"The best remote managers really get communication—it builds a different kind of trust”

Insights
  • Paul Arnesen specialises in transforming HR and people processes for global companies.
  • “Instead of random daily messages, having a structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is vital”.
  • “The key is for global companies to adapt their management style to fit the diverse needs of their team members, enhancing their performance”.

We had the opportunity to chat with Paul Arnesen, a Global HR expert with extensive international experience since 2008. He focuses on scaling workforces, enhancing leadership development, and fostering inclusive cultures to boost organisational success. He highlighted his unique expertise: “I'd say my speciality really shines in cross-cultural communication and management practices. My life's journey has taken me around the world, living in places as diverse as New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, Portugal, and Italy. These experiences have deepened my understanding of various cultures and how to navigate the complexities of working and communicating within them.”

Paul emphasized the importance of autonomy and flexibility for managers, noting that these elements are crucial for motivation. He also highlighted the significance of personal growth and development to prevent managers from feeling stagnant, which can lead to demotivation.

Discussing remote work, Paul pointed out the benefits of accessing a global talent pool. “You can hire specialists from anywhere in the world quickly without the substantial costs and time typically associated with relocation. This flexibility often results in greater loyalty and job satisfaction,” he explained.

In remote settings, Paul advises maintaining regular communication while avoiding an overbearing approach. “A structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is essential,” he says. By addressing individual needs and preferences, a more inclusive and valued workplace culture is cultivated. He also noted that effective remote managers excel in communication, such as scheduling regular check-ins, which fosters a unique kind of trust. “The best remote managers I've seen are the ones who really understand communication”.

Paul shared a story highlighting cultural nuances in global operations: The US HR team, accustomed to domestic practices, initially struggled with their approach in Asia. They learned to adapt their performance reviews to be more culturally sensitive, particularly to meet the Taiwanese team's expectations.

Expectations from team leaders in remote collaborations include transparency, trust, flexibility, and, crucially, empathy. “Simple interactions like asking, “How’s your day?” can make a significant difference, especially to the younger generation who are starting their careers in fully remote roles”, he explained.

Lastly, Paul advocates for warm, human interactions within remote teams, such as organising off-site meetups, which he believes are invaluable for team cohesion.

He concludes that “it’s vital for global companies to adapt their management styles to meet the diverse needs of their team members, thereby enhancing overall performance”.

Highlights from Paul

  • Remote work opens up a global talent pool. You can hire specialists from anywhere in the world quickly without the significant expenses and time traditionally involved in relocating someone.
  • The remote managers who stand out are those who manage to transition from being good at face-to-face communication to being just as effective online. This ability is what makes them unique. It builds a different kind of trust. 
  • In a remote environment, regular check-ins are crucial, but it's important to strike a balance to avoid being overbearing. 
  • Instead of random daily messages, having a structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is vital. 
  • Empathy is key, especially when communicating remotely. Asking simple questions like "How's your day?". (...) This expectation is particularly strong among the younger generation, who are entering the workforce in fully remote positions. 
  • By catering to each individual's needs and preferences, instead of adopting a 'my way or the highway' attitude, you create a workplace where everyone feels valued and understood on a personal level.

Full Interview

What sets your key area of expertise apart from the rest?

I'd say my speciality really shines in cross-cultural communication and management. My life's journey has taken me around the world, living in places as diverse as New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, Portugal, and Italy. These experiences have deepened my understanding of various cultures and how to navigate the complexities of working and communicating within them. It's this blend of personal experience and genuine passion for understanding how people from different backgrounds interact that defines my expertise in global human resources.

I'm particularly suited to advise on global expansion because I understand the challenges of hiring and integrating team members from different parts of the world. Recognising and adapting to diverse feedback styles, communication methods, and leadership approaches are crucial, as these can vary significantly from one culture to another. My experience in cross-cultural management and global consulting has prepared me to navigate these challenges effectively.

Moreover, I'm adept at creating strategies that consider the unique cultural contexts of various countries. While I am Norwegian, my work isn't limited to Norwegian companies; I've successfully worked with firms from Italy, Spain, South America, and Asia. This ability stems from my longstanding interest and expertise in understanding and managing cross-cultural dynamics.

