Today, more companies are embracing international remote workforce strategies. IDC expects by 2025, $21 billion will be lost in the Nordics as a result of delayed product or service releases and missed revenue, due to lack of skills available. But as a manager how can you foster a sense of belonging, ensure that your employees work efficiently, collaborate well and work towards the same goal when they are not in the same location?

Which Method Is The Best Way To Organise?

There are several ways  to organize global teams. As a rule of thumb, you can link these to one of two methods, and sometimes it will be a combination of the two. On one hand, we have the classic method where teams in each location have their own specific goal and focus area. These teams are often independent. On the other hand, we have people that work together across locations with a common goal and focus.

Do you recognise using or having used one of these methods?  No matter which way you organize your global teams, there are several points to consider.

When Global Teams Are Organised Based On Specific Goal and Focus Area

From a short-term perspective, assigning each team their own tasks may be the most effective way to work.

For example, ALL the front-end software developers are in Vietnam and ALL the back-end software developers are in Australia.

Advantages are:

  • Strong feeling of team unity and team ownership for team's success
  • Clear responsibilities for each team in different locations makes it easier for top management to keep track
  • Each department becomes specialists in an area or task

However, it is important to point out that based on our experience, this is only an effective way to organize autonomous teams if everything is running smoothly. Most of us who have worked in management for a while know that this is rarely the case.

Keep in mind the several pitfalls of organizing teams this way:

  • Interest, ownership and pride of the team is specific to the location and takes precedence over overall company success.
  • Lack of global communication and transparency.
  • A divided organization, where only the top level has an overview.
  • Lack of trust due to lack of collaboration, sense of belonging and information.
  • Lack of career advancement opportunities
  • The employee's affiliation is limited to the team in that location
  • All communication will be centralized through team leaders

Crucially, the perception of balance of power, can lead to power struggles and not teamwork.

So, if we weigh the pros and cons against each other, we quickly see that there are more challenges than benefits linked with this method.

Let's take a closer look at the alternative way.

When Global Teams Share a Common Purpose:

The article “Global Teams That Work”, from the Harvard Business Review, summarizes that global teams that succeed are those that have a common purpose and focus.

In this example, some front-end developers are in Vietnam and some in Australia, some back-end developers are in Vietnam and the rest in Australia. Each team is mixed with members in the same role but from different locations.

Advantages are:

  • Instead of “us vs them” mentality, collaboration is more efficient when team members across locations are integrated and work together.
  • Inter-team communication is enhanced because members of several teams now work in a single location.
  • Contribution to overall company success takes precedence with better understanding and knowledge of company goals and purpose.
  • Career development opportunities for EVERYONE regardless of location. This encourages self-development and benefits the entire company, not just a single location.
  • Long-term development opportunities for the individual strengthen the company's ability to retain good employees for long.

That said, in the short term, communication within the team across the globe will be affected by time zone, culture and language skills. However, this can be overcome by proper onboarding, integration, training and understanding the purpose of their role in the company, rather than just following instructions from the top management. Organising your teams this way can lead to long term stability, growth and better risk management.

Invest In Long Term Success

If you want to organize a global team and at the same time ensure affiliation, collaboration and efficiency across the departments, our advice is simple. Invest in long-term success and bring in employees who align with this. You achieve this best when employees get to develop their value, feel ownership and belonging to your company. If you think like this, the possibilities will be many, and you will have a truly integrated team consisting of the best people regardless of location, who all work with one goal in mind - your company's success.

For 13 years Facilitated Work Hub has worked with international collaboration, recruitment, facilitation and integration of remote permanent full time software developers in companies. We have seen several different ways in which companies work with global teams and know the challenges and opportunities companies face with international collaboration.