Agile Human Resource Optimisation

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Agile is now available in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Every new country Agile expands to, means you can to!


Today, we are pleased to announce that Agile is now available in Brazil 🇧🇷


Brazil is the first of many to come with our expansion into LATAM, so watch this space 😉

Brazil

What does this mean?

Our team is excited to now offer you the same best-in-class global employment services in Brazil, as we currently do in over 13 countries. This means Agile can now help businesses of all sizes expand through employing full-time, part-time, and contract employees in Brazil.

 

Our new office supports all Agile Solutions – Global PEO, Global Payroll, Global Mobility  and Global Expansion Advisory solutions.

 

Our team of HR experts eliminate third-party outsourcing to ensure you receive the best-in-class service with high level local compliance possible.

 

Feel comfortable that your intellectual property is protected, you receive a superior experience for your employees, and, of course, the best payroll and benefits platform.

 

What sets Agile apart from our competitors is we are able to support expatriate mobilizations with our inhouse immigration consultants and with our new opening in Brazil, this is no different.

We are excited to expand our top global employment solutions to more countries. 🌎

Interested in expanding or hiring your employees? 

 

📱Contact our team at [email protected] or visa our website www.agilehro.com and schedule a coffee meeting ☕️ with our MD, Jamie Haerewa

 

Why strong women make companies agile

Not just on International Women's Day

Who run the world girls

“Who run the world? Girls.” I agree with Beyonce to some extent but I am certain that to build a truly agile organization you need strong women in leadership.


Only being able to reflect on those business we have been personally exposed to it is interesting to see how many wouldn’t even exist without these super women. Agile HRO is one such company if I think about our journey to date I have to start with the first super woman; my mother. An immigrant single mother of two who moved us to Australia for a safer life with more opportunity.


With no family in the country to help she worked 18 hour days to ensure we never went without. She, as do so many single moms and women in general, knew how to be agile; because she had to be. She knew that if a job wouldn’t work around her she would have create a business around her life. In writing this it is clear that I am one of the lucky ones as this blog / article / opinion contains six powerful women which were necessary to build one small but thriving global platform for the engagement of remote workers.


During this time of coarse I had a partner in crime, my sister, a successful athlete, physiotherapist and social entrepreneur who shows that the apple truly doesn’t fall far from the tree. 

Most important to this case study is my business and life partner, my wife. Without her 14 years of experience in complex human resources leadership and policy creation we would have never created the framework to compliantly engage a global workforce for our clients quickly. And of course she did all this while raising my two beautiful daughters who kept us grounded remembering why creating this company helps parents around the world be there for their families more which is hopefully a positive contribution.

The unfortunate truth is that outside of companies like agile (50% female leadership) globally, women hold just 24% of senior leadership positions

The U.S. lags behind the global average at 21%, compared to China where women hold 51% of senior leadership slots. Women represent 45% of the S&P 500 workforce, but only 4% of the CEOs. Which brings me to our CEO and MD, a woman who epitomizes the values of agile, Jamie Haerewa. A demonstrated leader and social entrepreneur who refuses to accept that a company needs to be built in one location of bricks and mortor. Moving from China to Germany to Portugal all to ensure agile’s entities are meeting our strick 100% corporate governance and compliance requirements. She did this all amid the COVID Pandemic opening multiple countries despite the restriction on travel.

 

Before my daughters are in the workforce I hope that the world sees that to be successful more importance needs to be given to flexibility of engagement. A sometimes unique perspective that I believe women naturally have. 

 

By Leon Farrant 

 

Employee Evaluations: How to evaluate your remote teams

In our last blog post, we shared 7 tips on how to build culture in a remote team which, from the feedback I received, is a hot topic and something we will keep working on as we navigate the realms of remote working even further. Keeping on our series of helpful tips & tricks, we’re digging a little deeper on how to evaluate employees in your remote teams. We even have a little gift for you…..not 1 but 3 downloadable templates at the end of this blog ✨Happy Lunar New Year 🥳 this is our Hong Bao (red packet) to you. 😊

Employee Evaluations are an important part of growing a company, over the years we have seen it evolve from basic questions, to including employee self-evaluation and even in recent years, data and analytics. When done properly, evaluations can be a great source of information to both parties and essential in your employee development and employee experience. It paves way for succession planning, growth and retention 💁🏽‍♀️

But what about in a remote team? 🤔 Let’s forget for a minute that you probably have met your team face to face before starting to work remotely, because you will genuinely know how they work, limitations, personality and probably have preconceived ideas so evaluating them is a bit easier. But when you start onboarding new employees and they start working remotely straight away, it becomes a little different. 

