A large number of businesses now employ at least one remote team. The entire industry is moving in the distributed global workforce direction – Upwork’s “Future Workforce Report” predicts that 73% of all teams will have remote workers by 2028. Corporate structures will soon include hundreds of employees across the globe working together in different time zones. How? Well, technology made it possible. Experts predict Gen Z, which includes those born between the mid-1990s to mid-2000s, will take over 36% of the global workforce by 2020. They are your future employees, a generation of digital nomads that grew up with the internet and feel comfortable using all the newest tools and technologies that other generations may not feel so confident with. For businesses, remote employees mean a stronger working culture, more talent, and reduced operating costs. Just to give you a single example, remote workers can save about $7,000 a year on average, according to remote worker stats figures from TECLA, a global IT recruiting company.
In fact, according to a 2018 study, 63% of companies have remote workers. Unfortunately, approximately 70% of these companies do not have any remote workforce policies. As a result, they are facing numerous communication and management challenges. Since the entire labor industry is moving in this direction, it is now more critical than ever to establish great communication strategies and improve operating efficiency. Here are a few tips that will help any company establish a stable working culture and efficiently communicate with a remote team:
Onboard employees like they are joining your family
Efficient communication and collaboration with remote employees start with a great onboarding process. We are talking about talented individuals that are joining your team from different countries across the world to help you achieve your goals. You need to make them feel welcome, treat them with respect, and introduce them to other team members and your existing routines. You need to learn more about their working habits. If you really think about it, in some way, they are joining your second family. Hence, some of the strategies that many companies have successfully applied include:
- Create a custom employee e-playbook that you can share with your new team members including details about your culture, other team members and company goals and policies.
- Organize company trips and have your remote team members occasionally visit your development centers and attend group activities (e.g. important workshops). You can also encourage them to meet at different conferences in their local regions.
- Create a corporate FAQ list for your employees with 5-10 questions that every new employee might ask you. As you move forward and grow your team, this will help you save time and avoid any misunderstanding. You can even have new employees share their experiences and tips in a written form and include them within your guidelines.
Personalize everyone’s experience
Dale Carnegie, an American writer and lecturer, once said that “a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Personalization was always the key to winning someone’s heart. Whether it is your wife, customer or a random stranger on the street, personalizing your approach and their experience in your presence will make you successful. Companies use personalization today to compete on the market and make their communication with customers more effective. For example, research shows that personalized email campaigns receive 29% higher email open rates and 41% higher click-through rates than ordinary emails.
With the right communication and personalized approach, remote employees can experience an increase in morale, productivity, and commitment. In a nutshell, they can also become very comfortable in your presence and that comfortability will make them more open towards expressing their ideas and concerns. So how can you achieve this? To give you just a few examples: you can prepare personalized welcome gifts for your new remote team members (e.g. company stickers with a flag of their home country), give them materials in their native language, send them birthday notes, organize trips based on feedback that you receive from your team members or their location, make social events to celebrate their culture, etc. This is a long-term activity composed of small but meaningful actions. Those small doings will help you build a stronger bond with your team, incentivize more communication, and create an open and trustworthy environment within your company.
Weekly meetings should be a vital part of your culture (even for the remote team)
Yes, team meetings, in general, are a vital part of the working culture as they create a platform where people can communicate, exchange experiences and bond, but here we are focusing on remote employees. When it comes to them in general, active communication is crucial in order to create a productive working environment and help them connect with your brand. You should put aside just 15 minutes a week and have one-on-one meetings with your new team or remote team members in order to keep them connected and engaged. Do not forget that you need to be aware of their time zones and respect everyone’s schedule. Sharing calendars and minimizing interruption risks can help in this case.
The point is that having such meetings will keep you in touch with everyone’s progress and aware of any potential challenges and frustrations. Here are some additional tips, including selected suggestions that we shared in one of our previous articles:
- Coaching sessions allowing you to individually get to know your team members and exchange some experiences with them.
- Intro sessions where you can ask your team members to give the entire room a simple overview of their background. Furthermore, this way you can also incentivize networking sessions.
- Voluntary happy hours and dinners for your team so they can feel more relaxed and open to mingling. For remote team members in other countries, you can organize online mingling sessions or occasionally surprise them with an invitation to certain events and conferences that you will be attending in their region.
Finding the right tools is as important as finding the right words
Technology runs the world around us – it enables people around the world to collaborate and communicate in different professional and other environments. A few years ago, having remote employees sounded like a crazy idea. Today, it is becoming an industry standard. Companies today use tools such as Slack to communicate on a daily basis, a cloud-based proprietary instant messaging platform developed by Slack Technologies. Different other collaboration platforms are being developed by countless companies and many more will soon start entering the market as the entire world begins shifting towards remote employment structures.
Furthermore, soon we will witness the birth of various virtual offices such as Tandem, a great tool and a virtual office for remote teams that companies can use to effectively communicate with their team members. It was developed by a company that graduated from the leading startup accelerator, Y Combinator. It has over 40+ integrations and works great with other solutions companies are often using to communicate or collaborate with remote employees. Additionally, it allows team members to hang out in a minimal voice or video call environment and feel connected like they are working at the same table while offering them a set of numerous features they can use to efficiently communicate and collaborate.
Be clear about your expectations
In order to establish a thriving culture with effective communication, you need to be clear about your expectations and define individual and team goals within your company. These goals can be defined on a daily, weekly, monthly or long-term basis. The key value of this strategy is to lay out steps towards achieving a certain goal and set everyone’s role within that timeline. This will make it easier for your “family” to communicate, create direct feedback loops and encourage collaboration.
It is known that good communication is an essential tool in achieving success, boosting productivity and maintaining strong professional relationships at all levels of an organizational structure. In the current and future world, where working in different time zones will be a norm, communication might sound like a challenge, but it is not. It does require more work and effort, but it is worth it. And as we move forward and learn what works, things will become much easier.
In this remote-oriented universe, more companies will start to use outstaffing to hire new employees, the most effective way to grow your team with the best available talent across the globe, cheaper and more effective than any other hiring method in the industry. SHORE teams is working with a large number of companies, helping them identify ideal near-shore and off-shore partners. Through these partnerships, our clients can achieve their development goals and grow their all-star roaster with remote employees across the globe. Therefore, we understand the importance of communicational efficiency. If your company is exploring outstaffing as a cheaper and more efficient hiring method, send us a message and we will be happy to help you find the right partners and support you in establishing effective communication arrangements with your new workforce. Regardless of your operating structure, understanding is the key to success, but in order to successfully understand others and things around us, we need to capably use our words and keep our minds open. Everyone is different so there is not a single formula that will make us great communicators. It takes time, trying different things, and accepting that everyone is different. As one of our favorite motivational speakers and entrepreneurs, Tony Robbins, explained, “To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”