This journey into HR began when I was living abroad, initially sparking my interest in international business. At one point, I considered a career in diplomacy because of my fascination with fostering connections between people from different cultures. This aspect is not only crucial for large corporations but also plays a significant role in immigration and supporting expatriates, illustrating the broad applicability of cross-cultural understanding in both professional and personal contexts.

What are the top three motivators for managers in the workplace today?

In today's business climate, a key motivator for management is the opportunity to engage in and impact innovation. With the rapid pace of technological advancements and evolving work practices, companies that cling to outdated methods risk demotivating their management teams. Managers are increasingly seeking roles in organisations that champion innovation, allowing them to experiment with new tools, technologies, and ways of working.

Autonomy and flexibility have also become crucial. Recent trends, such as the surge in remote work, highlight the importance of being able to work from anywhere, be it a coffee shop or from home, rather than being tied to an office. Managers now prioritise roles that offer flexibility, not necessarily requiring a fully remote setup but perhaps a hybrid option, recognising its significance in today's working environment.

Lastly, personal growth and development remain fundamental. Without opportunities to advance and enhance their skills, managers may feel stagnant, leading to significant demotivation. It's essential for companies to have a clear plan for the development of their management team, ensuring they can grow within the organisation. In summary, innovation and impact, flexibility, and personal growth are the three pillars vital for motivating managers in the current business landscape.

Autonomy and flexibility have become crucial.

What does a top-notch remote manager do that's unique, and how do they differ from a manager who runs a team in the office?

I've noticed that the best remote managers I've seen or worked with are the ones who really understand communication. It's easy in an office to just pop by someone's desk to check in or say hi at the beginning and end of the day. But moving that kind of communication to a remote setting isn't straightforward for everyone. Suddenly, you have to rely on typing messages or setting up meetings for regular check-ins, and it's a completely different way of connecting.

The remote managers who stand out are those who manage to transition from being good at face-to-face communication to being just as effective online. This ability is what makes them unique. It builds a different kind of trust. I've been in situations where, after joining a company or a project, you barely hear from some managers again. You might see them online on Slack or elsewhere, but there's no real outreach, and it can make you start to wonder about your place and satisfaction in the work. So, in short, those who can master communication in a remote environment really do become the best remote managers.

The remote managers who stand out are those who manage to transition from being good at face-to-face communication to being just as effective online.

It can be tricky to manage a team that's spread out across the globe. What sort of situations do you usually run into, and what's the smartest way to tackle them? Could you share some situations where you've dealt with Asian work culture?

I recently worked with a US-based company that had embraced remote working from its inception. This startup grew and decided to expand internationally, specifically targeting talent in Asia due to the technological skills they needed. They ended up hiring a team from Taiwan, a place with a culture closely aligned to Chinese ways of working, though with a somewhat more Western outlook on business.

Initially, the collaboration between the US company and the Taiwanese team was very successful, with significant performance improvements. However, after conducting a performance review at the end of the quarter using their standard US approach—which tends to be direct and straightforward—the performance of the Taiwanese team unexpectedly dropped.

The US HR team, experienced in domestic practices but new to working in Asia, didn't realise the impact of their feedback style. In Taiwan, and many Asian cultures, direct criticism or being singled out can lead to "losing face," which is highly embarrassing and can significantly reduce trust and motivation.

Upon analysing the situation, I found the decline in performance was due to how the Taiwanese team perceived the feedback. They felt embarrassed, especially since some feedback was given in a public setting. Recognising this cultural mismatch, we worked on adapting the US company's approach to performance reviews to be more culturally sensitive to the Taiwanese team's expectations.

To address this, we implemented cultural training for both teams. I advised the US team on how to adjust their feedback methods to align better with Taiwanese cultural norms. Conversely, I also prepared the Taiwanese team on what to expect from a US perspective. This approach aimed to bridge the cultural gap, ensuring that remote work between teams from different backgrounds can be successful with mutual understanding and respect for each other's cultural nuances.

Can you share some tips for improving communication with a remote team? What communication methods stand out online compared to in person?

I believe effective communication is key, echoing what I mentioned earlier about what makes a good remote manager. In a remote environment, regular check-ins are crucial, but it's important to strike a balance to avoid being overbearing. Instead of random daily messages, having a structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is vital. This approach also considers the cultural nuances in communication preferences. Some may prefer indirect communication, while others might be more direct. Understanding and accommodating these individual communication needs is essential.

