Category Archives: Global Entrepreneurs

The Digital Nomad – Part 3 – Improve Your Productivity Kanban-Style

Last week, when you could not fall asleep because you felt overwhelmed by the increasing number of items on your to-do list, you had the brilliant idea to buy post-its and start to plan your next four weeks. Then, you also thought about writing down your 25 priorities. 

You already felt a little relieved and fell asleep. However, the question remains “did you actually do what you planned the day after?”

I bet you didn’t do it even if you thought it was a great idea.

 

The good news is that what happened to you last week happens to most of us too. The bad news is that when you do this in your personal life, you are more inclined to do the same in your professional life as well. We accept a mediocre solution or we try to put a plaster on a process instead of analyzing the root cause of the issue.

According to Schwarzt et al (2014), the great majority of companies see this phenomenon as a challenge to productivity and overall performance, but struggles to handle it. According to Deloitte, over half of the respondents to her survey  say that “their organizations are not doing a good job helping workers address information overload and today’s demanding work environment.” 57 percent believe their organizations are “weak” when it comes to helping leaders manage difficult schedules and supporting employees manage information flow.

Have we lost all of our ideals of Total Quality Management (This is a management approach to long-term process through customer satisfaction. In a Total Quality Management effort, all members of an organization participates in improving processes, products, services and the culture in which they work)  from the good old nineties? Do you know about Kanban and visualizing process flows?

We need to learn how to become more productive and we need to learn it now. If, like me, you are always eager to receive tips on how to increase productivity, check this podcast out.

Kanban 

Kanban is a lean method which originated in lean manufacturing, which was inspired by the Toyota Production System. It aims at managing work by balancing demands with available capacity, and by improving the handling of system-level bottlenecks. 

In knowledge work and in software development, the aim is to provide a visual process management system which facilitates decision-making about what, when, and how much to produce. 

Among the most important characteristics is that work items are visualized to provide a view of progress and process, from start to finish, usually through a Kanban board. Indeed, in Japanese, kanban means “signboard” or “billboard.”

Kanban Boards 

A colorful, tidy and good-looking kanban board is one of the most effective tools in project management. It can be used to plan and work through any project, both in your personal and professional life. 

Kanban boards visually display a certain process in its various stages using cards to represent work items and columns to represent each phase of the process. Cards are moved from left to right to show progress and to help coordinate teams performing the work. 

Simple boards have vertical columns for the “to-do”, “doing”, and “done” work.  Alternatively, they may be labelled “waiting”, “in progress” and “completed”. Complex Kanban boards can also be divided into horizontal “swim lanes” representing different types of work or different teams performing the work. Additionally, it can subdivide the “in progress” work into multiple columns to visualise the flow of work across a whole value stream map.

Example of a Kanban board:

 

Seven core practices for Kanban

 

Here I suggest six core practices that will make you optimize the efficiency of the tool and become a master of kanban boards.

  1. Visualize the flow of work. You cannot work on a Kanban board, either physical or electronic, if you cannot visualize the process steps needed to deliver your work. Depending on the complexity of your process and your work-mix, your Kanban board can be very simple or very elaborate. Once you visualize your process, then you can visualize the current work that you and your team are doing. 
  2. Use Colors. Use post-its in different colors for different types of projects. Or, if you decide to use this tool for personal life projects, consider using different colors for different kinds of activities (orange for the projects you wish to complete at home, yellow for your children’s requests, and so on).
  3. Limit WIP (Work in Progress). It’s important to reduce WIP to a minimum to encourage yourself and your team to complete work at hand first before taking up new work. Work currently in progress must be completed and marked done. This creates capacity in the system, so that you can focus on new tasks. Limiting WIP helps you finish what they are doing already before taking up new stuff. This practice is also useful because it communicates to the customer and other stakeholders that there is limited capacity to do work, and they need to plan carefully what work they ask you or your team to do.
  4. Manage Flow.. A Kanban system helps you manage flow by highlighting the various phases of the workflow and the status of work in every single phase. Based on how well you defined the workflow and set the limits to WIP, you will observe either a smooth flow of processes or work piling up as a bottleneck forms and starts to hold up capacity. Kanban helps you analyze the system and adjust their work accordingly to improve flow. In this way, you will manage to reduce the time it takes to complete each task. By improving flow, your delivery of work becomes smoother and more predictable, making it easier to communicate to your customer when you will manage to get any work done. You will also automatically increase your reliability to your customers’ eyes.
  5. Make Process Policies Explicit. Visualize explicitly your policies, process rules or guidelines for how you do your work. In this way, you create common ground for all those involved in the process to understand how to work in the system. The various policies can be at the board level or at a “swim lane” level or for each column. Examples of explicit policies are: what defines a task complete, what describes individual “swim lanes” or columns, who pulls when, etc. 
  6. Implement Feedback Loops. This practice is an essential part of any good system. Kanban encourages and helps you implement different types of feedback loops. If you want to deliver the right work in the shortest possible time, it’s crucial to get feedback early, especially if you ended up on the wrong track.
  7. Improve Collaboratively, Evolve Experimentally (using the scientific method). The Kanban Method helps you implement small changes and improve gradually in a way that is sustainable for you and your team. It encourages you to form a hypothesis, test it and make changes according to the results you obtain. In a few words, it aims at tackling issues through a scientific method. As an individual or team who aims at being agile, it’s fundamental that you evaluate your process continuously and improve as much as needed.

