There is no doubt that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on how people work in all business sectors. At Consortia, one of the most notable shifts, we have seen within our tech industries is an increase in global working and the creation of teams from across the world. The advantages to this are enormous; for clients, the benefits include hiring the best talent irrespective of location, reducing workplace costs, and potentially more flexibility on salaries. For candidates, it can mean increased work opportunities, a potentially improved work/home life balance, and, again, possibly more flexible salary options.
To get the most from a global team and remote working, you need to consider international remote working etiquette. Doing so will mean you avoid causing any distress to colleagues or clients by mistake. But what are the main things you need to know? Please find our 5 top tips on global working listed below. Let us know in the comments what other factors you would consider.
1) Remember to consider cultural etiquette.
One key thing to remember is how important cultural etiquette is when working across the globe. All countries and areas have their cultural quirks and expectations in how people should speak and act. If you unwittingly break these when in a conference call, it could cause unnecessary stress and undermine respect.
In East Asian culture, for example, extended eye contact may be considered disrespectful, whereas Western culture tends to value it when communicating. Being aware of cultural differences such as this across your multicultural teams and getting a good overview of colleagues' cultural traditions and communication differences in advance will help to avoid any blunders.
Consider also your own cultural perceptions. Do you find certain behaviours or words rude or inconsiderate? Your colleagues may not be aware of these, so try to appreciate this and avoid passing judgment and keeping an open mind yourself.
2) Keep different time zones in mind.
Consideration of time is a significant factor when it comes to global remote working etiquette. You must take into account that colleagues may well be in different time zones to you and consider their cultural differences in daily routines. It is all too easy to need answers on an urgent query and pick up the phone or send an email without considering it could the middle of the night or mid-morning prayer or afternoon siesta. Assessing what hours your colleagues work, organising calls around this, plus using the delay send function on emails is essential for a healthy working relationship.
3) Take colleagues' tech into account.
While internet networks and VoIP have spread to most corners of the globe, not all colleagues may have the fastest connections or kit. This could see them working at a slower speed than yourself and maybe even experiencing times when they have no internet at all. Therefore, it is critical to understand this when working remotely across the globe and not getting impatient for slow responses without understanding them. Try not to bombard colleagues with emails or requests on the same subject if you do not get a reply as quickly as you would like.
4) Working hours
As well as keeping different time zones in mind, it would help if you also thought about colleague's working hours and their overall attitude to work. You may live alone and be happy to work from 9 am to 9 pm - but this may not be the case for others with families, for example. It may also be the case that general attitudes to work in other countries are much different from your own. You may see some colleagues work shorter hours and not be available for out-of-hours calls.
5) Language barriers
Within an international team, your colleagues are less likely to all have English as their first language. Often English is used as a primary business language, but having the forethought to learn even a word or 2 in your colleague's language could go a long way in building business relationships and rapport.
Take time and care to speak clearly and ensure everyone has fully understood you without undermining others. Remember to adjust words and use alternatives where there appears to be confusion. Simply speaking louder does not improve understanding of an unknown word.
Global remote working is on the rise.
There is no doubt that sectors like tech have seen a rise in global remote working in recent times. In truth, this was beginning to take hold anyway, but the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly sped the process up. If you find yourself working in this way now, try to keep the above tips on best practices around remote working etiquette in mind when dealing with your fellow colleagues.