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Remote & Global Workforce

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A Borderless Working World: Five HR Strategies for Global Team Development in 2024

The remote working boom has made today’s workforce more diverse, adaptable, and productive than ever before. Employees are now capable of collaborating across borders, time zones, and cultures. As a result, many companies are expanding their talent pool geographically to compete in the global marketplace.

A borderless workplace does come with its challenges, such as communication lapses and cultural differences, but the potential rewards are worth it. In 2020, for instance, McKinsey found that companies in the top quartile of ethnic and cultural diversity outperformed those in the fourth quartile by 36% in terms of profitability.

With the right strategies, the future of work is global and sustainable.

And those aren’t the only benefits businesses can expect when building a global team. In this article, we’ll explore the right strategies to put in place to ensure a distributed workforce can:

  • Offer a diverse and inclusive employee experience

  • Help companies expand into new markets

  • Fill talent gaps

  • Increase flexibility and productivity 

  • Lower overhead

1. Mastering asynchronous communication

Effective and free-flowing communication is widely recognized as the hallmark of a successful team. But, for globally distributed teams, differing time zones can present communication challenges. Some employees might be able to communicate synchronously, but for others, it’s not possible for the majority of their workday.

In the new era of remote working, asynchronous communication has become the new normal. Naturally, this can pose some challenges. However, the right approach and a shift in a company’s communication processes can lead to a flexible workplace and more productive teams. 

Pros and cons of asynchronous communication

The main challenge with asynchronous communication is that lower response times can mean a lag in decision-making. When unclear directives are added, this can slow down a team’s progress toward its objectives.

When applied correctly, this communication strategy reduces the disruption of back-and-forth communication in real-time. The overwhelming nature of constant Slack notifications or unnecessary Zoom meetings can interrupt deep, focused work by up to 45%. Being too connected can sometimes lead to being less productive.

Asnyc communication provides many positives for global teams. Employees have more uninterrupted working hours and control over the structure of their workday. One Wall Street Journal survey revealed that employees value that kind of flexibility even more than remote working.

But how do global teams apply asynchronous communication in a way that benefits their organization? 

Best practices involve being proactive and providing as much information as possible, prompting leaders to improve their communication skills. Leaders must also outline clear expectations and set communication processes for their global teams.

That doesn’t mean completely eliminating face-to-face conversations. Mix real-time chat into your communication stack where it makes sense. Weekly or monthly one-on-one video meetings and annual team-building events are necessary for building rapport. 

Collaboration tools designed for flexibility and productivity

Choosing the right tools can make all the difference in effective asynchronous communication. Collaboration tools and platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams, Trello, and Asana are designed to support this mode of communication. 

These tools create records of all conversations, task assignments, and collaborative documents. This promotes accessibility, organization, and accountability regardless of when a team member is online.

2. Addressing cultural differences

One of the more obvious challenges of hiring international employees is dealing with unique cultural norms and expectations. Language barriers, political systems, and economic conditions can all impact how global employees interact.

Despite being a challenge, cultural diversity brings various advantages, including employee loyalty, innovation and creativity, improved performance, and reaching a broader market. To reap these benefits, a global organization must become fluent in its teams’ cultural dynamics and be intentional about communication, sensitivity, and inclusivity.

HR and Strategic Talent Management Consultant Paul Arnesen explains, “Cultural intelligence, or the ability to understand, adapt, and relate to different cultures, is pivotal in fostering successful multicultural collaboration. It enables team members to navigate cultural differences, build mutual respect, and work together effectively despite geographical distances.”

3. Promoting work–life balance across cultures and timezones

When the virtual working world is at our fingertips, it is easy for some people to blur the lines between work and personal life–and risk burning themselves out.

That’s why it’s vital to engage in open discussions with your global team members to gather insights and set clear expectations for their availability. For instance, you can demonstrate your attentiveness and consideration of individual needs by granting time off for cultural traditions and religious holidays. 

Regardless of where your team is located around the globe, research has consistently proven that employees drastically improve their work-life balance when given flexible working options that can conform to their time zones, personal obligations, or cultural norms.

As with any initiative, keep the doors open to qualitative feedback to assess its effectiveness. Understanding what success looks like for your multi-cultural team could be an evolving process.

4. Be intentional about fostering social connection

Despite the flexibility and freedom of working from anywhere, many remote employees struggle with social isolation and feelings of disconnection. Let’s face it, when you can work from home, you no longer have opportunities to socialize with people.

In 2022, it was estimated that 50% of remote employees experienced loneliness at least once per week. 

From water cooler-style Slack channels and social lunch hours to quarterly or annual off-sites, companies can and should get creative. It will be up to the leaders of the company to prioritize an engaged, supportive, and thriving remote work culture that encourages genuine connection.

Dan Schwabel, Managing Partner of Workplace Intelligence, says, “companies have to be much more intentional about encouraging people to spend time together and get to know one another, and they’ll need to provide the right tools and technologies to support these interactions.”

5. Alignment of shared vision, goals, and values

The importance of aligning vision, goals, and values can’t be understated when developing a resilient and high-performance culture. This was always imperative, but with globally diverse teams, it is even more vital to create a sense of unity, teamwork, and results.

Indeed, LSA Research indicates that ‘highly aligned organizations increase revenue 58% faster and are 72% more profitable than unaligned organizations.’

Aside from clarifying expectations and being more inclusive, a global culture must connect everyone’s job to the bigger picture. When team members understand how important their role is in contributing to the company vision, they are much more likely to engage.

Developing a ‘shared’ vision that fosters alignment means collaborating with your employees to bring it to life and linking it to their daily work routines.

Leadership Trainer, Author, Keynote Speaker and Inc. Columnist Scott Mautz says “With no North Star, employees sail into the rocks. Enroll employees in building that vision/strategy, don’t just foist it on them. And be prepared to communicate it more often than you ever thought you could.”

Hire resilient and high-performing global teams in 2024

Hiring, building, and managing global teams takes work, and oftentimes it involves experimentation. But in the end, the benefits outweigh the drawbacks. Don’t let the cumbersome task of hiring international talent stop you from fostering a diverse and inclusive workplace. 

And if you need help managing international employees, turn to a solution tailor-made for onboarding and managing international employees. 

Easily manage your employee onboarding, payroll, time off, and benefits in one unified international employee management platform.

If you’d like to know more, speak to an expert at Multiplier today! 

Will Smith
Will Smith

Content Writer

Will is a Content Writer at Multiplier. With a background in technology journalism, he is passionate about busting jargon, getting to the heart of complex topics, and writing pieces you'll enjoy reading.

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