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How to create a successful international remote workforce

Apr 21, 2022 Guest Contributor

How to create a successful international remote workforce

Are you considering adding international remote work positions to your staff? The COVID-19 pandemic forced companies to figure out better ways to work from home to avoid the spread of the virus. Once processes began to flow, they realized they could add employees around the globe and embrace skillsets local workers might not have.

For example, if you want to market to people in a specific country, bringing in a social media expert from that region can help you tailor your message to their expectations. International remote work does present a few challenges you might not have with domestic remote positions.

How can I employ a remote worker in another country?

You might worry about tax implications and regulatory hooks when hiring out international remote work. It isn’t always as complex as you might think. If the person is not a full-time employee, but a contracted one, you have a bit more wiggle room.

Around half of companies don’t allow international employees, while 25% let their staff work from anywhere in the world and the remaining 25% are still deciding on their policies.

You can also work with agencies in various countries and pay them directly. They then have a team of staff who complete the work and they pass on the salary to them. The process works similar to a temporary staffing agency, where you cut a check to the agency to cover their time and costs and they pass on a percentage to their employees.

Here are some tips to create a successful international remote workforce.

1. Know where they are

Working from home provides a lot of flexibility. However, employees also sometimes move to other locations. For example, if you hire a worker in Europe, they may go visit family in a neighboring country for a few months. You need to know about any changes in location since that can impact regulations.

Set a policy that employees must inform you if they move to a new city, country, or are gone for an extended period of time. You’ll avoid any legal issues by staying on top of where your workers are.

2. Pay in the employee's currency

One of the biggest hurdles to overcome is figuring out how to pay for international remote work. You want to offer paychecks in the worker’s currency. However, figuring out conversions, how to do a wire transfer without paying significant fees, and the logistics can sometimes bog down small business owners.

Fortunately, there are solutions where you can automate payments with artificial intelligence (AI) driven programs. For example, you can use SWIFT payments, which teams up with around 11,000 banking institutions in over 200 countries and territories. SWIFT converts the funds, sending them to the employee’s banking institution.

Artificial intelligence is helping SWIFT gather high-quality reference data, establish communications standards, reduce financial risk and gather business intelligence. By utilizing this technology they can create a secure method of payment processing at an international level.

3. Encourage productivity

Companies were forced to move to remote and remote-hybrid models during the height of the pandemic. They quickly realized productivity increased for most of their employees. Remove the distractions of the typical office environment, and it’s much easier to get things done.

However, people function differently and some find they aren’t quite as productive without the fast, focused pace of an office setting. How can you encourage increased productivity when someone works on another continent and in a different time zone?

Reward your employees for hitting certain milestones and measures. Have targets for them to strive for. Get specific when discussing due dates so that members know to reference their personal time zone or headquarters ’ time zone. Talk to them if they’re failing to meet expectations and brainstorm ways to help them be better focused or have the tools they need to complete their jobs more efficiently.

4. Attract top talent

When you expand to an international remote workforce, you open the door to top talent. You might run your business in a small town and not have a worker who understands some of the technology you’d like to implement to improve your logistics or inventory systems.

Enter workers from around the globe. With improvements in internet connectivity and video conferencing, an employee in Germany can interact directly with an IT manager in a small, Midwestern town in the United States.

You can also schmooze experts in your own country, creating a beautiful mix of knowledge and specializations that make your brand hum along and help you scale up faster than you might have imagined.

5. Embrace green living

When you create an international remote work opportunity, you also reduce your company's carbon footprint. People don't have to commute to and from work, saving fuel and environmental pollution. Experts estimate companies could eliminate 119 billion miles of highway driving if they allowed all remote compatible jobs to go fully work at home. That’s equal to about 54 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

A green company may even be more attractive to top job candidates who have a passion for eco-friendly living. You could gain valuable workers who otherwise would go to a larger corporation.

6. Refine communications

Working with people from all over requires strong communication skills. You must seek out the best tools for keeping up with conversations. Keep in mind that you’ll be talking to people in different time zones. Limit video meetings so someone doesn’t have to get up extremely early or stay up late.

Instead, create chat streams through sites such as CircleUp or Slack. Employees can respond during their work hours rather than being tied to a computer during what should be family time. You’ll create a better work/life balance for your employees.

7. Verify immigration status

You might choose to hire people who’ve immigrated to the country you do business in, but you should verify their citizenship status. Even if they claim to be from a different country and working from that location, you should always verify their claims.

Some countries have tightened immigration and work restrictions in response to the pandemic. Trust but verify is the best policy to put in place when it comes to hiring remotely.

8. Onboard new workers

You must make sure you onboard your new global employees and are in compliance with any regulations. It is more footwork and effort to bring on staff from another country. Sometimes it is worth the added effort, so be aware of the paperwork, tax laws, and restrictions for the countries you typically work with. Once you’ve figured it out, you’ll know for future employees in the same country or territory.

About the Author:
Emily Newton is the Editor-in-Chief of Revolutionized, an online magazine showing how technology is innovating different industries.

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