As WorldRemit has just launched a fast and low-cost money transfer service for businesses, we're exploring trends that may affect your company.
Remote work is one such growing trend. It’s pretty clear that it’s a way of working that’s here to stay, so it really is worth embracing its many opportunities and benefits. We’ll take a look at what those are below.
We’ll also explore the challenges remote managers face. We’ll suggest ways in which you can overcome these challenges, including how our upcoming business service can help you send money to your remote team abroad.
The growth of remote working
“Technology now allows people to connect anytime, anywhere, to anyone in the world, from almost any device. This is dramatically changing the way people work, facilitating 24/7 collaboration with colleagues who are dispersed across time zones, countries, and continents.” - Michael Dell, Chairman and CEO of Dell
Managing remote workers has now become an integral part of running a business for many employers around the world. In fact, remote work is a trend that’s growing year on year. As we stand today:
- 52% of employees around the world work from home at least once per week
- 16% of global companies are fully remote
- 40% of global companies are hybrid (i.e. – offer both in-office and remote working to their employees) *
Technology has enabled this growing phenomenon. But it’s driven by the fact that many forward-thinking employers appreciate the numerous benefits remote working brings to their business – benefits like:
It’s clear that many people find being away from a noisy office and endless interruptions allow them to focus more effectively. According to a Canada Life survey, homeworkers rank their productivity as 7.7/10, compared to 6.5/10 for office workers.
And a Stanford survey also found that employees who work from home are 13 percent more productive than their in-office counterparts.
A happier, healthier and more motivated team
Giving your employees more freedom, autonomy and less time spent on a stressful and unpleasant commute is undoubtedly beneficial to them - but also to you as a business.
The health and wellbeing of your workforce improves productivity, reduces absenteeism and leads to less turnover of staff.
Access to a wider pool of applicants
It’s a fact that the younger generation, who are adept at using technology and communicating from anywhere in the world, look for (even expect) the flexibility of remote working when looking for a job. So, offering this type of benefit can help attract the young, highly skilled employees that might not otherwise be interested in a role.
Plus, giving employees the ability to work remotely also allows you to hire outside of normal commuting distance. This will allow you widen your net and work with the most talented individuals, regardless of where they’re based.
By allowing your employees to work from home, you could reduce the amount of office space you need and so reduce your business costs.
Remote team or virtual team?
So more flexible remote working is exciting for both companies and individuals alike. But before we look at managing a remote team – let’s be clear about the difference between remote teams and virtual teams. These are terms that often used interchangeably, but aren’t actually the same working practice.
- Remote team – team members report directly to you but are geographically remote.
- Virtual team – they formally report to different managers (not necessarily to you) and may or may not be working in a different location.
The challenges of managing a remote team…and tips on meeting those challenges
While you may fully recognise the benefits of allowing existing staff to work remotely and hiring remote workers, it can present you with some challenges. But they’re challenges that you can overcome with the help of our useful remote workers tips and remote teams best practices.
1. Keep communicating
Clearly, the best way for teams to communicate and convey information to each other is face to face. So, your biggest challenge when you can’t just walk over to someone’s desk and have a quick chat is to in some way replicate that as closely as possible.
When communication falters, a real problem can arise. Work suffers, employees can feel isolated and distrust and misunderstanding can creep in.
Use the right communication channels and collaboration tools
Depending on the type of conversation you want to have, you can use these channels:
- Email is perfect for short, neutral interactions that involve objective discussions.
- Instant messenger programs are good for general news and having group chats. As a manager, you could start these conversations to build team rapport.
- Video conferencing is best for longer more detailed talks with a group of people. It’s more personal and you can read people’s expressions and body language.
- Phone - let’s not forget the phone. This is best for longer, detailed conversations between two people if you can’t have a video call.
Whatever channel you use to communicate remotely, keep one or two of those channels open throughout the day – so you are always accessible to your team.
It’s so important to ensure that you set time aside each week to speak with each of your remote staff. Those one-to-ones may need to be slightly longer than the catch-ups you have with colleagues in the office. So set aside at least an hour to cover everything your remote employee may want to bring up.
Make sure you never ever cancel those one-to-ones. Pick a time each week and stick to it. But if you do have to change the time, reschedule, but never cancel.
With remote workers, regular team lunches and a quick drink after work aren’t always an option. So why not think about having an annual retreat once a year where the team can really get to know each other away from work?
2. Setting expectations
When you hire someone, you have expectations of how their role will unfold and what you want from them. Your employees will also have their expectations.
But if they work remotely sometimes your mutual expectations aren’t always reinforced on a regular basis and get lost. So, misunderstandings can arise.
Be clear from Day One on how you expect your employees to work and what you expect to see them achieve. So set clear expectations on:
- Work hours
- Their availability
- How you’ll communicate
- When your meetings will be
- Their key projects and deadlines
- Their objectives and goals
Also, after every meeting you have, it’s best to make clear to everyone what the next steps are and what’s expected of them.
Show trust in your team
If you hire people to work remotely, they will expect to be trusted. So for a healthy working relationship, you must show them that trust.
Don’t meddle too much or micro-manage - allow your employees the freedom to do the job you’ve employed them to do. That way you’ll see real results.
3. Working across time different time zones
Working with teams in different countries can increase productivity, as the team can pass the baton on and effectively work around the clock. But it’s not without its problems. Because of different time zones, coordinating everyone’s work-time can be tricky.
It may be difficult to know if your team is actually working. And if you have to wait too long for a response from that can slow down a project.
Don’t expect people to work 24/7
When you schedule regular meetings across different time zones – there’ll always be one unlucky employee who may have to call in at 9 pm. So make sure you rotate the meeting schedule and share the burden. Also, it’s best practice to make sure no one has to attend a meeting team meeting between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Give everyone an equal voice
Be aware of ‘presence disparity’. Pay extra attention to your colleagues on the phone or on video. Their input is just as important as the people who are in the room.
If you really can’t find a time that suits everyone – find a way to share the meeting. For example, you could record the meeting for those who can’t attend so that at least they can keep up with what’s been happening.
Email to keep all informed
Email is a particularly useful tool in collecting feedback after meetings and for documenting important announcements, such as process changes.
4. Tracking your team’s performance
Performance managing a remote team can present you with two main challenges:
- Ensuring all the work is completed
- Ensuring your remote employees are using their time effectively and efficiently and meeting the right standards
Use the right remote project management software
A remote working culture can really achieve great things with the right remote project management software. It can help you plan tasks, track projects and productivity and maintain and manage timesheets among other things.,
It’s a good idea to have a quantitative way to evaluate your remote employee’s way of working. In this way, if you are unhappy with the way they are working, or you think they are falling short, you can explain why.
5. And finally, paying your remote team
How will you pay those that work for you remotely? The challenge is that many businesses are often overcharged for sending money abroad, especially to developing countries.
What’s more, high transfer fees can affect both you and the people who work for you.
WorldRemit for Business
We've just launched a new business service, enabling UK-based businesses to send money to freelancers, contractors and staff in 140 countries around the world.
Our sign up process is quick and easy, and over 90% of our transfers are authorized within 10 minutes or less.
We offer a variety of convenient ways to send money abroad. Depending on where you're sending to, you can choose between bank transfer, cash pickup, mobile money and airtime top-up.