Another point I'd like to emphasise, which may not be as prevalent now but was a significant issue during the height of COVID-19, is training on digital tools. With the shift to remote work, it became imperative to ensure everyone could effectively use platforms like Slack, Teams, and Zoom. Therefore, learning to use collaborative platforms effectively is another essential aspect. Without the ability to physically gather around a table for a project, knowing how to use shared documents and other online collaboration tools becomes indispensable for remote teamwork. Ensuring the team is well-trained before diving into remote work setups is key.

I believe it all boils down to having a solid onboarding plan from the start. This plan should outline how communication will be handled and ensure everyone feels seen and heard. So, when someone new joins the company, it's crucial they receive clear instructions on how to use the tools, what's expected of them, and the role of managers in this process, making sure everything is set up for success from the beginning.

I'm particularly passionate about the richness of cultural diversity we encounter. 

How can managers better communicate and connect with their remote teams? 

What I was saying earlier ties back to the importance of building connections, which is crucial in any work setting, whether remote or in-person. At the start of any professional relationship, it's essential to make an effort to understand the person you're managing. This understanding should respect their comfort level regarding what they're willing to share about their personal lives. I'm particularly passionate about the richness of cultural diversity we encounter. For instance, in some cultures, people love talking about their personal lives and what they did over the weekend. This openness is often seen in what might be considered an American approach, where there's a tendency to share and sometimes brag about personal achievements. However, other cultures may be more reserved.

As a manager aiming to be effective, recognising and adapting to these cultural nuances early in the relationship is vital. It's about being aware of where someone is from and having the sensitivity to discuss topics that are important to them without making them uncomfortable during non-work-related conversations. This approach fosters a more inclusive environment where trust builds not just in you as a manager but also among team members. By catering to each individual's needs and preferences, instead of adopting a 'my way or the highway' attitude, you create a workplace where everyone feels valued and understood on a personal level.

What do staff expect from their bosses when working together remotely?

Transparency, trust, flexibility, and empathy are crucial. I realise I haven't mentioned empathy before, but it's vital to understand and put yourself in someone else's shoes. Employees need to know that if something personal affects their work performance, their manager will understand. This understanding is more challenging to achieve remotely. In an office, you might notice if someone is going through a tough time just by their appearance. However, online, it's much harder to perceive these nuances—you can't see someone's mood through a Slack message, aside from perhaps a sad face emoji on their profile.

Empathy is key, especially when communicating remotely. Asking simple questions like "How's your day?" and genuinely listening can make a significant difference. Employees today expect their managers to understand and accommodate their personal situations, which can affect work performance. This expectation is particularly strong among the younger generation, who are entering the workforce in fully remote positions. They've grown up with different communication styles, favoring quick messages and texts, and even place meaning in the use of emojis.

For managers, especially those with more experience who are used to traditional office settings, adapting to these new expectations can be challenging. It's important to recognise that a young workforce might have never experienced office life and communicates differently. Therefore, setting clear guidelines and onboarding processes from the start is crucial. In a remote setting, direct messages can feel more intrusive than a casual office interaction, so providing clear documentation and resources, like an internal FAQ, is essential for helping everyone feel comfortable and informed. This approach can help bridge the gap between different generations and work styles, ensuring a cohesive remote work environment.

Employees today expect their managers to understand and accommodate their personal situations.

How can a boss foster a warm and human atmosphere when leading a remote team?

Going back to empathy, it’s about understanding everyone's preferences and making sure to acknowledge their special events. In a team spread across cultures, it's important to remember that different cultures have their own holidays and significant days. For instance, being mindful of religious holidays like Ramadan is essential. If you’re unaware of what Ramadan means for a Muslim colleague, it might lead to misunderstandings. It's beneficial for managers to learn about these cultural differences and for employees to share what’s important to them, like a special holiday they’ve celebrated all their life, possibly requesting a day off for it.

On another note, getting the remote team together for off-site meetups is incredibly valuable. Meeting even just once a year can greatly enhance trust and mutual understanding within the team. While it can be a challenge to coordinate everyone from around the globe, the effort pays off in building a stronger team. These gatherings are an opportunity to celebrate successes and just enjoy some informal time together.