While you can apply some traditional methods used with your in-office employees to measure their performance, here are some tried and tested ways in which Agile HRO have used, that we suggest to evaluate your remote employees by:

measuring

📈 Measure Output, Not Input 

I don’t know who needs to hear this, but micromanagement ends here. If you are a micromanager, please go all the way back to 2010 and change your style, it’s no longer valid in the future of work environment 👋🏽 

Right, this is possibly one of the most important topics. We need to start measuring our employees’ output, let’s be honest, we work way longer at home than we should because we are motivated to complete our projects and hit our objectives. What does not motivate us is when you are being clockwatched on your active chat status…. No sir,this stops here. 

Matt Mullenweg, CEO of Automattic, has some strong doubts about the normal 9-to-5 grind. “If someone shows up in the morning dressed appropriately and isn’t drunk or asleep at his desk, we assume he’s working. If he’s making spreadsheets and to-do lists, we assume he’s working really hard. Unfortunately, none of this gets at what an employee actually creates during the day,” Mullenweg says in a Harvard Business Review post.

Measure remote workers on OKR’s, objectives and key results. Originated by Google’s internal system, it

aims to organise the company’s workload by setting objectives that work towards key results.

These objectives correspond to targets that can relate growth, change or innovation. One objective could be to increase engagement with clients, for example.

A practical example of objectives, results and how they could be presented:

  • Objective 1: increase sales
    • KR 1: double monthly sales leads
    • KR 2: reduce our sales cycle by 10%
  • Objective 2: improve customer service
    • KR 1: reduce calls to support by 40%
    • KR 2: reduce response time on any channel by half.
    • KR 3: keep the resolution rate to at least 95%.

Getting Started with Objectives & Key Results explains more about the methodology and how it positively impacts and organization. OKRs, therefore, enable the team to stay aligned while remote working. At the same time, the human resources department has a tool to assess each person’s work and measure their progress.

feedback

🗣 Get feedback from the team

This wouldn’t be a remote team without some team feedback 😊 It’s always important to remember that your employees don’t just interact with their immediate supervisor and HR, they interact on a daily basis with their colleagues in their immediate team making them a crucial part of evaluating your remote employees and essential to building company culture in a remote team. 

Phil Haack, software coach and author, said he heavily relied on this team atmosphere to evaluate performance when he was an engineering manager at GitHub. He explains that when you create a strong team, it’s easy to see who isn’t pulling their weight. For performance reviews, Haack asks each employee to send him a list of three to five co-workers they would like peer feedback from. He then asks those co-workers to provide feedback for the individual in three categories: Start, Stop, and Continue. Each box should focus on behaviors that match the title (behaviors someone might want to stop, for example). Haack adds the boxes aren’t mandatory. “If you have three categories, the temptation is to put something in each. You might not feel very strongly that someone needs to stop doing something.” In that case, employees can just leave a box blank.

Haack takes those bits of feedback and distills them down into major takeaways, combining duplicates and making sure feedback is worded in a useful manner. The end result is a collection of behavior-based feedback from individuals you work with daily.

Two elements are crucial takeaways:

  1. The format (Start, Stop, and Continue) provides a framework that makes a difficult task (giving peer feedback) easier. The main purpose is to help employees organize their thoughts. 
  2. The feedback should be focused on behaviors, not personalities. The former is something an employee can improve; the latter isn’t.

💁🏽‍♀️ How to use self-evaluations 

Self-evaluations are an amazing way to get employees to really stop and reflect on their goals, responsibilities, overall performance, strengths and weaknesses, however, they also have a bad rap.

In the Harvard Business Review article, Keith Ferrazzi explains employees tend to fall in one of two traps (potentially both). First, become a victim of the “Overconfidence Effect”, which causes them to overestimate their competence in a given area. Second, they’re likely to make a Fundamental Attribution Error, pinning their successes on talent and wisdom while failing to acknowledge environmental factors.

The trick with self-evaluations is to combine how the employee sees themself, how their colleagues see them and then how their manager sees them and see what alignments there are and where the disconnects are. If they are used in this combination then there are no bias assessments from any 3 pillars. 

well done

💬 Provide Valuable Feedback Often

Do you remember the old days when you’re in the office, something exciting happens and everyone around you is buzzing and hi-fiving or your boss sees how hard you have been working and gives you a pat on the back? Motivating right? Or perhaps you aren’t doing so well and you need that feedback and support? As a remote worker, silence can be deafening. It is probably the worst thing to do as a manager or colleague going a whole day without hearing from anyone. 

As a manager it is important for you to keep providing them feedback often, and document it. That way they won’t feel disconnected from the work environment and would continue to perform stably. And you will be able to follow the pattern of their performances.

Everyone I have spoken with about remote work, emphasized the benefits of giving regular feedback outside of formal reviews. Why? Because regular feedback lets employees know where they stand, gets everyone on the same page, and reduces the chance of a surprise during a more formal review.

When Haack was at GitHub, he had regular one-on-one meetings with his distributed team (they live all over the world) using a video conferencing software called Blue Jeans. At Help Scout, team leads have scheduled weekly reviews with everyone in their department. They chat about what has gone well since the last check-in and what’s looming on the horizon.

