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Ways to Communicate Effectively With Your Foreign Remote Workers

Posted by Insightlink on 04/29/21

Effective communication is essential for employers who want to keep their foreign remote workers informed, supported, and motivated enough to be optimally engaged and productive. It helps develop a sense of belonging and nurtures teamwork among team members who don’t get enough in-person interactions, if at all. Follow these 5 tips if you are looking for ways to communicate as effectively as possible with your foreign remote workers.


Image by Tessa Kavanagh from Pixabay 

1.      Utilize remote interpreting for your language services needs

Remote interpreting services, which happen in real-time online or via the phone, will help you communicate with each foreign employer in their native tongue, while you speak in your own native tongue. You don’t have to learn foreign languages to communicate effectively with people with whom you don’t share a common language. Note that although the COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated its growth and adoption, this form of interpretation has for years been part of a consistently evolving languages industry.
Your most inexpensive option when working with remote interpreters includes Over-the-Phone interpretation (OPI) where the interpreter and the two involved parties converse via a shared phone line. Video-Remote-Interpreting (VRI) comes close second with regards to cost-effectiveness. Interpreters and the involved parties converse via telecommunications software and are able to see one another face-to-face unlike in the case of OPI. Another common option is Remote Simultaneous Interpreting (RSI) and is especially important when you are doing webinars, virtual presentations, or any other live event where many people are involved and interruptions are not welcome. The interpreter listens to the speaker and within seconds delivers an interpreted version of the spoken message directly to the listeners’ headphones via telecommunications software.

Why go remote with your language needs? For several reasons:

  • Convenience and cost-effectiveness are relative to on-site interpretations.
  • Interpreters are linguists and industry experts with relevant subject matter experience. You still get quality interpretations as you would with on-site interpretation.
  • These services are flexible and scalable. That’s unlike on-site interpretation services where last-minute changes are hard to accommodate.
  • Safety and security are guaranteed. Most RI services utilize industry-leading security protocol to keep their clients and their sensitive data safe from cybercriminals.

2.      Be sensitive to cultural differences

Language and geographical differences always come with cultural diversity. That increases the possibility of misunderstandings on either end of the communication unless you are sensitive to the cultural differences right from when developing the intended message in the source language. When developing guidelines and training courses for your Asian remote workers, for example, you must research and understand the differences between the east and the west in regards to business (employer-employee) interactions. There are jokes you can make when addressing your American team members but that will be interpreted as insulting or rude in the Far East.
Note that cultures can be different even when people share a common language. Many employers actually struggle to find the right tone when dealing with cultures that seem like they might be similar. Take New Zealand and Australia, for example. There are many cultural differences in the two countries, but these differences aren’t as clear as the differences between the US and China, for example. It is easier to ignore the differences between cultures when all parties involved speak the same language, so you need to be even more alert and avoid making any uninformed assumptions in such a case.

3.      Have a clearly defined mission statement

A mission statement should be a part of your comprehensive corporate communications strategy. It should exhaustively explain your short and long-term goals, the expectations you have on each employee, and a general outline of how each goal is to be achieved. You can also include parameters against which you will be measuring progress for each project. Also, let every team member know the values your company stands for, e.g. teamwork, healthy competition, flexibility, and such. For instance, to make the interactions more frequent you could use WhatsApp for business, send automated greeting messages to give the staff a motivation at the start of the day, this would show them that you value their participation. That way, each foreign employee is clear on the bigger picture and all they need is regular updates and minor guidelines to remain on the right course.

4.      Check your biases

Don’t argue against the fact that every human being has their biases. Acknowledging that you are susceptible to subconscious stereotyping will help you relate better with your multi-cultural team. Learn about other religions, cultures, races, genders, and sexualities to ensure that you don’t make biased predictions when assessing an employee’s behavior. Uninformed subconscious predictions can be unfair or even insensitive. 

5.      Try to speak to individuals rather than cultural groups

It is possible for a worker to be part of a cultural group and not tick all the boxes that define his/her culture. There is also the possibility of someone being bi-cultural or multicultural. A Latinx living in America, for example, could be exposed to Asian-American or African-American cultures (maybe at school or at home), which means their perspectives in life are different from what you would call a typical Latinx culture. Engaging with such a worker on the basis of the perceived needs of a Latinx culture will pass as rude, stereotypical, and insensitive.

Key takeaways:

  • Remote interpretation services are not only convenient and cost-effective but also secure.
  • A powerful mission statement will give you a good head start in every conversation you have with your foreign remote workers.
  • We all have biases. Keep yours in check at all times.
  • Design individualistic communication approaches even when you feel like you understand the needs of a given culture.


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