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Efficient ways to manage international employees during the COVID-19 outbreak

Any leader knows that managing a team is far from easy, especially during a global crisis. As the coronavirus pandemic spreads, companies around the world are coming to terms with the fact that they’ll be leading their teams from a distance. Managing employees that are not in the same physical space as you, due to the coronavirus lockdown or other reasons, might be an entirely new experience.

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You are probably wondering how you’ll keep productivity and morale high, communicate effectively, offer emotional support, and more. Luckily, there are resources available to help ease your concerns. In this Pacific Prime article, we’ll dive into efficient ways to manage international employees during the COVID-19 outbreak.

What kind of leader are you?

If you’re reading this article and have found yourself asking the questions we mentioned above at some point, then you’ve already given some insight into what kind of leader you are.

Naturally, leaders who are concerned about these topics and are asking these types of questions have some degree of self-awareness. It also shows that you’re conscious of the adjustments you’re going to have to make to your leadership and management style during the next few weeks or months.

The plus side is that your awareness and determination puts you in the ideal position to help your team through crisis. Your team needs a manager who can step up and give them the structure and support more than ever before. You can be the beacon they need during this time, in a way that works for everyone involved.

How to manage international employees

As the pandemic continues, those with roles that can be fulfilled remotely may have to work from home for several weeks, perhaps even months. Businesses that do not have flexible working as part of their company policy are likely to face some challenges when managing a remote team. The following tips will help you manage international employees without letting stress overtake you.

Use video instead of audio

These days, you don’t have to physically be in the same space as your employee to have a face-to-face interaction. Convenient video conferencing tools such as Google Hangouts and Zoom make it easy to swap audio calls for video calls. This popular method of communication offers more opportunities to engage, interact, and catch nonverbal cues. What’s more, it also makes it more difficult for people to multitask while on call and easier to stay present and productive.

Emphasize ongoing communication

It can be tricky to build a cohesive culture when working remotely. After all, many co-workers chat over a coffee break or stop by their desk. One way you can mimic this is by having an open door strategy, such as by making sure you’re available on Skype or Slack during office hours, along with taking advantage of video conferencing. Keeping an open line of communication with your employees helps them feel like they’re part of the team and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Avoid micromanaging

Micromanaging and working remotely do not go together. When transitioning from the office to the computer, micromanagers will quickly realize that people cannot be tracked as well from afar. While it might not seem like it to you at first, this freedom is better for everyone involved in the long run. Remote work requires trust, so allow them to go and complete their work. As long as they’re delivering and you’re getting results, you shouldn’t have to worry about where, when, and how they did it.

Don’t measure attendance with messenger

Just like with micromanaging, you’re going to have to trust your employees and let them go on “Do Not Disturb” mode if they want to focus. It’s likely that you’ll want to use that mode at times, too. Additionally, it’s important to be understanding if there’s background noise or movement going on when you’re on a video call. In many places, all members of the family are at home right now, and are simply doing what they can to cope.

Remember everyone has different work hours

Remote work allows your employees to work more flexible hours, and people are going to go about this in different ways. Some people work optimally in the morning while others prefer to work late into the evening. There are also timezones to factor in on top of that. When managing remote employees, you must respect everyone’s schedule. Make a note of the hours different employees are working and try to hold meetings at times that are suitable for everyone.

Use different tools and play around with them

Drawing up sketches and brainstorming can be tricky from home because we’re used to drawing on whiteboards in a meeting room, with a bunch of sticky notes and people throwing out ideas. But remote teams are now in luck, thanks to online collaboration tools. There are many useful tools available for working remotely, such as Slack, GoToMeeting, and Microsoft Teams. Your goal is to find what works best for your team’s needs.

Realize that it all comes down to trust

A successful remote manager values their employee’s performance over their presenteeism. The relationship between manager and employee is built on trust, and it won’t work any other way. You have to trust your employees to complete the tasks you’ve set out for them. At the end of the day, seeing a person sitting at their desk is not a way to gauge their effectiveness.

Your staff may benefit from the peace of mind an international health insurance plan brings. Here’s what’s included in the policy.

How this experience could change future work practices

After a few possible hiccups and setbacks, you’ll probably notice that your team is more productive and generally happier. Take note of this and consider how to improve and evolve working together as a team in the future. It’s likely that businesses are going to use the current crisis as a way to split test expenses from sales and marketing to travel and rent. The future might require a new way of doing things and you’ll want to be prepared for it.

Pacific Prime is here to help

Whether you’re looking to add flexible working hours into your existing employee benefits plan or are after international health insurance, Pacific Prime is ready to help. As a global health insurance company and employee benefits broker, we have worked with corporations all over the world to help them find the right plan for their unique needs and budget.

Contact us with any of your questions or to receive a free, no-obligation quote today.

If you’re struggling with the current situation, you might want to check out our coronavirus mental health tips article. 

Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime
Jantra Jacobs is a Senior Copywriter at Pacific Prime with over 10 years of writing and editing experience. She writes and edits a diverse variety of online and offline copy, including sales and marketing materials ranging from articles and advertising copy to reports, guides, RFPs, and more.

Jantra curates and reports on the results of Pacific Prime’s monthly newsletters, as well as manages Pacific Prime’s Deputy Global CEO’s LinkedIn posts. Complemented by her background in business writing, Jantra’s passion for health, insurance, and employee benefits helps her create engaging content - no matter how complex the subject is.

Growing up as a third-culture kid has given her a multicultural perspective that helps her relate to expats and their families while 8 years of working remotely have given her unique insight into hybrid work arrangements and enthusiasm for employee benefits.
Jantra Jacobs