Notable tools

This is a list of tools that implement the Kanban method. You can test some of them for free.

  • Asana, with boards.
  • Azure DevOps Server, an integrated ALM-platform for managing work in and across multiple teams.
  • CA Technologies Rally, provides teams with the option of managing pull-based, lean software development projects.
  • Unicom Focal Point, a portfolio management and product management tool.
  • Jira (software), provides kanban boards.
  • Microsoft Planner, a planning application available on the Microsoft Office 365 platform.
  • Pivotal Tracker provides kanban boards.
  • Projektron BCS, project management tool, provides kanban boards for tickets and tasks.
  • Trello, cards-based project management.
  • Tuleap, an agile open source tool for development teams: customize board columns, set WIP (Work In Progress), connect board with Issue Trackers, Git, Documents.
  • Twproject (formerly Teamwork), project and groupware management tool.
  • Wrike, an Agile Collaborative Work Management Platform.

Reflection

Think of three ways a Kanban board could facilitate your own professional and/or private life. When you come up with ideas, try to be very specific. They have to reflect what you do and how you operate on your daily routine. 

If you haven’t tried Trello yet, try navigating it and setting up your own account.

 

Resources

If you want to learn more about Kanban: 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kanban_(development)

If you want to learn more about Kanban implementations and Kanban boards:

https://www.digite.com/kanban/what-is-kanban/ 

If you want to know why you should use Kanban in marketing https://business901.com/blog1/why-you-should-use-kanban-in-marketing/

If you think your lack of digital competencies is affecting your productivity: https://globalpeopletransitions.com/lack-of-digital-competence-affecting-your-productivity-heres-how-you-escape-that-rut/

If you’re curious to know more about the benefits of handwriting: https://www.fastcompany.com/90389979/5-times-when-using-paper-and-a-pen-is-better-than-using-an-app

References

Piper, J. (2018). Focus in the age of distraction: 35 tips to focus more and work less. Panoma Press, St. Albans.

Schwartz J. et al. (2018, Aug. 4), ‘The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.’ Deloitte University Press. https://www2.deloitte.com/us/en/insights/focus/human-capital-trends/2014/hc-trends-2014-overwhelmed-employee.html#:~:text=The%20overwhelmed%20employee%20Simplify%20the%20work%20environment&text=Too%20much%20access%20to%20information,us%20into%20%E2%80%9Coverwhelmed%E2%80%9D%20employees.&text=Sixty%2Dfive%20percent%20of%20executives,ready%E2%80%9D%20to%20deal%20with%20it

Productivity Makeover with Graham Allcott (Podcast): https://www.sundaebean.com/2019/12/02/152-productivity-makeoverwith-graham-allcott/

If you’re curious to know more about the benefits of handwriting: https://www.fastcompany.com/90389979/5-times-when-using-paper-and-a-pen-is-better-than-using-an-app

References

Piper, J. (2018). Focus in the age of distraction: 35 tips to focus more and work less. Panoma Press, St. Albans.

Schwartz J. et al. (2018, Aug. 4), ‘The overwhelmed employee: Simplify the work environment.’ Deloitte University Press. 

An Expert Interview by Sara Micacchioni

Csaba Toth is the author of the book Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times (2020), the founder of ICQ Global and the developer of the multi award-winning Global DISC™. I met him virtually at his place in Brighton that almost incidentally became his new home 16 years ago. Let’s discover together what he does in life and what his approach to interculturality is.

Author's Headshot
Csaba Toth – Author of Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times

If you were to give a pitch of Csaba Toth, how would you best describe him professionally? 