Also, celebrating successes is crucial. Whether someone’s clinched a great deal or there’s a notable team achievement, it should be celebrated. Sending out emails or having an internal newsletter that highlights these wins, welcomes new team members, or showcases special initiatives helps keep everyone connected and appreciative of each other’s efforts.

After the remote working change due to COVID, it's taken managers a while to really get on board with leading remote teams. What do you think has made them realise the benefits?

I think companies should really appreciate the benefits that remote work offers, especially in terms of flexibility. Remote work provides ultimate flexibility, allowing employees to be at home for any emergencies without the stress of having to request time off for small things, like waiting for a plumber. It removes a lot of organisational stress around managing minor absences since employees can still work while managing home responsibilities.

Another point I emphasise is that remote work opens up a global talent pool. You can hire specialists from anywhere in the world quickly without the significant expenses and time traditionally involved in relocating someone. This not only saves costs but also broadens the range of talent available to companies. Essentially, as long as the working language aligns and they have the Internet and a laptop, you can find and employ the right talent from anywhere.

Remote work also supports better work-life balance, making employees generally happier and, from what I've seen, more productive. It shifts the focus from just being present at the office to what employees actually deliver. This means you can measure productivity by the outcomes rather than just attendance.

Moreover, people work differently. Some may be more productive at night, and remote work accommodates these personal preferences, allowing employees to work when they feel most efficient. This flexibility can lead to greater loyalty and job satisfaction.

One challenge is getting traditional companies to embrace asynchronous work. Not everyone has to work or deliver reports at the same time, especially when teams are spread across different time zones. Recognising that some people might be more productive at night and accommodating these individual working styles can lead to a more efficient and productive team. This understanding should be part of initial communications, asking employees when they prefer to work and setting expectations early on.

One challenge is getting traditional companies to embrace asynchronous work.

What's your take on using AI for recruiting? 

Before AI caught everyone's attention, recruitment was already using it in a basic form to sift through CVs, looking for certain keywords. This method wasn't foolproof, often missing out on some top-notch candidates. Now, AI has gotten much better, providing valuable support in sorting through applicants and helping to avoid biases. It's crucial, though, not to let AI make all the decisions. Combining AI's insights with human judgment offers the best of both worlds, ensuring no good candidate slips through because of a keyword miss. Essentially, AI hasn't replaced the human touch in recruitment; instead, it's become a smart tool in the toolkit, making the screening process smoother and more effective.

The key is for global companies to adapt their management style to fit the diverse needs of their team members, enhancing their performance.

Would you like to discuss or share anything in particular?

In the global business scene, many companies miss out on effectively managing diverse teams. They often stick to a uniform way of managing everyone, from performance reviews to team building, which might not suit teams from different cultural backgrounds.

Take, for instance, a French company I encountered, hesitant to hire outside France due to a preference for local employees. They recognised the potential of hiring globally but were unsure how to make it work beyond just saving costs.

The key is for global companies to adapt their management style to fit the diverse needs of their team members, enhancing their performance. For example, the difference in managing a team in China versus the US can significantly impact overall performance.

Cultural training, often given to expatriates, is rarely extended to remote teams, missing a chance to improve understanding and teamwork. Additionally, meeting in person at least once a year can change perceptions and strengthen relationships in ways remote communication can't, highlighting the importance of personal interaction in global team management.

How to simply and easily hire and build global teams?

Building high-performance teams globally and in remote work environments is not just feasible but can be highly effective with the right strategies and insights. Joining Paul Arnesen's extensive expertise in cross-cultural communication and management with employers of records (EORs) like Teamed enables businesses to tap into the world's best talent within hours. Paul's unique approach, shaped by his international living experiences and deep understanding of diverse workplace cultures, provides invaluable guidance for organisations looking to expand globally.

With Teamed, companies can effortlessly handle the logistical aspects of hiring and payroll. There is an especial ingredient, Teamed is popular to provide a unique and human touch that stands out from the rest of EORs. Employees and companies have assigned dedicated local agents across the globe and during the entire employee journey. Paul's expertise, combined with Teamed's extensive services, empowers businesses to excel in the global marketplace. Ready to transform your workforce and harness the power of global talent? Connect with Teamed today!