Share praise and own blame.

trust

🙏🏽 Trust in your employees 

One common thread that runs deep across every method of managing a remote team: trust. 

As i mentioned it in our previous blog post, employees need to trust that their managers are looking out for their best interest. Managers need to trust that their employees are engaged and motivated at work. 

Part of this trust is built during the hiring process—selecting candidates who are self-motivated—and the rest is built over time with each positive interaction.

Just like in-person office cultures, remote office cultures can differ wildly. Being transparent about your company’s values and culture  goes a long way towards establishing trust in your remote team. 

Download Free Templates

templates

As promised, here are our downloadable templates to help you manage your remote teams: 

🍪 Remote Employee Self-Evaluation

🍪 Remote Employee Evaluation: Peer Review

🍪 Remote Employee Evaluation Template

We at Agile HRO are no strangers to remote work or helping companies succeed, no matter how or where in the world. If you’re thinking about setting up a remote team, hiring employees around the globe, or simply considering expanding your business, feel free to reach out to us and tell us how we can help here.

3 Key Mistakes Entrepreneurs make in Singapore

Singapore constantly endeavours to improve its business environment and attract talented entrepreneurs with high potential from all over the globe. Singapore ranks as the second-best economy in the world when it comes to the ease of doing business based on the World Banks ranking 🌏.

Just because this country offers great business conditions, it does not mean that mistakes don’t happen. Take a look at the most common mistakes foreign entrepreneurs make when they come to Singapore to set up a business.

Overview:

  1. Employing the wrong people
  2. Limited understanding of the legislation and obligations for foreign companies
  3. Limited awareness of the tax system
people crossing the street

Mistake #1: 🙅🏻‍♀️ Employing the wrong people

Every now and then, foreign entrepreneurs struggle to attract the right talent to work at their companies in Singapore. This is especially difficult for talents that are either top performers or high potential employees. Keep this in mind once you start looking for your workers. 

 On top of that, Singapore employers also found that keeping the right talent for a long time tends to be difficult. Hence, it is important for a new business to hire but also invest extra efforts in the retention of its employees.

 A smart thing to do would be to create a core team to look after the various functions of the company. These workers could be sent from the head office to train the Singapore team and also align them to the company’s vision and mission.

singapore gardens by the bay

Mistake #2: 🤯 Limited understanding of the legislation and obligations for foreign companies

The first thing foreigners have trouble understanding is the incorporation process in Singapore, which is a bit different compared to the majority of western countries. That is why, as an entrepreneur, you should first find out what this process looks like and what needs to be done to successfully incorporate a company in Singapore.

The second most problematic issue for foreign businesspeople is filing the annual return. This is a document that every Singapore company has to file annually with the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority (ACRA).

This document has important details of the company, such as the names of the directors, secretary, shareholders, and the date up to which the financial statements of the company have been prepared.

Filing taxes in Singapore is also a bit difficult for some foreign entrepreneurs. But why would you fail to deal with this properly if Singapore has one of the fairest and most business-oriented tax systems in the world, including low taxes and tax incentives? 

Another law that is a bit difficult to understand is the law regarding employment agreements. To be precise, the main Singapore legislation that deals with the terms of employment agreements that a company signs with its employees is the Employment Act (EA).

Once the company is set up, and you start hiring your team members, it would be wise to look at the rules and conditions you have to follow when hiring. A company has to comply with the applicable obligations imposed on employers under the Employment Act.

Finally, it is also worth noting that all Singapore companies have to protect the personal data gathered from their clients, employees, and other individuals that deal with the company.

There are two basic regulations that deal with this issue:

  1. Personal Data Protection Act
  2. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Do not forget that even though Singapore ranks among the best places in the world to do business, it is also one of the most expensive places to live and work in. Many foreigners forget this once the money starts coming in. Do not make the same mistake because it can drive both your business and you to the ground.

 According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Worldwide Cost of Living Survey, the cost of living in Singapore is the second on the list of the world’s most expensive cities for expatriates. Therefore, make sure you include a detailed budget plan in your business strategy.

When it comes to your business, you cannot allow having fewer funds than required, especially in the beginning. Inform yourself about business startup funding plans available for both local and foreign investors to avoid the problem of having insufficient funds.

Mistake #3: 🧾 Limited awareness of the tax system

It is often hard for foreign entrepreneurs to gain thorough knowledge regarding the Singapore tax system. Due to this, some fail to understand that low taxes are not equal to no taxes at all. This is a costly mistake that is not easy to fix, so make sure to pay your taxes on time no matter how low they are. 

Additionally, Singapore offers various tax incentives that can really make up for a significant boost and relief. As an entrepreneur, you definitely need to be aware of the incentives the government offers for your business type. 

For instance, startups that satisfy certain requirements can claim tax relief on the first S$ 100,000 of chargeable income for the first three consecutive years of assessment. 

Another good example of how an entrepreneur can benefit is the Not Ordinarily Resident Scheme example. A foreign entrepreneur can benefit from this scheme if they are always on the go and traveling for work. 