I will be very concise here: I teach uncommon sense. It is a mindset that allows people to see the same situation from different perspectives so they can make better decisions and they can choose to respond instead of just reacting so they can get the best possible outcome. 

In fact, when looking at cultural and personal differences, at the end of the day we’re dealing primarily with clashes of common sense. If you look at it in that way, the whole topic also becomes much more flexible and humane, instead of reducing it to a binary system where one must be right and the other must be wrong. Or where both are fighting in order to have their truth validated although both just hold their tiny version of the truth. 

Let’s move onto what was your journey. In your book you talk quite in detail about how you got to where you are now, but would you mind summarizing your career path for all our readers?

I used to love learning a lot (and I still do). Initially, I didn’t have clarity on where I wanted to get, so I studied Italian and obtained a master’s degree in Italian linguistics – an uncommon and unusual choice for someone who doesn’t know what to do in life (author’s note). As soon as I finished I came to the UK for the summer. That was 16 years ago and I am still here. Three years after arriving, I obtained another Master’s Degree in International Management at the University of Sussex and that was a bit more practical as I specialised in Eastern and Western European joint-ventures. My dissertation was about understanding the differences between Hungarian and Western European managers. Interestingly and against traditional predictions, the data showed that the gap between the old and new generations in Hungary was much bigger than the gap between the same generation in Hungary and Western Europe. This contradicted what we were used to and often are still used to learning in academia, i.e. that culture is country-specific. 

And what happened next?

Then I started my own company. It was about a restaurant listing: someone books a table and you get the money. It grew really really fast. We started with 35 restaurants here in Brighton and one year later we had already 5,500 all over the UK. On paper, everything looked perfect, but in practice I couldn’t stand the other CEO. Not because he was French, but because there was a big clash of common sense between the two of us. That was exactly the topic of my dissertation: I ran the largest and fastest growing restaurant listing business in the UK, I had years of experience, and yet could not make it work. 

But I was really keen on understanding what went wrong and how we could fix it. The final result of all the research I did led to what is now called the Global DISC™.

What was the major learning that you took away from this experience?

Best solutions are born out of frustration and pain. 

And most of us have a choice: do you want to just stay and complain? Or do you want to take responsibility for your growth and work towards finding the best solution? I personally chose the second option. 

In your book “Uncommon Sense in Unusual Times”, which I highly recommend to all our readers, you go deep into the topic and give a lot of details about Cultural Intelligence (ICQ). In your view, what are the difficulties that you encounter most often when you need to convince clients and other stakeholders of the importance of having thoughtful conversations around Cultural Intelligence? 

Book Cover

I think that the biggest obstacle is the perception that people have about ICQ since for the majority culture automatically equals nationality. So basically, if they don’t work in an international environment, they think this is an irrelevant topic. However, if you look at the research published in Management International Review (Kirkman et al., 2016)  where they compare 17 cultural containers, culture, gender and generation were the worst three categories of culture in terms of practicality and range of differences.  It makes sense as even if you don’t choose those specific cultural groups, you learn how to conform to them and you can navigate efficiently in that environment. 

Culture is not who we are, it’s what we’re used to

When you look at the different cultural groups that you choose, like your education, profession, hobby, you’re inclined to opt for the one that matches your personal preferences, because it feels comfortable and the right place where you can put your strengths at use. That’s why, to me, to understand who you are, your profession is a way more powerful clue than your country of origin. This is the biggest obstacle, i.e. that people don’t see that we belong to twenty different cultural groups at the same time and that your national culture is just a tiny container of that.

(If you want to read more about cultural overlaps and the concept of intersectionality, we published a post on the topic). 

Can you also provide us with a more practical and concrete example of these layers of culture, Csaba? 

Sure. Take your family members. Even if you talk with someone in your family, what are the chances that the other person belongs to the same 15-20  cultural groups like you?

Less than zero. That’s why I consider every conversation a cross-cultural dialogue. 

This leads the conversation into another topic of your book that you talk about in detail, cognitive diversity. Can you please tell us more about it? 

Cognitive diversity is about the diverse ways in which people think, behave and process information. The very different values that each of us share give us different perspectives and priorities. Like I write in my book 90 percent of business is interaction between people who think and behave differently. So, even if you have a team constituted 100 percent by Italians you’ll still be able to find cognitive diversity because all these people have different values. 

Just because we learn how to conform to the same norms it doesn’t mean that we are the same. 

