professionals to build your team for a remote international workforce, BrightR Limited can help. Let us connect you with remote or hybrid Canadian experts in your field. Contact us today to learn more.