Today, hybrid and remote work environments are the norm across industries. And without physical office spaces or the requirement for employees to work from designated locations, organizations are widening their talent pools and building global teams of employees, regardless of their geographical location.
While limits on global travel have loosened, many businesses are still embracing the flexibility that virtual workforces offer, which in turn has demanded new strategies and processes that support global teams.
With employees spanning different time zones and geographical locations, critical face time between leaders and employees can be challenging, particularly for bootstrapped startups that rely heavily on collaboration between engineering, sales and operations to ignite growth.
At Tellius, we’ve experienced this first hand with our teams in the US and India — all while managing the same pandemic-related market challenges that many organizations faced in the last two years. To sustain business continuity and achieve growth goals, we built a global strategy that keeps employees engaged and informed while also ensuring a collaborative and united work environment.
Here are the four pillars that have been critical to this global business strategy.
Embracing hybrid workforces
One positive workplace trend that the pandemic brought was accepting hybrid workforces to be just as productive as physical ones, and that also applies to global teams. The key to any hybrid or global work environment is keeping employees connected and determining the best ways to address both culture and location.
For example, even when the world feels normal again, physical presence may not be necessary for productive business operations. Further, more flexible work environments allow employees to reallocate commuting costs and can provide significant savings for businesses on travel spending.
Keeping global employees connected can be challenging, but is feasible with proper communication platforms that seamlessly connect hybrid and global workplaces. At Tellius, we leverage common platforms like Zoom and Slack, as well as Loom, which nicely merges text and video into one channel.
We try to leverage video as much as possible, as it is more expressive and authentic when communicating and is the closest to replicating physical interactions. Video communication also allows for employees to see how colleagues are thinking and reacting to situations, which is critical for healthy business communication.
Overcommunicating the mission and vision — and living the corporate values
One thing that can be lost in remote workforces is a clear understanding of the direction of the business. Being aligned organizationally on the mission and vision, as well as being transparent and explicit, is crucial to growth.
For example, an engineer needs to see how their design or data work ladders up to a bigger picture. By allowing each employee to understand how the results of their work positively affect other teams’ performance and goals, leaders create a more united workplace across geographies. This is especially important for startups that are likely still figuring things out.
Additionally, leaders need to build a firm structure around goals and key performance indicators, or KPIs. With a formal structure, growth metrics can be easily tracked and employees understand what they’re being measured against.
There are two ways to look at goals and KPIs. First, company-level goals where specific business units such as sales teams, for example, would be responsible for increasing sales revenue or conversion rates. Then there are personal goals that each employee is given based on their role, such as getting 10 new leads a week or even mastering a new tool to improve productivity.
Whether it’s a team or personal goal, there should be firm guidelines for everyone to follow. This is especially critical for global teams, as there should be no surprises when it comes to measuring success. With a formal structure in place, employees and leaders can easily measure what is working and where there are areas for improvement.
Creating an inclusive culture
Encouraging inclusivity is another important element to a successful global corporate culture, and much of this is done by leaders practicing empathy and compassion. By building personal bonds with colleagues within a professional setting, employees feel their personal lives are valued in addition to their work.
This is particularly crucial for global organizations with employees of different backgrounds and cultures as it encourages diversity and acceptance.
Tellius practices this by setting up virtual coffee meetings that replicate an office watercooler conversation, and we also ensure there are frequent company-wide “touch bases” — like quarterly business reviews — that highlight not just the state of the business but also key milestones and personal accomplishments. Creating an inclusive work environment that thrives on relationship building is the best way to ensure everyone is working towards the same goal.
Maintaining an agile mindset
This is one of the most important ways to manage global teams as leaders need to be prepared for the unexpected. No one could have predicted a global pandemic and its rapid disruption. For businesses to survive any level of uncertainty and stay the course, leaders need to have an agile mindset so they’re prepared for rapid changes that will occur within the business.
The phrase “work smarter, not harder” applies here, as leaders who are agile will be able to find where in their business they can do things better and more efficiently. For example, pre-pandemic sales teams were accustomed to extensive business travel to close big deals. Now, there are different ways to sell that take a more virtual, digital-first approach.
At Tellius, we implemented Gong to make sales processes more data-driven, and with this tool, we’re able to leverage call data to get a deeper understanding of what customers are looking for and how we can take a more proactive approach to meeting their needs. This type of agility has allowed us to maintain the same relationship-building techniques but in a more practical way that aligns with the current state of the world.
While having a global workforce can bring its challenges, it also brings many benefits to the organization like a wider talent pool and more diverse teams. The most successful global companies are the ones that have a robust strategy in place to manage their teams across seas, which in turn creates an agile, strong business that employees are passionate about.
Hybrid and global workforces are here to stay, which means it’s time for leaders to ensure they are equipped with the right tools, mindsets and leadership to create a collaborative and united work environment.
Ajay Khanna is CEO and founder of Tellius, a company disrupting business analytics with search and artificial intelligence. He is a technology entrepreneur who has a passion for building disruptive enterprise products with an awesome user experience. Prior to starting Tellius, Khanna was chief technology officer and founding member of Celcite, a fast growing telecom analytics and solutions company that was acquired by Amdocs. Khanna has over 25 years of extensive experience working in various technical, business and consulting roles. He holds degree in electronics and communications engineering.