Assignment success

Creating and Managing Successful Remote Teams

Many employees today can and do work from anywhere, whether it’s a home office or table at Starbucks. Virtual workers and remote teams are fast becoming the norm, and companies that can master the recruitment, management, and communication tools needed to ensure their effectiveness reap significant benefits; these include both lower costs and the ability to hire workers based on ability, not location. That said, some organizations aren’t entirely sold on the idea, especially for employees involved with technical, sales, or creative work. In these instances, remote teams can seem to entail greater risk than office based workers, which some believe are easier to manage and control.

To build an effective remote team and onboard the right workers, companies must first clarify expectations and establish modes of communication. This increases their likelihood of finding and attracting the type of worker they seek, and interviewing only those that are a good fit. While some companies look to former employees or contractors for the latter, a concerted networking approach often works best.

Once a candidate has been identified, it is important to determine during the interview process whether he or she is a “self-starter” who can work independently and not require the social interaction of a typical work environment. He or she must also be trustworthy and reliable and have the ability to complete assignments and tasks. Failure to hire people with these traits often means more work for managers, as they will need to monitor them more closely.

The method used to interview candidates for remote positions can also provide an indication of their work and communication habits and overall suitability. Most remote work requires both written and verbal communication, so using a combination of email, phone and video interview methods will reveal a candidate’s ability to respond and articulate in each format.

Permanent establishment (PE) can occur when an employee on foreign assignment conducts business activity that triggers corporate tax liability within the host country. While this may seem an unlikely result of using a remote team member to make sales or fix technical problems, many countries are increasing their scrutiny of business activities undertaken by local representatives, and even concluding that contracts executed virtually are sufficient to trigger PE status for the company.

Although the bottom line test for PE has typically been revenue creation, there is movement toward a broader definition that could include remote workers in business functions such as consulting or marketing.