  • Paul Arnesen specialises in transforming HR and people processes for global companies.
  • “Instead of random daily messages, having a structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is vital”.
  • “The key is for global companies to adapt their management style to fit the diverse needs of their team members, enhancing their performance”.

We had the opportunity to chat with Paul Arnesen, a Global HR expert with extensive international experience since 2008. He focuses on scaling workforces, enhancing leadership development, and fostering inclusive cultures to boost organisational success. He highlighted his unique expertise: “I'd say my speciality really shines in cross-cultural communication and management practices. My life's journey has taken me around the world, living in places as diverse as New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, Portugal, and Italy. These experiences have deepened my understanding of various cultures and how to navigate the complexities of working and communicating within them.”

Paul emphasized the importance of autonomy and flexibility for managers, noting that these elements are crucial for motivation. He also highlighted the significance of personal growth and development to prevent managers from feeling stagnant, which can lead to demotivation.

Discussing remote work, Paul pointed out the benefits of accessing a global talent pool. “You can hire specialists from anywhere in the world quickly without the substantial costs and time typically associated with relocation. This flexibility often results in greater loyalty and job satisfaction,” he explained.

In remote settings, Paul advises maintaining regular communication while avoiding an overbearing approach. “A structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is essential,” he says. By addressing individual needs and preferences, a more inclusive and valued workplace culture is cultivated. He also noted that effective remote managers excel in communication, such as scheduling regular check-ins, which fosters a unique kind of trust. “The best remote managers I've seen are the ones who really understand communication”.

Paul shared a story highlighting cultural nuances in global operations: The US HR team, accustomed to domestic practices, initially struggled with their approach in Asia. They learned to adapt their performance reviews to be more culturally sensitive, particularly to meet the Taiwanese team's expectations.

Expectations from team leaders in remote collaborations include transparency, trust, flexibility, and, crucially, empathy. “Simple interactions like asking, “How’s your day?” can make a significant difference, especially to the younger generation who are starting their careers in fully remote roles”, he explained.

Lastly, Paul advocates for warm, human interactions within remote teams, such as organising off-site meetups, which he believes are invaluable for team cohesion.

He concludes that “it’s vital for global companies to adapt their management styles to meet the diverse needs of their team members, thereby enhancing overall performance”.

Highlights from Paul

  • Remote work opens up a global talent pool. You can hire specialists from anywhere in the world quickly without the significant expenses and time traditionally involved in relocating someone.
  • The remote managers who stand out are those who manage to transition from being good at face-to-face communication to being just as effective online. This ability is what makes them unique. It builds a different kind of trust. 
  • In a remote environment, regular check-ins are crucial, but it's important to strike a balance to avoid being overbearing. 
  • Instead of random daily messages, having a structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is vital. 
  • Empathy is key, especially when communicating remotely. Asking simple questions like "How's your day?". (...) This expectation is particularly strong among the younger generation, who are entering the workforce in fully remote positions. 
  • By catering to each individual's needs and preferences, instead of adopting a 'my way or the highway' attitude, you create a workplace where everyone feels valued and understood on a personal level.

Full Interview

What sets your key area of expertise apart from the rest?

I'd say my speciality really shines in cross-cultural communication and management. My life's journey has taken me around the world, living in places as diverse as New Zealand, Thailand, Brazil, Portugal, and Italy. These experiences have deepened my understanding of various cultures and how to navigate the complexities of working and communicating within them. It's this blend of personal experience and genuine passion for understanding how people from different backgrounds interact that defines my expertise in global human resources.

I'm particularly suited to advise on global expansion because I understand the challenges of hiring and integrating team members from different parts of the world. Recognising and adapting to diverse feedback styles, communication methods, and leadership approaches are crucial, as these can vary significantly from one culture to another. My experience in cross-cultural management and global consulting has prepared me to navigate these challenges effectively.

Moreover, I'm adept at creating strategies that consider the unique cultural contexts of various countries. While I am Norwegian, my work isn't limited to Norwegian companies; I've successfully worked with firms from Italy, Spain, South America, and Asia. This ability stems from my longstanding interest and expertise in understanding and managing cross-cultural dynamics.

