Maintaining an efficient and positive workforce always takes work. However, doing so in a remote-first environment can be extra challenging.
If you find yourself managing a virtual staff across the globe, it's important to adjust your management approach. Here are several effective tips that can help to make a global remote work environment as productive as possible.
1. Start with Payroll
All the perks and benefits in the world won't retain employees if you don't pay them on time. Make sure you have a payroll solution designed to handle a remote workforce.
Using a global payroll provider makes it easy to onboard and manage your international team. You may be tempted to pay workers in other countries as contractors, but doing so could land you in legal trouble. Start with a solid global payroll structure so you can hire full-time employees in other countries while keeping your business compliant.
2. Create a Quality Online Infrastructure
Next, look for ways to set up a high-quality online work environment. You should treat this process with as much care as you would a physical office. Things like organization and ease of collaboration should be top priorities. Once again, there are many tech tools that can help with this process. For instance, you can use:
A workflow platform like Trello, Asana, or ClickUp as a central hub for your team's work.
Communication tools, such as video chat app, Slack, text messaging, and email groups.
Idea boards to help collect, disseminate, and come up with content and project ideas as a team.
A good online infrastructure is a requisite item for sustained remote work success.
3. Prioritize Communication
Communication is more than a consideration when setting up your online environment. It should also be embedded in your global workforce management philosophy. Communication is the lifeline to success in a remote workspace. With everyone scattered to the four winds, it's essential that you stay in touch in the right way.
For instance, it's important to practice active listening when interacting with your staff online. This is especially applicable when it comes to one-on-one meetings. You want your distant employees to feel heard and understood by you.
It's also important to avoid the temptation to micromanage from a distance. At the same time, you should still be willing to ask for progress reports when they are needed. In order to find balance in this activity, strive to show a clear level of respect as your employees fill you in on their progress.
4. Set Clear Expectations
The isolation of a remote work environment can make it difficult to collaborate. Keeping your team on the same page is a challenge, even when you're using things like workflow platforms and idea boards.
This is why you have to set clear expectations, too. Establish SMART goals (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based) whenever you're communicating with your employees. Make sure that everyone knows what they are expected to accomplish at all times.
5. Proactively Personalize
Personalization is difficult to maintain when you're working half a world away from your employees. Nevertheless, if you want to be an effective manager, you have to make personalization a priority.
This can start by investing time and interest in each person that you oversee. Set up one-on-one opportunities to connect. Call, video chat, or text each employee in an effort to shoot the breeze. Engaging in small talk is a great way to overcome the formal aspects that dominate your day-to-day interactions.
As you strive to build connections, make a point to show that you care about more than just what your employees do for your company. Demonstrate that you have a vested interest in seeing them succeed in their career paths as well.
6. Be Culturally Conscious
Managing a global workforce comes with many added layers of complexity. One of these is the simple fact that you're overseeing employees from different cultures.
The cultural variations within your workforce are more than cute personal differences. They can impact how each person performs, as well. A person from one culture may be a model of discipline and organization. Someone else may want to take breaks more often and may be chronically late for meetings. Still others may prioritize interpersonal relationships or artistic talent over statistics.
There's no end to the number of differences that can arise in an internationally diverse work environment. This makes your job as a manager even more important. You must demonstrate how to navigate through culturally sensitive situations without offending your employees. You must also learn to unite and build on the cultural strengths of those that you are leading. Being a culturally conscious leader requires experience, sensitivity, and a willingness to learn about your employees.
7. Measure Results
Sometimes it makes sense to ask for updates and set goals. However, the most important metric that you should use to measure your employees' success or failure is their results.
Remote work thrives on the adaptable and flexible nature of working "separately together." As such, you don't want to hover over employees and influence how they go about structuring their day. Instead, look to the results of their labor to gauge if they're being effective or not.
If you take the time to set clear goals and communicate often, you can make results the metric by which you calculate everyone's performance. This can give you clear grounds for criticism when the situation warrants it. It can also allow you to celebrate success when an employee meets or exceeds a goal.
Managing a global workforce is difficult, especially in a remote environment. However, there are many ways that you can do so with success. Start with basic infrastructure concerns like global payroll and workflow platforms. From there, make sure to prioritize communication, set clear expectations, invest in individual employees, be culturally conscious, and measure results. If you can do that, you can maintain an efficient, positive, and productive workforce, even from the cloud.