How To Survive and Thrive in a Long-Distance (Business) Relationship

How to build better business relationships

This article outlines the dos and don’ts along with examples of how to build better business relationships as remotely-operating teams.  

When it comes to choosing a romantic partner, we often let our gut instincts take over. We know who we like, who we don’t, what we want and what we want to avoid. One major obstacle for many would-be lovebirds? Distance. Long-distance relationships are extremely taxing for most, and put a strain on what otherwise might be happy, successful relationships.

The good news? Business relationships don’t suffer from the same trouble as romantic ones, and forging a long-distance business partnership can offer many more perks than downfalls. Outsourcing sales is a great example of how this can work out in your favor.

Benefits of Hiring a Remote Contractor/Team

1) Access to the best talent

The opportunity to hire the best contractor for the job, regardless of their geographic location. As an example, if you are located in the region where certain services are not available yet, hiring remotely might be the only option to get those specialists.

2) Reduced operational overhead

Reduced costs in office space, healthcare, commuting reimbursements, and other overhead costs. If you hire remote contractors from developing countries, you’ll see the greatest cost savings in terms of hourly rates.

3) Increased diversity in perspective/culture

The chance to better understand your industry from a global perspective, bringing in the experience and culture of a fellow experts with a different point of view.

4) Improved productivity

Maximizing your ability to ensure that productive work is occurring at all hours of the day when remote contractors are located across different time zones.

The 7 Dos and Don’t of Hiring a Remote Team

While the secrets to hiring the right company for the job could fill a library, for many experts, it all comes down to gut instinct. No matter which approach you take, finding the right business partner often requires a significant investment of time, money and effort.

When you’ve identified the right company for the job, whether next door or in the next hemisphere, the next step is to forge the commitment and trust between both parties. If both partners are fulfilled with the arrangement, keeping it functional and healthy is vital. It’s a smart business move.

So how do you make it work?   

1) Do: Understand the legal implications

These vary significantly across continents and regions, and should not be taken lightly. Do your homework before hiring a remote worker to understand your responsibility to them and vice versa. Carefully create a detailed contract or employment agreement that will protect both parties.

Be sure this agreement is reviewed by a qualified legal professional to ensure you’ve covered everything from liability to benefits.

2) Do: Verify credentials

Having a great LinkedIn profile or a fancy company website is valuable, but having reputable references who are readily available is much more important.

In remote work, especially, taking the time to reach out to any known common associates or references is vital. Also, ensure that this company is prepared for the challenges of remote work and is on the same page regarding expected results and practices.

Extra reading: How to Build an Army of Virtual Sales Assistants to Help Grow Your Business

3) Do: Make sure there’s a culture fit

While culture may seem less important for remote teams, it can make or break a company if a few members just don’t fit the model or share the vision. Culture in a remote community is built on communication style, accepted practices, and mutual understanding.

Share these ideals with a candidate during the interview phase to gauge their understanding and willingness to participate.

Extra reading: A Hiring Scorecard Template For Startups: How To Make Logical Hiring Decisions

4) Do: Give them a trial run

Work trials are very common, and for a remote worker, arguably a must-have.

You can adapt this task to anything relevant to the job at hand, but be sure it’s something straightforward and takes less than a few hours. You should avoid publishing or using any work provided in a trial period

5) Don’t: Lower your expectations

You don’t need to! Remote workers are just as capable and accountable as one sitting right next to you. As long as you both understand what’s expected of the employee, the work should speak for itself.

6) Don’t: Seek out only large companies

Large, international companies may have the benefit of notoriety and brand recognition, but don’t always offer the best solution for every business. Seek out independent partners who share your vision and forge a future with them.

7) Don’t: Be nervous!

Thousands of companies large and small are already running effectively and efficiently with remote teams. These teams employ the best of the best partners for their respective jobs, without concern for who lives where.

How 3 Top Companies Approach Remote Work

A business relationship can thrive from afar. Trust, mutual understanding, and consistent communications are the keys to making these partnerships work. Follow the tips above, and see how successful your business can become, with the help of a team far outside the four walls of your office.

Still not convinced this might actually work out? Here are three solid examples of big companies building long-distance relationships with foreign companies that are remote-based. If they could do it, why can’t you?

1) Vimeo and Prowly (Poland)

Prowly app has designed a custom press center for Vimeo. Vimeo’s new Press Center is a variation of a digital newsroom called Brand Journal. The communications team can post press releases, news, articles, as well as set up brands’ social media streams and press kits.

The pitching module allows users to share press releases with their media contacts directly from the app and then track each contact’s behavior.

“We needed a flexible newsroom design that would be intuitive and easy to navigate for journalists on the front end and our internal team on the backend. Visually, it was important to represent the creativity behind our brand and functionally it needed to support everything from hosting our brand guidelines to our original programming press assets.

Prowly was the best fit to meet both those needs.” – Jessica Casano-Antonellis, VP of Communications and Head of Diversity at Vimeo

2) Nielsen and Buzzoole (Italy)

Influencer platform Buzzoole has established an exclusive collaboration with global measurement company Nielsen, designed to help brands and agencies understand the true ROI of influencer marketing.

Nielsen then uses this data to determine the reach of each influencer’s posts. This will then allow brands to create clear ROI metrics for influencer campaigns, including true reach, engagement, and brand consideration.

3) Accenture and Pipefy (originally based in Brazil)

As part of the company’s outsourcing services, Accenture offers real-estate property regulation. The real-estate regulation process can take anywhere from roughly 8 months to 8 years.

Currently, the company manages nearly 2500 unique real-estates processes and communications with six different company contractors that support those processes. Thanks to Pipefy, the real-estate regulation team at Accenture was able to easily build scalable processes without IT, reduce operational risks with universally accessible data, and improve overall productivity.

Those are just a few examples out of many many more, where a business partnership was thriving remotely. 

To learn more about building successful business partnerships despite the distance, make sure to join the upcoming Remote Future Summit—the biggest online conference on remote work.

Also published on Medium.

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