A guide to building an international team
The COVID-19 pandemic made it obvious that working can be done from the office, from home, from the hotel, or from any place the employee considers fitting, as long the work allows and the job is done. This constatation is the first step to leverage the power of global team building – because does it matter if the home is on a nearby street or a different continent if there is access to the internet?
Apart from disrupting whole industries and wreaking havoc around the world, the pandemic has also been a huge social experiment. According to the European Commission data, no more than 5.4% of European employees have ever worked remotely. As the data shows, during the pandemic up to 40% of the whole workforce was switched to work from home.
While being a powerful accelerator, working from home is not the core motivation behind building international teams. The ongoing war for talents is an even stronger motivation.
War for talents
War for talents has been used for the first time in 1997 by McKinsey and Company to describe the growing struggle of companies to attract talent and hire better employees. One of the main causes of the struggle is the demographic shift, where the supply of employees is shrinking in numbers in the developed countries.
Also, with the automation of tasks, there is a growing demand for employees with narrow skills and expert knowledge. That’s why the companies find it increasingly difficult to hire a desired expert – and sometimes there is no expert to hire in the market at all.
Or at least – in the local market.
Benefits of hiring international tam
With the remote work revolution and ongoing war for talents, it is not surprising that employers are more eager to hire team members from abroad – both the neighboring countries and offshore team members. Apparently, there are multiple advantages when hiring multinational teams, including:
- Overseas talents – first and foremost, there are tons of skilled and motivated people around the world, with many of them having a goal to polish their skills and earn as much money as possible with them. The overseas company is usually a highly aspirational and competitive employer on a local market, thus access to the overseas talent pool can be easier than done on a local scale.
- Competitive salary overseas – the other side of the same coin – an employee who is working overseas has his or her bills paid in a local currency while earning the employer’s wage. This makes this cooperation even more attractive, enabling one to harness the benefits of exchange rates and differences in living costs.
- Varied experiences – the employee is not only a set of skills that can be leveraged by the company. Every human carries a story that enriches the organization and enables it to think differently. Sometimes skills that appear irrelevant can come out in a surprising context as crucial, for example when looking for a CSR opportunity, designing new communication or launching a new product. An employee from a different country, or background can deliver valuable insight or share tips that wouldn’t be available elsewhere.
- 24/7 work while employees resting – a surprising one, yet it can deliver a powerful boost. Companies that have multiple departments scattered across the whole world can keep operability 24/7 without paying for over hours – the time zones do the job. Also, it can go with additional benefits – the management team can report some bugs or issues with the product to the tech team and have everything done in the morning – the tech team had eight hours of their working time while the management was sleeping due to the time zones.
- International brand exposure – being an employer is a great way to build international brand exposure. Having at least a handful of brand ambassadors in a local market who can testify that the company is awesome and working with it is a pleasure boosts the marketing efforts significantly. This can be of immense value when the company is working in a B2B model and a single employee can be a great support for a brand voice.
- Building diversity and inclusivity – last but not least, diversity is getting a notion in the business worldwide. Hiring employees from various backgrounds and ethnicities can break the monoculture and bring interesting insights.
Various types of teams
While “hiring an employee” sounds pretty straightforward, it can be far from that when done intentionally. The countries vary significantly in the legal systems and this can come as a surprise. For example, there is a strong tradition of protecting employees’ rights in European countries – a thing that can seem odd from the US perspective.
Yet there are multiple other differences – and there are also ways to deal with them with the type of employment.
Freelancers are independent specialists who work for multiple clients on various projects. Usually, it is up to them when or how to deliver the result – they have a large degree of autonomy, including the right to hire people to aid them or even do the project for them. They are fully responsible for the job. On the other hand, the employer has little to no control over the style they do their work, their approach, attitude, or place they work in.
Freelancers usually feel little to no loyalty toward a company and are hired to do a particular task or to contribute to the project in a precise way.
Independent contractors occupy the niche between the freelancer and the employee. From the legal point of view,he or she is self-employed and is responsible for taxation, compliance, and every other paperwork aspect of the cooperation.
The difference is about the company’s approach, where the independent contractor is much more like an employee. He or she can work in the office and deliver tasks on a daily basis. The independent contractor is usually employed to deliver or aid in a project rather than a particular task. Thus, the contractor gets a regular salary while being independent.
Last but not least, the employee is the one who works for a company on a regular basis. He or she gets employed according to the local law and the company is responsible for keeping compliance.
In this model, the employee is at the employer's full disposal. On the other hand, though, it is heaviest when it comes to the paperwork and overall organization.