This scheme means that the NOR taxpayer pays income tax only on that part of their employment income that correlates with the number of days he or she is in Singapore.

Alone

Do not go it alone!

Do not try to do everything by yourself if you don’t have to. Setting up a new business brings many uncertainties. Things sometimes just do not work out well for some reason and when you go at it alone, you are bound to multi-task, which is never a good thing.

The best way to go on about this is to consult or even hire an expert to help you through these difficult starting stages.

Many foreigners reach out to agencies that can incorporate their businesses in Singapore for them. This is a wise move since the paperwork can be a bit complex, and the whole process takes some time to complete.

singapore

Wrap up

Setting up a new business in Singapore is, without a doubt, an exciting endeavour. This could bring you a lot of great things in the future.

However, this process can also be a bit difficult. Not every entrepreneur is capable of handling it on their own. The best move one can make in this situation is to consult an experienced agency to lead them through the whole process. 

Agile can help you with incorporation, Payroll, Visa / Employment Work Pass and other administrative tasks that most people find difficult to handle. If you want to avoid mistakes and ensure a smooth passage through this starting phase, feel free to reach out to us.

How to Build Culture in a Remote Team

When it comes to building remote teams, culture is at the forefront of HR and business topics. It’s general knowledge that physically located teams have an easier time building culture compared to remote teams. Of course that is because that has been the “normal” since we can remember. 

Most startups or companies have told me that their culture problems were solved by simply having an afterwork drink or adding a foosball or table tennis to the staff area. If you work in HR, you know it’s not as simple as that 💁🏽‍♀️ (am I right? 😜).

With physically located teams, it’s easy to overlook culture building with the assumption that it will naturally happen. In most situations, this is simply not true, but by the time a physically located team realizes it, it might be too late to repair their culture.

With a distributed team you know going in that culture will be hard to build. When you’re team building online, you don’t hoodwink yourself thinking that culture will procure when you utter “expecto patronum”. You go in eyes wide open. If a strong culture doesn’t develop it’s not because you didn’t try, it’s usually due to other reasons.

To help you with some impending struggles, here are 7 remote team building principles that Agile lives by:
foosball
  1. 🛑 Stop building culture around activities

Can we all agree that your culture has to be built around more than afterwork drinks, go karting or other mundane activities? The sooner you realize this, the better. These activities that lend themselves to being in person are simply not a possibility on a day-to-day basis for remote teams. Therefore, your culture has to be built around something more than this.

work
  1. 👩🏼‍🎤 Culture is about loving the work you do

2020 brought a huge wake up call to a lot of people. When you strip away the work environment and office “culture” you are left with the actual job you go to work to do. I spoke with a lot of people (myself included) who turns out, did not like their job. In a remote environment you have to love the work you do which is why at Agile, our team believes that you come to work for the work. Most of your time at work is going to be work, so the work has to be rewarding by itself. 

Thinks about changing your approach to how your employees view their work, here are some examples: 

  • When dealing with customers, is speed more important than quality? 
  • For internal communications, is this a phone call conversation or an email conversation or a chat conversation?
  • Define your collaborative working hours, do we work 40 hours or 80 hours?

Those decisions and values create culture in remote companies because our work is our livelihood.

  1. 💻 Software tools are for collaboration… and fun

In a world of smartphones and social media, there is not one single person who doesn’t share experiences, inside jokes, stories or whatever it may be, in a digital format. Collaborating with your team can be done exactly the same way. You can find a whole list of collaboration tools in one of our previous blog posts. Here are some tools we love that helped shape our culture:

goat meme

😜 GIFs / Memes

Most online communities have a go-to set of GIFs and memes they love. Agile is no different. Being able to drop a relevant GIF or meme seconds after a timely Slack comment is one of the more spectacularly amusing things that happen in our little digital office place. Slack, in particular, has a great Giphy integration where you start a message with /giphy followed by your search term and you can insert a relevant (or oftentimes a not so relevant) GIF.

💬 Zoom Calls, Hangout and Pair-Buddies

Chat is awesome, but being able to talk in real time and visually see someone is very important for some issues. Zoom or Hangout calls for bigger team meetings or quick one-on-one’s. During these chats, it’s always fun to have a five-minute personal checkup just to see what the other person/people are up to.

Pair Buddies are a weekly random pairing with 2-3 people on the team that allows you to catch up on work, life, or anything else. Pair buddy chats help keep some semblance of the office social life as part of work and encourage people who work in different departments to get to know each other better.

🎵 📚 Music and Book Perks 

A favorite of ours to do, is send out a Spotify, iTunes or Google Play card to employees, which is great since many remote employees love to listen to music during the day. Having music handy also makes it fun to share what everyone is listening to and hear what sort of eclectic tastes everyone has. You can even go so far to make a communal playlist that everyone is listening to at the same time. 