If you look at research (Management International Review, 2016), having smart people in a team is no guarantee of success. In fact, 79 percent of potential is generally lost due to interaction gap and clashes of common sense. That’s definitely not good for business. To me the biggest obstacle is to raise the awareness that

intercultural equals interpersonal, not just international.

There’s a topic to which you dedicate an entire chapter in your book, debunking the myths of cultural intelligence, So I’d like to dig a bit deeper there. You specifically address eight of these myths, but do you think they’re equally rooted in people and that the same myths keep being reinforced over and over? Or do you see a gradual increase of awareness?

I think that change is slowly happening. What hinders this change is the presence of many established companies that sell international trainings as if they were intercultural ones. In fact, one of the insights of my research was that more than 95 percent of companies buy and sell to people solutions created in the sixties and seventies. You’ll agree with me I guess that there’s nothing wrong with loving our grandparents but we must recognize that we have very different challenges than them. So much has changed since then, just think of the easy access to the internet and international travel. 

Why do we want our doctor to be updated with the latest research but we don’t make sure whether who develops intercultural training has our best interest at heart? To me not being updated in your field should not be allowed and I find it unethical that in some less regulated professions this seems to be optional. 

Thank you Csaba for these insights and for sharing your view with us. Let’s move onto the projects you’re currently working on. Do you want to tell us more about that? 

20 percent of the business we do is training and corporate coaching, while the other 80 percent is certifying coaches and trainers to deliver the Global DISC™ that we created. Because it doesn’t matter how good we are, alone we’re not enough. First of all, we’re smarter together and secondly, our time is limited and so is our potential. That’s why we created a licensing model and that’s why we currently have almost 100 licensed partners in 33 countries. 

We also work with higher education institutions. At the moment, eight universities teach the Global DISC™ and this is amazing to us. It means that in academia too there’s the realization that students need to be prepared with solutions for a world that is constantly changing. 

I actually wish that this topic was taught in high schools though, or starting even earlier, because I believe that it would have a huge impact in people’s life. You could better understand who you are and what you stand for. Imagine if you could even like yourself. You would not need to bully anyone to feel important or hide to feel safe. If you can accept yourself  – and this is where we talk about self-inclusion – it’s much easier to accept others. Instead of depending on external approval, what if you could focus on yourself and who you are? To me this is the super power that I would like to enable others with and it is our final goal.

What would be the benefits for someone who decided to become certified in Global DISC™? 

We want to concretely support the coaches who decide to obtain our license and therefore we offer four gigabytes of training, sales and marketing material, and a portfolio of international accredited solutions. Licensed coaches also become members of a community on an interactive platform where they obtain the support and where they can get inspiration and guidance on how to further expand their businesses. In short, they become part of an environment where they can continuously grow. And it becomes a partnership in which we and our licensed coach give and receive in equal part. 

What about the ICQ Growth Mindset course that you repropose periodically? 

Oh, that’s by far my favourite masterclass. It’s a 4×90 minutes online in-person course through which you understand the underlying root of causes  of why we lose most opportunities, time and energy: friction with people who think and behave differently and friction with ourselves (self-sabotage).   You also gain guidance on how you can achieve more with the same amount of energy and time. The insights and tools that we offer can be immediately applied on an individual and team level. What I especially love about it is the blissfully challenging and psychologically safe environment that we create altogether. This is where the magic happens. And that’s why I’d never miss facilitating this course personally. 

The next one starts on 2 November 2020 and the registration process is already open. 

Is there one last message you would like to leave our readers with? 

Just remember that we all do what we consider right based on what we consider true to get the best outcome we think we can get, but at the end of the day we have no idea what is right and true or what the exact outcome is going to be. That is why we are smarter together. 

Resources

If you want to buy Csaba’s book Uncommon Sense in Uncommon Times, click here

If you want to get more information on how to become a licensed coach of the Global DISC™ get in touch with Csaba directly. You can send him an email (csaba@icq.global) or add him on LinkedIn

If you want to sign up for the next ICQ Growth Mindset course and see what it includes, click here

Last but not least, two books that Csaba would like to recommend:

Goldsmith, M. (2016). Triggers: Creating Behavior That Lasts–becoming the Person You Want to Be. Profile Books.

Chandler, S. (2017). Reinventing Yourself: How to Become the Person You’ve Always Wanted to be. Career.

About Sara Micacchioni

Sara
Sara Micacchioni

Sara Micacchioni is about to complete her internship as an Academic Intern at Global People Transitions, where she is responsible for research and quality assurance projects. She also actively supports the Managing Director and the Social Media Manager. At the beginning of 2020, she graduated from an international English-taught master degree in Intercultural Management at the University of Burgundy, France. In the past, she also carried out several short-term and long-term voluntary work projects in Europe and South America.

