We know moving from a physically located team, where everyone comes to the same space each day, to a distributed global team who work from home, can be daunting. Ok, very daunting.
There are loads of fears and concerns when starting out, however most of these fears are not real and like most things, the upside of progress outweighs the short term challenges of change.
FEAR #1: MY TEAM WON'T BE AS PRODUCTIVE OR EFFICIENT
On the contrary, working from home generally leads to far greater levels of productivity and efficiency. Quite simply because there are no distractions, no kitchen conversations, long lunches and morning chit chat as we arrive each day. Of course, it's important to have a culture of friendly banter and a little fun, but for many this can eat into valuable working time and result in staying late at the office to get done what could have been done during the day. If you already have team members who commonly come in early or stay late to get their work done when it's quieter, you'll have witnessed first hand your teams desire to get stuck into something without the distractions of the day to day office life.
FEAR #2: THEY'LL MAKE MISTAKES IF I CAN'T SEE WHAT THEY'RE DOING
Unless you sit peering over your employees shoulders all day everyday, you're not actually seeing what they're doing anyway. We have a false sense of control when we can look up from our computers, or peek outside our office door, and survey our team squirreling away. In reality, they could be doing anything, and they can and do still make mistakes, if they haven't been trained properly... or just because they're human. Using chat tools like slack, or basecamp pings, or jumping on a video call, means we can all be just as accessible as leaders, as if we were sitting right by someone anyway. It's just about setting that tone and encouraging your team to ask questions anytime they're not sure of something.
FEAR #3: THEY WON'T UNDERSTAND MY LOCAL CULTURE
This is a legit concern, however can easily be overcome by opening up this conversation right away. Talk with your team about how things work in different countries and cultures and explain to them what your expectations and standards are. Each company has a unique culture anyway, and going through this when new team members start (whether local or international) is a great way to ensure you're being intentional with the culture you're creating. Finally, if there's something specific from a skills perspective you need (eg. you may be hiring an internal accountant who needs to be across your local tax laws) address this in the hiring process. There is talent all over the world who either have the previous experience or formal education to be able to perform their role effectively in accordance with you local laws and culture.
Whichever way you look at it, many of these fears and concerns exist even when hiring locally, it's simply about shifting our mindsets and finding ways to create open communication, and feedback loops using the myriad of incredible technology and tools that are available today.