And because it’s just as easy as a Spotify card, consider giving out a voucher for eBooks through Amazon, iTunes, or Google Play. Well-read teams are happy and productive teams.

  1. 👩🏻‍👨🏻‍ Face to face catchups are still important

As much as remote work has its infinitive perks, it’s still great to get the whole team together, and why not make it more special than a company retreat. During the retreat, do things that help amplify your culture. Obviously this depends on where you live and the restrictions you have, or make a plan that you do after the lockdown (if it ever ends 🙈)

do something great
  1. 🌁 Encourage your team to get out in their community

We love this! Nothing pulls a team or company together than having your very own ambassadors out in your local community. Some ideas around this could be, joining meet-ups to share employee experience at the company or taking off on a friday afternoon to help a non-profit.

  1. 🙏🏽 Build & champion trust 

Just like physically located teams, remote teams have to trust their teammates and managers. Most people genuinely want to do a good job, and with working remotely, rather than counting the hours of the day, you measure yourself by what you have achieved. Trust is earnt, built and savored. 

Side note: Being public and transparent about your company’s values and culture  goes a long way towards establishing trust in a distributed team and also for hiring people who will thrive at your company.

minh-pham-lB9ylP8e9Sg-unsplash
  1. 😜 Get sh*t done

Ever felt that feeling in your weekly meeting like “ooof, I didn’t finish that project last week” and next thing you know its your turn to speak – I think we have all been there 💁🏽‍♀️. This feeling creates a desire to finish whats important for the week and helps build that trust with your team. You want to show up and speak loudly to what you are working on, therefore you need to get sh*t done.

As remote teams get more popular, I expect we’ll hear more about the cultures in remote teams and how they evolve differently.

We at Agile HRO are no strangers to remote work or helping companies succeed, no matter how or where in the world. If you’re thinking about setting up a remote team, hiring employees around the globe, or simply considering expanding your business, feel free to reach out to us and tell us how we can help here.

2021: Finding Success in the Future of Work

2020 may be over, but one of its most defining features is here to stay. No, not the ill-fitting masks and empty airports. We’re talking about working from home. As more and more companies around the world continue to embrace the remote workplace (and hand sanitizer), many are considering making it a permanent option. And it’s not just the Twitters and Reddits of the world; it’s been projected that by 2028, 73% of all departments will have remote workers.

The million dollar question is no longer ​“should we go remote?”​ but rather, “​ how?”​ ​🤔

Great question gif

In our last b​log post, we shared our quick guide for setting up your remote team. Today, we’re digging deeper and uncovering the gems on ​how​ to ensure that your remote teams are effective, scalable, and even more productive—yes, even in sweatpants.

Neon sign saying be reasonable

The reasons for going remote are plentiful, but here’s a fast recap of the notables:

💸 Cost Savings: Queen of the #moodboard and tech behemoth Pinterest famously broke an $89 million dollar lease (yes, USD) on their San Francisco headquarters because it was still more cost effective than keeping their office space in the longer term. Companies far and wide are coming to the same realization, and opting to reinvest their resources into employees and global expansion.

📈 Productivity: Did you think the fear of not being on mute was your biggest daily stressor? Think again. Long commutes and the rigidity of the traditional workplace are productivity—not to mention mood—killers. Owl Labs has reported that 24% of people who work remotely at least once a month are not only more likely to be more productive, but happier too. Higher productivity and good spirits? Keep it coming. 

🌆 Globalization, at high speed rates: Gone are the days of keeping global expansion on the horizon. You can go global right now, and companies are moving quickly to make it a reality. Unlike your limited wifi signal, your organization’s potential talent pool now spans far beyond company headquarters. Tear down those sterile cubicle walls, and welcome the diverse and culturally rich workforce you’ve been longing for.

🙋🏽‍♂️Employee happiness: According to a study conducted by FlexJobs, 76% say they would be more willing to stay with their current employees if they could work flexible hours.  Undeniably, WFH requires trust and adaptability, but prioritizing these values may just ensure more loyal employees and reduce churn.

remote working

Alright, alright. So you’re committed to the distributed work model, aka the not-so-new normal, but how do you make sure it’s both sustainable and scalable? Glad you asked. Here are some key ways to help your company succeed remotely:

👀 Transparency and investment in communication 

Harvard Business Review recently shared one of the most common challenges of remote work: lack of information. While you’ll want to keep the meetings to a minimum, the same cannot be said about the all-hands and town halls. Being transparent and communicative is crucial, and that goes for everything from setting up the company VPN to sharing long term goals. Remote work has presented a great opportunity for HR managers to anticipate employee needs, while staying hyper-organized. This requires that management and HR work closely together to properly train leaders and commit to keeping their distributed workforce up to date and involved in conversation. 

👩🏼‍💻 Establish your company’s remote infrastructure 

Now what does remote work mean for your unique organization? After you’ve developed your new workplace standards, you’ll want to invest in an internal communications process. That way, employees are aligned, empowered, and well-equipped to carry out the requirements of their jobs. Invest in identifying, then operationalizing, processes that will address the challenges of the distributed workforce i.e. getting visas, working across multiple time zones, and salary adjustments. 