Sara lived, studied, and worked in seven European countries and speaks four foreign languages. She considers herself an interculturalist with a real passion for globetrotting. In her mission to travel the world, she has now ticked off 30 countries globally.

Connect with Sara on LinkedIn if you want to talk about Diversity and Inclusion, Intersectionality, Cultural Intelligence (CQ), Bilingualism, Digital Learning, Immigration or Low-Cost Travels.

https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-micacchioni/

Guest post by ANGELINE LICERIO

Discrimination of any kind should be unacceptable in any given situation. Gender discrimination, on the other hand, takes this to another notch, especially in the workplace. The sad reality is that gender discrimination still happens in most hiring processes. I found this surprising, and no wonder if you’re shocked too: in light of our new global situation, those who work remotely also experience gender discrimination. An article published by Harvard Business Review has highlighted that women are viewed by employers to be carrying out more domestic responsibilities, while men are seen to be more career-oriented and likely to expand their work spheres. Another article published by Forbes suggests that men are more likely to put in extra overtime on work tasks, while women pick up the slack with more domestic duties.

So, is gender a factor when hiring a remote employee? The short and definitive answer is “no”. The decision to hire a worker should be based on how they fit the role and how they can contribute to the growth of the organisation. Hiring an employee, especially for a remote position, should always be based on merits, qualifications, and skills.

Is Gender Discrimination Still Happening?

Gender issues in the workplace still happen, and it’s a proven fact. Women and men both get discriminated against when it comes to work, especially remotely. Some employers would often put in their job posting that they only hire women or men for specific roles. This is not illegal just across the whole European Union (Directive 2006/54/EC), but also in many other more authoritarian countries and notably less egalitarian countries. Hence, you might be shocked to read this. Human Rights Watch spotted “men only”, “suitable for men” or the like on thousands of job descriptions in China, despite this being illegal there as well. Read the report here.

While this may be the case, we should also highlight that there are a lot of companies that look past gender differences and many leaders genuinely respect a person for his or her achievements at work. More people have the utmost respect for both women and men in the workplace because of their contributions to their respective fields.

A Different Approach

Hiring remote employees, whether a single one or a full team, requires not only the right skill sets but their ability to work in an unsupervised working environment. Remote work has a lot of merits. At the top of that is more savings timewise and moneywise, which makes this option very attractive to both employers and employees. Remote workers are also not bound by geographic locations, which means that an employer looking to hire has a massive pool of talent at his disposal. 

Let’s now look at the skills that make remote workers more employable regardless of their genders.

Self-discipline

A remote employee needs to be able to work with minimal supervision, and being male or female has no bearing on this whatsoever.  Remote workers need to block and manage their time for and focus their energy on work when it is time to. Great employees need to be on the clock without anyone telling them to do so, and this should be among the top considerations when looking to hire remote workers. This quality is never gender-related – it is either a person has self-discipline or not.

Strong, Above-average Communication Skills

Having average communication skills will never be enough for a remote worker because communication is a crucial element for a successful remote-based work. In this case, a person can have excellent communication skills regardless of sex. There is no workaround for not having above-average communication skills in a remote working environment. 

For one, a remote employee would need to be in constant communication with their teammates and their direct supervisors. Instructions will likely be over calls, emails, and video conferences. Average communication skills help when you’re working with someone face to face, but you will need to be an excellent communicator to thrive in the remote work environment.

Remote workers need to have the extra sensitivity to listen and hear what is actually being said in an email or telephone conversation. It would take above average communication skills to read between the lines of an email and to pick up the nuances in a conversation.

Troubleshooting Skills

The ability to troubleshoot not only work-related problems concerning clients but also technical and business continuity problems are crucial when it comes to working remotely. Remember that when a person works remotely, there is no IT department to support them round the clock. A remote worker should, at the very least, have rudimentary troubleshooting skills when it comes to networks and computers. Without this, simple installation or a simple network problem can cause delays in their deliverables.

Troubleshooting does not always mean technical problems, but it is also about finding out the root cause of a problem. We need not to reiterate it, but troubleshooting skills are never dependent on the gender of the employee.

Have Reliable Judgment

Some would say that this is part of having troubleshooting skills, but for us, having a reliable judgment is completely separate. It comes very handy whenever decisions have to be made without the help of a team or a committee. A person who has great judgement, whether male or female, can make decisions that will affect the business he or she is representing as a whole.

