3 Lessons I Learned Building a Completely Remote Global Workforce

I didn’t plan to employ an entirely remote workforce; I stumbled into it. When finding local candidates who would be a good fit for what we do proved difficult, I opened my search to the world and created a thriving, entirely remote team.

If you want the best talent, be prepared to accept geographical diversity. Most of my team members come from North America, South America, and Europe, but we’ve also got people in Asia and Africa, so I keep a live map of everybody’s location to keep track of our geographical spread. Lately, more companies are moving in our direction. In fact, a survey taken at the Global Leadership Summit in London found that 34 percent of business leaders expect more than half of their workforce to be working remotely by 2020.

Working remotely is not the same as all-remote work, where everyone is remote and the culture is designed around that. But successful outcomes for both rely on similar principles. Here are three lessons I’ve learned about making wise decisions when hiring your remote team:

1. A Successful Global Workforce Demands a Culture It Would Vote For

Any organization wishing to appeal to candidates from around the world must establish and define a clear company culture. Yes, team members come to us steeped in the cultures in which they were raised, but they are voting – through their time and effort – to join the culture we represent and to help create the picture of the future we’re painting.

The key is to appeal to applicants with a strong vision that they feel inspired to help fulfill, and then seal the deal with core values supporting that movement. Creating such an environment without in-person meetings and office visits is challenging, but the right culture deck can go a long way toward overcoming these obstacles. What identity do you want your business to project? Who are your top employees, and what values do they share?

Answering these questions to create your own deck will not only help you understand your business but also attract employees who match your culture. At my company, we simultaneously boost engagement with our team and project our culture to potential employees using a “badge” system, which allows us to highlight and praise key players on our site’s employee profiles page.

Team members get a fixed number of points to give away to their peers every month based on how well they think other employees represent our organization. The more points, the better the badges, and these show recruits how we personify our core values.

2. Going Global Doesn’t Mean Anything Goes

Too many differences among your employees can undermine your shared culture, so you do need to set limits on diversity. Language is an obvious barrier, but many others exist, too. Every country has a diverse population and regional differences. To keep your culture inclusive but focused, look for the similarities in a global workforce.

We seek out people who value speed and the delight that comes with staying one step ahead – both non-negotiable core values of ours – so that every employee we recruit shares our collective mentality. It’s still important to consider cultural differences between regions, though, to see whether a candidate is likely to share your values.

For instance, my experience tells me that an applicant from an active, outdoorsy place like Boulder, Colo., won’t be all that speedy and probably won’t stay late to burn the midnight oil – he or she will likely be eager to finish up and hit the hiking trails or ski slopes. Now, I love Boulder and its residents, but I know the majority are not about the delight of speedy delivery to clients.

Of course, you can’t judge someone based solely on geography. Note those regional differences over time, but don’t be afraid to take a chance on somebody who comes from an area where you haven’t typically seen people embodying your company’s core values. If I see a candidate from Boulder who does seem to possess our values, I’ll give him or her a shot. But you should never compromise your identity for the sake of global reach.

3. Exploring the Personal Side Boosts Professional Growth

In a remote environment, people can end up sunk deep in their own projects – and it’s up to their leaders to make sure they do more than that. The most common issue we see is people feeling disconnected from their colleagues, which isn’t surprising: More than half of all virtual workers in the U.S. surveyed feel they must try doubly hard to create real connections at work.

To help our employees avoid that experience and guard against any sense of disconnection, we ask them to avoid phone or email interruptions for about 30 minutes and write out frank reflections on their personal and professional goals. According to Gallup, the job satisfaction of employees who develop close friendships increases by 50 percent, so diving into universal human concerns helps us to foster a true sense of community.

This private exercise can also result in leadership opportunities if employees voluntarily share their ambitions with peers and managers on the company intranet. If someone wants to become a published author, for instance, his manager could send him reports to write. The final piece is to share with whoever is setting compensation. For example, when someone wanted a really cool chair, we could provide that in a way that connected with his ultimate goals, which a gift card or money never could.

While you may not have a global workforce or even a remote team in place, given the overwhelming evidence in favor of remote work, now is a good time to start implementing these ideas. Remote employees are more cost-efficient, more productive, and happier, too. Even if you never see your remote teams face-to-face, if you build a culture that embraces differences while maintaining your core values and promoting human connections, they will soon feel like family.

 

This article was written by Kuty Shalev from Business2Community and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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