In today’s competitive talent acquisition market, more and more companies are looking for the benefits of working with the best individuals worldwide by implementing a globally distributed team. The talent market is also increasingly demanding flexibility, so globally distributed teams are becoming a necessity, instead of just being an option.
But building an organization that is geographically distributed is a really difficult task. You have all the logistical challenges of maintaining remote workers but also the challenges of getting them to work together as a team. A lot of businesses just break down because of these challenges. There are examples of companies complaining about a distributed team being fraught with failures.
Even though these statements don’t reflect the concept very well, they still show that there are problems with the current process and that companies need to be better prepared to take advantage of the benefits of a distributed team. So, let’s be clear that while there are many benefits to having a distributed team, companies need to be ready to make use of them effectively.
You need to consider many things before you even start building a globally distributed team in your organization. Let’s dig into the substance of what goes into building globally distributed teams that work not just efficiently but better than traditional teams.
One of the benefits of working in an office is the ability to quickly resolve issues by simply walking over to a co-workers’ desk and asking questions. However, when working remotely you may not have everyone available at the same time which can create delays if something urgent comes up that you need help with.
Working with team members in different time zones or who have different schedules can be frustrating at times, but it can also be seen as a strength. Implementing asynchronous communication between the teams allows you to work around these differences and still get the job done efficiently.
So rather than expecting them all to be online at the same time, you should focus on defining broader goals for the week to keep everyone in the loop so that everyone takes responsibility and does their part. Ultimately, you want to measure an employee’s performance by what they did, and not when they did it.
For globally distributed teams across multiple time zones, it’s considered best practice to incorporate a platform that allows for asynchronous communication. This allows people to share information and collaborate regardless of their availability or schedule.
2. Managing and fostering team collaboration
Reaching a point where the entire team is on cruise control and comfortable doing their tasks takes an intangible tool—trust. As a leader of a remote team, there needs to be a strong degree of trust that the people hired are self-sufficient and able to work without micromanagement. Without that trust from leadership, the team dynamic can shift into one of anxious finger-pointing and checking in too frequently.
While it’s important for team managers to trust that others are working, team members have to have the same sense of trust that their manager is supporting them and is willing to listen to them.
Managers of globally distributed teams should create an open dialogue for team members to speak up about their needs, whether that’s during their one-on-one calls or a form they can fill out each week about what progress they have made and if they need any assistance in their work.
It’s so important to keep that dialogue active because it’s easier for people on a remote team to become siloed and unsure of what’s really happening in another team member’s work world. Intentional and trust-driven communication can overcome commonplace communication issues.
3. Garner regular feedback
Feedback is an essential element in order to determine the success of any project. It’s especially important in a distributed team setting to ensure that everyone feels like they have a voice that will be heard. To make this happen, you need to establish a structured feedback process.
This can be done by conducting regular questionnaires and anonymous surveys to get employees’ thoughts on current processes, challenges, and areas that need improvement. Additionally, schedule occasional one-on-one feedback sessions to get a pulse on employee morale.
4. Periodically organizing off-site meetups
One of the main advantages of working in an office is getting to know your colleagues from different departments and functions. This way, you get to understand various personalities, which can be beneficial from a work perspective. However, this is one of the main disadvantages of remote working, as you could spend years at an organization without getting to know your colleagues’ temperament and character.
Therefore, an annual gathering should be organized where co-workers can meet each other in person if a company can afford it. Such an environment allows everyone to socialize and acquaint themselves with the individuals they work with daily, fostering better work relationships and resulting in easier interactions and more productivity overall.
Get started with building globally distributed teams for your organization
With the concept of globally distributed teams growing steadily, building the capability of managing such a workforce has become very critical. The above steps can be used as a checklist to guide you through taking your company remote or building distributed teams from scratch.
The key to a successful transition into remote work for your teams is to be patient and prepared for the various challenges that are likely to come up. You should allow for some time for everyone to adjust to the new way of working from home, and be understanding if there are fluctuations in productivity as your teams get used to this change.
Be available to answer questions, provide support, and give and receive feedback so that you can all make the most of this new arrangement. With some patience and planning, you can make sure that everyone on your team is set up for success with remote work.