Growing your international team: Six tips on supporting remote employees

The hiring landscape is rapidly changing, and a new era of hiring has begun: Say hello to “the distributed team model”. Firms have adapted to remote work environments and virtual hiring processes, which have opened up new possibilities for how and where talent can be sourced.

The benefit for remote employees? They have access to more job opportunities and get to work from their ideal location with greater flexibility. But managing remote teams isn’t just researching for the best beach destinations and fun offsite locations to entice remote employees. It requires some planning and a fresh new perspective on how we define work.

Firms who embrace the remote work will not only benefit from a wider pool of talent, but also improve employee retention rates and attract talented workers looking for flexibility. In Australia, firms’ top three goals for global hiring are improving profitability, finding more cost-effective workforce options, and addressing a talent gap, according to the IDC InfoBrief sponsored by Remote, “Bridging the Talent Gap: The Future of Hiring in the APAC Region”.

Tips on how to support your remote employees

Happy employees mean higher morale and improved productivity — a plus for any company, now who wouldn’t like that? Yet the reality for some people is that the experience of remote work has been more debilitating and difficult than empowering and productive. If your company has struggled with the shift to remote, I have listed a few key best practices below that any company can adopt to start taking advantage of the benefits of remote work.

Think ‘remote-first’

As countless company experiments have demonstrated, there is no such thing as a truly remote-friendly company. There are remote-first companies, non-remote companies, and companies that put their remote team members in uncomfortable positions.

Being remote-first company does not mean that everyone has to be 100% remote. It simply means that working remotely is treated as the default rather than the exception. What’s the difference between remote-friendly and remote-first? Remote-first organisations take conscious actions to include remote workers in important conversations.

Documentation helps with this, as does the example set by leadership. These are more conducive to strong remote cultures, leading to better retention of workers who receive the same chances for promotions and inclusion in cultural events as their in-office peers.

Embrace asynchronous work

Asynchronous (async) work refers to the practice of working on a team that does not require all members to be online simultaneously. When teams work asynchronously, individuals can maximise their productivity without waiting for others to complete tasks.

The key to asynchronous work is creating processes that allow employees to work autonomously, and providing employees with the trust they need to do so. Asynchronous work provides the foundation upon which distributed companies are built.

Teams with people across multiple time zones cannot afford to waste precious hours waiting for those rare moments when schedules align. Switching to async is not just wise — for companies with remote workers, it is an imperative. At Remote, we do not expect people to respond promptly all the time as many of us are working in different time zones. We also minimise sync up meetings but rather use pre-recording videos instead.

Do not limit recruitment to local areas

With remote hiring, organizations now have access to an entire world’s worth of incredible talent. Why, then, do so many insist upon limiting their searches for employees to their local neighbourhoods? Leverage your position as a remote company to find the best person for every job opening no matter where that person lives on the globe. There is no need to settle for local options alone when you have all the talent of the world at your fingertips.

Create a culture of documentation and over-communication

Our approach is to establish a team that obsesses over documentation. Essentially, if it’s not documented and available for others to review, it didn’t happen. We also recommend sharing documentation and links to relevant data at the beginning of every discussion so you can be sure the other person is working off the same information. At the end of every conversation about a particula project, confirm the next steps with your conversation partner.

Over-communication is also crucial. Never assume others have the same information you do, or that they did not make any incorrect inferences based on your last Slack message, as this is a short road to disaster. So, it is also important to use positive affirmations when speaking over texts, so people know you’re collaborating and not criticising.

Use remote hiring to build diverse teams

Since remote organisations are not limited to recruiting from their immediate areas, they have the ability to create teams that thrive through diversity of cultures, experiences, and abilities. The flexibility of remote work also means that working parents and others with caregiving responsibilities no longer need to choose between family and a career.

Remote work also increases job accessibility for disabled workers, by removing the need for a daily commute and giving people the time and space to make any necessary accommodations. In another recent Remote research survey, hiring managers named an increase in diversity as one of the top benefits they achieved by hiring remotely.

Don’t fall into hot water with compliance

Retaining employees and contractors outside your own borders can be an incredible way to access new talent – but it could also mean legal trouble with the government of a country you have never even visited. It’s critical to remain compliant with all international labour and tax rules, otherwise you could set yourself up for major (and expensive) problems.

Different countries have varied definitions for contractors and employees, as well as different rules around compensation, time off, labor practices, tax withholding, etc. An employer of record can help you hire international team members as full-time employees, and even convert remote contractors to employees. Not only does this insulate your firm from legal troubles, but it can also ensure your overseas workers feel like the valued team members.

As technology evolves, the possibilities for how and where we work will expand, creating exciting opportunities for both employers and employees. The question is, are you ready?

Christopher McNamara is the Chief Revenue Officer at Remote.

Christopher McNamara Chief Revenue Officer at Remote
Chris McNamara, Chief Revenue Officer of Remote