Virtual teams. Remote work. Outsourcing. Offshore staff.
These terms were not used in the business world 10 or 15 years ago as much as they are today.
People were forced to work remotely, accelerating the shift to a global team setup. A SocArXiv paper shows that:
- 80% of global corporate remote work policies adopted virtual and hybrid forms of work collaboration by June 2020; and
- For 64% of organisations, remote working has become a permanent change.
TeamBuilding cites that remote job openings on LinkedIn more than tripled between 2020 and 2021.
Global business teams are here to stay. Business organisations must learn to manage them better and maximize their potential.
Challenges brought by global teams
According to FinancesOnline, working with a geographically dispersed team brings with it the following advantages:
- Increased productivity
- Better efficiency
- Reduced operational cost
- Better access to talent
- Higher degree of collaboration
- Elevated employee morale
- Lower employee turnover
- Decreased absenteeism
- Global perspectives
- More diversity
- More flexibility
- More creativity
Alongside those benefits come the following challenges:
- Language barriers/possibility of miscommunication
- Higher potential of misunderstanding
- Loneliness / Lack of social interaction
- Distractions in the home office
- Different time zones
- Lack of opportunities for motivation
- Lack of participation
- Sense of disconnection
- Cultural differences
- Heavier IT workload
What can companies do to turn those challenges into opportunities for business growth?
How to manage a global business team better
Companies that want to thrive must learn to adjust to the challenges of global teams. Here are crucial insights on how to effectively manage a global workforce.
Sam Silverman, Managing Partner at EB5 Affiliate Network:
“To avoid misunderstandings that can lead to costly mistakes, clearly set out project objectives and deliverables from the outset. Don’t be tempted to micromanage the hours your team members keep; as long as they deliver the work by the due date and to the standard required, leave the rest up to them.”
Tammy Perkins, Chief People Officer at Pacific Market International:
“Steward your international colleagues with the same care as your local team members. As part of your meeting prep, make sure you have the right greeting prepared for the right time of day, so you’re appropriately wishing your team good morning, afternoon, or evening. Kick off meetings by sharing positive news, success stories, or team recognition highlights, just as you would if your colleagues were sitting with you.”
Tsedal Neeley, professor and senior associate dean of faculty and research at Harvard Business School:
“Team members located far from the leader require frequent contact with him or her. A brief phone call or e‑mail can make all the difference in conveying that their contributions matter. For instance, one manager in Dallas, Texas, inherited a large group in India as part of an acquisition. He made it a point to involve those employees in important decisions, contact them frequently to discuss ongoing projects and thank them for good work. He even called team members personally to give them their birthdays off. His team appreciated his attention and became more cohesive as a result.”
Steve Smith, Managing Director at SIAS:
“I build trust by being honest and keeping my promises, and by expecting my team to do the same. I also ensure that my team feels connected and part of day-to-day business as usual at HQ in the UK, despite being based remotely – making sure the team feels that connection with the head office base of the business is critical. And, most importantly, I make the effort to get to know my team, professionally, their strengths, weaknesses, but also to get to know them as people, what drives them, what is important to them. I believe more than anything else leadership and business ultimately are about people – numbers matter, technology matters, efficiency matters – but they don’t matter nearly as much as people do.”
Kristen Castillo, Execution Director – Marketing Strategy at AbbVie:
“I have been on numerous conference calls at 2 or 3 in the morning. I think that’s one of the biggest things that you learn: to be very, very flexible when you’re working with global teams. And my family understands that…. [A]t the end of the day, it’s a real give-and-take, I feel, with the cultural differences, with the language differences. We get something from our colleagues who are overseas and they get something from us.”
Vikram Ahuja, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of Talent500:
“Managers must refrain from constantly bombarding their team members for updates and indulging in micromanagement. A simple solution is checking in regularly and using productivity-centric tools. Task managers like Jira can track tasks as they are finished with Jira and include them in performance results. These tools provide a “quick peek” at current progress and assist you in compiling all of your significant outcomes in one location.”
Chris Baker, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Parexel:
“You also have to understand that on a conference call, it’s really against certain cultures to speak up and speak against the idea. And so if you really want their opinion, you have to ask them in a different manner.”
Pedro Faria, Founder and Managing Partner at Kamaroopin:
“Surprisingly, people are people anywhere, and when you go back to the essential elements of a culture, everybody has a willingness to belong to a group. Everybody has this feeling of being on a mission or accomplishing something. And everybody has the overwhelming need of feeling safe, and making people safe goes a big way.”
Learn more about setting up a global team
Profitmaster can provide you with additional information about setting up a global team. If you would like to find out how your business will benefit from having an offshore workforce, contact us today.