7 efficient tips for working with your remote teams

12 min read
CRM

In today’s business world, “the office” is no longer one central building. Remote offices have always been a thing, but now they’re more important than ever as the global economy has become the norm. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, many employees shifted to working from home with powerful mobile devices and widespread broadband internet making it possible. But that’s not to say working with a global team is always easy.

Indeed, along with the many new opportunities that come with a global workforce are a set of unique challenges. This isn’t surprising, as it’s not always easy to build trust and maintain teamwork even when everyone works in the same office space. When you add the complexities of different time zones and cultural backgrounds, things get substantially more difficult. Companies that don’t address the issues now risk alienating their remote teams, creating friction and putting productivity and profits at risk.

To successfully manage a remote team, you need to take an approach that’s very different from the old ways of doing things. Here are seven tips to help you work effectively and efficiently with global teammates.

1. Communicate with remote workers frequently

Maintaining communication with the employees who share your office space is easy. Between meetings and small talk in the hallways, maintaining effective communication with these co-workers doesn’t take much effort. For your teammates who may be located across the globe, it’s another story.

To keep remote workers in the loop and feeling like they’re part of the team, you must communicate with them often. 

Regularly scheduled meetings are a great way to keep the line of communication going with remote employees. It’s also an essential way to communicate information that all team members should be aware of. Even if these meetings don’t have a specific business purpose, a recurring check-in is worth putting on your calendars. You’ll be able to keep the remote workers up-to-date about what’s going on in the organization, and they can share real-time information with you.

Outside of regular meetings, make sure to include remote employees in emails, text messages,  and other communications. Just be sure to recognize the difference in time zones around the globe.

About the difference in time zones

When you work with people in different countries or continents, there may be a vast difference in time zones that can hinder when and how you communicate. When calling or emailing teammates, keep in mind their working hours and try not to disturb them when it’s outside of their regular business hours. 

Create a schedule for your team meeting that suits the difference in time zones your company works in. This will help ensure that staying in touch doesn’t become a disruption. Another thing to consider is national holidays around the globe. Be aware of the days when global teams may not be available for work, and be considerate of their personal time. 

A world clock app, or even a set of clocks on your wall set to different time zones, will help reference when you should or shouldn’t reach out to your remote colleagues. 

2. Work on building connections

Fostering an inclusive work environment is more important than ever. It would help if you aimed for a company culture that embraces cultural nuances and builds connections across international teams. 

For instance, business jargon used in the U.K. may not be as easily understood by employees who hail from other parts of the world. For example, "peel the onion" is a familiar phrase in the U.K. This slang uses the word “onion” to refer to multi-layered problems, so “peeling the onion” means identifying and working on the many facets of the problem to find the best solution. Avoid using such terms and other localized slang to help reduce confusion. 

Another difference to address is the use of the imperial system versus the metric system. When communicating with employees in regions that don't use the same units of measurement as you, take the time to do some conversions that help give them some context. (For example, convert "kilometers per hour" to "miles per hour" using an online conversion tool when appropriate.)  Keep these small details in mind and create a work strategy that includes everyone and helps create an environment conducive to productivity.

How to work with teams from diverse backgrounds

When interacting with people from different cultures and backgrounds, it's easy to misunderstand the nuances and attributes others may have. Changing your mindset to become more global can help people understand one another better.

As a team leader, you should educate yourself about your colleagues' locations and make an effort to understand cultural differences. The time spent learning about your team’s diverse backgrounds will help reduce misunderstandings and increase employee engagement.

At the same time, don't let colleagues in other parts of the world feel left out when you celebrate specific festivities. Find a way to include all holidays and celebrate together, so that no one feels like an outsider. A great way to do that is by celebrating all the main holidays observed by teammates across the company instead of limiting holidays based on region or country. 

Creating this inclusivity also helps fellow team members understand and know more about the traditions, culture, and holidays that others celebrate. All this further helps develop a global mindset at your company.

3. Make use of collaboration platforms

When everyone doesn't work at the office together, having a face-to-face meeting with global teammates is impossible, but a video call is the next best thing. 

Quick voice calls are the norm with remote work, but they do little to build team rapport. Make use of one or more of today’s popular collaboration tools like Zoom, Slack, and Microsoft Teams. If the telecommunication systems you use for business have internal communication and messaging features, make use of those too.

Seeing a person's face allows you to get visual cues and better understand their tone and intent. Without these visual cues, there are often misunderstandings, and communication can seem impersonal or curt. The good news is that many employees made collaboration platforms part of their normal workflow during the early days of the pandemic, and these tools have now become an everyday part of global business.

4. Make all resources available to everyone

Global colleagues should feel like they work in the corporate headquarters, even if they actually work from home or in a remote sales office. Remote workers shouldn’t feel they're missing out on the benefits of corporate resources like the HR department of the IT help desk just because they're not physically located in the same office.

