The availability of technical tools and a dynamic office presence in the modern era are especially conducive to leading global business teams. In the recent past, multinational companies could only have dreamed about having team members on different continents work together in real time. Today, with the ability to set up a virtual office, you can have collaborations as if you were all at the same location — instead of separated by the Atlantic Ocean.
However, there are a few hurdles business administrators face when setting up a cohesive global business team. We shall investigate what those hurdles are and offer a solution. Team cohesion, for example, isn’t something to be assumed despite the telepresence; there are actions you can take to help foster a supportive environment.
Capable Virtual Software
The free alternatives, such as Skype and Google Hangouts, tend to be adequate for individuals seeking to contact people on the same continent. For business applications, however, you need a dedicated, more robust system that is compatible with office software. This means that it can handle both the PC and the Mac, to account for differences in office technical culture.
Make sure the system allows browsing of the corporate directory as a way to facilitate invitations and one-on-one contacts via video. Humanizing the technology is absolutely essential to fostering a positive work environment for your global team.
Understand Cultural Differences and Personality Types
The latter extends to keeping track of time zones. No matter how well your team works together on paper – as in, how their skills complement each other – if holding meetings and leading conference calls at optimal times for one group and sub-optimal for another, you’ll inadvertently create an “us vs. them” dynamic in an office that, by its very nature, is already tailormade to fracture because of the natural geographical borders.
Have everyone keep an app or an office clock that displays the time in everyone else’s locales, for starters. And then find a middle ground for important meetings.
As for the cultural differences; these tend to be a bit easier to manage. People are generally quite respective; take this a step further by not penalising anyone for observing a religious holiday. Additionally, at a time such as the Muslim holiday Ramadan, some team members will not have eaten for the entire working day – you could factor this into any plans for an evening meeting, which is when they would finally be able to break fast for the day.
Flexibility in Work Style and Approach
That is to say; don’t focus on the specifics of the work styles so much as as the results. Once you have your virtual offices set up at the different points of contact, you’ve got the basics out of the way and people management is all that’s really left.
One thing that’s very helpful in this endeavor is having a flowchart or diagram of shared goals that every global team member can see. In particular, this method of fostering team coherence can be tied to understanding cultural differences and personality types, because some of the differences in work style are predicated on cultural conventions.
Making Regular Connections
Much like office cultures that incorporate work-from-home elements, it can become all too easy to see less of your team members when they’re not in the office. This negatively affects team coherence, however, and as such, it is even more important to have regular meetings in a virtual office, humanizing the virtual experience and building trust. The need to see each other face-to-face is difficult to quantify; but easy to qualify. Especially for leading a global group, it breeds an invaluable sense of togetherness and collaboration.