International Team Best Practices: A Top Down Approach
Many companies are requiring people to go back to the office because they fear a lack of culture and learning, but you can have an effective remote culture if done correctly.
I built several international teams, and these are the actions and policies that make people feel connected, while keeping everyone on the same page:
Note: These are not “nice to have” but must be requirements from a company. Leadership needs to establish them for everyone to follow for full effectiveness.
Always Use Video: One of the most impactful meeting protocols is that everyone uses video. Without it, people aren't as present, and communication and collaboration improve when team members feel genuinely listened to and included from seeing their colleague's faces.
Respect Time: Time is another policy that needs to be supported from the top down. The CEO and leadership team need to implement strict time guidelines that are mindful of other team members' schedules and always prioritize punctuality- starting with or without people who are late. Starting meetings on time and respecting availability reduces time wastage and improves productivity. So if a meeting starts at 8 am, be ready to go at 8 am, not ten minutes late.
Record Team Meeting: If you have an all-hands meeting, there will be some employees who can't attend due to other commitments. Record meets to make people feel included, and so they don’t have to get the message through a third party. It’s always best to hear valuable information directly, and with video, there’s the ability to fast forward if needed.
Establish Hours: Set work hours during which team members can be contacted. Creating work boundaries reduces stress and improves work-life balance. Although remote work allows for flexibility, it does not mean that meetings should occur at random times.
Communication Protocols: Written or verbal, everyone should be aware of communication best practices, including response time, language usage, and tone. One of the most effective communication protocols is a task management system that allows team members to communicate project updates, concerns, and achievements.
Defining Expectations: Make sure each team member knows their individual responsibilities and how they fit into the larger organization. Establish clear objectives for each project and create timelines with achievable goals.
Remote work, while a modern necessity, can be a daunting transition for many. However, by implementing the best practices outlined above, organizations can build virtual teams that are productive, efficient, and collaborative. Proactive communication, respecting each other's time, and maintaining work-life boundaries are key to successful remote work. Doing so ensures that distance does not become a barrier to collective success.