🖊 Define and embody your company culture 

If the collective billions of left Tinder swipes has taught us anything, it’s that people crave substance. According to Gartner’s study workplace trends, employees of the future will “actively seek opportunities to tie their impact and value to their missions, purposes, and passions.” Make it a focus to define and communicate your company culture, while encouraging employees to share their own ambitions and visions for growth. With the help of management and HR leaders, every employee should know exactly what they’re working toward and at the very least, feel confident their concerns will be addressed and valued. 

💆🏻‍♀️ Make humanness a priority 

Check the pulse for burnout, and prioritize employee mental health. While it’s great to be at home, employees don’t want to be glued to their screens, losing their sense of boundaries and sanity. Empathy, encouragement, and emotional support are intangible, but priceless standards for keeping teams productive and creative. Research also shows us that employees look to their managers for cues on how to handle crises and other situations, so getting clear with management about how to navigate remote work by example is imperative. 

👩🏼‍🔬 Embrace iteration and adaptability 

This point may be last, but it is certainly not least. Nobody’s perfect, especially organizations that feel they’ve been thrusted abruptly into the new world of remote work. In transitioning to the decentralized workplace, companies should remain open minded and adaptable. Finding an established and experienced HR partner to guide you through these changing times will make the transition much smoother, while giving your company the capacity to focus on its bottom line. There’s a lot going on in this modern world, but through uncertainty comes resilience and creativity. After all, we survived 2020 didn’t we? So take a breath, and get that virtual meditation on the calendar.

We at Agile HRO are no strangers to helping companies succeed, no matter how or where in the world. If you’re thinking about setting up a remote team, hiring employees around the globe, or simply considering expanding your business, feel free to reach out to us and tell us how we can help here.

3 Things I learned in 2020 about Remote Work

At the beginning of 2020 we came into the year full of classic new year resolutions 🍾🥳 “new year new me” and “this is my year” which was shortly lived when suddenly the world stopped ✋🏽. After 10 months of working remotely, what have we learned in 2020 about remote work that we are going to take into 2021 now that we’ve graduated from “rookie” status? 😜
 
As we all tried to adjust to life in isolation, most of us had to turn our living room, spare room or bedroom, into an office, accelerating 🏎 the majority of professionals into remote working. Sure, there was a preconceived idea of remote work that you fantasise about like; you can work from wherever you want (cue sandy white beaches & sunny blue skies ☀️), wearing whatever you want, and in some cases, on whatever schedule you want. 

#1 🚀 Create a Workspace that Fuels Productivity

Do you remember what your workspace looked like at your office? Your real office, not the office that you swiftly erected in the dining room back in March 2020, when you started working from home. Neither do I. 💁🏽‍♀️

Just like 9-to-5, office hours have gone the way of the dinosaur during the pandemic, companies may opt to reduce their office footprint, making WFH less the exception and more the “new normal”.

Transitioning from working in an office environment to working from home is a fundamental lifestyle change. But begs the questions, where at home can you be productive? How do you stay focused? When should you start and finish? How will this affect your home life? 🤔

Now is the time to absolutely maximize productivity while working from, here’s some tips to help you

👉🏽 Create a comfortable workspace. Working in an office caters to keeping you focused and on track. The space should be comfortable, away from added screens (TV, mobiles, etc.), and have everything you need to complete your work.

👉🏽 Stay organized. Adopt a new organizing system or start using a day planner to make sure you stay on schedule. Staying committed to the schedule will help you create consistency and a routine.

👉🏽 Commit to intense work intervals. Just like the treadmill, when you focus intensely for smaller periods of time, it  can be extremely more productive. Try this: if you can work for 45 minutes straight before getting distracted, then take a short break. After each break, set a timer and work for the next 45 minutes uninterrupted and repeat.

#2 💆🏽‍♀️ Take Time to Disconnect 

Apple co-founder, Steve Jobs, once said his best ideas came after meditation. Many of us, even if we don’t meditate, can testify to the fact that some of our best ideas 💡 come when we least expect them, be it in the shower, drinking wine, or during that soul cycle class that has you all pumped up.

A remote work survey, found that 44% of respondents worked more than 40 hours a week and their biggest challenge was how to separate work and personal life. 

Separating work and personal life while combining the two under the same roof is easier said than done (don’t I know it), so we are going to share some simple & effective tips on how to disconnect from work: 

👉🏽 Stop Working – No i don’t mean altogether! Set yourself a “Stop Working” deadline time, or an “end time” in your daily schedule. Logout of Slack, shutdown your laptop and decompress because this time is your time. 

