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News article6 September 2022European Labour Authority, Directorate-General for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

Leading from a distance? Here’s how to effectively manage your international team

While remote working has become normal for many people, it can be hard to manage an international team – but a remote team doesn’t need to be a challenge. Read on to find out how you can make your international team your best asset.

Leading from a distance? Here’s how to effectively manage your international team

1. Use the appropriate software

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, there are more options than ever to choose from for remote working and collaboration. But all this choice may not be a good thing, especially if your team is not using a unified system. As manager, it is your responsibility to evaluate the software available and ensure that your chosen platform supports efficient collaboration. Features to look for might include video calling/recording, instant messaging, screen sharing, an online/offline indicator, and software availability in each of your team member’s countries.

2. Schedule daily meetings

By scheduling daily virtual meetings at a regular time, you can establish a consistent work pattern for your international team. However, be sure to consider your employee’s different time zones when scheduling the meeting. Although it is important to keep your meetings productive, you should also ensure that you allow time for your team to chat informally. Providing opportunities for your team to socialise will help to maintain their friendly and professional relationships, foster a healthy work environment, and improve their engagement at work, despite your geographical distance.

3. Organise travel to international offices

Remember that, despite the distance between your team members, it is not impossible to meet each other! Consider organising travel for your team to meet and work together in-person. Doing this can help you to connect in ways that are not possible when working remotely. Your team can get to know each other better, and have more opportunity to have impromptu chats about work and life.

4. Be aware of cultural differences

As a manager, it is important that you are aware of any cultural differences there may be within your team, particularly if they are spread across multiple countries. This includes in relation to dress code, levels of formality and appropriate topics for discussion between colleagues, as well as the language you use to communicate with one another. Be transparent about what you expect of your team, and crucially, ask them what their expectations are of you and each other. Cultural differences may be subtle, so identifying them in cooperation and making efforts to lessen associated misunderstandings will help to make your team more cohesive and decrease the chance of conflict.

5. Provide your team with alternative places to work

Finally, consider providing your team with options to work elsewhere in case of unforeseen issues when working from home. Sudden internet connectivity problems, children on school holidays, or even noisy neighbours can be a major distraction to people who work remotely. These obstacles are often unpreventable and can affect your team’s productivity, but they are not unsolvable. Provide your team with access to alternative workplace locations where they can work undisturbed, such as your organisation’s nearest office, local co-working spaces, or one-day office spaces in their area.

For more on how to support your employees, check out our article on How to be a great employer.


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