For workers in many types of roles, telecommuting has increasingly become a sought-after benefit. Remote work has grown 140% in the past decade, as 40% more businesses in the U.S. have begun offering more flexible working options. For marketing executives, managing a remote workforce is now often part of the job. But for businesses that are just embarking on building a global marketing team or still in the phase of considering it, it’s a transition that can be rocky if you don’t know what to expect.
Janil Jean is Head of Overseas Operations at Logo Design Guru, a company that has a head office in New Jersey with workers who span the globe from Pakistan (where she’s based) to Australia and South Africa. As such, she and her team have learned some of the ins and outs of managing remote employees located all over the world.
Four Benefits of Having a Global Marketing Team
There are several good reasons to consider hiring remote employees across the globe.
1. You have a larger talent pool.
“One of the benefits of a global company is that we have access to a diverse pool of talent,” Jean shares. When you have a new role to fill, being able to stretch your search to the whole world increases the chances you’ll find the best person for the job.
2. You have diversity in the workforce.
Some of the most notable (and visible) marketing blunders have been due to a lack of diversity on marketing teams. When you have a team that represents the variety of life experiences and cultures you’re marketing to first-hand, you’re better equipped to create campaigns your audience will respond to. And just as importantly, you’ll be better at steering clear of the embarrassing marketing mistakes that bring the wrong kind of attention.
3. You can save money.
Embracing global remote work saves businesses money in a couple of key ways:
- You don’t spend as much on office space. Hubstaff, a software company, estimates they save $100,000 a year by not having an office. For companies with offices in expensive cities, this is an even bigger benefit.
- Average salaries vary in different countries. Says Jean, “Most of the clients we have are small business start-ups or entrepreneurs, so if they were to hire anyone from the U.S., they wouldn’t be able to afford the kind of services we deliver.” In countries that have a lower cost of living or government programs that cover costly benefits like healthcare, businesses can get top-notch talent for less, while still offering a fair salary.
4. Around-the-clock availability is easier to offer.
“In today’s world, most marketing is real-time,” Jean points out. When your marketing team all live in the same time zone and work set hours, no one’s around to respond to a breaking story that starts when you’re all asleep. But when your team is spread around the world, someone’s almost always up.
Four Tips For Managing Remote Employees Effectively
For the benefits to pay off, you have to handle managing remote employees the right way. Jean offered a few tips for doing so.
1. Train staff in cultural expectations.
Your team can’t be expected to know the details of a culture that’s different from their own without being educated on it. “It would be best if you understood what their challenges are, what their culture is, what they follow, what they believe in, and what kind of behavior they usually demonstrate,” says Jean.
“Someone in the U.S. wouldn’t understand why a Vietnamese person would take a nap during the day,” she gave as an example. “When I worked there in Vietnam, even bankers were having naps!”
While something like that may be surprising to you or other members of your team, it’s important to understand that individual cultural traditions should be respected. “You don’t want to go and say ‘hey, why are you sleeping on the job?’ It’s their break time. They are entitled to it,” she added.
Take time to learn about the cultural norms of the places members of your team are located and train the rest of the team in what to expect.
2. Use technology to enable communication.
“We use Skype as our major communication platform for collaboration,” Jean told me. “We have meetings and conference calls on Skype. It can be used by anyone across the globe.”
Skype is a versatile solution for maintaining regular communication across countries, but there are a host of additional global communication tools on the market. You can use Slack for collaborative chat rooms, video conference software for meetings, or project management products like Trello to help everyone stay connected.
“And then we have our internal system database… it’s sort of a work-process database where everyone can access it anytime, from anywhere,” she explains. When someone updates it in one place, anyone who references that client or campaign will see the most up-to-date information on it.
3. Have regular meetings.
When your team is spread out in different places, making an effort to connect becomes more important. Having a standing meeting on the schedule to check in can ensure everyone stays on the same page on the progress of a campaign or strategy.
“We do have our weekly team meetings, which are at a set time,” says Jean. The members of the team who work in an office together get together in the same room, and the team members who live in other places call in for the meeting.
4. Meet face-to-face when needed.
“We meet face-to-face once or twice a year, sometimes thrice a year if there’s a new project,” Jean said.
If it’s affordable for your company to do so, coordinate opportunities for the team to meet in person when starting a new project or planning your long-term strategy. Even with all the tech that makes international communication easier, in-person meetings still provide a level of connection and collaboration that’s hard to replicate exclusively with phone calls and online chat.
Should You Embrace Having a Global Marketing Team?
The answer to that question depends on your company’s needs and priorities. But Jean’s opinion on the subject is clear. “I would say, embrace a global community as a workplace. Don’t treat it as a challenge; treat it as a new experience. The world is moving forward and everyone is going global.”
A shift to having a more global and flexible marketing department can bring benefits to your team and to your marketing results. And it can make you more competitive with companies that are already moving in that direction. If you decide to pursue this route, be thoughtful about the challenges to expect and create processes to address them head on.