Why Global Remote Teams Will Need to Redefine the Workday

What time is it in __? These days, remote teams have to keep in mind that they may be working across different time zones like many Silicon Valley companies. It’s not new for tech giants to have daily interactions (i.e., scrum) with their teams worldwide. But even recruiters and global mobility managers will tell you that some remote work will eventually require work on-site.

What’s keeping HR and global mobility managers busy these days though is how they can craft the best remote work policies for their global teams around office hours. Just asking who gets to redefine the workday, for instance, can be challenging. 

But companies are willing to try anything. Some have moved the workday by an hour or more in order to have some semblance of order. Others have arranged their work in different blocks of time if workers need to adjust to other team members with a time difference of eight hours. 

Who decides what time zone to use? Would a 7 am call of an employee in northern California to a team member in the Philippines at 10 pm be acceptable to both parties? 

The Philippines is one of the biggest outsourcing countries in the world. It is used to working in different time zones, but it doesn’t take away the fact that both parties may need to adjust when it comes to certain types of work that requires much more than operational or customer support work. 

Remote work can function well with a local team while global outsourcing work, with some additional days for meeting deadlines, has worked out fine as well in the fields of web development as well as technology or customer support. 

What companies are not sure of is how entire operations can be done remotely. According to some recruiters, many of the top tech giants offer remote work in some key positions only for a few months but they require the assignee to move eventually to its northern California headquarters.

Implications of remote global teams 

In discussing the implications for talent management and global teams recently, RelocateMag pointed out how remote work or as they call it, virtual assignment, would entail the following: long-term, short-term, commuter, and rotational. 

An assignee may stay home and work not just in one location but in different international branches as well, thus pushing a staff’s working hours outside of the usual 9 to 5 schedule.

Another approach could require an assignee based in a host country like San Jose, California, to deliver work assignments to a team in his or her home country, as it is assumed they would be able to better interact with one another and thus avoid any potential miscommunication. 

‘Live’ in a third country

RelocateMag also said there is also the potential for assignees to live in a third country (neither the home nor the host location) and again deliver their work remotely to home/ host/global business operations. Given Covid-19 restrictions, remote work could involve business trips to home, host or a third country.

Even if remote work is widely accepted, many recruiters think that talents who can be sponsored on-site once travel restrictions are lifted is still the best talent management strategy. They think it would still be far easier to sponsor them on-site than to keep them in their home countries, especially under the current administration which is more welcoming of immigrants.

Before the pandemic, one tech giant was even known for hiring many bilingual talents on-site to keep their proprietary information secure, to the point where they didn’t allow full-time employees to work at home or in coffee shops. 

Identifying which roles can be carried out on-site and remotely is critical from a financial perspective, but companies in Silicon Valley will always prefer to err on the side of caution and have employees on-site despite news to the contrary.

Even if a third country location emerged as a base, companies will look at it from the perspective of keeping work secure — in that particular location. Not all work can be done virtually, so a talent deployment strategy using virtual assignments will always be supplemented by physical presence at some point. (Dennis Clemente)