Hiring international teams
No matter if the team consists of independent contractors, freelancers, employees, or a mixture of all three. There are seven golden rules of hiring and retaining a team that is built internationally. These are as follows:
Be transparent on the salary
There are multiple ways of counting the salary, depending on the contract, the legal regulations, and the local customs. Also, local approaches can be vastly different when it comes to payments, with some people preferring to get the salary every week or others expecting it monthly.
All things need to be clear – especially considering the fact that people make a lot of assumptions regarding the payments and contracts. Ensuring the team that every member is equal significantly improves the ability to work well with others in the team. And on the other hand – lack of it hampers this ability significantly.
Offer progressive benefits
With the team scattered around the world, it is uneasy to offer any benefit apart from additional money. Or is it?
While access to a local sports center is not that attractive to the employee who is working abroad, there are multiple benefits that are both available online and attractive. Access to online learning platforms or international insurance is only a glimpse of the benefits that can be offered for employees around the world. According to TechJury data, e-learning comes as a great way to keep the employees, as using the online learning platforms increases retention rates up to 60%. Also, up to 42% of US organizations reported a revenue increase when implementing e-learning solutions.
Also, the ability to have on-site training can be extremely attractive for employees who work from abroad – it can be both a great opportunity to meet new people in person and see the world.
Be mindful of cultural differences
While the business tends to flatten the communication and assume that when there is money involved people will have no problem cooperating. Yet it is not so – the cultural differences can hamper the effectiveness of any communication process one wills to conduct.
The differences can be obvious, like clothing or preferred meals, or more hidden ones, like the approach to time, social distance, or respect. Thus, one can behave in the way one considers neutral, while the person from the other part of the world considers it insulting.
Considering that, when going global with recruitment, the company needs to invest heavily in intercultural training and workshops on mutual understanding in the intercultural teams.
Also, building a diverse team is actually a good way to boost the company’s performance. According to the Builtin data, the companies with racially and ethnically diverse teams are 35% more likely to perform better than the monocultural team. Following that, working in international teams can be a mind-freeing experience.
Focus on candidate experience
The overseas company can be a risky pick for the employee – it can be a no-name brand, it can be seen as a scam, or be considered untrustworthy due to cultural reasons.
Yet the universal language is the user experience. Or, in this particular case, candidate experience. If the potential employee is kept informed about the process, gets all he or she needs, and meets with high respect, the overall experience is outstanding.
Use multiple outreach channels (depending on the local market)
Depending on the type of employee to hire, there can be multiple channels to use – with some of them being country-specific. A good example can be a job board – there are multiple local channels that can function as the main rally point for candidates. And thus, focusing only on international ones is a huge disadvantage for the company.
Leverage an employee network
Last but not least – the abroad company is always a new player, without access to the local networks and without the knowledge of the local ecosystem. But the employee is just the opposite. Every employee has a network of colleagues from school, university, or any other organization he or she worked with.
Also, the more experienced the employee, the bigger the network. Considering that, leveraging the employee network is the easiest way for the company to boost the international hiring efforts.
We have them hired – what now?
Running an international team is incomparable to running a local team. Companies need to redefine their approach and use new technologies to form a team from individuals scattered all over the world.
The most intuitive examples of the tech stack include:
- Time tracking software – the international team needs to report the time it spends on the work. If the team is scattered in multiple time zones, it is hard to supervise the work of employees. Considering that, tracking the time is the most intuitive way to ensure that the employee is indeed doing what he or she has been assigned. Calamari is a great example of such software.
- Task management system – the team that is global needs to control what and when to do it – and the project and task management system is a perfect tool to do so. There are multiple systems to do so, yet Asana and Jira are among the most popular ones.
- Candidate management system – last but not least, the company needs a system to manage and control the candidate pool and the talent pool available for the company. TRAFFIT is a good example of such software.
An International talent pool is far richer and bigger than any pool available in a single country. While building a multinational team comes with multiple challenges, it is for sure worth it.
If you wish to talk more about the possibilities and potential advantages of doing so, don’t hesitate to contact us now! leave And if you want to find out more about time tracking and leave management systems visit our HR blog.
Employee benefits help to ensure their well-being and satisfaction. We've decided to talk about them with people who work in companies providing benefits daily.
The usage of AI in hiring and Human Resources presents significant opportunities for modern companies to automate mundane and repetitive tasks, thereby supporting their operations. Additionally, it is an effective way to save resources and enhance profitability. This text provides a detailed guide on the implementation of Artificial Intelligence in HR.