3 Challenges to building strong remote offices and how to overcome them
Updated: Nov 12, 2020
Scaling your team and adopting a global support strategy? Remote support teams provide a couple of notable benefits: the ability to serve regions in local languages and access untapped talent. Though many companies now embrace remote support offices, managing these teams from afar comes with its own challenges.
We explore how to maintain company culture, ensure quality, and create clear channels of communication with headquarters in remote offices.
Challenge: maintaining company culture
When managing a remote office, it’s difficult to get everyone aligned around a single company culture. So, how do you maintain healthy company culture when your diverse workforce stretches across the globe? Here are some ways to keep teams and office sites connected and purpose-driven when working remotely:
Celebrate what’s unique: If the average age in a remote office is 26-27, employees may prefer socializing after work and feel more inclined to take clients for a night out. Headquarter offices may have more employees with families, so work days may follow a conventional 9am-6pm pattern. Acknowledge these differences and leverage them to your advantage to create a unique, but impactful remote culture.
Promote the company’s values, mission, and goals: Educating remote offices on the company’s culture helps employees feel connected to the business. Establish ways to continuously share these values and acknowledge those employees who uphold the company’s mission.
Keep everyone up to date on the latest company news: A weekly or monthly newsletter is a great way to summarize important news or updates and make sure everyone is informed on what’s happening inside the company. Companies can share resources such as blogs or memos, birth announcements, and upcoming events. Informed employees who feel a part of the larger business will help drive your business forward.
Challenge: aligning employees around achieving a standard quality
Across your global sites, employees’ performance may differ. How do you maintain the same quality over multiple sites while ensuring consistency? Keep these tips in mind when creating a remote support office:
Hire the right people: The first employees at any remote office are entrusted with staffing and maintaining the culture. When hiring, look for individuals who exhibit the cultural values of the company and can carry this torch. Every additional hire thereafter should follow suit, setting the remote office up for long-term success.
Develop training sessions: Enlist headquarter’s veterans to visit the remote office and train new employees. Once remote employees have sufficient knowledge of the company’s products, operations, and values, the office can manage operations independently.
Create feedback structures: After training, it’s important to have feedback procedures in place so that employees continue meeting company benchmarks and standards. Set 1:1 video calls for managers and employees to share feedback. Encourage open dialogues so everyone can continuously improve their performance and stay aligned towards company missions.
Challenge: communication between HQ and remote locations
Building strong remote offices present a new challenge for support leaders; how to maintain communication across different locations and time zones. Though Slack, HQ visits, Zoom calls, and meetups play an important role in team communication, the following suggestions can help remote offices connect efficiently and clearly with HQ:
Align expectations: In order to avoid frustration and misunderstandings between managers and agents, set expectations for the entire team upfront. Provide clear guidelines on how to complete and manage projects, tasks, or assignments. Open dialogue within the team and employees at HQ will help mitigate areas of conflict.
Establish channels for fluid communication: Whether companies choose Slack, Hangouts, or a different company-wide communication tool, find what works best for your team, and meets your communication goals. Maybe email is best for lengthier updates, but Zoom meetings are better for getting everyone ‘face-to-face’ to talk about weekly goals. There are many solutions to choose from, so pick the right stack that enables timely and effective communications.
Respond in a timely manner: It’s important for remote agents to feel managers are still accessible, despite geographical distance. Keep the virtual door open so agents can ask questions, check-in, or set meetings for valuable interactions.
Site visits and offsite retreats: If there’s room in the budget, managers, team leaders, and agents could greatly benefit from site visits at a remote location. This is a time to check-in, get to know the team better, see first-hand how the operations are running, brainstorm any areas for improvement, and boost team morale.
Alternatively, companies may choose to send employees to other locations so they can learn strategies, spend time in another office to meet teams, and show agents you’re invested in their professional development.
Establish a community: Create a digital community where employees can share and celebrate birthdays, milestones, and company news. An open channel to communicate and network allows employees to remain connected and fosters relationship building between remote and local teams.
Go remote, but mind the distance gaps
Remote offices are a long-term strategy and investment, they take time to build, but are worth the effort as your business scales globally. As your office gets up and running, prioritize maintaining culture, aligning new hires on expectations, and establishing clear lines of communication. With strong processes in place, a newly established remote support organization can function as part of the larger company, keeping customers happy from any location around the world.
For more on working remotely, check out this fireside chat with Spotify