Facilitating collaboration across disparate and far-flung teams is a challenge. But organizations really can join everyone together. All they need is the right approach – and the right tools.
Communication is the key to creating a successful team but it isn’t always easy in today’s increasingly scattered workplace. More people are working from home, or in multiple offices at home and abroad. And this means multi-location teams face the challenge of communicating in ways that are consistent, effective and timely.
So, how do you connect and engage global teams? Here are some tips.
1. Create a shared space
For communication to be effective, everyone needs to feel they have access to the same facts wherever they are. An easily accessible shared space, like a dedicated Workplace by Facebook group, can help join everyone together and keep them on the same page. In this way, updates and information come from within the team not just from the top-down. And that creates a better sense of interconnectivity between members.
2. Make meetings virtual
Meetings can help build trust and cohesion and help break down barriers. So it can be important to have the right meetings – even when team members are in different parts of the world. Fortunately, with modern video-enabled collaboration tools, physical distance is no longer a barrier to team meetings or one-to-one sessions.
3. Break down language barriers
Teams in global organizations speaking different languages can suffer from misunderstandings and slower teamwork. This can be a difficult (and costly) hurdle when trying to connect global teams – but it doesn’t have to be that way. Using a collaboration tool with a translation facility means that team members from all over the world can preserve language and culture and still communicate effectively with each other.
4. Facilitate sharing
Being able to easily share ideas and offer creative solutions gives every team member an equal opportunity to add value. Instant screen sharing on Workplace, for example, allows collaboration to happen naturally. Unlimited storage and seamless integrations with document storage tools like Box enable people to collaborate in real-time and within ongoing conversations – so everyone can play their part.
5. Make the most of the knowledge mix
Having a global team is a huge opportunity. The deep knowledge of local markets gives organizations big advantages when looking to outflank the competition. But it’s important to keep this critical IP out of silos so people can use it. Having effective collaboration tools allows you to create a global pool of up to date, dynamic and easily accessible information. And that’s an enormous asset to any organization.
6. Build trust
According to Tsedal Neeley of Harvard Business School, one of the challenges for multi-site organizations is that there will usually be one site that is perceived as the base of power and decision making. This can result in negative perceptions in other locations and give rise to feelings of ‘them and us’. To challenge this, it’s important to remind team members that they’re all valued as part of an equal team. Giving everyone clear opportunities to have group discussions and share ideas is a way of engaging global teams across locations.
7. Encourage friendships
Engaging global teams isn’t just about working on projects together. Small talk and social interactions via group chats can build shared knowledge – like finding out about local places to eat when visiting a sister-site – not to mention real friendships.
The move to mobile and messaging has changed the way people talk to each other. And now, consumers bring new expectations of fast and fluid conversations into to the workplace. The best collaboration platforms recognize this. And they offer tools that enable deeper and more meaningful relationships between people at work.