7 Tips to Manage a Fully Remote International Business
More and more companies are ditching local workspace costs and going completely global. Follow these tips to manage your fully remote company better.
While the potential benefits are significant, business leaders will face various challenges. Follow these tips to manage your fully remote company better.
1. Clearly define your mission and vision
Steering a company in a strategic direction is challenging when everyone is located within the same building, and it is even harder for fully remote organizations.
A clearly defined and adequately communicated mission and vision are vital for every successful remote business as this serves as a roadmap to guide the actions of every employee and the organization.
If your employees connect with your mission and vision, everyone understands what they are working towards, how the company plans to get there, and what is expected from them. This unified vision is increasingly essential in an organization characterized by diverse backgrounds, cultures and languages.
2. Don't think local. Think global
A fully remote business gives you access to new markets and a global customer base and opens up opportunities to tap into global talent pools.
Don't fall into the trap of keeping your hiring strategies and recruitment drives contained to home markets.
For example, despite an ample supply of English-speaking Eastern European teachers, when Novakid was ready to launch, the founders looked for native English speakers from across the globe via Facebook groups.
Building a globally distributed workforce enabled the business to expand into new markets with teachers in each region rapidly. This approach also created a pool of non-native English-speaking tutors who are highly proficient in the language but offer services at a lower cost to the company.
Furthermore, offering classes with bilingual teachers from different regions created unique opportunities for students to experience diverse cultures and accents, which became a competitive differentiator for the company.
A globally distributed workforce also provides additional benefits, such as better business continuity and diverse thinking, which can drive innovation and greater organizational agility.
3. Build a company culture based on accountability
The lack of direct oversight of employee time often causes concern for business leaders as their company transitions from a brick-and-mortar operation to a fully remote business. While keeping a tight rein on working hours is tempting, it is vital that every remote business finds the balance between flexibility and accountability. Rigid rules and set working hours can stifle innovation and complicate working arrangements.
Instead, give employees the flexibility to structure their workdays around their individual needs, circumstances and preferences. The key is to set clear expectations regarding outputs and deliverables rather than tightly monitoring their inputs.
Employees who understand this dynamic will have the discipline to manage their time effectively to complete their work tasks while also getting to the personal things they plan for their day — be it a family time or an exercise session.
4. Empower your employees to act independently
Building a company culture based on values like trust, honesty, discipline, courage, integrity and curiosity are the ingredients for a thriving remote international business.
Over time, this gives employees the courage to take the initiative, make decisions, solve problems independently and, ultimately, take responsibility for their actions and outcomes when they don't have direct access to management or colleagues. And waiting for feedback via online collaboration tools can also create bottlenecks that slow implementation and reduce organizational agility.
As such, successful remote organizations give staff the autonomy to make their own decisions and the space they need to be brave.
Fostering a culture of trust nurtures other positive traits within a remote workforce, such as curiosity, bravery, innovative thinking and bold experimentation. The freedom and confidence to explore, develop and try new methodologies and new ways of working can create a competitive advantage for your organization.
This environment also supports a trend known as the "culture of everyone," where employees become responsible for their development and learning paths. This is a powerful tool to boost employee motivation and satisfaction and can serve as an effective way to attract and retain talent.
5. Prioritize talent and experience
A key element in my company's success as a remote international business has been our preference for hiring people with expertise and experience. While some companies prefer hiring junior people and developing them internally to keep salary costs low, this is not always the most appropriate option for remote organizations.
The time and resources this approach requires often comes with an opportunity cost. And a junior person with no experience has to learn a lot. However, the nature of remote work means that managers cannot always provide the access and availability needed to quickly get junior staff up to speed.
Bringing in people with expertise and experience means you get staff who can self-manage and work with freedom while delivering the quality outputs they require.
6. Implement technologies that help employees
Technology offers the ideal solution to transcend the geographic boundaries and time zones that remote international companies deal with daily.
Online productivity tools like Slack create clear communication channels for different goals and purposes while supporting collaboration between dispersed teams and different workstreams.
Video conferencing tools are another indispensable tool. They ensure that remote companies maintain interpersonal face-to-face interactions, which are vital to building rapport and conveying meaning beyond verbal or written communication. These interpersonal interactions are also important to transmit corporate culture.
Productivity management tools provide managers with insights into workforce efficiency and outputs. The resultant analytics can help identify improvement areas or highlight workflows or processes that need refinement.
7. Champion internal communication
Fully remote international businesses require the appropriate tools, processes and procedures to drive clear and concise organization-wide communication and foster collaboration among employees in remote teams.
Remote teams must frequently communicate transparently and correctly, regardless of the channel. Management and leadership must ensure they can effectively convey their messages to the right targets.
Effective communication fosters trust through transparency and ensures remote employees clearly understand their tasks, roles and responsibilities.
Creating multiple channels for staff to give their feedback and opinions, ask questions, share ideas, profile great work or simply voice their concerns allows remote workers to communicate their value and makes them feel heard and empowered.
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