Advice From the CEO of Globalization Partners
Remote work is no longer a fringe movement. With 82% of company leaders planning to allow employees to work from home even after the pandemic, it’s become the norm. Businesses that haven’t yet embraced it may consider doing so before long.
As common as working from home is, many leaders may still have questions about it. Nicole Sahin, CEO and founder of Globalization Partners, a leader in the remote workspace, provides some answers.
Globalization Partners helps businesses hire and manage home-based workers and leads by example. According to a recent survey, 95% of its employees are satisfied with their remote work experience, ranking it the top company for remote workers.
Why Embrace Remote Work?
Before knowing what pitfalls to avoid, business leaders should understand why they should enable remote work at all. Studies show that at-home employees are often more productive than those who work from the office every day.
Hiring remote workers can also give companies access to top talent they may not have otherwise. As Sahin explains in a recent LinkedIn post, “by spreading the net wide, you can tap into highly qualified talent pools, many of which are found in emerging economies.” Remote work removes traditional barriers to working with leading experts.
Similarly, companies benefit from more diverse ideas by reaching out across a wider area, driving innovation. Sahin goes on to say, “An exchange of knowledge, ideas and skills flows both ways … Companies are powered by people. People drive innovation. And remote work can bring the best companies and the brightest people together.”
What to Avoid When Going Remote
Building a remote team can bring many benefits, but it also comes with its fair share of challenges. Leaders should understand these obstacles and how to overcome them to make the most out of their work-from-home initiatives.
Several pitfalls could jeopardize the advantages of working with remote employees. According to Sahin, here are five of the biggest that companies should avoid.
1. Not Considering Disparate Internet Infrastructure
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that people in different areas have various internet resources. As Sahin highlights, “many communities with internet infrastructure don’t have the resources to access it – costs may be too high, they may not have a connective device or they may simply not have adequate infrastructure at home.”
Even in the U.S., nearly one in four households don’t have home internet access. Some of those that do may not have reliable or fast connections. Companies need to keep this in mind as they build their remote teams. Companies should also keep this in mind when expanding their business model to incorporate remote buying and selling.
That aside, remote teams may need to adjust assignments or resources for various team members depending on their available internet infrastructure. Keeping an inventory of each employee’s resources can help guide these decisions.
2. Depending Too Much on Email
In an interview with Tealfeed, Sahin also touched on the pitfall of relying on email too heavily for remote communication: “Even with the best of intentions, your tone in emails can easily be misconstrued.” While emails are convenient, it can be difficult to convey your intended message and tone, which can lead to unnecessary conflict and misunderstandings.
That doesn’t mean remote teams should abandon email altogether, but it shouldn’t be the primary form of communication. “Be thoughtful in the communication methods you choose, video chatting being the best option, and remain available to your team to optimize efficiency and minimize miscommunication,” Sahin explains.
Email is sufficient for short messages and topics that don’t require much depth, but more critical discussions require face-to-face interaction, at least virtually.
3. Hiring People Who Aren’t Ready for Remote Work
While remote work can improve productivity in many employees, it’s not for everyone. As Sahin says, “Someone may be a hard worker in traditional office environments but may easily get distracted performing the same role at home. It’s also important to find out if the candidate has a living arrangement that is conducive to working from home.”
Workers with less professional experience are more likely to need more in-person time. A PWC survey revealed 30% of these employees prefer being remote for no more than one day a week. By contrast, just 20% of all workers say the same.
Companies should look for these factors when interviewing people for a remote position. Questions should hone in on candidates’ time management skills and ability to work independently. Applicants with poor independent work skills may be better suited to in-person jobs.
4. Overlooking Employee Engagement
Similarly, remote team leaders need to emphasize employee engagement. Nearly half of all Americans reported feeling lonelier than usual amid social distancing, which can affect their productivity. Home-based can generate those same feelings outside of a pandemic, so companies should work to fight them.
Sahin suggests replicating the perks of in-office work. “Focus on small gestures of appreciation to bring your global workforce together, like virtual award ceremonies or sending company swag.” While employers may not be able to recreate all in-office events virtually, providing similar or alternative recognition and fun can substantially impact engagement.
When remote employees are engaged, they’ll perform better work. If employers overlook this factor, they won’t see the same benefits from remote workers as in-office staff.
5. Glossing Over International Tax and Hiring Considerations
Another easy pitfall to overlook is the differences between international tax and employment laws. Other countries have different regulations regarding international hiring practices and tax considerations. Employers must expect and develop strategies for these obstacles to avoid fines or other complications.
Sahin suggests using an employer of record (EOR) to navigate these challenges. “EORs can enable companies to enter markets and hire the skilled hands they need to succeed — with all the administrative details, such as legal compliance, running background checks, onboarding and HR function handled on their behalf.”
EORs take over these complicated regulatory details to manage tricky international differences, so an employer doesn’t have to. As Sahin points out, “This cuts down the costs and time associated with establishing a new business entity on the global stage and dramatically reduces the risks.”
Learn From the Remote Work Experts
Building a remote team can be challenging, but leaders like Sahin and Globalization Partners can help. If businesses know what pitfalls to avoid ahead of time, they can plan a more successful at-home work strategy.
These five factors are not the only potential pitfalls with remote work, but they are among the most common and significant. Planning to mitigate these challenges will save employers a considerable amount of time, work and money in the future.