👉🏽 After Work Activities – This is a personal favorite ❤️ for me as there are endless activities to help disconnect, be it fitness, painting, board games with friends or families, reading that book you have tried to for a while, learning something new, or anything that you might be passionate about 

👉🏽 Decompress – Everyone likes to decompress in their own way, winding down with a cold beer or a glass of wine, taking 10-15 minutes to just relax or just closing your eyes for a few minutes. Whatever helps you, do this at the end of every work day.

#3 👩🏽‍💼 Feedback is Critical. Even More So with Remote Employees

As professionals, we rely on knowing how to improve in order to excel in our careers, which is why every employee, remote or in-person, needs feedback. 

A Harvard Business Review study from 2014 showed 72% said they expected their performance would improve if their managers would provide constructive feedback. Furthermore, 92% agreed with the assertion, “Negative (redirecting) feedback, if delivered appropriately, is effective at improving performance.”

Now that we have transitioned to working remotely, the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality should become redundant, however that’s not the case in some organizations. 

Why is feedback so important?

Unbiased, constructive and comprehensive feedback helps:

  • Bridge the gap between perception and performance
  • Effective decision making
  • Motivate employees towards doing better
  • Boost dialogue and team building
  • Boost effective performance management
  • Further learning and self-development

Our helpful tips to boost your communications skills and feedback loop:

👉🏽 Choose the best way to communicate – It’s better to connect with your teams, colleagues and manager on a video call, whether it’s one-to-one or a group call. Using video not only helps establish a human connection and share feedback but also helps set the tone for elevating morale.

👉🏽 Invite feedback – Feedback flow should not be like one way traffic. Encouraging your employees to share their side of the story, their thoughts and inputs is the way to go.  Feedback is effective only when all parties involved have a right to express themselves.

👉🏽 Communicate regularly – For managers and employees, regular and consistent communication is key. Try running a quick tea/coffee session with your colleagues & manager, just to check the pulse and connect on an informal level. Such sessions don’t have to be about work all the time. 

The biggest lesson of 2020 and remote work was getting to know yourself and how you can work productively, efficiently and agile, with slight adjustments that maybe you wouldn’t normally consider in an office environment. 

Let us know what you learned in the comments 😊 and for more information about Agile HRO feel free to schedule a meeting through our website.

Top Software Tools to Manage Remote Teams

Congratulations! Your remote team is set-up, now what? Want take the anxiety out of managing them remotely? Read on to find the best tools to manage your team remotely!

As we are well aware, remote working is here to stay, whether it’s permanent or temporary depending on your business. The reliance on software tools, easily accessible from anywhere on any device for remote working and effective team management, is growing #FACTS

Facts

Now before you go out and spend company 💰🤑 on systems you may not need, firstly, align yourself to the company’s objectives and productivity goals and make a clear assessment to understand which tools would help your employees reach business goals – remember, a tool/system should not be extra work, it should compliment their daily tasks to be more efficient! ☝🏽

Girl holding tools

We’ve done the research 🕵🏻‍♀️ for you and compiled our list of the hottest and proven tools to help you manage your team in this remote world 🌏

Communication Tools📱

Don’t let your team’s break-room banter and one-on-one chats suffer, easily recreate meetings, team events and catch-ups virtually.

💬 Slack or Google Hangouts can create a virtual office using group chats for individual teams and group projects 

💻 Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype and Cisco Webex are probably already part of your (IT) furniture. They are handy for scheduling regular chats, meetings, voice or video calls

💡Pro Tip: Opt for software solutions that enable easy file-sharing and integrate easily with existing tools used by the organisation for project management, tasks and collaboration

Collaboration Tools 💁🏻‍♀️💁🏽‍♂️

With teams that are based remotely, finding ways to collaborate on a project, can be a project in itself 🛠

📂 Dropbox, Google Drive and OneDrive enable effortless file and document sharing and in some cases real-time collaboration 

👷🏽‍♀️ Asana is great for complete project management, right from plotting and planning to assigning tasks, and collaborating on deadlines. 

📈 Trello or ProofHub have been successful for companies looking to chart workflows, manage tasks and update on progress 

💡Pro Tip: Most of these sync easily with communication tools such as Slack to enable virtual discussions that mimic real world huddle meetings

Admin/Essential Tools 📄

Tools that assist with admin are essential in a virtual workplace. 

📑 HelloSign and DocuSign help with the basic requirements of enabling remote workers sign (contracts, orders, NDAs etc.) legally binding documents

🤓 Quickbooks, OnPay and Gusto ease simplest tasks for managing payroll and administrative accounting 

💡Pro Tip: For a quick and painless way to set up a company and sort out the HR and admin related details, an expert PEO solutions provider such as AgileHRO can provide a gamut of tools to facilitate the process. 

Tools for Productivity 💻

Ensuring remote workers manage their time effectively can be a challenge, especially when dealing with different time zones ⏰ 

📆 HubStaff is a time tracking software that manages schedules, calendars and provides online timesheets. To-do lists can easily be managed via collaboration tools such as Asana and Trello. 

