Reach first turned to foreign talent during the pandemic to reduce labor costs. Unable to turn a profit in insurance verification, Pinegar began hiring contractors in Brazil and Argentina, where competitive wages were lower than in Utah. They soon saw their profit, but the culture change went beyond dollars and cents.
“We believe that business can be done without borders,” says Pinegar. “Not only can we scale cost-effectively, but we can also fill talent gaps. Our business is doing so much better because we can find top talent anywhere in the world.”
Pinegar attributes success with a global team to one thing: clear communication. “We are very conscious about how we operate our communication channels,” he says. “There is no division between overseas talent and US talent. We’re a great team.” Reach offers English language tests to global candidates to ensure language differences aren’t a barrier to success.
Melatta similarly finds that communication is all the more important for remote businesses. He built Kosy Office because he believes spontaneous interactions are the cornerstone of the most productive and efficient teams. He encourages his global team to have the kinds of conversations that might at first seem “unproductive” — the morning coffee chat, the quick question, the quick catch-up. This is often where most of the work is done.
Similarly, Amin invites new global hires to write meet-and-greet emails to her team. While they may not carry the weight of a client email or meeting agenda, Amin finds them invaluable in fostering communication and collaboration. “These emails tend to focus more on new hires’ hobbies, pets, and favorite foods, which is great because it helps everyone get to know each other personally,” says Amin. “People are more likely to collaborate and ask questions when they feel more comfortable with their colleagues.”
This points to one of the most indescribable challenges of managing a globally distributed workforce: creating a culture. Company culture is based not only on the relationships between employees, but also on a company’s ability to respond to the needs of its employees.
“A distant, international culture needs to be built even more consciously than a personal one, because that won’t happen by itself,” says Melatta. In order to consciously create a culture, Melatta makes sure that corporate culture can have different meanings for different employees.
It starts with culture-aware benefit packages. For example, many countries offer health insurance to their residents, making a company-sponsored health insurance plan pretty much worthless. Melatta is working to adapt each service package to regional needs. “For example, if high-speed internet is not readily available in a region, a coworking space stipend for an employee might be more supportive than a healthcare package,” says Melatta.
Recognizing cultural or religious festivals and holidays is another way to build an inclusive service package. “Apart from the fixed national holidays that we have in Canada, I like to give employees a day off to celebrate events that are important to their culture or religion,” adds Melatta.
For Amin, openness and transparency are the cornerstones of the global corporate culture. “We share the good and the bad with everyone,” says Amin. “It makes employees feel comfortable being themselves and sharing their backgrounds, professional challenges and solutions. It brings out the best in people when they don’t have to worry about what other people think.”
All three companies believe their diversity is a source of strength that brings new ideas to the table.
“When you bring different people together from all over the world, you get a lot of different perspectives,” says Pinegar. “It’s the best way to innovate and the right way to move a business forward.”