manage a global remote team

6 Tips to Effectively Manage a Large Global Remote Team

Since 2021, some companies maintained their fully-remote status, while others adopted a hybrid work culture. Both methods have opened opportunities for companies across the globe to expand their teams across time zones. However, the larger and more diverse a remote team gets, the more challenges come to light, especially with fully-remote teams.

The primary challenge goes beyond the virtual nature of a remote team, but rather achieving a productive work environment and ensuring smooth communication across a team that’s across different time zones with a wide spectrum of cultural barriers.

Globally, at least 16% of companies offer a fully remote work option, including Google, Shopify, and Zapier, with the latter having over 300 remote employees working across 17 time zones and 28 countries.

Furthermore, researchers suggest many more companies will follow suit in the coming years. 

One one side of the issue, remote work has become more of a global demand rather than a perk. According to software provider Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work Report, 66% of employees would “immediately start looking for a job” if they could no longer work from home. Moreover, 39% “would simply quit.”

While this poses new challenges and risks for companies, they too benefit from having their teams work remotely. 

Some of the perks for businesses include the reduction of operational costs, hiring talent from across the border, and more importantly, a remote-first arrangement eases the expansion to new countries, growing their footprint and operations.

How to effectively manage a global remote team

From improving internal communications, to ensuring a healthy work culture, to setting boundaries, reducing burnout,  increasing team morale, to avoiding micromanagement, there are many areas to consider when managing a global remote workforce.

Set responsibilities and expectations

There is a difference between job descriptions and a detailed explanation of specific responsibilities; delivery timelines and format; what exactly should be communicated to immediate managers and to other departments; and reporting hierarchy, to name a few.

This along with setting and managing employee expectations helps eliminate a majority of issues and dramatically reduces friction.

Both communicated responsibilities and expectations need to be periodically reviewed, amended if necessary, and re-communicated.

Low-context cultures vs. high-context cultures

A global workforce means having team members from different cultural backgrounds. This goes beyond traditions and cultural practices. Often different cultures have different communication practices.

Some cultures are low-context, as in they prefer to go straight to the point with as few words as possible. This may seem crude or even aggressive to others.

Other cultures are high-context, they prefer to be friendly and build rapport, before communicating their objective. Of course, this is a spectrum with many cultures standing somewhere in the middle.

Leaders should promote discussions about different cultural expectations. Doing so brings teams together, promotes understanding among team members, and ensures employees value each other.

Becoming more culturally aware begins with management, who should promote it among their members.

Consider offering cross-cultural virtual meetups or training to support your global remote employees.

 Consider time zone impact on lifestyle and balance

Managing hundreds or thousands of employees around the world can result in unintentional lapses of communication. 

The company should set guidelines towards respecting the work-life schedule and balance of team members. 

Accommodating requests and instant messages from different time zones can significantly increase the chances of burnout and decrease productivity.

Encourage team-building activities

Team-building isn’t just a buzzword, it’s essential for remote teams, especially those working in different countries and continents.

Creating virtual team-building initiatives improves employee engagement and retention, boosts morale, and creates a culture of inclusion.

Research shows teams with members of different ethnicities, ages, and genders enjoy up to 35% better performance than uniform teams. Not only that, with virtual team-building, companies report an improved global perspective, along with higher creativity and better cost management.

Build trust 

One major pillar for company success, remote or not, is trust. Building trust is essential for growth, sustainability, and employee retention.

If a manager doesn’t trust their team members, it’s unlikely they’ll be successful. They will likely end up micromanaging their team, creating an atmosphere of general distrust, increasing turnover, and overall hurting the entire company and its bottom line.

When managing a global remote team, it’s essential for a company to accurately communicate its values and to foster an environment of trust among its people. 

 Promote feedback

One of the biggest challenges in companies, in general, is feedback. That said, it is how employees feel heard and how they know what they need to work on and improve. With a global workforce, feedback can be a crucial ingredient in keeping a healthy work culture.

Creating a feedback loop can improve your global team’s efficiency and contribute to higher productivity and profitability.

Whether you currently manage a global remote team or plan to hire remote employees from different countries, cultures, and time zones, consider the above points when creating your team’s strategy, this helps ensure operations and deliverables remain as smooth as possible.

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