The ability to rely on themselves and weigh their options well is one rare but necessary skill to have as a remote worker. 

In Closing

Hiring remote employees brings a lot of benefits to the table. Apart from more productivity and motivation, the company can save money and get higher quality output in the long run. This is why gender should never be a cause for someone’s disqualification.

It is unfortunate that this topic even exists and that we feel the need to enumerate the right qualifications for hiring a remote employee. Gender ultimately has no bearing on the effectiveness of a remote worker to do their jobs well. Any company that uses gender to segregate their employees should rethink their hiring process if they want to thrive in their chosen industry. Being male or female has nothing to do with a person’s ability to succeed in their jobs, be it remote or not.

How the Author Defines a Remote Worker

In this article, the author refers to remote workers as anyone who works outside of a traditional office environment. They can be working from home, working from a coworking space, at a coffee shop, etc.

Resources and further reading

Guest post by ANGELINE LICERIO

Discrimination of any kind should be unacceptable in any given situation. Gender discrimination, on the other hand, takes this to another notch, especially in the workplace. The sad reality is that gender discrimination still happens in most hiring processes. I found this surprising, and no wonder if you’re shocked too: in light of our new global situation, those who work remotely also experience gender discrimination. An article published by Harvard Business Review has highlighted that women are viewed by employers to be carrying out more domestic responsibilities, while men are seen to be more career-oriented and likely to expand their work spheres. Another article published by Forbes suggests that men are more likely to put in extra overtime on work tasks, while women pick up the slack with more domestic duties.

So, is gender a factor when hiring a remote employee? The short and definitive answer is “no”. The decision to hire a worker should be based on how they fit the role and how they can contribute to the growth of the organisation. Hiring an employee, especially for a remote position, should always be based on merits, qualifications, and skills.

Is Gender Discrimination Still Happening?

Gender issues in the workplace still happen, and it’s a proven fact. Women and men both get discriminated against when it comes to work, especially remotely. Some employers would often put in their job posting that they only hire women or men for specific roles. This is not illegal just across the whole European Union (Directive 2006/54/EC), but also in many other more authoritarian countries and notably less egalitarian countries. Hence, you might be shocked to read this. Human Rights Watch spotted “men only”, “suitable for men” or the like on thousands of job descriptions in China, despite this being illegal there as well. Read the report here.

While this may be the case, we should also highlight that there are a lot of companies that look past gender differences and many leaders genuinely respect a person for his or her achievements at work. More people have the utmost respect for both women and men in the workplace because of their contributions to their respective fields.

A Different Approach

Hiring remote employees, whether a single one or a full team, requires not only the right skill sets but their ability to work in an unsupervised working environment. Remote work has a lot of merits. At the top of that is more savings timewise and moneywise, which makes this option very attractive to both employers and employees. Remote workers are also not bound by geographic locations, which means that an employer looking to hire has a massive pool of talent at his disposal.

Let’s now look at the skills that make remote workers more employable regardless of their genders.

Self-discipline

A remote employee needs to be able to work with minimal supervision, and being male or female has no bearing on this whatsoever.  Remote workers need to block and manage their time for and focus their energy on work when it is time to. Great employees need to be on the clock without anyone telling them to do so, and this should be among the top considerations when looking to hire remote workers. This quality is never gender-related – it is either a person has self-discipline or not.

Strong, Above-average Communication Skills

Having average communication skills will never be enough for a remote worker because communication is a crucial element for a successful remote-based work. In this case, a person can have excellent communication skills regardless of sex. There is no workaround for not having above-average communication skills in a remote working environment.

For one, a remote employee would need to be in constant communication with their teammates and their direct supervisors. Instructions will likely be over calls, emails, and video conferences. Average communication skills help when you’re working with someone face to face, but you will need to be an excellent communicator to thrive in the remote work environment.

Remote workers need to have the extra sensitivity to listen and hear what is actually being said in an email or telephone conversation. It would take above average communication skills to read between the lines of an email and to pick up the nuances in a conversation.

Troubleshooting Skills

The ability to troubleshoot not only work-related problems concerning clients but also technical and business continuity problems are crucial when it comes to working remotely. Remember that when a person works remotely, there is no IT department to support them round the clock. A remote worker should, at the very least, have rudimentary troubleshooting skills when it comes to networks and computers. Without this, simple installation or a simple network problem can cause delays in their deliverables.