This journey into HR began when I was living abroad, initially sparking my interest in international business. At one point, I considered a career in diplomacy because of my fascination with fostering connections between people from different cultures. This aspect is not only crucial for large corporations but also plays a significant role in immigration and supporting expatriates, illustrating the broad applicability of cross-cultural understanding in both professional and personal contexts.

What are the top three motivators for managers in the workplace today?

In today's business climate, a key motivator for management is the opportunity to engage in and impact innovation. With the rapid pace of technological advancements and evolving work practices, companies that cling to outdated methods risk demotivating their management teams. Managers are increasingly seeking roles in organisations that champion innovation, allowing them to experiment with new tools, technologies, and ways of working.

Autonomy and flexibility have also become crucial. Recent trends, such as the surge in remote work, highlight the importance of being able to work from anywhere, be it a coffee shop or from home, rather than being tied to an office. Managers now prioritise roles that offer flexibility, not necessarily requiring a fully remote setup but perhaps a hybrid option, recognising its significance in today's working environment.

Lastly, personal growth and development remain fundamental. Without opportunities to advance and enhance their skills, managers may feel stagnant, leading to significant demotivation. It's essential for companies to have a clear plan for the development of their management team, ensuring they can grow within the organisation. In summary, innovation and impact, flexibility, and personal growth are the three pillars vital for motivating managers in the current business landscape.

Autonomy and flexibility have become crucial.

What does a top-notch remote manager do that's unique, and how do they differ from a manager who runs a team in the office?

I've noticed that the best remote managers I've seen or worked with are the ones who really understand communication. It's easy in an office to just pop by someone's desk to check in or say hi at the beginning and end of the day. But moving that kind of communication to a remote setting isn't straightforward for everyone. Suddenly, you have to rely on typing messages or setting up meetings for regular check-ins, and it's a completely different way of connecting.

The remote managers who stand out are those who manage to transition from being good at face-to-face communication to being just as effective online. This ability is what makes them unique. It builds a different kind of trust. I've been in situations where, after joining a company or a project, you barely hear from some managers again. You might see them online on Slack or elsewhere, but there's no real outreach, and it can make you start to wonder about your place and satisfaction in the work. So, in short, those who can master communication in a remote environment really do become the best remote managers.

The remote managers who stand out are those who manage to transition from being good at face-to-face communication to being just as effective online.

It can be tricky to manage a team that's spread out across the globe. What sort of situations do you usually run into, and what's the smartest way to tackle them? Could you share some situations where you've dealt with Asian work culture?

I recently worked with a US-based company that had embraced remote working from its inception. This startup grew and decided to expand internationally, specifically targeting talent in Asia due to the technological skills they needed. They ended up hiring a team from Taiwan, a place with a culture closely aligned to Chinese ways of working, though with a somewhat more Western outlook on business.

Initially, the collaboration between the US company and the Taiwanese team was very successful, with significant performance improvements. However, after conducting a performance review at the end of the quarter using their standard US approach—which tends to be direct and straightforward—the performance of the Taiwanese team unexpectedly dropped.

The US HR team, experienced in domestic practices but new to working in Asia, didn't realise the impact of their feedback style. In Taiwan, and many Asian cultures, direct criticism or being singled out can lead to "losing face," which is highly embarrassing and can significantly reduce trust and motivation.

Upon analysing the situation, I found the decline in performance was due to how the Taiwanese team perceived the feedback. They felt embarrassed, especially since some feedback was given in a public setting. Recognising this cultural mismatch, we worked on adapting the US company's approach to performance reviews to be more culturally sensitive to the Taiwanese team's expectations.

To address this, we implemented cultural training for both teams. I advised the US team on how to adjust their feedback methods to align better with Taiwanese cultural norms. Conversely, I also prepared the Taiwanese team on what to expect from a US perspective. This approach aimed to bridge the cultural gap, ensuring that remote work between teams from different backgrounds can be successful with mutual understanding and respect for each other's cultural nuances.

Can you share some tips for improving communication with a remote team? What communication methods stand out online compared to in person?

I believe effective communication is key, echoing what I mentioned earlier about what makes a good remote manager. In a remote environment, regular check-ins are crucial, but it's important to strike a balance to avoid being overbearing. Instead of random daily messages, having a structured strategy to ensure everyone feels seen and heard is vital. This approach also considers the cultural nuances in communication preferences. Some may prefer indirect communication, while others might be more direct. Understanding and accommodating these individual communication needs is essential.

