It seems as if we are living in the future thanks to the wonders of technology. Now, even if you lived halfway across the ocean from your employees, you could still interact with them as if they were in the very same room with you thanks to video cameras and conferencing software. In fact, according to Global Work Place Analytics, at least 50 percent of the US workforce works in a job that would work well with telecommuting capabilities. But if it is your first time investing in such a set-up, it can be very confusing and intimidating having to manage staff members from all over the globe. How do you pull this off without going crazy from all of the stress involved? We will give you a few tips in this article so that you can smoothly manage your international IT team and master the art of communication and delegation.
Figure Out Everybody’s Time Zones
This will probably be your biggest hurdle, given that each person on the team will probably have different working and sleeping times. If you can, get the schedules of each person from each country, and then try to figure out if there is any overlap between your hours where most of you are awake. You can then hold your meetings only during that specific time zone. Another option that you can choose is to hold what are called baton meetings. This is where employees with schedules that overlap well can discuss important items first. When one of them has to go to bed, the other one can stay up and pass that information on to the next employee whose time zone will overlap with his, and so on and so forth. Try to think of incentives to encourage employees to adjust to make time for international meetings, according to advice from Girl’s Guide to Project Management. We would advise against forcing your employees to work a graveyard shift, as this could cause serious health problems for them down the line.
Use the Best Software and Equipment
There is no other way for you to communicate with your other teams more efficiently than with video conferencing software. Yes, you may be able to pull it off with traditional landline phones, but there are so many limitations to using old technology. For one thing, you won’t be able to see the other person, which can lead to a feeling of detachment. You may want to consider something like BlueJeans business video conferencing software for IT, which is a robust solution. It’s safe and secure, since you can set passwords to lock other people out, which ensures that no random or rogue troublemakers can sneak their way into your confidential meetings. It can also allow you to save recordings of your meeting to the cloud, too, so that in case you need to remember a crucial detail you were not able to take note of, you can always refer back to the exact words that were said. The best part is that these kinds of apps can be used on several different devices. That means you can not only log onto a conference from your desktop computer, but you can also attend a meeting from your mobile phone or tablet. That way, you’ll never have to miss a conference even when you’re on the go.
Educate Yourself on Potential Cultural Differences
While you may have a common language that helps you bridge the gap between countries, you have to be aware of customs in other countries. That way, you can keep camaraderie high with your international staff members. Otherwise, you might end up accidentally offending or insulting one of your employees, leading to chaos in the office. The last thing that you need when coordinating with so many people spread out all over the globe is to add any strain to your working relationship. For example, in some countries, certain types of humor may be frowned upon. In others, being too friendly might be seen as trying to be too forward. Be mindful of your body language, too, as certain innocent gestures might actually be a terrible statement for somebody who lives in another continent. If you can, try to learn simple sentences or phrases that are commonly used in their language. There is nothing quite as warm and welcoming as being greeted in your own mother tongue, so help your foreign employees feel like they are a part of the company family. Make them feel at home.
As technology continues to advance, the ability to add new members to your team—even if they are based millions of miles away—may just provide your business with more opportunities for growth. Keep these tips in mind so that you can consistently manage your IT team without any hiccups along the way.