Recruiting an International Remote Team

Alondra Casillas Gonzalez

Finding the right candidates is hard. No matter what industry you’re in, what skill set you’re looking for or how many years of experience they need to have. 

It’s down to the right candidate being available at the right time, at the right salary and with a reasonable notice period. 

However, cultural fit is without doubt the most important factor and not everyone is right for your business. 

That’s a good thing. It means you have standards and integrity. You don’t want someone to just do a job. You want someone who will do their job in order to further the collective goals of the business. 

All this without considering the headaches geography can cause. If there’s no one local, you have to carry out a national search. Or even an international search. 

The costs start to spiral. Visas, sponsorship, moving costs, maybe even the first month’s rent just to help that perfect fit employee get situated. 

But for the right person it’s worth it, surely… 

It’s a lot to go through to grow the team. With the rise of remote working the question often asked is ‘do they need to be office based?’. 

The better question is ‘do they need to be based in this country?’.   

Recruiting Internationally

Recruiting Internationally 

Building a team by bringing the best and the brightest from other countries is nothing new. In fact it makes perfect business sense. 

If the talent is elsewhere go and get it. 

Providing they can do the job they’ve been hired to do, any costs incurred in bringing them across will be made back in no time. 

After all, good people are an investment, not a cost. 

But with more red tape than ever, some countries imposing limitations or outright bans on migrant workers, recruiting a team from overseas can seem more trouble than its worth. 

Because we’re in the habit of centralising our businesses. Keeping everyone where you can see them. 

Of course it’s nice to have the whole team together but it’s old fashioned thinking and it’s expensive. 

More people means more office space. More electricity. Another desk. Another chair. Yet another laptop chewing up bandwidth. 

Remote teams cost less if, for no other reason, than the remote workers are using their own electricity and broadband connection. Remote teams can be based anywhere and, providing you have processes and structures in place, can operate effectively indefinitely. 

So why not build remote teams abroad? 

Remote working technology is at a level now where teams can collaborate (and co-ordinate) from anywhere in the world. All they need is a computer, the right software and a decent internet connection. 

This means you can focus on building the best team - wherever they reside - without worrying about how to move them. 

Of course, it’s not always that simple and before you start throwing out job offers, there are things to consider...   

Local Legislation

Local legislation 

Different companies have different employment laws which can make hiring people from certain countries a bit of a headache. Even if they’re working in that country. 

Germany - for example - requires a physical presence in the country. This is because they are very protective of their economy and aren’t huge fans of foreign businesses taking money out of it. 

However, you can hire employees on a contract basis. Although it sidesteps renting office space, it does create other problems.  

Such as your employees, well, aren’t. Which means they can wonder off and take other work and you have very little say in the matter. 

However, this is just one example and plenty of other countries allow you to employ people on remote contracts. 

So long as you adhere to local employment laws (that’s a biggie) and you pay the local income taxes and national insurance contributions (or equivalent). Which brings us on to the next point…   

Taxes

Tax 

Make sure you’re fully aware of your tax obligations before you send out any contracts. 

Different countries mean different tax systems. 

The UK for example deducts income tax automatically as salaries are paid out. That means as the employer you’ll need to make those payments on your employees behalf. 

That will often mean having a local bank account and a PO Box as a registered address. 

If you’re able to identify where the people you want to hire live, you can familiarise yourself with all the local legislation on employment and tax well in advance to avoid any nasty surprises.  

Time Zones

Time Zones 

While laws can be navigated and distances overcome thanks to the wonder of technology. What you can’t do anything about is what side of the planet they’re on.  

In most cases, time zones aren’t too much of a problem. There will be a window of a few hours that will allow for team calls and collaboration on projects. 

In those instances where the time difference is too great, work out a compromise. Members of the team should take it in turns to start early or work late in order to have those all important team calls. 

Using tools like Microsoft Teams, remote teams can keep everyone abreast of their work by leveraging tools like Planner. Equally, chat and good old fashioned diary management will help to do the rest.   

The Language Barrier

The Language Barrier 

This can be a big issue. It is generally accepted that English is the language of commerce - and English is taught in schools around the world. 

However, that doesn’t mean that an employee with English as a second language will want to communicate in English all day every day. 

Additionally, their written English will also need to be assessed. Obviously the extent to which this matters will be dependent on the role. 

However, the team they are going into - and the wider organisation - needs to be able to communicate effectively. 

If both these things are integral to the role, make sure it is made clear from the outset. 

While building a multinational team isn’t without headaches, it is achievable. 

In reality the legal hoops you need to jump through in order to pay someone in the UK only has to be done once.  

After the first time everything is set up and your payroll can just add another employee should one come along. 

It’s also less hassle and far cheaper than relocating someone from the UK to the US or Canada or vice versa.

The sponsorship, Visa application, flights, freight services etc all add up to tens of thousands of dollars. 

A PO Box in the UK - for example - costs around £215 a year. 

Build a process, get the administration nailed and then you can concentrate your energies on finding amazing people to help build a successful business. 

Alondra Casillas Gonzalez

About the Author

Alondra started her career in Accountancy in Mexico and joined Reflection to assist with bookkeeping and accounts. However, she very quickly developed an interest in social media research and development in the talent space.

She has expertise in researching SMEs across the tech industry.