Troubleshooting does not always mean technical problems, but it is also about finding out the root cause of a problem. We need not to reiterate it, but troubleshooting skills are never dependent on the gender of the employee.

Have Reliable Judgment

Some would say that this is part of having troubleshooting skills, but for us, having a reliable judgment is completely separate. It comes very handy whenever decisions have to be made without the help of a team or a committee. A person who has great judgement, whether male or female, can make decisions that will affect the business he or she is representing as a whole.

The ability to rely on themselves and weigh their options well is one rare but necessary skill to have as a remote worker.

In Closing

Hiring remote employees brings a lot of benefits to the table. Apart from more productivity and motivation, the company can save money and get higher quality output in the long run. This is why gender should never be a cause for someone’s disqualification.

It is unfortunate that this topic even exists and that we feel the need to enumerate the right qualifications for hiring a remote employee. Gender ultimately has no bearing on the effectiveness of a remote worker to do their jobs well. Any company that uses gender to segregate their employees should rethink their hiring process if they want to thrive in their chosen industry. Being male or female has nothing to do with a person’s ability to succeed in their jobs, be it remote or not.

How the Author Defines a Remote Worker

In this article, the author refers to remote workers as anyone who works outside of a traditional office environment. They can be working from home, working from a coworking space, at a coffee shop, etc.

Resources and further reading

Read the insights of the 4th edition of the Advance and HSG Gender Intelligence Report.

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Tips+for+Managing+an+International+Workforce

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Values+in+Global+Virtual+Teams

https://cdn.gendereconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-and-gender-GATE-policy-brief-.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11205-018-2025-x

References 

Ibarra H., Gillard J., Chamorro-Premuzic T. (2020, July 16). ‘Why WFH isn’t necessarily good for women’. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 14, 2020 from https://hbr.org/2020/07/why-wfh-isnt-necessarily-good-for-women

Stauffer, B. (2018, April 23). ‘Only Men Apply’, Human Rights Watch. Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/04/23/only-men-need-apply/gender-discrimination-job-advertisements-china

Gaskell A. (2020, April 1). ‘Breaking Down The Gender Divide To Survive Working From Home’. Forbes. Retrieved 2020, August 14 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2020/04/01/breaking-down-the-gender-divide-to-survive-working-from-home/#7996063720cf

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Tips+for+Managing+an+International+Workforce

https://globalpeopletransitions.com/?s=Values+in+Global+Virtual+Teams

https://cdn.gendereconomy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/04/COVID-and-gender-GATE-policy-brief-.pdf

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11205-018-2025-x

References 

Ibarra H., Gillard J., Chamorro-Premuzic T. (2020, July 16). ‘Why WFH isn’t necessarily good for women’. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved August 14, 2020 from https://hbr.org/2020/07/why-wfh-isnt-necessarily-good-for-women

Stauffer, B. (2018, April 23). ‘Only Men Apply’, Human Rights Watch. Retrieved August 14, 2020, from https://www.hrw.org/report/2018/04/23/only-men-need-apply/gender-discrimination-job-advertisements-china

Gaskell A. (2020, April 1). ‘Breaking Down The Gender Divide To Survive Working From Home’. Forbes. Retrieved 2020, August 14 from https://www.forbes.com/sites/adigaskell/2020/04/01/breaking-down-the-gender-divide-to-survive-working-from-home/#7996063720cf 

Author’s Bio

Author's headshotAngeline Licerio is a content writer for Elevate Corporate Training. Like the rest of her teammates at Elevate, Angeline believes that she can help create better bottom lines, happier and healthier staff and build communities where people engage with each other in high functioning relationships.  

Here is her LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/angeline-licerio-2a3406107/

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Recent legislative and policy changes in many countries around the world seem to be signaling a global shift from open market to a form of protectionism. Today, I would like to discuss what exactly this is and how it impacts everyone in Global Mobility, using the example of an upheaval close to us: the dreaded Brexit.

Before we delve into Brexit, let’s take a look first at how open market policies were and still are beneficial to Global Mobility.

Open Markets and Free Trade

It all boils down to the fact that free trade agreements specifically include concessions for mobility. Combined with reduced taxes and government programs to encourage foreign investments, this literally opened the door for GM professionals to successfully ply their trade in different countries. Another step later down in this pipeline is the streamlining of visas and entry requirements – all things that promote the movement of skilled professionals across borders.

