Embracing Remote Work Abroad as Managers
In today's dynamic work environment, the concept of temporary remote work abroad has gained popularity among employees seeking a change of scenery while remaining productive. Also known as 'workation', the reasons for taking advantage of this benefit can be many and varied: From visiting and spending time with relatives abroad, to attending evening language classes, to exploring new places and cultures outside of working hours. However, some managers may be reluctant to allow and support their team members to take advantage of this remote working option, as unfamiliar situations can add complexity and stress to day-to-day business. In this article, we explore ways to manage the uncertainty of working remotely from abroad, and provide managers with tools to help them take advantage of this great opportunity.
1. Define clear ways of working in your team
a) Clarify expectations:
Communication is key when team members are in different time zones. Set expectations about availability and response times for ad-hoc calls or urgent matters. Decide whether there should be regular check-in calls or team meetings that need to be attended during periods of remote work. Also, encourage employees to communicate their expectations to their team or manager to ensure everyone is on the same page and to avoid frustration.
Foster open and honest communication by encouraging employees to share their goals and intentions behind going abroad. Understanding their motivations, such as caring for a family member, learning a language, or seeking a new environment for deep focus or a creative boost, can help build trust and understanding.
Both managers and employees should engage in self-reflection. Managers should assess their own biases and assumptions about remote work, while employees should evaluate their ability to maintain productivity and meet expectations during remote work abroad periods. A review meeting can also be arranged after the first trip to see if any requirements or expectations need to be adjusted for the future.
d) Working with clients or external parties:
Discuss any potential challenges or adjustments required when employees interact with customers or external stakeholders. When working abroad, there may also be specific regulations for working with clients that need to be taken into account. Setting clear guidelines can help maintain professional standards and ensure smooth collaboration.
2. Build a culture of trust within your team
a) Set SMART goals:
Work with employees to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals for the workation period. This clarity helps align expectations and allows for effective performance evaluation.
b) Focus on output rather than physical presence:
Recognise that physical attendance does not always correlate with productivity. Trust that people can deliver quality work regardless of their location. Evaluate their output and judge their performance based on results rather than their physical presence in the office.
c) Support remote employees:
Remote workers may face challenges such as overworking to compensate for flexibility or feeling isolated, especially if they are not working from home but in another country. Encourage work-life balance and ensure they have the resources and support systems in place to maintain their wellbeing.
d) Flexibility and understanding:
Be flexible and understanding about working hours and possible personal commitments that employees may have during workations. Showing empathy and accommodating reasonable requests can boost morale and loyalty, leading to increased productivity and better performance.
3. Company culture as a catalyst for innovation and growth
Allowing employees to use workations demonstrates a progressive and flexible approach to work, fostering engagement and loyalty among team members. With proper communication, goal setting and evaluation processes in place, managers can ensure that this benefit is not only rewarding for the individual, but also contributes to the overall success and growth of the team.
Remember, the future of work is evolving, and embracing remote work abroad can be a catalyst for innovation and personal growth. By empowering your team members to explore new environments and experiences, you create a work culture that values performance, trust and work-life balance.
So, as a manager, ask yourself, "Am I willing to embrace this potential and empower my team members to thrive in new and exciting ways?" The choice is yours, but the rewards are waiting to be discovered. Vamoz!