Without a doubt, one of the most challenging aspects of business expansion is the question of how to manage employees overseas or abroad. Despite being in the midst of the communication age, the world is still a big place and being so far away from your employees can create a serious strain on your operations. Many workers in far off places complain of feeling disconnected from HQ, which can cause serious losses in morale. Others feel that their companies don't understand the lay of the land or culture that they're working in, since the distance is so great. All of these issues may seem small from a human resources perspective, but they can add up.
In the end, your operations might be the most important part of your business, but your employees are important too and managing the relationship from afar comes with challenges. Luckily, those challenges have some solutions that can help you manage employees overseas.
Do Your Research
As with most things, research is extremely important and core to whatever activity you're involved in—this goes especially for managing employees abroad. Depending on where your employees are working, there will be a lot of differences that need to be taken into account. This could mean differences in the expected pay rate in each country, cultural holidays and customs, and of course, foreign tax and employment law must be considered at all times. If possible, be sure you're well aware of these things before you expand to minimize any confusion or potential roadblocks. Many companies hire a local manager to help guide operations according to their business principle, but one who understands the environment better than most. This can help new employees (and old) get comfortable and feel less alienated.
Be sure to have lawyers take a look at the laws you're expected to follow—in many cases, you'll be following the laws of your own country as well theirs, which can get complicated in a hurry. Good lawyers and research can help you navigate legal compliance in a way that would be very difficult on your own, and that can make all the difference. Knowledge is a powerful thing, and an incredibly effective way to manage employees overseas.
Consider an Employer of Record
Some businesses simply don't have the time, money, or resources to do all the necessary research or hire lawyers, and that puts them in an awkward position. Expansion is an amazing opportunity for any company, and it can be frustrating when obstacles are placed in the way with little recourse. It's for these reasons (and more) that employers of record are becoming increasingly common.
An employer of record is a third party organization that deals in worker management, legal compliance, human resources—you name it. It's their goal and their prerogative to help companies expand without all the frustration. When you move into a new country, there’s no doubt a mountain of paperwork and registration needed in order to legally establish your business and that can take weeks, even months! One of the main benefits of an EOR is that they're already established and can easily help you set up without all the fuss. Effectively, they act as the legal employers (and managers) of your employees on your behalf and contract them to you. This means you can skip a great deal of trouble and simply get started working, knowing that a local EOR is helping. EORs know the lay of the land and dramatically reduce the risk of decreased morale, simply by focusing their energy on management—leaving you to handle your core responsibilities without distraction.