Sometimes it just makes sense to hire remote workers, since they can bring invaluable knowledge about diverse demographics to the table. Remote workers have increased flexibility. They can be hired at the pay rates common in their home country, and they can bring localized expertise to the table. Virtual assistants, foreign staff members, telecommuting workers, and freelancers are some of the most common virtual office relationships small businesses are cultivating.
Below are ways to boost productivity, streamline workflows and protect your company’s data while employing remote workers.
Identify Location-Specific Needs
Don’t get too comfortable with your marketing and sales tactics just yet. Just because one strategy is successful in your home location, it doesn’t mean that you should use the same strategy in a remote location. Project managers, leadership, and marketing teams must collaborate with remote workers to identify an area’s needs and develop multilingual content. (The European Lung Foundation’s website is an excellent example of localization efforts. This non-profit is able to disseminate useful health information in eight different languages, increasing their impact dramatically.)
You’ll need to vet your remote workers carefully. Language fluency and cultural awareness are some of the most obvious boons that local hires can provide for a company. Avoid using cookie-cutter strategies when it comes to branding, marketing and customer relations – cultural awareness in remote offices can lead to healthier operations.
Focus on Data Security
Remote and telecommuting workers present unique risks and challenges for data security. Since these individuals are working from home, cafes or community office spaces, it can be difficult to control their access and data traffic. If a virtual worker’s mobile device or computer is lost or stolen, then your company’s sensitive information could be compromised.
IT departments can combat some of these risks by using secure software as a solution (SaaS). Remote workers who have access to CRMs (content management systems), databases should be required to sign in with strong passwords, which need to be changed every few months. Your SaaS sessions should time out after a specific period of time, so that unauthorized people cannot view sensitive data. Streamlining your software can make remote worker collaboration and data security easier to manage.
Use Innovative Communications
When you ask customer or remote worker to contact your company, you can use a single 1-800-number to manage all of your phone calls. This front-facing phone number can forward all calls to your call operator, provided you’re using the number correctly. A streamlined phone system can cut your communications costs immensely. Remote workers can get in touch with your main office easily, using a single number. Additionally, a toll-free-number can simplify customer relations, since they have a single point of contact to reach your representatives.
Another popular method of remote worker communication is video conferencing. This technology is breaking down distance barriers between remote office locations. Just take a look at Perch, a startup app company that has designed a video portal for employees separated across great distances. Freelancers on the road can mount an iPad onto a wall of their home office. The camera recognizes when someone is making eye contact with the screen, and will automatically switch a microphone on. Two workers can turn to an iPad screen and converse naturally with video conferencing.
It is important to revisit software, localization, and communication concerns as your company hires remote workers around the world. Part of the thrill of expansion is that your company can get familiar with new demographics and offer products to international audiences. Localization efforts and streamlined communications, such as affordable 1-800-numbers, ensure that you are connecting with prospective customers on a global stage.
Global Collaboration Concept Photo via Shutterstock