Remote work can be extremely rewarding, and allows your employees the freedom to work where they please without the need to commute.
There are a wide range of benefits to remote work, including more flexibility, less environmental impact, lower overhead costs, and much more.
However, there are special considerations you need to take into account when managing remote employees, especially when those employees live or work in a foreign country.
In this article, we will discuss the challenges of managing remote employees who are living and working abroad, as well as how to overcome these challenges.
Challenges with Remote Teams Abroad
Remote work comes with its own set of challenges in itself, and the obstacles become larger when you have an international workforce.
Here are some of the most common challenges associated with remote teams working abroad:
Working with different internet companies and various accessibility situations around the world can be a headache from a communication perspective.
Not every country has fast, reliable internet, and environmental factors can play a huge part in the availability of access to the internet.
Apart from this, some apps and programs you commonly use to communicate may not be available in a foreign county, or they may not even be legal.
Certain communications systems are banned in various countries, due to data privacy and other reasons.
This makes the job of managing and delegating tasks even harder, and can lead to a huge decrease in the efficiency of your remote team.
Internet solution: Check the availability of portable hotspots in countries that your employees work from.
Hotspots always come in handy when internet access is shotty, and a wide range of communication companies offer them.
Some can even be added on to your existing phone/internet plans, so there are no surprises when it comes to your bill.
Communication solution: Consider adopting a Customer Relationship Management System into your daily operations.
CRMs are great for task management and can be accessed at any time anywhere. This means the necessary information will always be available, so employees are never left in the dark.
2. Time Zones
Time zones are an inevitable obstacle when it comes to managing remote employees abroad, and believe it or not, you can’t change them.
It is also an unrealistic expectation to require your foreign-based employees to work on your time, as some may be on the exact opposite day/night schedule that you are.
This poses a problem with no clear solution, but with proper scheduling and planning, a workforce in multiple time zones can be just as efficient as a workforce in a physical office location.
Time zone solution: Working within different time zones requires clear and concise scheduling/planning.
You have to shift deadlines to fit within the individual employee’s work schedule and ensure your communications are at an appropriate time of day.
Keeping a comprehensive list of how far ahead/behind each employee is can be extremely helpful when making your schedule and assigning deadlines.
3. International Taxes
When dealing with foreign governments, banks, and regulations, foreign taxes will be one of the most difficult tasks to tackle while attempting to compensate your employees.
As a manager, it is part of your job to ensure your employees living abroad understand the tax implications and requirements that come with receiving income in a foreign country.
For example, US expats (US citizens/aliens living and working abroad) may be eligible for Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, as well as other tax deductions.
Some countries even have tax treaties to ensure employees working in a foreign country are not subject to double taxation.
International Tax Solution: Managers should ensure that their foriegn-based employees understand the deduction and credits that they qualify for, as well as any other tax obligations specific to their home countries.
Holding a meeting on the finer points of US expat taxes can be extremely beneficial, and can help your employees keep more of their foreign earned income.
Alternative solution: Hire an accountant that specifically deals with international taxes.
A qualified accountant can help you keep more of your foreign earned income, and may know about certain exclusions and deductions that will lessen your tax burden.
Managing Remote Teams Abroad: Conclusion
Managing remote teams that work abroad can be difficult at times, but there are tried and true methods to the madness.
An effective remote manager will be at the forefront of team efficiency, and it will be up to the manager to decide how they implement the resources available to them.
With proper communication and the right tools, a remote team can be just as effective from anywhere in the world as a workforce operating together in an office.
The advantages of having multiple perspectives from around the world are countless, all you have to do is connect them.