Increase cross-cultural awareness. People involved in global teams should know and understand the challenges that come with communicating across cultures. For example, an American multinational oil and gas corporation wanted to ensure their non-Iraqi employees were equipped with the cultural knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the Iraqi context. Aperian Global worked with corporation leaders and local Iraqis to design a workshop for multinational employees assigned to Iraq, and it was offered in the US and the Middle East. A pre-departure workshop was also created for employees traveling to Iraq. It addressed issues such as safety, security, and health, as well as business and cultural topics. The workshops gave leaders and employees the information, skills and confidence needed to successfully collaborate and conduct business across cultural boundaries.
For technology companies facing a talent crunch, hiring remotely seems a particularly good idea. However, there are some companies that prefer to keep their staff on site as a means to enhance collaboration and creativity via direct interactions and face-to-face conversations. Here are several pros and cons to working with a distributed workforce, according to 13 Forbes Technology Council members, to help you decide if a remote working model is the right fit for your company.
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Remote workers often mean more cash flow and greater productivity, increasing a company's bottom line. Allowing people to work remotely often cuts overhead by reducing expenses, such as a larger office space. Greater productivity, which again increases the bottom line, is typically achieved because employees have the freedom to work at their own pace, knowing they have a job to complete. - Justin Goodbread, Heritage Investors
Use time zones to your advantage. Timezones are a great and terrible thing. On one hand, I know what it’s like to wake up at 6 a.m. for a meeting. Or sleep at 3 a.m. waiting for an update from the team. I’ve also seen the benefits of having a person online at all times for our customers. This is especially powerful in customer support. It allows for 24/7 support with just a few strategically placed (literally) people. Time.is is a great way to compare what time it is (and will be) in other places and can help you keep track of the time where your other team members are. And don’t fret, because you’ll get the hang of it. I often forget what time it is where I am. But after working on a remote team for 3 years, I’ve learned how to do timezone calculations almost subconsciously. Just be sure to set an alarm for Daylight Savings.
A virtual team is a collection of independently employed individuals who work together to provide business solutions to external clients. For startups, using virtual teams can be a way to provide top products and services while remaining flexible for customers and responsive to their needs. Yet startups need to be aware of the benefits and disadvantages of virtual teams.
Don’t completely neglect face-to-face meetings. If it’s possible, organize a face-to-face encounter for the first meeting. It’s possible to be successful without ever meeting in person, but there isn’t a replacement for face-to-face contact in person. Meeting physically allows people to share a deeper personal connection. Eye contact, proximity, voice, and body language allow people to connect more closely than they would if they met virtually. If meeting in person for the first time isn’t possible, consider holding an annual gathering or other event to keep employees in touch.
We've had some very key members of the team wish to move to other locations in the world or country. In one instance, a person's spouse was given a great opportunity in a new location, and the family needed to move to support the opportunity. When someone plans on leaving, a lot of knowledge and investment leaves with them. A remote/work-from-home policy helps resolve this problem. - John Winter, Content Bloom
Small-business owners often wonder how they can work so hard all day and accomplish so little. Much of the problem is an inability to multitask. If you are doing important work in your office but are interrupted by an equally important call or question from an employee, for example, you’re forced to divert your attention away from the original project. In this way, your focus is strained and nothing receives the attention it deserves. A personal assistant can handle these types of intrusions so you can continue to focus on what's most important.
While I completely agree that co-location can lead to a better collaboration, if not serendipity, in a global world with scarcity in best-in-class talent, organizations should retune themselves to have a distributed workplace. A well-designed distributed workplace enabled by the right technology can make a virtual playground for innovation, if not for highly productive work. - Madhavan Satagopan, Altimetrik Corp
Establish an onboarding process. Be sure that every employee who collaborates virtually has the same onboarding experience. They should be given access to the same communication systems and handbooks that explain the company processes. Everyone should be given the same advice and tools for success as they’re brought on board. If possible, it can even be very valuable to have an initial onboarding done face-to-face in an office location.