Another point I'd like to emphasise, which may not be as prevalent now but was a significant issue during the height of COVID-19, is training on digital tools. With the shift to remote work, it became imperative to ensure everyone could effectively use platforms like Slack, Teams, and Zoom. Therefore, learning to use collaborative platforms effectively is another essential aspect. Without the ability to physically gather around a table for a project, knowing how to use shared documents and other online collaboration tools becomes indispensable for remote teamwork. Ensuring the team is well-trained before diving into remote work setups is key.

I believe it all boils down to having a solid onboarding plan from the start. This plan should outline how communication will be handled and ensure everyone feels seen and heard. So, when someone new joins the company, it's crucial they receive clear instructions on how to use the tools, what's expected of them, and the role of managers in this process, making sure everything is set up for success from the beginning.

I'm particularly passionate about the richness of cultural diversity we encounter. 

How can managers better communicate and connect with their remote teams? 

What I was saying earlier ties back to the importance of building connections, which is crucial in any work setting, whether remote or in-person. At the start of any professional relationship, it's essential to make an effort to understand the person you're managing. This understanding should respect their comfort level regarding what they're willing to share about their personal lives. I'm particularly passionate about the richness of cultural diversity we encounter. For instance, in some cultures, people love talking about their personal lives and what they did over the weekend. This openness is often seen in what might be considered an American approach, where there's a tendency to share and sometimes brag about personal achievements. However, other cultures may be more reserved.

As a manager aiming to be effective, recognising and adapting to these cultural nuances early in the relationship is vital. It's about being aware of where someone is from and having the sensitivity to discuss topics that are important to them without making them uncomfortable during non-work-related conversations. This approach fosters a more inclusive environment where trust builds not just in you as a manager but also among team members. By catering to each individual's needs and preferences, instead of adopting a 'my way or the highway' attitude, you create a workplace where everyone feels valued and understood on a personal level.

What do staff expect from their bosses when working together remotely?

Transparency, trust, flexibility, and empathy are crucial. I realise I haven't mentioned empathy before, but it's vital to understand and put yourself in someone else's shoes. Employees need to know that if something personal affects their work performance, their manager will understand. This understanding is more challenging to achieve remotely. In an office, you might notice if someone is going through a tough time just by their appearance. However, online, it's much harder to perceive these nuances—you can't see someone's mood through a Slack message, aside from perhaps a sad face emoji on their profile.

Empathy is key, especially when communicating remotely. Asking simple questions like "How's your day?" and genuinely listening can make a significant difference. Employees today expect their managers to understand and accommodate their personal situations, which can affect work performance. This expectation is particularly strong among the younger generation, who are entering the workforce in fully remote positions. They've grown up with different communication styles, favoring quick messages and texts, and even place meaning in the use of emojis.

For managers, especially those with more experience who are used to traditional office settings, adapting to these new expectations can be challenging. It's important to recognise that a young workforce might have never experienced office life and communicates differently. Therefore, setting clear guidelines and onboarding processes from the start is crucial. In a remote setting, direct messages can feel more intrusive than a casual office interaction, so providing clear documentation and resources, like an internal FAQ, is essential for helping everyone feel comfortable and informed. This approach can help bridge the gap between different generations and work styles, ensuring a cohesive remote work environment.

Employees today expect their managers to understand and accommodate their personal situations.

How can a boss foster a warm and human atmosphere when leading a remote team?

Going back to empathy, it’s about understanding everyone's preferences and making sure to acknowledge their special events. In a team spread across cultures, it's important to remember that different cultures have their own holidays and significant days. For instance, being mindful of religious holidays like Ramadan is essential. If you’re unaware of what Ramadan means for a Muslim colleague, it might lead to misunderstandings. It's beneficial for managers to learn about these cultural differences and for employees to share what’s important to them, like a special holiday they’ve celebrated all their life, possibly requesting a day off for it.

On another note, getting the remote team together for off-site meetups is incredibly valuable. Meeting even just once a year can greatly enhance trust and mutual understanding within the team. While it can be a challenge to coordinate everyone from around the globe, the effort pays off in building a stronger team. These gatherings are an opportunity to celebrate successes and just enjoy some informal time together.

