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In the age of digitization, companies and businesses have no choice but to adapt to an increasingly global economy by expanding internationally and by adopting a global mindset. Although global expansion is generally considered to be a challenge for businesses of any size, reducing the challenges it implies to a sheer time and money investment doesn’t cut it.
What many executives and entrepreneurs don’t take into consideration when making expansion plans is the fact that going global also involves deep changes in the way a company manages its workforce. Cultural differences in work and business culture definitely represent one aspect to be aware of, but it takes more than that to successfully manage a globally distributed team. So let’s take a look at the different changes that need to happen when a company or organization decides to go global.
Going global - sometimes also referred to as ‘going international’ - has turned into a real buzzword over the last couple of years. But what does it actually mean? There is no clear-cut answer to this question as companies’ approaches to global expansion differ a lot, depending on their business intentions. In some cases, going global may mean hiring a globally distributed team to access the best available talent, while in other cases, global expansion may involve setting up various subsidiaries or creating more cost-effective manufacturing options.
Also, the concept of going global has become more complex over the years. If a couple of years ago, going global mainly referred to the act of planning and implementing international business expansion to launch new markets, it nowadays also includes the idea of a broadened leadership approach based on global awareness. The latter becomes particularly important when managing global teams.
One key difference between domestic and international operations is culture. Businesses deciding to go global have to face cultural differences, and that on two different levels. First of all, hiring employees in different countries all over the world leads to the creation of a multicultural team which requires additional efforts in terms of management and effective collaboration. One way to handle this is to increase cultural awareness among employees by providing special training.
Read more about the importance of cultural competence in distributed teams in our related blog post.
But not only are there big differences in work culture and ethics between countries, the norms for business etiquette are also quite diverse. For example, doing business with Chinese business partners requires you to respect totally different norms and customs than in Scandinavia, for example.
Cultural differences are one hurdle to overcome in the process of building a strong remote team. Yet another aspect is the question of how to encourage team building across international boundaries. Face-to-face interactions with colleagues and superiors are a vital component of a healthy work environment. As this interaction will go missing once you start to operate on an international scale, it becomes more important than ever to make sure your global team is well connected. Therefore, you should make sure to regularly arrange virtual team building activities and hangouts to give the members of your remote team the chance to interact with one another in a social context.
Interested in knowing more about fostering engagement among remote employees? Then listen to our podcast episode “How to engage your remote team by building a community-first culture” where our host Maddie talks to Lauren Piro, the People & Culture Director at Australian community management specialist Quiip.
Imagine your headquarters are based in San Francisco and you decide to expand to France and open up a local office in Paris. That leaves you with a solid 9-hour time difference between the members of your team which means it’s pretty much impossible for them to communicate with each other in real-time. The answer to this problem is asynchronous communication.
Asynchronous communication describes a way of communicating that doesn’t rely on team members being available at the same time to engage in real-time conversation. The most basic form of asynchronous communication is, of course, sending emails but nowadays remote teams have a lot of different tools for messaging and collaborating at their disposal such as Slack or Trello.
Along with emailing and messaging services, it is also important to establish a culture of documentation which means making sure that information on important decisions and work progress is shared with all employees.
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Going international will also change the way you hire and onboard employees. Recruiting remote talent in different parts of the world will make it necessary to adopt new hiring practices in order to determine whether a candidate is remote ready or not. Getting the compensation for your remote workforce right is an equally important part of global talent management as only attractive salaries and benefit packages will allow you to attract the best workers.
And of course, once the hiring process is wrapped up, your new remote employee will need onboarding. Other than in a traditional work set-up, onboarding someone remotely requires a little more effort than just giving the new recruit a tour of the office and introducing him to his or her colleagues. To make remote onboarding a success, you should:
Ensure the availability of all the necessary onboarding material
Set up video check-ins for questions and talks about company culture, goals etc.
Get all the accesses and IT infrastructure working as early as possible
Organize a virtual team meeting
Assign a mentor to your new team member
After successfully setting the salaries for your new remote employees and integrating them into your team, it’s time to think about how to pay them. No matter how many countries your workforce is distributed over, all your remote workers need to be paid on time and in the local currency. This means you will have to set up a global payment system which will allow you to issue payments to international bank accounts without sky-high charges. And then there’s the challenge of withholding the right amount of taxes and deductions from your employees’ salaries.
One of the biggest changes linked to international expansion is having to deal with various jurisdictions while making sure to be compliant with local labour law and regulations. This involves numerous aspects such as drafting compliant employment contracts, ensuring employee benefits and compensations are in line with local standards and requirements, and keeping track of any legal changes. In many cases, dealing with compliance on a global level will require the help of external experts.
In today’s global economy, international expansion and global talent management have turned into real imperatives for businesses of any size. Going global isn’t, however, a journey one should embark on without careful thought and preparation as it implies severe changes in the way your company operates and, more than anything, in the way your company manages its workforce. Building and managing a globally distributed team means adapting various processes - from how you hire new staff over enabling communication and team building across time zones to implementing global payroll.
Making all these changes while simultaneously ensuring compliance without neglecting your core business can seem like a real challenge. But there are ways around it. Lano’s Employer of Record solution makes it easy to compliantly hire and manage global teams, saving you time and money you would otherwise waste on endless admin and HR resources. Let us do the heavy lifting while you focus on your global growth.
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