Go ahead… make remote working a success

FTW

With the right tools and partnerships in place, collaboration with peers can be done efficiently and effectively 👨🏻‍💻

If you are looking at setting up a remote team, hire employees in a foreign country, or simply considering expanding globally or regionally, speak to us about how we can help via www.agilehero.com/contact 



Remote Team: A Quick-Start Guide to Setting Up a Remote Team

If remote working has taught us anything it’s that all those meetings we sat through where I thought “this could’ve been an email” could’ve definitely been an email. 🙄

Just like the pandemic, remote work is now going viral 😷 As more and more teams are transitioning away from their traditional office-based environments to more flexible remote alternatives, HR professionals are faced with a new challenge: how do I set up a remote team? 🤔

Why Remote Teams? Actually, why the hell not? 😈

Whatever your reasons may be for hiring a remote team, don’t let doubts cloud your decision-making and look at what is going to benefit & align with your organization’s core business goals ⚽️ 🥅 

Key 🔑 advantages of moving to a remote or distributed model; 

  • Expanding into new markets 
  • Access to best global talent 
  • Cost savings on real estate 
  • Increasing productivity
  • Cross culture collaborations
  • Less restrictions on geographical boundaries 
  • Wellbeing of employees

There are already some great examples of companies who have engaged remote teams as part of their organization. Take Zapier for example, they claim to be a ‘100% distributed company with over 300 remote employees in 17 time zones and 28 countries’. While other tech giants, like Microsoft & Twitter who have already announced new WFH policies and moving to a distributed model, championing the remote culture.

Building a Remote Work Team from Scratch

Now the fun part starts 😉  Naturally, setting up remote teams can be challenging, especially when it’s across multiple jurisdictions. 

The pains of navigating laws, compliance, processes and ever changing regulations, cause all sorts of decision-making headaches 🤯, particularly if businesses whose teams are already working lean.. 

That’s where partnering with a HR solutions specialist,  who understands  how to engage an employee in any country through Professional Employment Organisation (PEO) or Employer of Record (EOR).

Trust us! It will ease those headaches and open up your options 😉

Quick-Start Guide to Setting Up a Remote Team:

Due Diligence 🔍 

Before going gunhoe and setting up entities all over the world, map out your global workforce geographically, by volume, headcount and cost per hire in these respective countries.

You will then need to make an analysis on whether it is feasible to set up an entity or opt for an expert PEO solutions provider

Legal ⚖️

This is one of the most important steps. No matter how big your organization is, you must engage with a lawyer to make sure you are setting your business up, compliantly. 

Some questions you should be asking are;

  • Are foreign enterprises allowed to set up legal operations?
  • Can a foreign enterprise be 100% foreign owned? 
  • Can we hire foreign & local employees, legally? 
  • What are the employment laws in this country? 
Immigration ✈️

Immigration laws differ in each country and most often is the deciding factor between onboarding local talent, or moving employees to newer markets. 

Always check with your lawyer any mandated quotas of foreign vs local talent a company has to hire, requirements (obviously 🙄), conditions and cost (as this can become costly in some locations) 

Hiring Talent 🤓

To build a team, you may need to hire new talent, take over existing teams or bring specialist workers on board to help steer your expansion plans. 

Without a legal entity set-up in a country this may seem impossible, but it is not as hard as it sounds. 

This can be simplified by routing the hiring and onboarding process via a PEO solutions provider like Agile.

HR-Related Admin 👩🏽‍💻

To ensure that there are no loose ends with the set-up of a remote team and the hiring of new employees, here is a handy checklist for each remote worker:

  • Employee contracts 
  • Employee NOCs/Waivers
  • Visas/work passes
  • Set-up payroll
  • Organise tax processes depending on the country’s taxation laws
  • Set-up the insurance and benefits requirements 
  • Set-up organisational charts/team workflow
  • Set-up employee’s IT access and processes 
  • Set-up collaboration and communication tools [link to blog-post about software tools for remote teams]

👉🏽 If you are interested in that checklist in a pdf format, feel free to reach out to [email protected], you will make him happy 😊

If you are looking at setting up a remote team, hire employees in a foreign country, or simply considering expanding globally or regionally, speak to us about how we can help via https://www.agilehro.com/ 

CHINA: Agile China PEO & Corporate Immigration now OPEN!

Expanding your business into China has never been easier with Agile’s newest office on the ground to support:

  • Employer Of Record (EOR) services so that you can have your first employee working for you in China within 48 Hours!
  • PEO & Payroll Services to engage your own employees with 100% compliance and agility.
  • Visa & Corporate Immigration support and sponsorship
  • In-Country recruitment / head hunting services
  • Global Mobility and In-Country logistics services;
    • Accommodation & Transport Procuerment
    • Airport Pick Up & Assimilation Induction
    • School Procuerment
    • Insurance & Emergency support

What every your expansion need is in China we are happy to support, advise or connect with a partner that can help. Contact us today on [email protected]ehumansolutions.com or [email protected] or call on+65 3159 4151

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