Also, celebrating successes is crucial. Whether someone’s clinched a great deal or there’s a notable team achievement, it should be celebrated. Sending out emails or having an internal newsletter that highlights these wins, welcomes new team members, or showcases special initiatives helps keep everyone connected and appreciative of each other’s efforts.

After the remote working change due to COVID, it's taken managers a while to really get on board with leading remote teams. What do you think has made them realise the benefits?

I think companies should really appreciate the benefits that remote work offers, especially in terms of flexibility. Remote work provides ultimate flexibility, allowing employees to be at home for any emergencies without the stress of having to request time off for small things, like waiting for a plumber. It removes a lot of organisational stress around managing minor absences since employees can still work while managing home responsibilities.

Another point I emphasise is that remote work opens up a global talent pool. You can hire specialists from anywhere in the world quickly without the significant expenses and time traditionally involved in relocating someone. This not only saves costs but also broadens the range of talent available to companies. Essentially, as long as the working language aligns and they have the Internet and a laptop, you can find and employ the right talent from anywhere.

Remote work also supports better work-life balance, making employees generally happier and, from what I've seen, more productive. It shifts the focus from just being present at the office to what employees actually deliver. This means you can measure productivity by the outcomes rather than just attendance.

Moreover, people work differently. Some may be more productive at night, and remote work accommodates these personal preferences, allowing employees to work when they feel most efficient. This flexibility can lead to greater loyalty and job satisfaction.

One challenge is getting traditional companies to embrace asynchronous work. Not everyone has to work or deliver reports at the same time, especially when teams are spread across different time zones. Recognising that some people might be more productive at night and accommodating these individual working styles can lead to a more efficient and productive team. This understanding should be part of initial communications, asking employees when they prefer to work and setting expectations early on.

One challenge is getting traditional companies to embrace asynchronous work.

What's your take on using AI for recruiting? 

Before AI caught everyone's attention, recruitment was already using it in a basic form to sift through CVs, looking for certain keywords. This method wasn't foolproof, often missing out on some top-notch candidates. Now, AI has gotten much better, providing valuable support in sorting through applicants and helping to avoid biases. It's crucial, though, not to let AI make all the decisions. Combining AI's insights with human judgment offers the best of both worlds, ensuring no good candidate slips through because of a keyword miss. Essentially, AI hasn't replaced the human touch in recruitment; instead, it's become a smart tool in the toolkit, making the screening process smoother and more effective.

The key is for global companies to adapt their management style to fit the diverse needs of their team members, enhancing their performance.

Would you like to discuss or share anything in particular?

In the global business scene, many companies miss out on effectively managing diverse teams. They often stick to a uniform way of managing everyone, from performance reviews to team building, which might not suit teams from different cultural backgrounds.

Take, for instance, a French company I encountered, hesitant to hire outside France due to a preference for local employees. They recognised the potential of hiring globally but were unsure how to make it work beyond just saving costs.

The key is for global companies to adapt their management style to fit the diverse needs of their team members, enhancing their performance. For example, the difference in managing a team in China versus the US can significantly impact overall performance.

Cultural training, often given to expatriates, is rarely extended to remote teams, missing a chance to improve understanding and teamwork. Additionally, meeting in person at least once a year can change perceptions and strengthen relationships in ways remote communication can't, highlighting the importance of personal interaction in global team management.

How to simply and easily hire and build global teams?

Building high-performance teams globally and in remote work environments is not just feasible but can be highly effective with the right strategies and insights. Joining Paul Arnesen's extensive expertise in cross-cultural communication and management with employers of records (EORs) like Teamed enables businesses to tap into the world's best talent within hours. Paul's unique approach, shaped by his international living experiences and deep understanding of diverse workplace cultures, provides invaluable guidance for organisations looking to expand globally.

With Teamed, companies can effortlessly handle the logistical aspects of hiring and payroll. There is an especial ingredient, Teamed is popular to provide a unique and human touch that stands out from the rest of EORs. Employees and companies have assigned dedicated local agents across the globe and during the entire employee journey. Paul's expertise, combined with Teamed's extensive services, empowers businesses to excel in the global marketplace. Ready to transform your workforce and harness the power of global talent? Connect with Teamed today!

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