Brexit: An End to Unrestricted Movement

The political machinations that led to the UK deciding to part ways with the EU, that is, Brexit, have been discussed far and wide and I will not be going over them. If you are looking to brush up on it, the NY Times and BBC have good summaries here and here, respectively. Relevant to this discussion is the fact that the British people have been promised that Brexit would mean an end to the EU’s famed free movement, that is, the right of people from mainland Europe to live and work in Britain. This is a form of protectionism, the term mentioned earlier. Protectionism refers to the economic curtailing of foreign imports through tariffs, quotas, and other governmental policies. Cutting down on the import of foreign workers falls under it, in direct opposition to the free movement that made the EU a unique success story in world history.

Common sense identifies this as a detrimental idea, not only to GM professionals but to long-term economic stability and growth, yet so few speak up against it – the very fact that Brexit is happening is evidence of that fact. Why is that so?

Fear-based Politics Is a Tool of Suppression

A major reason for that is the fear-mongering stoked by politicians, particularly about how immigration and immigrants “steal” the jobs of the locals – this belief is particularly strong among the working class who rally behind all attempts to close down free movement. Unfortunately, this spread of fear works on everyone, at various levels, especially in these times of economic hardship, it is easy to buy into the idea that immigrants are responsible for the worsening economy or the lack of jobs. No one likes to step out of their comfort zone, especially to speak up about uncomfortable topics.

The result? While Brexit has been lingering for years, the political uncertainty it has led to is already creating ripples across the GM community. Companies will be faced with increasingly challenging situations when seeking to move the talent they want, into the location where they are needed most.

Many companies are moving out of or planning to move out of the UK, taking with them hundreds of thousands of jobs from locals. Clearly not the best-case scenario.

This unpredictability is not limited merely to the immigration aspects of Global Mobility, as taxation and exchange of information would become increasingly sophisticated, making it more difficult for companies and authorities to work out and resolve issues of governance and tax payment. A potential problem that arises from this unpredictability is not knowing how the UK will treat its laws and legislation dealing with worker rights, taxation and other aspects that were based on relevant sections of EU law. That is something troubling corporations and experts in finances, taxation and mobility alike.

Another factor determining why we haven’t been more outspoken about the ramifications of politics on our field is the overabundance of fake news. When someone’s statement is countered with aggressively presented “facts”, the people believing in those “facts” can end up influencing others and drowning out our voice of reason.

Does anyone remember the infamous “Brexit Bus”? Despite being proven to be a falsehood, that “fact” is considered one of the major reasons the Brexit referendum was won by Leave. Despite people speaking up about the falsehood of that “fact”, the Brexit Bus still swayed millions with its lie. How does one make themselves heard in such a scenario?

Echoes of Brexit Around the World

Brexit and EU are not the only places where this tidal wave of fear-based politics and misinformation have had an impact on Global Mobility. In March 2018, Australia ended one of its most popular work visas for global professionals with claims that the visa was taking jobs away from Australians, replacing it with one that was a lot more stricter on professionals and companies alike. The USA’s stance towards the mobility of foreigners is also of note, targeting millions of Muslims from around the world, and about the same number from south of their border through the implementation of various “travel bans”. These policies have been crucial in disrupting nearly all companies that source their talent globally.

As these roadblocks mount, we are faced with a unique, ever-growing challenge of navigating political opposition to its core tenant and unpredictable laws that can spring up at any moment. Given this uncertainty, what we can do at this turbulent time is developing a series of rapid response protocols/procedures that allow us to stay on top of these shifts while carving out a longer-term plan for navigating these changing political waters.

We need to stay relevant

As mentioned by Tracy Figliola and Gina Vecchio in their excellent article “Global Mobility Coming of Age” (The International HR Adviser, Winter 2019/2020) we are currently at the crossroads of extinction or expansion of our profession. As I’ve been working on expanding our skillset and mindset over the last few years, I would certainly hope that we step up our game this year.

If we want to continue adding value as a function we need to show through our actions that we are finding solutions to all those ever more complex issues. I usually hold back my political opinion here and on social media for fear of attracting trolls and haters but I committed yesterday to support “outsiders” more, and to work with an even more diverse team in 2020.

We need to think big and start with baby steps at our own front yard. For example, I will work with an intern from Africa this year. My clients come from around the world but we can still do more to encourage global competency development and break down the barriers to Global Mobility. We can set examples and work on positive changes in our realm of influence whether we are expats, expat entrepreneurs, scientists or Global Mobility Professionals.

PS: As a lecturer and Expatise Academy Advisory Board member I recommend the Master Course in Global Mobility at Erasmus University. As the Registration deadline is approaching you should decide fast and read more here.