What you’re trying to avoid is the sense that the remote worker is “on their own” regarding the support all employees are entitled to. A great way to avoid this perception is assigning corporate teams to be available to employees who work in certain regions. For example, you could have a subset of your HR team that functions as the “go-to” contact for European employees. Another group can be the designated HR people for your teams working out of Asia, remote US workers, or however your global teams are laid out.

IT is another critical function, especially for remote workers who depend on technology to stay connected to the rest of the company (and customers). Keeping your help desk running 24 hours a day may not be feasible, but you can set up an on-call schedule for IT workers to answer emergency calls from remote time zones.

A social intranet site is also an excellent tool for employees across the globe to access company resources and exchange information. No matter how you achieve it, the goal should be that all employees have a similar work experience with access to the same resources, no matter where they're physically located.

5. Use a project management system

Project management systems are an ideal way to keep remote teams in sync and working toward the same goals.

When you attempt to manage key initiatives and customer relationships via email, you run the risk of tasks not getting done and having groups of employees unaware of a project’s status. Project management systems are great for managing global teams because they place updates and related documents into a central repository.

6. Celebrate milestones and team-successes

It can be tough to celebrate successes and milestones when a workforce is spread across the globe. But if you don’t acknowledge these achievements, it can lead to low morale in the team and create frustrated team members. 

Always factor in time for celebrating accomplishments, whether they're small or large. Whether the whole team has reached a milestone or an individual has produced outstanding work, find the proper way to celebrate. 

One thing to keep in mind is how people like to be congratulated. It’s only natural to want to do justice to a successful employee and make them feel valued. However, cultural differences can play a role here as certain cultures are more private. Find the right way to observe your team’s successes, and be prepared with a few ways to do so. Just make sure the acknowledgments are happening so every member of the team feels valued and knows their hard work is being appreciated.

Plan all-company meetings

At least once a year, plan a meeting of all team members worldwide. A company-wide meeting will do wonders to strengthen work relationships. Not only do these meetings offer the opportunity for remote workers to meet all of their colleagues, they also keep everyone on the team on the same page.

While everyone is in the same location, plan a retreat together and fit in time for socializing so everyone can get to know each other on a more personal level. Putting a face to your voice known only by phone helps create stronger bonds among your team members.

No matter where your team members are, cultivating a global mindset and being inclusive keeps morale at high levels.

7. Use a single CRM system

In the end, the purpose of any business is to gain customers, make sales, and earn profits. With a small team in a central location, it’s easier to keep everyone focused on these goals. But when you have multiple locations and an international team, keeping everyone focused on the task at hand becomes increasingly difficult.

For companies with remote workers, it’s vitally important to use customer relationship management (CRM) software for team alignment. The best-case scenario is to use a single CRM platform, one that suits the complexities of your unique business model. If each office or remote employee uses their own methods for keeping track of customer interactions, you lose the ability to unify your customer data. 

As metrics and analytics are more important than ever in today’s data-driven world, it’s critical to consolidate all your information in the same place. CRM solutions use a variety of analytical methods to intelligently track customer activity, helping you pinpoint the best ways to reach and service leads and existing customers.

The benefits of a unified CRM strategy

A unified CRM strategy allows international teams to optimize marketing plans. CRM software gives you insight into customer behavior, allowing you to target the needs of specific market segments. CRM systems also allow you to allocate resources efficiently so that employee efforts are targeted at the right leads at the right time.

When a global team uses the same CRM system, you don’t have to worry about resources being wasted on double entry. All information is entered in the same place, allowing the entire team to access the same information. This also facilitates easier data access, which is an important consideration when team members can be anywhere in the world at any given time. 

This leads to unity in an approach that's much more efficient than relying on coordinating information manually or extracting it from multiple systems. All this increases customer satisfaction. Customer notice that whenever they interact with any member of the team, everyone always has the latest updates. 

FiveCRM powers today’s global workforce

These simple tips help you make sure you're working efficiently with your global teammates and making the most of every opportunity. 

An essential component of easy collaboration for global team members is the use of cloud-based CRM systems. so your entire global team has the same customer information from wherever in the world they happen to be working.  FiveCRM offers a scalable, efficient CRM system and other solutions that power your global workforce. To learn how you can benefit from our products, reach out to us today.

Michael King says...

"I can’t think of a time where a client has requested something that we weren’t able to do with FiveCRM. Unlike most systems, it has a lot of flexibility."

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Managing Director, Senior Response

JANE HUSBANDS SAYS...

“Each client, and each of their campaigns, has its own unique specifications. We essentially needed to set up mini CRMs on one platform to meet those requirements.”

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Operations Director, Team Telemarketing

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